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Is Playa del Carmen Safe? Cities in Quintana Roo Compared to Other Cities in Mexico and the U.S.



Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue is a popular tourist destination, known for its boutiques by day and beachy bars by night. Unfortunately, several recent shootings have caused alarm. Fifth Avenue is typically a wonderful place to stroll at night, grab a cocktail and sample local cuisine. The nightlife is vibrant and welcoming.

The most recent shooting happened on Tuesday July 25, in broad daylight. Gunmen killed a cigar seller. This incident occurred less than a week after an alpaca seller was killed in the same area on Fifth Avenue (“La Quinta”). That makes this the third attack in July, and the fourth event of the year so far.

The state Secretary of Public Security, Rodolfo del Angel Campos, reported that a special coordination operation has been deployed in the area, and the police forces of the three levels of government maintain control in the emblematic avenue. “The people can be sure that the efforts to guarantee their safety and that of the visitors are permanent,” said the official.

On July 20, at 8p.m., an alpaca salesman was killed on Fifth Avenue, just a few meters from the “Blue Parrot” nightclub. In January, there was a shooting at the Blue Parrot that left several people dead at an electronic music festival. On July 2, a man died inside a restaurant on 10th street after being attacked by three people who were arrested and linked to the crime.


Compared to the rest of the country, Quintana Roo and its surrounding states are the safest in Mexico. The U.S. State Department has no travel advisories to fourteen states of Mexico, including Quintana Roo. These recent shootings are highly unusual in the area, and even still, they are low compared to other cities/states in Mexico, as well as many of those in the United States.

Playa del Carmen is generally known for its lack of crime and prevalence of high-end tourist resorts with excellent security. Standard tourist precautions should be practiced, but guests can be free of fear of major crime during their stay. Cancun is another popular tourist destination in Quintana Roo, and there are about 1.83 murders per 100,000 citizens. Besides petty thefts, which can be avoided for the most part, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and other cities in Quintana Roo are some of the safest in the country.

These cities have become increasingly family-friendly, but they still are a popular spot for spring breakers and wedding parties. Remarkable snorkeling, beautiful beaches, and unforgettable sunsets are all draws to the region, in addition to great restaurants and rich Mayan history.

Explore Cozumel for chocolate, snorkeling and fantastic Caribbean views.

On a 2016 graph based on cities not at war, Acapulco, Mexico is ranked second in highest murder rates in the world (behind Caracas, Venezuela). Acapulco has an average of 113.24 homicides per 100,000 people. St. Louis in the United States is ranked fourteenth with 60.37 homicides per 100,000. Baltimore is 26th with 51.14 per 100,000, New Orleans is 34th with 45.17 per 100,000, and Detroit is 36th with 44.60 per 100,000. Juarez, Mexico ranks 37th with 43.63 homicides per 100,000 people. The chart shows the top fifty cities, and of these, Mexico has eight and the U.S. has four.

Playa del Carmen’s homicide rate is about 7.66 per 100,000 people. Here is a chart showing the overall decrease in violence in Quintana Roo since 2011.


This chart shows the homicide rates of the cities mentioned in this article.


There are some general safety tips everyone should follow no matter where they travel.

  • Don’t wear expensive jewelry or carry expensive purses or sunglasses.

  • Always lock up your belongings or keep them in sight while you carry them.

  • Never walk by yourself late at night and try to stay in a group throughout the day when possible.

  • Ignore scams and people trying to grab your attention on the street.

  • Rent your own car or ride in vehicles provided by your resort or tour company.

  • Scan a copy of your passport.

  • Don’t flash your money.

  • Have a basic understanding of the foreign language or know basic terms.

  • Save emergency numbers.


Traveling is never without its complications, from flight delays to money scams, but we can assure you that your visit to Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, or anywhere else in Quintana Roo will be more rewarding than it will be stressful. While it is important to take safety precautions, we urge you not to obsess over these recent, unusual shootings. On our private tours, we have close relationships with the people who work at every stop from the archeological sites to the restaurants we dine at. Spend your day exploring beautiful Quintana Roo and enjoy your evenings in one of the many safe and luxurious resorts in the region.

Check out our adventure to Tankah and Tulum. Tour includes zip lining, canoes, three cenotes and more!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to write in the comment section below or send us an e-mail to: contact@kay.tours.

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