Tulum is a pretty awesome destination. Set on the Maya Riviera this coastal town is home to literal Mayan ruins and loads of nearby relics and jungles to explore. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a great party scene and beautiful beaches to laze around on all day.
This cool town may be in Mexico, but it doesn’t face loads of issues with gang violence. Still, Tulum does have a few issues with petty crime, getting things stolen on the beach isn’t unheard of and isolated incidents of robbery do occur. Nature wise, there are hurricanes and poisonous creatures to watch out for. Drink spiking for female travellers is, unfortunately, more common than you might expect.
With all that in mind, is Tulum safe? Our epic insider’s guide is packed with information from how to travel smart and stay safe, to how to keep your money safe. Whether you’re a solo female traveller, thinking of a family trip, or a couple on honeymoon, our guide to staying safe in Tulum has everything you’ll need for an awesome stress-free time.
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Tulum? (Our take)
- Is Tulum Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Tulum Right Now?
- Tulum Travel Insurance
- 20 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Tulum
- Keeping your money safe in Tulum
- Is Tulum safe to travel alone?
- Is Tulum safe for solo female travellers?
- Is Tulum safe to travel for families?
- How to keep kids safe in Tulum?
- Is it safe to drive in Tulum?
- Getting around Tulum by Car
- Is Uber safe in Tulum?
- Are taxis safe in Tulum?
- Is public transportation in Tulum safe?
- Is the food in Tulum safe?
- Can you drink the water in Tulum?
- Is Tulum safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Tulum?
- Final thoughts on the safety of Tulum
How Safe is Tulum? (Our take)
Backpacking Tulum is a real treat for all kinds of travelers, mainly because there are so many things to do in Tulum. It’s on the Maya Riviera, which means there are plenty of ruins to explore. It also means there’s a bit of partying to be had – but not nearly as much as the Spring Break madness of Cancun.
It’s a quiet town, relatively, but there’s always a bit of a threat from nature. Hurricanes rip through this part of the Caribbean, making it a bit of a risk to be here sometimes. In recent months, there has been a problem with tons of seaweed banking up on the beach – not unsafe just gross.
There is also crime in Tulum. Firstly, there’s the bog-standard stuff like pick-pocketing and opportunist theft but it does seem to affect tourists relatively rarely – just exercise precautions about watching your valuables. Compared to Mexico’s safety, Tulum is one of the least problematic areas.
There is also an increase in drug cartel-related activity in the area. In the last few months, a Senior Police Officer and a Taxi driver were both murdered by drug cartels. Some sources claim that the local government is suppressing the extent of the violence in an attempt to protect the tourist industry.
We’re saying Tulum is safe to visit, but don’t take our word for it – let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the facts and figures.
Is Tulum Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Mexico, as a whole, last year had a rising homicide rate. In fact, in 2018 Mexico’s homicide rate soared to 91 murders a day on average.
Violence continues to plague various towns and cities, with criminal gangs not particularly facing much in the way of repercussions for their actions.
Whilst this isn’t the case for Tulum, Quintana Roo – the state in which the town is situated – has seen a rise in homicides as well, from 359 to 774 between 2017 and 2018.
Many of the destination towns in the state, mainly the much-visited Maya Riviera, have much lower rates of violence. The areas in these towns are actually patrolled by increased police in touristed zones with hotels, ensuring that tourists are safe.
Tourism hasn’t been too badly affected in Tulum. The summer of 2018 saw a rise in visitor numbers from the previous year: from 250,000 to 350,000. The government is predicting a rise in 2019 of 5.8%.
Although other parts of Mexico seem to be having a not-so-good time, pretty much all of Tulum’s neighborhoods are safe to visit – even tourists think so.
Is it Safe to Visit Tulum Right Now?
Mexico is currently having a bit of an issue with various political problems and drug-trafficking gangs.
Things are a little different on the Mayan Peninsula and, as a result, in Tulum.
Since 2017 there’s been a general rise in crime, even in the main tourist destinations in the surrounding area of Tulum. Whilst most incidents happen between different criminal gangs, as a tourist, it is still important to be aware of where you are and the issues that are facing people in the area. Going wandering, for example, could put you into a dangerous situation.
There are other things to think about in Tulum. The hurricane season affects both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico and runs from June to November.
Tropical storms can hit any time of year, on the other hand, and can have pretty devastating effects – even far from the centre of the storm itself. Heavy rains, flooding and landslides are par for the course when a big tropical storm makes landfall.
Zika virus is present in Tulum, so protecting against mosquitoes is important (especially if you’re pregnant).
More gross than unsafe, sargassum seaweed has begun to deposit itself on the beaches in Tulum – in seriously large amounts. It smells, for one thing, and it looks bad, plus it can also affect swimming. It’s an issue that’s thought to be down to pollution or climate change, or both.
Mainly Tulum is pretty safe. The most you’ll have to worry about keeping an eye on your belongings.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get buggered by wicked men or smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Tulum, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Whilst generally safer than other parts of Mexico, and far from the gang activity that plagues a lot of the country, Tulum still has a few issues: petty crime, sketchy areas (and people) and even hurricanes. Like anywhere in the world, there are always going to be ways to make yourself safer and more secure, which is why we have got together this list of our very best safety tips for travelling to Tulum…
- Don’t go wandering around in secluded places – these are best left secluded and without you there; risk of being a target
- Stay alert in crowded places and watch your belongings – pickpocketing can be a problem in busy areas
- If somebody does try to take your stuff, let them – it’s not worth you coming to harm for the sake of a phone or some money
- Don’t make yourself a victim by having your phone out all the time – it’s an easy way to avoid getting it stolen
- And don’t have all your cash in your wallet – carry small amounts at a time; if it goes missing it won’t be a lot
- When swimming at the beach, don’t leave your things unattended – these can go missing very quickly
- Leave important documents and valuables at your accommodation – in lockers or safes. Do not take them out with you
- Try not to look super-wealthy – wearing flashy clothes and jewellery just advertises the fact that you’ve got stuff to steal
- When you pay for something keep larger bills out of eyesight – if people know you’ve got loads of cash, they might want it
- Be vigilant at ATMs – be aware of your surroundings and who’s watching you. Avoid using them at night
- Stay clear of drugs – it’s illegal and a good way to get involved with exactly the wrong sort of people; don’t feed this huge issue
- Keep your eyes peeled for dangerous nature – when walking or swimming watch out for spiders, snakes, scorpions and nasty sea critters
- With that in mind be careful around lagoons – crocodiles have been sighted in the area. These are a serious threat.
- Don’t go swimming under the influence – it may seem like a good idea, but drunk-swimming can be ultra dangerous
- Cover up against mosquitoes – spray DEET, use mosquito coils and cover up your arms and legs especially at dusk
- Protect yourself from the sun – it can be super hot here, so don’t lie out in the sun all day. Seek shade around midday and always wear sunscreen
- Research adventure sports companies – from paragliding to snorkelling, use reputable companies and check safety standards and equipment, which may not be up to scratch (you also may not be covered by your insurance)
- Careful of your luggage – in a hotel lobby or even at arrivals; this is when it can quite easily get stolen
- Stay aware of the weather situation – especially during the hurricane season
- Get yourself a sim card for Mexico – you can find your way around, keep in touch with people back home and use it in an emergency
Seeing all these do’s and don’t’s written down might seem like a lot, but it’s the best way to equip yourself when it comes to staying safe in Tulum. Knowing what the annoyances and potential dangers are in the first place is the best way to prevent yourself from getting into trouble; keep our safety tips in mind, be aware of situations and your surroundings and you should have an amazing, trouble-free time!
Keeping your money safe in Tulum
Anywhere in the world, you could be at risk of losing your money. In some places, it might be more likely that your forgetfulness turns out riskier than any petty crime, but still: it’s a big blow to any world traveller.
In Tulum, where there is a bit of petty crime going on, you’re going to want to protect your money. You could be the most careful person in the world, but sometimes it’s just plain old bad luck; in these cases what will save your precious dough is a money belt.
There are so many money belts out there that it can be very hard to choose one – and, in fact, we’re going to come out and say it: not all of them are that great; one that we do think is pretty awesome, however, is the Active Roots Security Belt.
This belt is all about simplicity. It looks just like a normal belt, with the cool addition of a hidden zipper pocket.
What’s more, the Active Roots Security Belt is affordable and sturdy, too, so you won’t be breaking it anytime soon. So many other money belts out there have these big pockets that get in the way, look obvious underclothes, and which – if you’re already wearing a belt – can get pretty uncomfortable. This one is your belt and your money belt; could it get any simpler than that? For more deets, check out our in-depth review here.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
Solo travel is something we can definitely get behind. Not only do you get to see the world on your own time without having to bend to anyone else’s schedule (or hunger pangs), but you also get to challenge yourself and grow as an actual person – and that’s pretty amazing.
Travelling by yourself isn’t always amazing. It can get pretty tiring, it can get boring and you can even get quite lonely if you’re by yourself all the time. To keep you sane and safe, we’ve got a few solo travel tips for Tulum – just a few pointers to help your trip go super smoothly.
- Hotels can be a bit expensive for a solo traveller, plus they’re not the best places to meet other people. To be in with more of a chance of meeting some like-minded travellers, do some research on a social hostel in Tulum. There are some pretty cool hostels on offer here, so read reviews, see what other solo travellers had to say about it, and pick the one that works for you.
- If you want to go for an Airbnb make sure you don’t stay in an isolated area for the sake of your budget. Go for something that has a lot of good reviews that’s run by a helpful owner in nice areas. Honestly saving a few dollars per night isn’t worth a lack of security.
- Check your accommodation’s offers. A lot of accommodation offers things like yoga classes and beach body boot camps, which are also a nice way to get to know people through a shared hobby. Not every social encounter in Tulum has to be about getting drunk!
- If you need to get home after a night out we would strongly suggest that you take a taxi. Walking by yourself at night isn’t a smart idea at all.
- Try not to drink too much. Since you’re by yourself, you’re the only one who’ll be able to watch out for your safety; doing that when you’re completely wasted is pretty difficult, we can tell you that. When you’re very drunk making bad judgement calls, getting into stupid situations and potential danger is much more easily done, so go easy on the alcohol.
- Don’t be afraid to go out and eat by yourself. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, just head out and see what deliciousness you can discover for yourself. Who knows, you may even end up getting chatting to some call people, too.
- Go on a tour! There’s a lot on offer in Tulum, from boat tours to snorkelling trips. These are a great chance to get to know other people, not have to worry about planning too much, and actually getting to see probably a lot more than if you tried to do all this by yourself.
- Get yourself a handy dry bag. Have a look online at something that’s got some ace reviews, purchase and pack. Having one of these means you can pack it with stuff you might have otherwise left on the beach; instead, now you can take it swimming with you. Go for a decent quality one though, as you don’t want your phone, sunglasses and clothes to get waterlogged with seawater.
- Really take care in the heat. When there’s no one there to remind you to put on sunscreen, drink water, wear a hat, or get out the sun for an hour or two, you could quite easily forget and end up getting heatstroke. This is honestly horrible and will have you laid up for at least a day, but probably more. Respect the sun!
- Don’t forget to text, call, Whatsapp or otherwise message your family. It’s important to keep people in the loop, but more than that it’s important to keep in touch with people: it can get lonely by yourself sometimes, too, so calling your friends back home up for a chat is a good way to cure your blues.
There you have it. Being a solo traveller in Tulum isn’t bad at all and pretty safe; in fact, you’re going to be able to meet a lot of like-minded people from all over the world in this fun, historic town. The key, as with any solo travel trip, is to ensure that you make good judgement calls. Get chatting to other travellers, have fun, be smart, don’t overdo it and make sure you plan a few “admin days” for chilling the heck out.
Is Tulum safe for solo female travellers?
With a whole load of cool places to stay, cool things to see and cool things to do, Tulum is definitely up there as a great destination for a solo female traveller. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet other people, and all well away from the violence Mexico is “famed” for.
Being a solo female traveller though you’ll have to take more care and precautions than your male counterparts. Whilst you probably already have your safety routine down to a T, we’ve got some tips for any solo female travellers heading to Tulum, check ’em out…
- You don’t need to worry too much about being a solo female traveller here. Although Tulum is a popular spot for honeymooners, there’s still a load of backpackers and other independent travellers who make their way to Tulum, male and female, and often solo. These are great people to hang out with.
- Have a look for the best hostels for solo female travellers in Tulum. Find one that has been well-reviewed by fellow female travellers and choose the one that’s going to suit you best; some will even give you a choice between private rooms and dorms.
- Don’t stay anywhere too far from the centre of Tulum. Honestly, being near the town centre is the most fun and safest location in town. Having to get back by yourself at night to some out of town accommodation is one thing, but then turning up at your hostel when it’s dark can make you feel pretty unsafe.
- Tulum is a beach destination so you won’t have to worry too much about what you’re wearing. It’s a pretty casual place and, to be honest, you’ll probably want to cover up more from the heat and sun than anything else. However, we would recommend covering up if you’re walking around town; throw on a light dress or sarong if you’ve been at the beach or just a baggy T-shirt and shorts with sandals is fine.
- When it comes to drinking, you should definitely keep an eye on your drink. Drink spiking is actually a problem in Tulum, especially for females, so it’s important to be aware and keep hold of your drink at all times.
- Stay aware of your fellow backpackers and independent travellers. Not everyone is as well-intentioned as they make out and sometimes it may be the case that the guys visiting Tulum may be more of a worry to your personal security than the local guys. Be aware of people’s falseness.
- If you want to go out and eat, but you’re afraid, get yourself on a Mexican cooking class. You’ll probably get chatting to some likeminded people, who also love food and who may want to grab a bite with you after the class.
- With that in mind, if it all seems too much for you, there’s nothing wrong with joining a tour. Even an organised tour that takes care of everything from flights to accommodation and activities can really take the edge off travelling by yourself and will most likely make it a much safer time – and it’ll be fun, too!
- Keep in touch with people back home. Let them know your itinerary before you go and tell them if your plans are changing. It’s never safe to go completely off-grid, so keep in touch and keep everyone in the loop.
- If you want more tips about the local area of Tulum, have a look at groups online like Girls Love Travel; this Facebook group has a lot of solo female travellers who find their way to Tulum. If you want to meet up with a fellow female or just ask advice from those who’ve done it before, you can do it here.
Staying safe in Tulum if you’re a solo female traveller is actually a lot easier than you think. Part of the worry is going to come from other people, your friends and family, who hear ‘Mexico’ and instantly start thinking about the worst things that could happen. Not helpful!
Keeping in touch with people back home is going to stop everyone worrying about you, especially when you start telling them about what a literally incredible time you’re having. Chatting to the family will definitely help keep you grounded and keep the ‘solo travel blues’ at bay, too.
You might have safety precautions in place for just getting around by yourself in your home country, but don’t forget these in Tulum. People tend to let their guard down on holiday, which isn’t very smart at all. Remember where you are and we reckon you’ll be 100% fine.
Is Tulum safe to travel for families?
Tulum isn’t just a great place for backpackers, independent travellers and couples on honeymoon. It’s easy to travel here with family – it’s even worth staying a in Tulum a whole week so you and the kids can take full advantage of the beach and the nearby swimming holes.
What with all the Mayan ruins, cenotes (sinkholes) to splash around in, beaches to play on, and delicious Mexican food to tuck into, we’re betting that you’re going to have a super amazing time in Tulum.
The downside to staying in Tulum is the heat and the fact it’s very touristy. However, unlike other resort towns on the Maya Riviera, Tulum actually has a pretty laid-back vibe and boasts a much more boho atmosphere than the party central of Cancun.
When it comes to keeping your little ones entertained, don’t worry: there’s plenty to do. As well as all the Mayan ruins, you can take your kids to nearby theme parks, go ziplining or simply just go snorkelling.
When it comes to eating out, you’ll be welcomed into restaurants; it’s normal in Mexico for whole families to eat together. At hotels, too, there will be child-friendly menus – and you might even get some colouring in to keep them distracted. Options aren’t just spicy Mexican dishes. There are a lot of restaurants that serve up pizza, pasta and burgers for picky eaters.
Speaking of hotels, there is a selection of options. Beachside will be amazing for children, however, and often beachside hotels have more space too; they often come complete with gardens, pools and even kids’ clubs. Family rooms are also pretty easy to get hold of at hotels and will be set up with all the entertainment you might need (wi-fi and TV to name but a couple) as well as the all-important aircon.
Other than that, you and your family should be totally fine in Tulum – it’s a fantastic place to go.
How to keep kids safe in Tulum?
Child safety isn’t quite up to scratch in Mexico. Everything from guard rails and child seats to toddler pools may present dangers or just perhaps won’t be up to the kinds of standards you’re used to.
Also, mosquitoes are a pest, especially around cenotes and other freshwaters in the evening. Repellent, covering up and staying away from water sources at dusk is a good way to prevent any mozzie bites.
When it comes to the heat, children are much more susceptible to getting heatstroke and sunburn, so seriously make sure they’re covered up when they need to be, slathered in sunscreen, in the shade when the sun’s at its hottest and hydrated.
For a less hot experience in Tulum, you could try visiting between November and December. It’s more breezy and hotel prices are also cheaper.
Don’t expect to be able to find baby changing facilities in Tulum; maybe at a shopping mall or a restaurant, but generally, these are not very easy to come by.
You can pick up nappies and baby food at pharmacies and supermarkets, which is handy.
All the above are general safety precautions that you probably follow on any trip anyway, so apply them in Tulum and your kids will stay safe!
Is it safe to drive in Tulum?
If you want to drive in Tulum, it can actually add a level of convenience to your trip, but it can also be pretty tricky.
You will definitely need some experience of driving in a developing country like Mexico if you are going to drive in Tulum; being a confident driver is probably a good thing, too.
The only thing that driving in Tulum is really good for is for small road trips to surrounding areas with attractions like Mayan ruins to discover.
You should know, however, that Mexican drivers are speedy, erratic and aggressive.
If you do want to drive, you should probably learn some Spanish to get you by – this helps you to understand road signs or say some words to the police (if you need to).
You should also make sure you hire a vehicle that is in good condition and not too big as the roads can actually be pretty narrow. Also, arm yourself with solid rental insurance – you’ll be happy to have it if something goes wrong.
Driving in the rain, especially in the rainy season (May to October) can be dangerous, mostly in rural or coastal areas where the roads are little more than bumpy dirt tracks. Speed bumps can also be a hazard and can cause damage to the car, so be very careful on highways.
We would advise against driving at night. The roads aren’t well lit (if at all), you won’t be able to see pedestrians or other hazards. Other things to watch out for are local drivers that appear quickly behind you and flash their lights, which is an indication that you should let them pass – you should, of course.
Getting around Tulum by Car
If you are heading out on a long journey to a remote area, make sure to fill up on gasolina; gas stations tend to get a bit sparse away from civilisation. In addition, not all gas stations take cards, so make sure you have enough cash to pay for fuel.
Signposting isn’t particularly that good, not just in Tulum but on the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula. To help you out, we would recommend downloading something like Maps.me (offline maps) or just use Google Maps if you’ve got data.
People driving erratically in front of you, changing direction, for example, is something you’ll have to watch out for. Even the streets sometimes change direction suddenly without signage telling you they’re going to do so!
Finally, you might come across police or military checkpoint. Here you have to slow down, be calm and polite. Usually, the police/military here is just checking people’s ID and making sure nothing dodgy is happening.
Basically, driving in Tulum isn’t recommend; it can be complicated, quite expensive, and pretty dangerous. It’s probably easier to just get a taxi to drive you places.
Is Uber safe in Tulum?
Uber isn’t active in Tulum, neither is Lyft.
There were some drivers using both ride-hailing apps up until a few years ago, but it doesn’t seem to be in operation anymore.
This leaves tourists relying on the taxis and public transport to get around.
Are taxis safe in Tulum?
Taxis in Tulum are absolutely everywhere and are the main method for getting around. They’re actually pretty easy to use and will give you a high level of freedom.
Usually, the taxis are pretty clean, the drivers are quite friendly and they’re surprisingly cheap, too.
Spotting a taxi is easy: the licensed taxis are white hatchbacks with a 4-digit ID number on a yellow or orange stripe around the car.
You’ll also be able to pick a taxi up easily. Not only can you hail one driving around, but you can also pick them up at various locations at taxi ranks, including beaches, shopping centres, resorts, big restaurants.
If you get a driver that you like or get on with, make a note of his number and call him up to get around or for a whole day to see the sights.
Not a lot of people speak great English and most speak Spanish, but you should be able to communicate enough that you can get to the places you need to go. Alternatively, you could take a business card from your hotel or write down where you’re going or learn a bit of Spanish!
The rates aren’t set by a meter but by a taxi union. This means less of a chance of getting ripped off or having to haggle for a price. Your accommodation should have a list of the rates in the lobby somewhere, but drivers will/have to have a rates card in his taxi to show you.
Taxis are almost unavoidable if you want to explore Tulum, so it’s a good thing that they’re as convenient, well regulated and as safe as they are. We would, for example, highly recommend using a taxi to get you home at night if you’ve been drinking.
Is public transportation in Tulum safe?
To be honest, there’s not that much to shout about in terms of the public transport in Tulum; don’t go expecting anything close to a metro system or trams or anything like that.
First of all, there’s the ADO Bus. This is a bus company that plies routes between various towns, cities and attractions on the Yucatan Peninsula; you can get the bus to Cancun if you felt like it – there are around 30 a day between there and Tulum!
ADO Bus even have a website where you can check schedules and prices, it’s all pretty well run (and cheap). It’s also easier than renting a car or hiring a driver. ADO Bus terminal in Tulum is right on the main road in Pueblo, the middle of town.
Otherwise, there’s the good old collectivo. This is a much more local experience. These are minivans that trundle up and down highways and along shorter routes, picking people up and dropping them off in a seemingly unscheduled manner. If you’re used to backpacking, then getting a collectivo to Playa del Carmen or to some nearby cenotes will be a breeze for you; and it’s much cheaper than taking a taxi.
Collectivos are definitely not a first-class, VIP bus, and a lot of tourists to Tulum probably won’t want to take them. However, they’re an easygoing, local way of getting around; some even have aircon. They leave when they’re full, but because a lot of locals use them as their main mode of transport, they don’t take long to get full!
Public transport in Tulum is safe unless the roads are flooded and waterlogged during or after a tropical storm or heavy rains. If this happens, you should limit your road-time during storms, or just don’t travel at all.
Is the food in Tulum safe?
Nobody wants to get an upset stomach whilst they’re on holiday – it can literally ruin your trip. At the same time, you want to be able to fully appreciate the cuisines and delicious flavours on offer. We get it! Let’s not forget also: this is Mexico, home of Mexican food.
Whilst there are some things you should avoid, and some things you shouldn’t be doing in terms of food safety, there’s not much stopping you from tucking into tacos or bingeing on burritos. To help you navigate the world of food in Tulum we have some great tips for you…
- Restaurants in the Yucatan Peninsula are mostly split into two types: those for tourists and those for locals. If you’re worried about what to eat, the tourist-oriented restaurants will usually have a higher standard of hygiene, with both bottled and purified water on offer.
- Still frequent street vendors. They’ll be selling things like hot dogs and tacos and cold drinks for $1. Just make sure that the place you’re about to pick looks clean enough and you should be fine.
- If you stay in the Hotel Zone most of the restaurants set up here are tourist places. Basically, here you are going to find more international food on offer, so if you are really paranoid, here’s where you can eat. In town is where you’ll find more low-key eateries.
- Often the hotels themselves will have a buffet on offer. The best way to avoid getting a bad stomach on a buffet is to go earlier rather than later. If the lunch buffet is going to be out from 12 PM to 3 PM, for example, go at 12. The food will be freshly cooked, hot and most importantly won’t have been sat around for hours gathering germs to destroy your stomach.
- Don’t be afraid to go to a real Mexican restaurant. They may look different from the ones you have at home, with their plastic tables and chairs and worn-out menus, but we’re telling you: that food is going to be good. The people here will cook it at a certain level of hygiene.
- Your best bet is to go to busy places where locals are tucking into the food. Going at lunchtime, or at dinner, is also a good shout since there will be a storm being cooked up the kitchen and everything will be fresh.
- Go easy. When you make a drastic change to your diet, both in terms of what you eat and how much, you can make yourself pretty ill. This applies especially to spicy food, the type you’ll find in real Mexican restaurants. People associate getting ill with bad hygiene, but most likely your body just ain’t used to the food!
- Take basic food precautions. Make sure eggs are fully cooked; make sure fruit isn’t peeled (so you can wash it); avoid salads that have been cleaned with dirty water.
- Be very careful (seriously) of seafood. Always ensure that seafood is fresh; bad seafood can give you some seriously not nice food poisoning that can actually end up being pretty dangerous. For example, the shrimp ceviche served up on the beach… we wouldn’t trust that.
- If you like piña coladas… be careful. Coconut water is a laxative and having too many piña coladas will eventually make that effect known.
- The easiest to get ill when you’re on holiday is to not wash your hands. This is literally the simplest thing ever, but so many people don’t. The beach is still dirty, people! Make sure you give your hands a scrub with soap and water before you eat anything, especially if you are going to be eating with your hands!
There you have it. There is actually a lot of tasty stuff on offer in Tulum, but the best way to get acquainted with the best food is to go where a lot of people are eating and, of course, read reviews of the best restaurants to find somewhere that’s tasty and hygienic.
If you have quite a sensitive stomach, then you may want to consider taking it easy on the food when you first arrive – ease yourself into it and you should be fine. For the extra paranoid, we would recommend bringing some anti-diarrhoea medication and rehydration sachets!
Can you drink the water in Tulum?
No. Quite simply, the water in Tulum is not safe to drink.
If you feel like drinking it for a tea or coffee, you should boil it vigorously for 1 minute (at least).
However, most resorts do purify their water so if your accommodation provides filtered water, bring a refillable bottle and use that to quench your thirst and save the planet. If you decide to do so, we have compared different travel water bottles in this article to help you decide which one is the best for you.
If you want to explore the backcountry, we’d suggest boiling and filtering your water or using the GRAYL GEOPRESS.
Is Tulum safe to live?
Tulum is a cool place to live in and in one of the safer parts of Mexico. This chilled-out beach town on the Carribean coast is hip, fun and offers a lot of options for your entertainment and sense of adventure.
If you live in Tulum town itself, you can get to many of the places on foot or by cycling around; alternatively, you could purchase a scooter and get around on two wheels pretty quickly. Obviously, there’s the hassle of the dangers of the road and the local transport not being overly reliable, either.
Tulum not only has a reputation for being an off the beaten track resort holiday destination, but there is also a growing expat community in this coastal town – and we can see why. Living in Tulum means year-round tropical climate, soaring temperatures, beautiful beaches, an offshore reef to enjoy, and sunshine.
You will most likely have worries of petty crime living here, like theft from vehicles, having your home broken into and even the lack of safety walking around alone at night. Living there, you’ll be more likely to come into contact with crime on a local level.
Tulum is a calm place though – where people retire, and where you can stop off at a market to pick up fresh fruit and groceries before heading off for a swim in a cenote.
The cost of living may be a little higher than elsewhere in Mexico, but you also get the benefit of higher security and lower crime levels.
As with all things regarding moving to a new country, it’s important to do your research. Join expat groups on Facebook, go on expat forums, plan your arrival and things should go smoothly for you whilst you set up your new base!
How is healthcare in Tulum?
The healthcare in Tulum, as in much of urban Mexico, is surprisingly good. It is however somewhat limited, being spread across a selection of clinics and one, small hospital.
The Hospital de Tulum is the main hospital in town. It has a 24-hour emergency room along with an operating theatre and beds for overnight stays. It can provide care for moderate medical issues.
Being a small town, however, Tulum doesn’t have the world-class facilities of larger settlements. Places like Playa del Carmen (1 hour away) and Cancun (2 hours away) offer larger hospitals and can cater to a wider array of treatments.
For minor stuff, there are local doctors. You can see a doctor for just a few dollars, at Tulum Hospiten for example, which is just a small, local hospital with pretty adequate facilities.
Otherwise, there are small clinics where you can see a medical professional if you’ve got a minor ailment, a sprain or upset stomach, for instance. It’s best to ask at reception at your hotel or hostel for the one they would recommend.
For picking up medication, and for general advice, a pharmacy in tourist areas will generally speak English and you’ll be able to buy basic over the counter medications at a small cost.
Just make sure you have health insurance; the cost of medical care in Mexico may be low, but if you’re doing some adventure sports and seriously hurt yourself in a remote location, you’ll need to be transported somehow – and that comes at a cost.
Final thoughts on the safety of Tulum
There is definitely always a bit of an issue when it comes to beach towns in Mexico. They may be all about chilling at the beach and partying, but both of these activities involve either relaxing or straight-up not caring about the situation you’re in and your surroundings. This makes for pretty much the perfect recipe for being a victim of anything from having your bag stolen to getting your drink spiked.
This issue of letting your guard down too much and too often is something that happens in Tulum too. This doesn’t make Tulum unsafe, of course, but it provides the perfect environment for you to forget that you’re in a country where its people can be pretty poor or mixed up with the wrong crowd – and where other visitors can cause trouble, as well.
That may sound scary, but really it’s a good thing to remember – bad things can happen anywhere. Even if you are aware of your surroundings, make sure you don’t get completely drunk, keep an eye on your drink, use a money belt, don’t walk around at night – and all the other stuff mentioned in this epic guide. You’ll have a fun, totally chill and safe time in Tulum.
Because stuff can happen at any time, we’d say travel insurance is an absolute must!
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.