There are some places around the world that are simply too dangerous to take a vacation, especially if you’re an American.
The problem is that the safer the country, the more it costs, and in third world countries it’s vice-versa. You’re taking a risk with you and your family and sometimes it’s just not worth it.
Since I just got back from Cancun, I can tell you everything you need to know if you’re planning a vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula next year.
Cancun is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico, and was one of the safest places to visit twenty years ago.
Americans would flock there for the pristine beaches, to indulge in the enormous all-inclusive resorts, and visit the ancient ruins.
But things have become dangerous in recent years due to the increasing presence of drug cartels, MS-13 gang members, and caravans traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border.
The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel warning on Mexico
On August 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel warning on Mexico, advising caution to several popular beaches including Cancun.
The advisory was issued after Mexican officials had discovered eight bodies in Cancun earlier that week, as well as receiving several reports of tourists being sickened by tainted alcohol along the hotel zone.
So does that mean you should avoid Cancun?
Not necessarily. However, there are several perturbing and eye-opening things you will encounter during your stay.
Firstly, you’re pretty safe staying at the top resorts. They are gated with a lot of security and take your safety very seriously. Arriving at the resort, I was required to show identification and it took several minutes to get through the gate.
Once on the resort, there’s nothing to fear.
However, if you venture beyond the resort, you have to be extremely precautious about your surroundings.
During my stay at the El Cid Riviera Maya resort in Cancun this past November, an American was murdered in Playa Del Carmen – only about 20 kilometers away.
Apparently, the young man had ventured away from his group and his body was discovered the next day.
So you’ll want to make all of your travel arrangements through the resort itself, and stay with your group always.
Traveling to Tulum to see the Mayan ruins was also alarming.
Tulum was a bit of a hike at about 140 kilometers south of the resort. There are scheduled busses that will take you on the excursion, but the recommended way to travel is getting a taxi through the resort and the driver will wait as long as you want. It was pricey, but worth it because of the sense of security.
However, as you head to the ruins, you will see men in watchtowers with assault rifles right off the interstate. The driver told us that those men were drug cartel guarding their drug farms right off the main road.
Our driver also informed us that the police officers are very corrupt. Not only are they paid off by the cartel to turn a blind eye, but they accept bribes all the time for things like drinking and driving. Our driver said $40 USD is all it takes to be let go.
Our driver also informed us that police officers are really corrupt
Don’t trust anybody but the employees at your resort. It’s their job to protect you, along with their other duties.
That especially goes for when you land in Cancun. After you go through customs and exit outside, you will be faced with many aggressors trying to drive you to your destination. Ignore everyone. These people will even lie and say they work for the resort you’re staying at.
All in all, Cancun is safe. There was never a moment when I felt unsafe. You just want to be careful.
And DO NOT go on any independent adventures.
Protip: Unlike years before, the water is safe to drink on the resorts and it won’t make you sick.