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Watch Out For These Five Scams On Your Next Cancun Trip

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Cancun is one of the most appealing and inviting international destinations in 2023. With ever-growing arrival figures, there seems to be no end in sight to the city’s astonishing popularity. Despite being an overall safe destination for travelers, Cancun is still prone to a number of scams that travelers may encounter while on vacation. In this article, we’ll go over 5 of the most common scams and what you can do to protect yourself. 

Cancun street tourist area

Be Wary Of These Taxi Scams

Getting a taxi may very well be the first thing most travelers do upon arrival to Cancun. Although they are often the most convenient – and theoretically affordable – option for getting around the city, it’s not always fool-proof. Cancun’s growing feud over Uber is likely to further worsen the issue as authorities attempt to implement new regulations.

A passenger waiting to board a taxi in Cancun

One of the most common forms of taxi fraud includes the improper use of the taximeter. Some drivers may forgo its use completely, whereas others may try to hide it. To prevent your next taxi ride from costing more than it should, agree to a fixed price beforehand. Travelers should also keep an eye on pirate taxis which appear to be legitimate taxi firms but are actually privately-owned vehicles.

Double-Check Your Restaurant Bill

Earlier this year, we reported that cases of restaurants automatically charging clients a hefty tip on their final bill had grown sharply across the Mexican Caribbean. While tipping is certainly appreciated, especially when the service and food are remarkable, it is by no means mandatory.

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Seaside Restaurant at Sun Palace in Cancun with tables and chairs and place settings.

The next time you’re out for dinner in Cancun or other Mexcian Caribbean resort towns, double-check your final bill to make sure no automatic tip is included. A small tip goes a long way, especially for Cancun’s low-earning hospitality staff, but it should always happen on a voluntary basis. 

Watch Out For These Common Nightlife Scams

At night, Cancun and other resort destinations like Playa del Carmen turn into vibrant hubs for partygoers. While a night is one of the top things to do when in town, it’s also a risky business for travelers. This particular scame can happen anywhere in the world, even the U.S.

Ill-intentioned bar tenders can target travelers — especially those that have enjoyed a few drinks too many — to charge more than they should by adding additional charges.

Travelers should also watch out for a scam that involves charging clients repeatedly for the same purchase under the excuse that their card has been declined.

Outdoor view of Cancun's vibrant nightlife

Don’t Fall For This Cancun Airport Scam

After waiting in a long line to complete migration and customs checks at Cancun International Airport, travelers are eager to get to their accommodations quickly. Unfortunately, countless tourists fall victim to what’s known as a timeshare scam, whereby travelers are promised free giveaways to lure them into attending a sales presentation, after which they are pressured to purchase expensive services, including fake accommodation.

Police centre in Cancun with a female agent assisting travellers

Travelers are most likely to encounter this form of fraud just after arriving at Cancun International Airport, where sneaky salespeople may offer free rides to a nearby hotel or resort where a sales presentation is given.

It is possible that they may even try to convince you that they are your pre-arranged transportation.

Travelers should always leave the airport completely before looking for their transportation, as they will never be inside the airport waiting. They will always be outside.

Taxis and Other Vehicles Outside of Cancun Airport

Avoid Risky Online Offers

Online travel agency scams are on the rise across the Mexcian Caribbean, affecting both national and international travelers. These scams work by promising visitors either tour experiences or luxury accommodations at ridiculously low prices.

In reality, those too-good-to-be-true offers turn out to be non-existent, even after rendering payment.

A Cancun jail with police cars and vehicles parked out in front

Travelers can verify the legality of Mexcian tour agencies by ensuring that they are registered on the national travel agency register. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to book with reputable agencies with good track records and strong online security features such as secure payment methods.  

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Wednesday 28th of June 2023

Recently had my fourth trip to Riviera Maya in 15 years. Never again. The place has lost its charm. First, everything and I mean everything is more expensive than the states. Second, the constant scamming has gotten worse since the pandemic. Charging extra for car insurance, not accepting the one you bought online. Charging extra for entrances to cenotes that are supposed to be included in hotel stay, the people here just want to suck you dry. Third, street crime is on the up in Playa del carmen. We witnessed a robbery, chase and arrest on a large street where we were parked. Who wants to see this on vacation? As much as I love Mexico and the gentle maya people of the Yucatan, I simply work too hard for my money to have it stripped away this easy. Oh and did I mention the dirt, pollution, stink of rotting seaweed and aggressive hawkers...throw that in as well. No, of you are considering a vacation, hive the Riviera a skip.

Michael Jacobs

Saturday 11th of February 2023

We are looking to visit the Mayan Riviera again after 4 years, but with some fear of a repeat of the extortion we faced by police that occurred coming and going from/to the Cancun airport with a Mexx rental car. In both cases they fabricated traffic violations, demanded money, and threatened jail-time. While we managed to talk our way out of the first confrontation on our way to Tulum, upon our return for our early morning flight home we were pulled over and then escorted to an ATM by an officer (with siren and lights flashing) who demanded cash or threatened to arrest me. For my wife and 11 year old son, this was terrifying. For all of us, it was an experience we hope to never experience again. It was almost like they knew when we were coming. We wondered if it was an "inside job", where our license plate number and car rental pick-up and return times were provided to these men. A scary and upsetting end to an otherwise great trip. Be interested if others have faced the same extortion by Mexican police and if anyone has advise for how to deal with such a situation should it happen again? I did see that 4 officers were recently under investigation.

Mike British Columbia - Canada

Michael Savage

Wednesday 8th of February 2023

You missed two of the most common. Switching your 500 peso note for a twenty and then saying you made a mistake and specially at gas stations. Another is squirting mustard on you and offering to clean you up while your pocket is picked. Beware of Mexicans askimg where you are from as they are often trying to distract you while you they perpetrate a crime.

Michael Barnes

Thursday 9th of February 2023

@Michael Savage, Something similar happened to me in Tulum last October, I was in a supermarket where someone squirted taco sauce on my back and shorts when I looked behind me to see what happened the guy who squirted the sauce had disappeared but another man standing nearby told me I had to go to the toilets to clean up, luckily I didn't instead I looked for security who actually showed me a picture of the guy from the stores CCTV, they went looking for the guy but he has disappeared. I feel very lucky that I didn't go to the toilets because I dread to think what would've happened.


Wednesday 8th of February 2023

@Michael Savage, i ALSO SAW AT A gaz station, full service where the pump was not reset when I arrived, the attendant probably put 20 pesos in his own car,