A Solo Females Guide To Travel in Cancun & The Riviera Maya 2023
Hey, solo female traveler! 🙂
I was just like you once (still am)…
I’d had enough with the mundane and rainy life of Manchester, England and wanted OUT!
So, I hopped on a one-way flight to Mexico for the adventure of a lifetime and never looked back.
It’s when the most epic chapters of my life began unfolding.
Whether you’re confident at this stage or still a little dubious I’m here to help guide you through everything you need to know as a solo female traveller in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and the rest of the Riviera Maya in 2023.
^^ Hi, I’m Sarah, if you are interested in learning about my personal story for some perspective* skip to the bottom section first. 🙂 I hope it helps.
1. Taxis, Buses, and Getting Around
When I first stepped on the one-way plane to Cancun I was full of hope, excitement, dreams, and adventure!
Everything you’d expect for a 22-year-old kid!
I was fearless!
Yet, in my ripening old age anxiety, fear and all the rest of that nasty stuff does have a way of creeping in, doesn’t it?
I’ve learnt to tame the beast as best I can, and go with the flow because what is the worth in worrying about something that’s not happened yet?
Looking at forums and Facebook groups I am in, I can see that many of you beautiful solo female travellers have a little bit of angst about what happens as soon as you step off the plane.
Am I right?
1. Cancun Airport is super easy to navigate.
Waiting time to get through border control is pretty typical of any other airport I’ve been to and can be anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour in my experience.
Fill out your border control form on the plane to save time, and unless you have a working Visa be sure to tick the “visiting as a tourist” box which currently permits you to stay for 6 months.
2. Outside the main terminal you will first be greeted with Mexican hot sunshine, and then taxis, private transport and the ADO bus service.
So, let’s talk about those so you can decide which one is the best mode of transport for you to get you to where you need to go on your arrival.
Depending on your level of confidence at this stage I have listed your options in order of ‘best choice for you, pending the level of confidence’:
ADO Bus Service – (Confident Solo Female Travelers)
This is the service I’ve used every time when entering the country alone, largely because it’s super reliable, comfy, clean, CHEAP, air-conditioned and spacious.
Plus, actually, a great way to meet people on your way into town! 🙂
You can book your ticket in advance on their website here ADO.MX
Or, simply buy at the stand like I do every time unless I expect it to be really really busy.
You’ll just need some pesos for this.
These buses will take you directly to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and many many more areas.
When you’re here and you’ve got your bearings they are one of the best ways to explore the beauty of the region, why not visit Holbox or Bacalar?
You’ll find the ADO stations at the heart of all the main cities and towns.
For example, in Playa del Carmen the main ADO terminal is located on 5th Avenue.
Taxis – (Comfortable Solo Female Travelers)
Are taxis safe? … is a totally normal question to ask which I hear a lot.
The taxi unions and the city governments take taxis in the region seriously.
It’s big bucks for them.
That’s why they’ve centralized the whole system to keep it safe and to help honest locals in the area earn a decent living.
You won’t find uber in Cancun or the Riviera Maya.
The taxis you should always use look like this…
You can holla them down on the street, or they have stations (like the station outside the airport which you will see on arrival) where you can simply jump in one (this costs a little more).
When you are in Cancun, Playa, or Tulum you can order door-to-door taxis by simply using the Official WhatsApp Taxi service.
Whatsapp Taxi will quote you a price (which is only 10 pesos more expensive than the normal fare), along with the number of the car you should look out for.
All taxis are paid in cash.
The best part is they run a 24-hour service.
Just send a WhatsApp message to
(+52) 9841970814, (+52) 9841381075, or (+52) 9848065510 and await your confirmation (save these numbers you WILL need them). 🙂
- Agree your price before you get in
- Never get in a taxi that is unmarked with 4 digit code on the exterior
- Moving taxis (off the main road) are much cheaper than stationed taxis on 5th Avenue or the ones stationed outside Walmart for example
- Make sure you can tell the driver where you’re going in Spanish (not all of them speak English). This might sound daunting but it’s actually super simple as all the roads in Playa have numbers, for example, you would say… “por favour podemos ir a la calle 10 con 30” translating as please can we go to street 10 with 30.
- Check out the WhatsApp Taxi Playa Del Carmen Facebook Page
Feel free to read my full article on Taxis in Playa del Carmen here.
Private Transfer – (Not So Confident Solo Female Travelers)
If it’s your first time in Mexico and you’re not feeling hella confident then a private transfer is the way to go.
We offer to organize these for you 🙂 (just reach out) and they each have different rates depending on whether you’re going from Cancun to Playa or Cancun to Tulum etc.
We use only the best and most reputable companies in the region.
You’ll be met with a smile and a comfy air-conditioned van.
Depending on how long your flight is you may well be exhausted, plus the heat doesn’t help either so private transfers from the airport are just also super convenient if you have the money.
Reach out for a price list.
2. Where to Stay as a Solo Female Traveller
You’ve got 3 options.
- House Share
1. If you’re here for a short time and you want to make friends obviously a hostel is the way to go.
Not all of them were made equal and there are some really nice ones throughout the region.
The Most Hip & Budget-Friendly Hostels
I’ll admit I never actually stayed in a hostel in Mexico, but I have been to many to use the bar or rooftop pools etc.
2. If you are planning on staying over a month and you have the budget there are some really stunning Airbnb and rentals you can get.
Your best bet is to start on Airbnb in order to book it before you get here, but when you arrive you will realize a lot of the property are managed by local firms who offer you an even better deal, win!
3. This was the one I did when I first arrived.
I actually got soooo lucky. Before I set off on my journey naturally I joined all the recommended Facebook groups such as:
I got talking to a girl who was looking for an extra roomie and I got a sweet deal.
It was super helpful in my first few months to live with her, she was Mexican, knew the lay of the land, spoke English and really helped me out.
However, I did move out not long after into a local rental as I couldn’t handle the intense party life that often comes with young Mexican girls, haha and I enjoy my own space but if that’s your jam – you’re sweet.
4. If you’re visiting for a short time live it up in a hotel or resort (if you’ve got the budget)!
Why not right? … you want to be comfortable.
Drinks, food, maid…what more could you ask for? #thedream
There are plenty of hotels for singles that are popular with solo travelers, I’ve even done a blog about it here.
You’re welcome ;).
3. Best Activities for Solo Travelers
When you get here before you’ve had the chance to make friends there are many things you can enjoy on your own in the region while you settle into this laid back life, top recommendations include:
- Go to the beach (no brainer)
- Get lunch on the beach
- Eat out
- Go to salsa dancing night/class
- Learn Spanish/go to Spanish lessons
If you’re new to this blog I really encourage you to dig around and type “tours” in the search bar.
You’ll find an abundance of content.
I have covered just about everything, and I’m always adding more keeping everything up-to-date as possible.
At PlayaDelCarmen.Com we offer the best local deals on tours.
With so many providers offering the same “experience” quality varies greatly, rest assured we’ve tried them all and only work with the creme de la creme.
4. Facebook Groups Are Your Best Friend
Facebook is all about community these days.
With an endless array of Facebook groups, I would suggest joining as many relevant ones as you can.
Start now by joining:
- Expats and locals in Cancun
- Expats and locals in Playa del Carmen
- Ladies in Playa
- Expats and locals in Tulum
- Roomies Playa del Carmen (where I found my first house share)
Whenever you have a question, ask the groups… you will get endless honest and helpful responses in minutes.
The communities in these groups are amazing.
I especially love “ladies in Playa” for female solo travelers because they really look out for each other.
They go out to bars in groups together.
They travel to places like Bacalar via car-share together and split the cost.
It truly is an amazing place to be if you want to get involved and share your experiences with like-minded ladies.
What are you waiting for? Join now. ! 🙂
5. Drinking Alcohol in Bars and Clubs
If you like to drink and party, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum have it all from chill beach bars to full-on nightclubs.
Just like you would anywhere in the world have your wits about you. 🙂
Go out in groups and never leave anyone behind.
Set up a group chat to make sure everyone gets home safely.
Plus, sharing taxis or having sleepovers is the best! Why not?
Lastly, always be mindful of your drink.
Bars can get quite busy so never leave it unattended or open for someone to spike keep it on your persons at all times if you’re having a boogie.
I generally choose bottled drinks in the cheaper ‘dingier’ places like hostels just because of the quality of the alcohol in some places can taste like sh*t.
In most reputable bars you will receive your well-known labeled spirits.
You will see what goes into them when you pay attention to staff making your drinks at the bar.
As always drink responsibly… hangovers in this heat can be dire.
Trust me I’ve been there many, many, many times.
Hydration is key.
6. Crime in Cancun and The Riviera Maya
Just like anywhere in the world of course there is going to be some level of crime.
However, it’s nothing near what you expect if you watch US cable station LOL!
In comparison to my home town of Manchester, I’d even go as far as to say that in Playa del Carmen it’s much safer in many respects.
Common things to look out for include:
- ATM Scams NEVER use cash machines on the street, always go to a bank or supermarket.
- Keep valuables out of sight when out and about and when you leave home
- Don’t get involved with any drugs if and when you’re offered them.
Basically, use your common sense.
LGTBQ people will be pleased to know that Cancun, Playa, and Tulum are VERY LGBTQ friendly. 🙂
For a more in-depth look at crime and to answer any questions you may have like “is Mexico safe” read my blog here.
I’ve detailed all the travel alerts for the region.
I have so much content on this topic ha.
So, check out:
- How to Make New Friends and Meet New People in Playa del Carmen
- The Ultimate Single Ladies Guide to Playa del Carmen
- 6 Awesome Spots to Find Single Attractive Men
Rule number 1, never meet the person alone for the first time.
Meet in a public place and get to know them.
Be sensible and take the same precautions as you would at home.
You’ll be pleased to know that dating apps here are just teeming with incredibly attractive people from all over the world.
The best part is?
You can even choose Tinder Premium to match with the people in Playa ahead of time.
If you are staying a while in Playa I will note it’s not always easy to meet people that are staying here longer than two weeks, but at least you will have made a new friend.
Everyone deserves a good dinner date from time to time.
8. The Language
Mexico is primarily a Spanish-speaking country, however, don’t panic due to the extremely tourist nature of Quintana Roo in general English is well-spoken too.
I put together a full guide on “How to Survive in Cancun and the Riviera Maya Without Speaking Spanish“.
You’re going to find this really useful so make sure you read it.
Before you get stuck into Duolingo or Local Spanish Classes (which I would recommend soooo much) make sure you download the Google Translate App.
This app has been my saving grace so many times.
It’s the holy grail when it comes to translation. You can either write a sentence to translate or speak directly into the microphone, whichever one works for you.
One of my favorite features is that if you are in a restaurant which only has a Spanish menu you can point your camera at the text and it will translate it for you.
The best thing about it is that even if you have no data or internet you can still download the translation tools to your phone so that it works without a connection.
Urgh. The dreaded C-word.
Yeah, I hate it too but I have to talk about it.
In fact, I have an array of unexciting, yet very informative blogs to share with you too regarding the subject.
You’ll find EVERYTHING you need to know.
Safety first and the purpose of this blog is to keep you safe which is exactly what I intend to do.
Ok, let’s start here:
- Where to Get a Covid Test in Cancun & The Riviera Maya
- COVID Live Updates and News
- How to Vacation and Travel in The Region During COVID (FAQ)
- Tours with The Best COVID Safety Standards
- Hotels with The Best Covid Safety Standards
Please note if you are a US citizen:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States. Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.
If you have any more questions on the topic let me know. 🙂 I’ll get back to you ASAP.
10. My Story as a Solo Female Traveler Moving to Mexico
I thought it might be useful for you lovely chicas to hear my own personal story of moving to Mexico.
Hopefully, it helps us all gain a little perspective.
I’d just come out of university into the big wide world and landed myself a really great office job in Marketing that paid extremely well.
I had a gorgeous apartment in the city centre of Manchester, and from the outside, everything looked sweet!
My family was proud, I had a great social life when I had the energy to actually go out, BUT I was morbidly unhappy.
I was 22-23 years old.
I used to get home at 6.00 pm and sleep till 6.00 am, no joke.
I remember thinking “oh my god” is this it!?
Then, one night something came over me.
Whether you believe in god or not this felt like divine intervention.
Without sounding mentally deranged I’ll even go as far as to say, that to some extent, it didn’t feel like it was a decision I made fully on my own.
If you ever get a “pull” like that, follow it, it will not fail you!
So, I was browsing Skyscanner like so many of us do when something inside of us is begging for change, and with absolute conviction, I booked a one-way ticket to Mexico, without telling anyone.
It left in 3 days. I’ve never been one for hanging around on decisions ha!
Anyway, I had a lot to do.
I had to tell everyone at work, my family and had to sort the apartment out ready to leave.
Some family members thought I was genuinely a bit crazy and that Mexico “is full of kidnappers, rapists, and drug dealers”.
Looking back it was crazy, but life is incredible like that and when something HAS to change it has funny ways of helping you make that happen.
Let me know if you know what I’m talking about in the comments down below.
I will say that this was not my first time in Mexico.
I had visited Cancun with my mum and dad as a child, and then the summer before I went to Mexico for one month with a friend and completely and utterly fell in love.
So, I had the benefit of visiting the country for a few weeks on holiday/vacation (whatever you want to call it – I’m British ha) before making the jump full-term.
I cried so bad at the airport when I had to leave.
I remember someone came over to me in the airport and gave me free coffee and a balloon shaped like a rose to make sure I was okay.
I’d recommend visiting for at least 2 weeks before making a big commitment.
It’s not for everyone.
However, EVERYONE should vacay here :).
I’m an avid traveler living that nomad life!
Even before Mexico, I had traveled solo to places like Brazil, Italy, Fiji etc for vacations.
So, I was well aware of the best ways to keep myself safe and have a fun solo.
I have shared all of that wisdom with you today in this blog.
Mexico is and always will be in my top 3 countries.
It holds a place close to my heart.
It gets a bad rep for heinous crimes thanks to the bias news show, but those crimes happen in the UK, USA, and any other western country for that matter.
I felt safer in Mexico than I did in London, let’s put it that way.
I implore you to at least come to see for yourself… you will be wowed by the incredible and awe-inspiring travel structure, world-class service, kind locals, delicious food, and so much more!
Maybe you will fall in love just as I did and want to call this place home, who knows!
Additional Resources You May Find Useful
Ask Me A Question
I understand you might be a tad scared or anxious so if you have any questions whatsoever then please do let me know, I’ll be here in the comments section to help! 🙂
Help a sis out and hit the share button too! Te veo pronto… 🙂 (see you soon).
Hi! Can you recommend a reputable private transfer company for me to use from the Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen? I will be flying in solo to meet my friends but of course I’m scared to getting to playa alone. Do you also recommend doing a shared transfer if companies still do that?