Everything You Need to Know About Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen is mostly known for its beaches, parties and giant resorts. But there’s the whole other side of the city. It’s a great hub for independent travelers with many things to do in and around. As I’ve lived in Playa del Carmen for almost 2 years, I got to know the city and surrounding areas quite well.

This is my ultimate Playa del Carmen Mexico Guide for 2020. Here’s everything you need to know, but if you have any more questions post the comment and I’ll try to answer as soon as possible.Playa del Carmen Mexico


The Complete Playa del Carmen Travel Guide (2020)
by a Former Expat


Where is Playa del Carmen, Mexico?

Playa del Carmen is located in the Riviera Maya area on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. While it’s located on the Yucatan Peninsula, it actually belongs to the province of Quintana Roo. Playa del Carmen lies exactly between Cancun and Tulum, around 60 km (37 miles) away from both places. It’s also the fastest-growing city in Latin America.

If you’re looking for specific information about Tulum check out my Tulum Travel Guide

Playa del Carmen map


How to Get to Playa del Carmen?

Playa del Carmen doesn’t have an airport. You can choose to fly to either Cancun (45 minutes by car) or Cozumel (40 minutes by ferry). I always recommend using Skyscanner to check both airports.

If you’re flying into Cozumel, you can simply take a taxi to the ferry terminal and take a ferry to Playa del Carmen. There’s no need of pre-booking anything in advance.

If you’re flying into Cancun, then you have a lot of options. I personally don’t recommend renting a car at the airport, as it’s way more expensive than if you rent one once you get to “Playa” as it’s called by locals. The best way to get to Playa del Carmen is by the ADO bus. Don’t worry – it’s not a chicken bus. It has AC and broadcasts movies on the way.

Once you leave the customs area at the airport, there will be an ADO bus company booth to purchase tickets. Buses run every 40 minutes. You can pay in either Pesos or Dollars (177 pesos or 9 USD).

Once you arrive, there will be many taxis available that can take you to your hotel. It should cost you around 60-100 pesos from the station to anywhere in Playa.

It might be slightly confusing to find the area where the bus stops, and you might be surrounded by taxi drivers trying to offer you a deal, but just pass through them.

Remember that there is NO free Wifi at Cancun Airport, so don’t count on finding your hotel reservation upon arrival.


Is Playa del Carmen Safe?

Riviera Maya is probably the safest area in Mexico and Playa del Carmen itself is a relatively safe place. You don’t have to be afraid of walking alone at night or getting robbed on the street. 

While there have been some incidents that you may or may not have heard of, tourists and locals were never the targets. It was all happening between cartel members. Yes, I was there when it was all happening.


Weather in Riviera Maya

Many visitors ask about the weather in Playa del Carmen and expect it to be hot and sunny every day. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly true. While Playa del Carmen is generally warm, the weather changes quickly and rapidly.

There’s one rule if you’re coming to Playa del Carmen: don’t trust the forecast and dig deeper! Forecasts will only give you a day estimate. Always check the amount and percentage of rain and the hours of sunshine.

You can even check more detailed forecasts which will give you the weather by the hour. It might be stormy in the morning and sunny during lunchtime. You never know.

Unless you’re visiting during the summer (June-September), bring a sweater. You’ll be sunbathing during the day, but it gets chilly during the night. Unless you’re from a very cold country such as Finland, you will be cold. I always am.


Is Playa del Carmen Expensive?

How much money should you have for visiting Playa del Carmen or any nearby city? Playa del Carmen can be very expensive, or very cheap, depending on what you want to do.

For instance, if you eat at tourist restaurants on 5th Av, go to nightclubs like Coco Bongo and buy massages then you might end up needing at least $300 a day excluding the hotel.

If you eat where locals eat, your dinner should cost you no more than $5-7 and a cocktail for $3-8. If you’re planning some backpacking you can definitely survive on $50 a day.

Punta Esmeralda Beach
Punta Esmeralda Beach, Playa del Carmen

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen?

There are many places to stay in Playa del Carmen and many more are being built every month. You can choose from all-inclusive resorts, fancy hotels, private villas, small guesthouses or hostels.

Best Areas to Stay in Playa del Carmen

There’s no bad area to stay, but it all depends on what you’re looking for. The downtown tourist area lies between Avenida Benito Juarez (Calle 1) up to Avenida CTM (Calle 46). 

The best way to give directions in Playa del Carmen is to use the streets and Avenues – they only go every 5, so you’ll have Avenida 5, Avenida 10, 15, etc.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay with children you might consider staying in Playacar area. If you’re a party animal the closer to Calle 12th you are, the happier you’ll be.


Best Hotels in Playa del Carmen

I had a chance to stay at different hotels around the city. Here are my recommendations depending on your budget, expectations, and location preference.

I stayed at all of these properties (even lived at Sabbia apartments for a whole year), so can tell you everything about them. 

Best Hostels in Playa del Carmen

Hostal MX   –  Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Best Apartments in Playa del Carmen

Croc Condos   –   Check Prices On: AirBnB 

Sabbia   –   Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda 

Best Mid-Range Hotels in Playa del Carmen

Reina Roja   –   Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Acanto Boutique  –  Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Best Luxury Hotels in Playa del Carmen

The Royal   –   Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Grand Hyatt   –   Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

 

playa del carmen mexico
Playa del Carmen beach

How to Get Around Playa del Carmen?

If you’re staying in the downtown Playa del Carmen, then you can walk to most places. The city is easily walkable, with pedestrian paths everywhere. If you don’t want to walk you can either take a taxi or rent a bike.

Taxis in Playa del Carmen

Taxis are everywhere in Playa del Carmen, and they’re all white which makes them easy to spot. They’re also safe. The fares within Playa Centro (downtown) are supposed to be fixed at 25 pesos no matter what, but taxi drivers are always trying to take advantage of tourists and charge them 50, or even 100 pesos for a ride.

If you speak good Spanish you can argue. Another option is just telling the direction to the driver without asking for a price, giving them 25 pesos at the end.

If you’re traveling from anywhere in downtown to Playacar the price will be 100 pesos.

Renting a Car in Playa del Carmen

Don’t be afraid of renting a car in Mexico. The roads are wide and easy to navigate, especially with modern technology like Google Maps. Just watch out for wild drivers.

By renting a car you can avoid being on a giant tourist bus, and go to places in the area that aren’t easily accessible. You also don’t need an international driver’s license.

While online prices will show you cars for as little as $1 a day, this doesn’t mean that it’s actually a dollar. When booking online, you don’t pay anything until you pick up the car and no fee to cancel. 

However, once you arrive at the rental office they’ll charge you extra for insurance, taxes and other hidden fees.

From my experience, it’s better to actually pre-book in advance, as you can discuss a special rate. I usually rent cars from MEX Rent A Car on 5th Av.

These guys are reliable, honest and won’t surprise you with some hidden fee to be paid later. For $28 per day, including full insurance, taxes, and second driver option.

A car is great if you’re planning a road trip around the Yucatan, so I suggest you should at least consider this option. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Be careful at gas stations as there’s no self-service. There have been many reports of attendants not resetting the machines between cars and charging you for your gas without actually putting it in. Honest staff will show you zeros on the machine, so make sure you always look.

If you pay in cash, say aloud the amount you are handing over, as some attendants will try to convince you it was a smaller denomination than it really was. A common scam against tourists.

Read more about renting a car in Mexico

renting a car in mexico

Colectivos in Playa del Carmen MX

If you’re planning on getting around Playa del Carmen you can join the locals and hop on colectivo – public taxi vans. They can get a bit cramped sometimes, but they’re super cheap, like $1-2 a ride (depending on how far you’re traveling).

They can drop you off anywhere along their set routes. For instance, at Akumal or any cenote between Playa and Tulum.

Not quite as convenient as your own car though, and often not a lot of room for luggage/gear. But if you want to experience something local, a trip on a colectivo is definitely recommended.

They all leave from in front of the post office (Correos de Mexico) on Calle 2.


Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen

  • Parque Fundadores
  • Mamitas
  • Calle 2
  • Punta Esmeralda
  • Playacar
  • Xcacel

All beaches in Playa del Carmen are easily accessible and free, unlike in Cancun or Tulum where they’re often closed for resort guests only.

There are many things to do on the beach in Playa. You can get a massage, go jet skiing, parasailing, or even take a catamaran cruise. If you’re into beach clubs you can also find many of them in Playa del Carmen, such as Mamitas Beach Club.playa del carmen mexico

On the south side of the large pier off  Consituyentes is where Playacar starts and the beaches in this area of town are nicer and generally more clean and quiet.

If you want to mingle with the locals, try Punta Esmeralda. You won’t find the tourist crowd there, but local kids hanging out with their parents and people selling freshly grilled shrimp on the stick.

My favorite beach, however, is Xcacel. It’s actually closer to Akumal then Playa, but since it’s only 20 minutes away I’d still recommend it. It’s not free, you need to pay 20 pesos ($1.5) to enter, but it’s empty and even has a cenote in the area.

Xcacel
Xcacel Beach

Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

El Fogon and Don Sirloin

The list would not be complete without a nod to some genuine Mexican taquerias with several branches around town. Some people prefer El Fogon, others Don Sirloin. I think they’re both good.

I recommend the tacos al pastor with cheese, delicious shavings of spit-roasted pork topped with a slice of pineapple, served on the best corn tortillas.

taquerias

Los Aguachiles

If you’re into seafood, Los Aguachiles has you covered. It serves tostadas topped with fresh fish, as well as fried coconut shrimp and even unusual tacos. My favorite is actually a Popeye taco with creamy spinach, cheese and shrimp.

Hijos de la Tostada

Hijos de la Tostada, as the name indicates, serves tostadas. Similar to Los Aguachiles, it focuses mostly on seafood. You can get them traditional with raw seafood, or more western style with a fried ingredient on top.

Ask the bartender for a Chapulin cocktail – you won’t regret it!

El Pirata

If you’re a fan of fresh ceviche for lunch, there’s no better place to go than El Pirata. The place can give you a giant ceviche for just 90-120 pesos. Even with two people, you might struggle to finish it!

Ceviche mexico
Ceviche… yum!

Dona Mary

You can’t find a more local place than Dona Mary. This small corner spot is home to simple, but delicious chicken tostadas. No English menu, no cutlery available, but plastic chairs only. Definitely recommended, but prepare to get your face and hands dirty!

La Cueva del Chango

La Cueva del Chango is a great place for any occasion, due to its amazing setting. Set in a lush garden, this is a great place to have a nice, relaxing, and tropical breakfast. They even have the turtle pond in the middle! My favorite brunch dish there are crepes poblanos with cheese & mushrooms.

Chez Céline

Chez Céline is one of the rare places on the 5th Av where locals go to quite often. It serves incredible French food and pastries for any time of the day. You must try the white chocolate raspberry cupcake!

Nativos

Nativos has several branches throughout Playa del Carmen. This local chain serves up good, mostly healthy food and a wide selection of giant smoothies. Good prices and great service. I recommend chilaquiles verdes with eggs for breakfast.

Papa Charly

There are a lot of Italians and Argentinians in Playa del Carmen. Some of them opened Papa Charly creating one of the best restaurants in Playa. The place serves great pasta with a huge variety of sauces to choose from. My favorite though is the mushroom lasagne.

Don Chendo

Don Chendo is a Chicago style pizza place that gets everything right. The sauce is well-spiced, toppings are quality and abundant, and the owner and his staff are as friendly and caring as you’ll find anywhere.

Kaxapa Factory

If you like simple Venezuelan food that’s a place you should visit. There are only 4 choices on the menu, but they’re all delicious. f you want a break from taco life, try some corn pancakes there.


Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

People Watching on 5th Avenue

5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) is the place to see and be seen in Playa. It has the feel of a touristy beach resort during the day with trinket shops and overpriced restaurants, which changes to a pretty thriving night scene as the day wears off. It’s great for people watching and trust me, you can see some interesting characters walking around at night.

Tour Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto is a natural underwater park of secret portals located just 3 miles south of downtown Playa del Carmen. You can only visit it with an experienced guide as it’s pitch black inside.

But with a helmet equipped with great light, you’ll see some incredible stalagmites and other formations. Read more about my experience here.
rio-secreto-cavers

Experience One of the Adventure Parks

There are many adventure parks spread across the entire Riviera Maya. With the most popular being Xcaret with shows and beaches, there is also an adventure park called Xplor, or a calm Xel-Ha where you can see some colorful fish.

Personally, I’d probably skip Xel-Ha and Xcaret unless you have kids (or unless you visit for the Day of the Dead). Xplor was fun as an adult though!

xplor park mexico

Eat at Alux Restaurant

I decided to put Alux in things to do in Playa del Carmen, as it’s way more than just a restaurant. It’s an unusual restaurant in a cave that serves picturesque dishes.

They even have the very traditional Mexican escamoles (worm eggs) and chapulines (fried grasshopper). After you eat you can explore the entire space which is huge and full of secret tables in caves.Alux Restaurant

Have a Drink at the Rooftop Bar

Several places around the city offer free use of the rooftop pool when having food or drink. You can see some stunning sunsets while stuffing yourself with delicious stuff. My favorite rooftop would be Be Playa, as they have good sushi.

Enjoy Nightlife

Playa del Carmen is definitely a party place. There are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Most of the nightclubs are located on Calle 12, along with some bars on Calle 10. I recommend popping into La Vaquita – a club with a dancing cow!

While Coco Bongo is still being promoted as one of the most fun places in the area, I’m not a fan. It’s a nightclub with an open bar and many shows, but as fun as it sounds, in reality, is way too cheesy unless you’re wasted and over 40. Plus, I’m not a fan of having constant confetti coming from the ceiling straight into my drink.nightlife playa del carmen

Swim in Cenotes

There are many cenotes in the area for you to enjoy. Some are underground, others have some zip lines, some offer incredible diving and snorkeling adventures. You can visit my guide to cenotes here.

carwash cenote
Cenote Carwash

Enjoy Watersports

As Playa del Carmen is a coastal town you cannot forget about a large variety of watersports available. You can rent a jetski, learn to kite-surf or take a sailing trip.

If you’re interested in diving you could also take a short ferry to Cozumel and discover the best of the underwater world.

jet ski

For more activities and organized tours check Viator here.


DON’T FORGET ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE

Don’t forget to arrange health insure before heading to Mexico. The easiest and the most reliable travel insurance is World Nomads Travel Insurance. Get it before your trip to skip unnecessary troubles that might ruin your holidays!


Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen


Want to read more about Mexico? Check out my facts about Mexico! If you have any specific questions join my Mexico Travel Tips community group on Facebook.

Suggested More Extensive Guides for Mexico:

Lonely Planet Yucatan Guide
The Rough Guide to Mexico
Mexican Spanish Phrasebook


Did I miss something? Do you want to ask me anything about Playa del Carmen, Mexico?

82 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Playa del Carmen, Mexico”

  1. This guide is pretty good abd updated. It is important to mention that it is written by a resident.
    However, I am also a resident since 1996, I am surprised that all the local wonders of Calle 4 are missing, so consider the following a to do list for the future tourists and to check list for Anna .
    Hotels : Barrio Latino , Casa Tukan, Luna Sol and Acuario
    Restaurants and coffees : all locals, all in one block, all there since ever : Manne Biergarten, Romeo italian, Ale snack italian and japanese, Falafel Nessa .
    Google or go, and find out why hotels and restaurants here are always full.

    Have fun!

    Reply
    • Hi Anna!
      My husband and I often go to visit his family in chihuahua and are very excited to go for a BEACH vacation.
      Mostly to snorkel! ? ? Is the seaweed situation going to be a problem with that?
      Should we stay in Cozumel or playa for snorkeling?
      Finally, we’re more interested in the culture and exploring-would an airbnb(I see some good possibilities in Cozumel) or a resort be better?
      Love reading your blog-so interesting!
      Muchas gracias!
      Amy and Arturo

      Reply
  2. I did a quick price check on ADO website, and it shows transport cost is much more than $10 mentioned in post ($65+ in comparison). Is that because ticket is purchased online vs ADO bus company booth at airport? Basically, is it much better to wait to purchase ticket until airport? Thanks for help!

    Reply
    • I think you’re looking at prices in Pesos, not Dollars. Peso symbol is the same as dollar symbol (currencies have a common origin in the 15th–19th century Spanish dollar). I just took the ADO bus again from the airport to Playa del Carmen yesterday. The price is 177 pesos = $8.90 USD. You purchase the ticket at the booth at the airport without any issues.

      Reply
  3. Your content about Playa has been so helpful even though I have been to Playa twice before. Thank you for your posts. I wonder if you could help me with a couple of questions.

    I will be visiting Playa in April and will be leading a group of 10 adults. We will probably only have time to visit one cenote this trip. Which would you recommend for first-time cenote swimmers? We only plan to swim (not dive). I have been to the Gran Cenote before, but some of your other suggestions intrigue me.

    Also, I am finding very little information online about the cost of renting a jet ski. Can you offer any tips or information about getting the best price? Do you recommend any local jet ski rental spots? Thank you for any help you can give.

    Reply
    • Hi Adam!
      – You’re probably not finding any info about the price of a jet ski, as it all depends of your haggling skills 😉 If you’re doing it off resorts (eg. in Mamitas) then it’s cheaper. It should be around $1 USD per minute.
      – For the first cenote I’d say maybe Azul. Or if you’re visiting the ruins of Coba then you can stop by Choo-Ha.

      Reply
  4. This is a fantastic guide! I’m actually going to be in Playa for a couple of months at the end of April 🙂 What’s the best transportation to look into over 2 months there? I’m considering a rental split between me and my boyfriend, but we are also trying not to go too crazy on costs.

    Reply
  5. Do you happen to have a 2nd recommendation for a car rental place if Mex on 5th av. doesn’t have any available during our visit dates? Your guide has been so helpful in our trip planning to Playa!!!

    Reply
    • Yes, I used Hertz on the 10th Av last time and didn’t have any issues. Didn’t even book the car – just walked in and got it 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hi Anna

    Thank you for this amazing posts about Mexico. Heading there in August for a big trip and was wondering if you would be able to give me some travel advice please?

    Me and my partner do not drive, but I am dying to visit Las Coloradas and Calakmal. Are there any easy ways of getting there via public transport?

    Thank you!
    Josie

    Reply
    • Hey Josie!

      LAS COLORADAS
      Getting to Las Coloradas without a car is going to be tough and honestly VERY pricy. You’d have to take a bus to Tizim (there are like one of two per day only so don’t miss it) and from there you’d have to ask for a taxi to Rio Lagartos. Then you’d have to take a boat to Las Coloradas. The taxi alone would be like $75 at least one way (unless you can haggle a bit in Spanish, but either way there are not many options) – I met some people who did it. I don’t recommend taking a taxi to Las Coloradas as once the taxi drops you off you won’t be able to find a new one (it’s really a tiny town).

      There used to be a tour from Iguana Boat that goes to Rio Lagartos and also stops at the ruins of Uxmal. And while the tour would probably be the cheaper option I don’t recommend it, as when I did it myself I didn’t see any pink lakes, just the Rio Lagartos – looking similar to Sian Ka’an reserve near Tulum.

      CALAKMUL
      My boyfriend has actually done Calakmul without a car. Tough, but manageable. You need to take a bus to Xpujil. Then stay overnight and take a taxi to the ruins early in the morning (it’s around 50km into the jungle plus from the town – around 1-1.5 hour) and tell the taxi to wait for you when you visit the ruins. It’d probably be at least $50 since it’s quite far.

      Let me know if you need anything else 🙂

      Reply
  7. Hello!

    I’ve never been to Mexico before and my husband and I are planning a trip in a couple of weeks to Playa. I’ve been googling the best way to get pesos. Some sites say use ATMs and others say use exchange companies. Any insight?

    Also, is tipping standard there? And if so, how much for hotel staff, massages, wait staff, etc.?

    So excited for our trip! Your blog is amazing!

    Reply
    • Hi! Thanks so much!

      I usually take money out of the ATM at the airport and then in authorized ATMs. Exchange rates can be good or bad, but never pay in Dollars at restaurants as that’s when you overpay.

      Tipping is a must. The majority of people working in hospitality there have no salary at all (I actually worked in a well-known chain in Mexico when I used to live in Mexico City years ago, and my only salary were tips). I’d say at least 10% if not 15%.

      Reply
  8. Wow, this is so sexy. Would definitely want to visit after seeing your amazing pics of Playa del Carmen. I won’t be traveling alone there (got husband and kids) but really enjoyed reading this. Esp the part about parties and all.

    Reply
  9. Hi Anna,

    Been doing my research about PDC and Cancun. Will be staying in PDC for 3 nights and Cancun for another 3 nights. What are the places or things that I make sure I wouldn’t shouldn’t miss? Thanks again.

    Cheers,
    Blue

    Reply
    • All of these mentioned in Playa. I didn’t really go to Cancun much, as it’s too touristy for me, but you should take a trip to Isla Mujeres and or Isla Holbox. If you’re going to Cancun and Playa soon take precautions. There’s been a lot of shootings in touristy areas going on recently between drug cartels, so just be careful.

      Reply
  10. Thanks Anna
    Great advice

    We are heading to Mexico in November and travelling from cancun to Bacalar. Struggling with all the car rental advice there is so much.. so you would say rent a car from playa is the best option? And I found two rental places avant and easy way would you say these are good ?

    Thanks
    Jess

    Reply
  11. This is a long shot but I was hoping you might contact me. We are taking our 12 year old boys for just 4 days (11/3 – 11/7) to Playa de Carmen (Mahekal) and I want to make the most of it. We are planning a trip to Tulum and I was thinking about throwing in Xel Ha on the same day. Should I bother with Xel Ha? They mostly want to snorkel and fish and play on the beach. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • I think your boys would enjoy Xel Ha, as it’s (at least in my opinion) more for kids and families than just adults. However, I don’t know if I’d do it all on the same day. It depends on what do you want to do in Tulum and if it’s just the ruins then if you go very early, then you can make it back to Xel Ha. But if you want to see more in Tulum then you can also just stop by any cenote (for snorkeling) as then it’d cost you 100 pesos and not 100 dollars per person 🙂

      Reply
  12. There is nothing better than fish or tacos on the beach with toes buried in the sand. Any recommendations for that type of place?

    Reply
    • Yep, you can either go to some beachside restaurants (eg, Machekal Beach Resort, Canibal Royal) but these will be more expensive than other places. I like Zenzi but it’s Thai food. More local there’s Yan Ten with excellent crab tostadas 🙂

      Reply
  13. I know I’m probably all late in finding your amazing post l,however I just had a quick question. My family and I are planning a trip out to PDC this summer and found a place new building near Avenida CTM & Conzumel is this an “okay” area?

    Reply
    • Yes it is! I actually used to live on Avenida C.T.M. and your place is close to the beach. It’s a more quiet area since parties are on between 10-14th so I actually find it quite refreshing.

      Reply
  14. How far away is Calakmul from Playa by car? And can you explore the ruins yourself or do you need a guide? Would you recommend staying in Calakmul or is it also doable as a day trip? We’re planning to head to Yucatan in Oct, and will do a trip down from Playa to Tulum as well, so Calakmul can possibly be in our plan!

    Reply
    • A day trip isn’t doable I’m afraid since it’s far away (about 5 hours from Playa and then another 1-1,5h into the jungle). I recommend leaving early one day, stop for lunch in Bacalar, then continue driving, sleep at the campsite in the jungle and wake up early to see the ruins the next morning. Then drive back. You can explore freely on your own, it’s awesome.

      Reply
      • Thanks! Do you have any info on the campsite (like email address or contact) for booking or do we just drive there and check ourselves into the campsite?

        Reply
        • We just drove there 🙂 It’s called Campamento Yaax’che. There’s no wifi or phone signal and the owners go into town once every few days to pick up supplies, so even if you sent an email it wouldn’t be very helpful I’m afraid. It’s a very off the path experience and remember that it’s basic camping (you can read a lot of reviews on Tripadvisor that are written by entitled people who I think have never been camping before, leave alone in the jungle), but a cool one. My husband and I liked it 🙂

          Reply
  15. Hi – what is the attitude toward gays in PDC? We are a group of 20 gay, mid-age women who may be there for 5 days. We frequently travel outside the U.S. and recognize the limitations of other cultures. At the same time, we are ourselves and have a reasonable expectation of security. Is there anything that we should know ahead of travelling there?

    Reply
  16. Hi Anna, I am headed to PDC with wife and young daughters next week and read/love your blogs! I have booked a car via europacar in the airport and was wondering if they don’t cooperate with me, is it usually possible to cancel altogether and catch bus to PDC and go to the places you’ve mentioned without being penalized that you’re aware? And what do you know about hotel hulku? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • If you booked with Orbitz then I know you can cancel since they don’t charge you anything up front. I’m not sure about other websites. Never heard of hotel Hulku I’m afraid.

      Reply
  17. Hi, Anna! Love your blog and instagram! Do you have any recommendations for shopping in PDC? Are there shops that sell genuine artisan goods? I’m going in November and it would be nice to bring back a nice, non-touristy souvenir. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda, most things in downtown PcD look artisan, but they’re made for tourists. Your best bet is to get out of Playa and head to Valladolid for authentic goodies. Alternatively, you might look at Siete Detalles.

      Reply
  18. Hi I am planning to go to Playa del Carmen with my 16 year old son the 1st week of October. Will it warm (beach weather). Any places you recommend for us? is Tulum and Xcaret Park close by?

    Reply
    • It’s always warm in this part of Mexico. Tulum is about an hour from Playa, you can take a colectivo, bus or taxi there. Xcaret is slightly closer.

      Reply
  19. Hi Amanda, We are heading to playa del carmen in January 2019 and staying at a condo on Calle 6 Norte Bis, Planta Baja, Playa de Carmen.
    \
    Is there a form of transport from that area to 5th avenue and the beach or elsewhere?

    Reply
  20. Hi Anna,
    Do you know the seaweed situation in Mayan Riviera? Is it worth risking? I went few times, last in 2015, and had bad luck. The beaches were covered in seaweed. Did I pick a wrong resort? I am going with a toddler boy and a family so my only options are all-inclusive resorts. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Syl

    Reply
    • Seaweed is still there, unfortunately, not only in Mexico but also anywhere down the coast of Belize as well. Resorts clean the seaweed usually, so it should be fine, but you also might want to use the pool.

      Reply
  21. Hi Anna. First I must say that I love your blog! Our Honeymoon was in Playa del Carmen and we also went to Tulum and Cozumel. Two weeks are barely enough to see everything there, but we planned every second to the last detail and location and I believe we made it and it was absolutely magical. The one thing we enjoyed the most were the cenotes – we booked a snorkelling tour to Dos ojos and Grand cenote. I don’t think I can express with words how exciting that was. Good think we made a lot of photos and videos 🙂 We would like to thank Chucho from Koox diving for personally arranging everything, from transportation to our diving equipment and even Gopro cameras. We recommend to everyone to go visit the cenotes. The feeling is beyond words!!! I just told James that we should plan another vacation to Mexico soon. We just have to find the time. Anyway, Thank you for reminding me how amazing Playa del Carmen was. We both envy your adventures while we read your blog 😉

    Reply
    • Greetings Lola and James. I am very happy that you had a great time with Koox. Come again next year and I will make you a special personal discount for diving and snorkelling. Looking forward to seeing you again.

      Reply
  22. Hi Anne,

    I love the blog. We are thinking about staying in playa car. Will a car to get to the city? Imagine that will be too far from the city to go without a car or with Taxi. Or can we walk?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • It’s too far to walk from Playacar to downtown area, but the beach there is quieter and pretty. I’d suggest a taxi to the city center because parking might be a pain.

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          • Hey! I want to know how reliable a company is, maybe you can help me, his name is Airport Hotel Shuttle Cancun, one friend suggest me to book with this company but I really dont know how reliable they are, if you can help me I appreciate.

    • We’ve stayed several times in Playacar 2. Just depends on where the house is. Our rental was a 12 minute walk to the ferry and shopping. Use Google maps to plot your home and the walking mode to your destinations for approximate times and distance. Taxis are cheap to get to most places as an alternate solution.

      Reply
  23. Thank you for excellent content! 1 week from ‘Toes in Sand’ and will be trying some of your suggestions. I’ve had mixed experiences in PDC, but it’s still a beautiful place…and it’s in MEXICO, what’s not to ♡?!? Btw, have heard you can pay ADO driver directly once aboard bus from Airport (if lines are long at kiosks).

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  24. Without a doubt, the destination of Playa del Carmen is one of the most important destinations you can visit when you travel to the Riviera Maya.

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  25. Hi, I am planning a trip soon and will be staying in a hotel that is near the beach, but not on it. What is it like to go to the beach without having hotel access? If we walk to the beach, can we rent chairs/umbrellas there? Or can you only get that if you stay at a resort? Is it the type of beach where everyone lays out on their beach towels? I ask because I went on a beach vacation past year where no one laid out unless it was attached to a resort. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • All the beach in Playa del Carmen downtown is public. No hotels owns any part of the beach. Resorts do, but they aren’t technically in Playa del Carmen but in the middle of nowhere far away from the city (or anything else really). 🙂

      Usually you can’t rent umbrella, everyone brings their own towels and stuff, apart from a small part of the beach where there’s a resort near 46th street.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the info! I’m thinking we will go to Walmart when we get there and buy towels and maybe an umbrella so we are good to go. And potentially try one of the beach clubs also. Your site has been very helpful!

        Reply
  26. your information site has given me alot of insight of what we can expect to do and see and then some while we are there, we will be going in June 2020. This will be our first time at Playa DelCaremen and we are staying at a condo on the beach. It has a kitchen so I hope to do some light cooking but then again who knows with all the other options of food out there. My question is there will be 4 adults and I want to be sure we bring enough money for the week to eat and visit places and shop of course so I was looking to bring around $3500.00 US dollars do you think that would be enough, we aren’t looking at eating at fancy restaurants or anything like that.

    Reply
    • You’ll be more than fine with that much (or that includes the condo price too?). I honestly believe you’ll probably only end up spending half.
      P.S. Don’t eat on 5th Avenue all the time but go to 10th and 15th. Food will be 4 times cheaper and often the quality will be better 😉

      Reply
  27. WOW! amazing information for our upcoming trip to Playa del Carmen. Our family is going down in April 2019 this will be our first time and looking so forward to the trip. Family and friends are requesting “real pure vanilla” to take back. Do you have any recommendations on “real vanilla” and where to get it?

    Thank you again for all the info we are definitely going to be seeing some of your suggestions.

    Reply
  28. I completely agree with you that Playa del Carmen is mostly known for its beaches, parties and giant resorts. After reading the post it recalls the days which I spend with my wife. During our trip, we booked the transportation service from “nasttransfers”.Really want to go back to the area. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  29. Hey Anna-
    I hope all is well. My 9 year old son and I will be flying into Cancun in August for a 9 night 10 day trip. I’m planning to head for Tulum when we first land for a couple days, then (thanks to your blog) head to Calakmul, then return through Valladolid for a few days before finishing the trip in PDC. I have a couple questions I’m hoping you can help with;
    1) I can’t tell about the last road to Calakmul, is a 4×4 needed?
    2) I think we’ll camp one day outside Calakul (as you recommended) but I would like to stop somewhere between Tulum and Calakmul or between Calakmul and Valladolid (prefer only one 5/6 hour driving day on vacations 😉 ). Any recommendations on a place to stop in-between for a night?
    Keep on exploring.
    -Cheers
    Brian

    Reply
    • Hi Brian!
      No 4×4 needed for Calakmul, we just had a regular 5 door car.
      Best place to stop would be Bacalar – you won’t regret it!

      Reply
  30. Hi Anna, this is an awesome guide and thank you so much for posting. Where do you suggest I have my online orders shipped to? My apartment is gated and I am out all day. Friends have suggested that I have packages sent directly to the DHL Office or the FedEx office right here in the Centro. But I seem to have trouble getting in touch with the sellers on Amazon. What can you suggest to me please? How was your experience with online shopping in PDC? Any advice will be much appreciated!!!

    Reply
    • Online shopping in Mexico is a joke, save yourself time, money and effort. Packages and letters rarely arrive, but your best bet would be to ship to either DHL or Fedex offices but then again, it would have to be shipped through it. Are you shipping from Mexican Amazon or Amazon.com, if the latter remember you would be charged a giant tax. After a few attempts we gave up and if we needed to pick something big up that was unavailable in Mexico we just took a cheap flight to Miami and got it there from Amazon Locker.

      Reply
  31. Anna – My husband and I visited about 10 years ago. Prior to our trip we stumbled on a blog similar to yours. It helped us find a husband and wife tour guide service. At that time it was on a van and was just the husband as the wife was pregnant with their first child, I believe. He picked up our small group and we we toured the ruins, dove off cliffs, swam and snorkeled in the cenotes, and ended with a wonderful lunch on the beach. It was very inexpensive, especially with how extensive and personal the tour was. I was amazed and it was the highlight of our trip. Does this tour guide couple sound at all familiar. I am dying to see if they are still in business, as I always want to refer people. We did not go through our hotel or any large booking sight. I simply found out about the tour via the blog and booked directly with the husband. I would appreciate any info you could offer. Great blog and information by the way!

    Reply
  32. Anna! Thank you for all this great info! We are trying to decide if to go to plata de Carmen or Tulum. Is the seaweed that bad in the Playa del Carmen. Should we choose Tulum instead? Let me know your thoughts. Thank youuu

    Reply
    • It’s good and quiet, very close to restaurants and close enough but not too close to the beach. I’ve lived there long-term. There are some long-term guests but many stay for a few days as well.

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    • Bars and restaurants on the 5th are open with limitations and precautions, nightclubs are closed similar to most beaches (only 3 beaches are open to the public). But they might close not because of covid but the hurricane though because it’s awful storm at the moment and Nana is expected to turn into a hurricane and hit further exactly when you’re planning on going, so it will be rainy, stormy and potentially flooded – the area is on high alert now and hurricane warning 🙁

      Reply
    • Many hotels are open. Currently they reopened 3 out of 16 public beaches, all with limited capacity and with a possibility of them re-closing it again if people don’t respect the rules.

      Reply

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