Playa del Carmen is a modern and pleasant tourist enclave in the Mexican Caribbean. This city of 150 000 inhabitants offers paradisiacal beaches, lively nightlife and wild nature. All without giving up the comforts of an urban destination.
Playa del Carmen is located in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula, just 70 kilometers from Cancun. The island of Cozumel, only 18 kilometers off the coast, is the perfect place to disconnect and practice scuba diving.
It is also possible to visit the exotic beaches of Tulum, located 65 kilometers away.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Tulum
- What to do in Playa del Carmen
- When to visit Playa del Carmen
- How to get to Playa del Carmen
- Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
- How to get around Playa del Carmen
- Cost of living in Playa del Carmen
- Where to eat in Playa del Carmen
Top 5 reasons to visit Tulum
If you are looking for a place to have fun in the Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is your place. Coco Bongo, Playacrawl or L’Ambassade are some of the most renowned pubs. Music, show and fun with a true Mexican essence.
Mayan cities: the richness of history
The richness of the ancient Mayan civilization can be seen in the various archaeological ruins that surround Playa del Carmen. Coba, Tulum or Chichen-Itza will transport you to the pre-Columbian era and allow you to learn about the way of life of these communities.
A short 40 minute ferry ride will take you to the island of Cozumel, a true paradise for diving and marine life lovers. In addition, the island has 27 species of endemic vertebrates, such as the pygmy raccoon. You can buy your ticket from MXN$ 135.
Around Playa del Carmen there is a great diversity of flora and fauna. The Sian Ka’an reserve, with 650,000 hectares of protected area, is a great example. This park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, can be visited by paying an entrance fee of MXN$ 50.
Festivals and events
Cultural life is another of the great attractions of this destination. The BPM Festival, a dance and electronic music event attended by people from all over the world, is held in January. For something more relaxed, plan your trip in November and you can enjoy the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival.
What to do in Playa del Carmen
Take a swim and get a tan
Playa Mamitas is right in the center of Playa del Carmen and has many chiringuitos, pubs and hotels. If you are looking for something less crowded, you can go to Playa Paraiso in Tulum. Visit Akumal to swim with turtles, and Playa Maroma to relax with a massage and spa session.
Shopping on Fifth Avenue
The shopping area of Quinta Avenida is full of fashion shops, souvenirs and crafts. The city’s most chic restaurants are also located here. During the day you can take a walk and buy gifts, sunglasses or bikinis. At night, get ready to dance to the music of bars, pubs and clubs.
Have fun at the theme and amusement parks
Xel-Ha (from MXN$ 1538) is a large aquarium with more than 70 aquatic species. On the other hand, Xcaret (from MXN$ 1709) is an eco-archaeological park where you will not only be in contact with nature, but also get to know the Mayan culture. Snorkeling, hiking, swimming with dolphins… are some of the experiences you will live in Xcaret.
Swimming with turtles in Akumal
To be part of this adventure all you need is a pair of glasses and a snorkel. In Akumal you will find a wide diversity of marine species just a few meters from the coast. This small town is located 38 kilometers from Playa del Carmen and has all the necessary services, from shops to restaurants and bars. Hiring a guide will cost you about MXN$ 350.
Tour the Mayan ruins of Chichén-Itzá
Classified as one of the seven wonders of the world, Chichén-Itzá (tickets from MXN$ 70) is the crown jewel of Mayan cities. A day trip will allow you to walk around the archaeological zone and immerse yourself in the richness of this ancient civilization. The amazing pyramid that stands out in the middle of a wide extension of land was built in honor of the god Kukulcan.
When to visit Playa del Carmen
From December to April is the high season, because the weather is more stable, with less rain and clouds. On the contrary, September is the month with the lowest level of occupation.
In general, in the Yucatan Peninsula the average temperature throughout the year is 25ºC, being the months from May to October when the highest rainfall is registered. However, these are sporadic and tend to be concentrated in the morning or afternoon, giving way to clean and clear skies afterwards.
How to get to Playa del Carmen
55 kilometers from Playa del Carmen is the international airport of Cancun. You can go from one point to another by hiring the services of a shuttle for MXN$ 200, order your own taxi (negotiate the fare before getting on, although it is around MXN$ 600) or use the ADO public bus service, whose ticket costs
Some of the companies operating at the Playa del Carmen bus terminal are Ado, MAYAB or OCC. There are also vans that connect to nearby towns. From here you can travel to Cancun (MXN$74), Chichen Itza (from MXN$192), Merida (from MXN$264) or Mexico City (from MXN$1,208), as well as almost any other domestic destination.
Route 307 is the main road that connects Playa del Carmen with other destinations such as Tulum, to the south, or Cancun, to the north. If you continue south, you can reach Mahahual and Laguna Bacalar. To go to Chichén-Itzá you must take the 305D and turn left on Federal 180. None of the roads include tolls.
Airports near Playa del Carmen
Where to stay in Playa del Carmen
If you’re looking to enjoy the sea and the best services, nothing like booking a double room right on the beach, in establishments like Hacienda Real del Caribe Hotel (from MXN$ 1235 per night) or Platinum Yucatan Princess (MXN$ 4500).
If you prefer something more intimate and private, we recommend the Bosque Caribe Hotel (MXN$ 950). For backpackers there are also options: a shared room at Grand Hostal Playa (MXN$ 560) will be the best place to explore the surroundings.
The most popular neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen
Playacar. Located in the south, this area is home to most of the hotels and resorts. It has many leisure and entertainment options, such as the Hard Rock Golf Club, Xaman-Ha Aviario and the Playa del Carmen Archaeological Zone.
Downtown. The hotels and residential areas run in perfect harmony in this neighborhood. Here you will find several shops and supermarkets, such as Walmart, as well as restaurants and bars. The Playa Aquarium and the Riviera Grand Casino are some of its main points of interest.
Grand Coral Golf Course. In the north of Playa del Carmen is located this exclusive course where you can play golf. In the surroundings there are some resorts and large hotel complexes.
How to get around Playa del Carmen
With ADO’s services you can explore numerous nearby towns, such as Cancun, Mahahual, Merida or Tulum. To go to this last town it is also possible to use the colectivos, small white vans that connect both cities. The buses leave every 10 minutes and your ticket costs MXN$ 35.
Taxis in Playa del Carmen have pre-set rates, so you can ask without obligation how much it will cost you to get to your destination. The city is divided into different zones. A ride in the most common tourist areas should cost between MXN$ 20 or MXN$ 35. In Quinta Avenida you will find several taxis waiting, although you can also request yours through an app or by phone.
If you arrive at Cancun International Airport, you can rent a car at Avis, Europcar or Alamo, with low rates from MXN$ 200 per day. These companies also operate in Playa del Carmen. In general, getting around by car is not very complicated and parking is relatively easy both in the city and at the tourist attractions you visit.
Cost of living in Playa del Carmen
Fifth Avenue is the main commercial artery. Some of the firms that have a presence here are Zara, H&M or the famous Sunglass Hut. But here you can also shop at small local craft, painting or fashion stores. The centre also has a good selection of shops that are perfect for giving you a treat or buying your souvenirs.
Food and other products
Walmart is the cheapest and largest supermarket in Playa del Carmen. Super Akí and OXXO are other chains that operate in this destination. In addition, the city is full of small convenience stores. A liter and a half of milk will cost you MXN$ 28 and a box of breakfast cereals MXN$ 50.
Where to eat in Playa del Carmen
The local cuisine is characterized by the use of products from the sea: fish and seafood are common on the menu of any restaurant. Reserve a table at Buzos Playa del Carmen and enjoy its flavors. If, on the other hand, you prefer to enjoy the most typical Mexican food, go to Zitla, a cozy and very exotic place.
Each diner will pay approximately MXN$ 200 for a full meal. Other alternatives are Italian, French, Thai or Japanese food.
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