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Sliver: Know Your Prices!
There are millions of jewelry shops in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Playa Del Carmen. Silver jewelry is not at all cheap in Mexican tourist towns anymore. It is generally more expensive than in Canada or the USA, even after the best haggling. I think silver has become government regulated in Mexico because the tags are exactly the same at most of the shops. The prices have gone up dramatically since the mid 1990s. I see lots of people who have no idea what the items they're looking at are worth and they look very confused and distraught. The vendors will tell you "Mexican silver is better quality, more valuable, handmade, this is very good price." Don't believe it for a second! Before you travel, go to your local jewelry shops and/or look through catalogs to get a general idea of what silver necklaces, bracelets, and rings are actually worth. Also check the values of amber, turquoise, and moonstone settings (in that order). Write the average prices down so you have a point of reference.
Unique Suggestions: The items may still cost more than back home (even after haggling), but if you see something unique that you can't live without, get it, because you may never see the same piece again. Better to pay a little too much than regret forever that you didn't get something you liked.
Day Trip Bus Rest Stops
If you take an organized bus day tour to Chichen Itza, Tulum, or Coba, your bus will make a stop at a tourist shop for folks to use the restrooms. Your tour guide may put a small sticker on your shirt with a number on it to "identify" the group. The sticker is actually so that the tour company you are with gets a commission on any souvenirs you buy while at this shop. The souvenir shop that the bus stops at is generally so far away from anything else that it adds undue driving time to your trip and doesn't allow for any comparison shopping (there are no other shops nearby). These shops are way overpriced because they know they have you "trapped".
The bus rest stop on the way to Chichen Itza is very far from Cancun (too far in my opinion), so make sure you use the bathroom before you get onboard and go easy on the coffee (even if it is early in the morning).
The rest stop shop depicted in this photo was a tiny one-room shack the first time I visited Chichen Itza. Only three years later, it has become a gigantic store. Extremely colourful, lots of selection, very expensive.
Unique Suggestions: As in my "Silver" Tourist Trap Tip, if you see something unique that you really can't live without, get it. You may not find the same item somewhere else and this may be your only chance.
- Historical Travel
There are a lot of flea markets throughout Cancun and the surrounding areas. You'll notice them, because they will be filled with blankets, hats, sculptures of bone, wood, or limestone, and other misc.items. A bunch of vendors set up shop next to one another. Just remember, NEVER pay FULL PRICE! Always Bargain!! You'll do yourself a favor and end up saving alot of money.
Anywhere you shop around Cancun is overpriced. If you head into the flea markets along the hotel zone or to Market 28 downtown you can bargain with the vendors. A lot of the established stores won't bargain with you, for the most part. You'll find a lot of the same stuff from cart to cart, so look around and don't be afraid to walk away. I found this is the best barganing tool. My advice is to set a price in your head as to what the item you want is worth to you and work from there. We were shopping in Market 28 and the guy quoted us 900 pesos ($90 US) for the items we wanted from his stand... we ended up paying only 300 ($30 US) pesos so don't be afraid to bargain! When in doubt threaten to walk away and they'll usually drop the price drastically.
Unique Suggestions: Shop around and bargain. Figure out how much the item is worth to you and don't be afraid to walk away. Chances are you'll find the same item 2 stalls down. Shop in the open air markets versus the established shops.
Fun Alternatives: I tried talking to the concierge at our hotel to find an alternative to the more touristy markets. I wanted to find original art by locals and had a hard time. Cancun really caters to the tourists. Try talking to locals to find alternatives, but it's difficult. I would recommend Market 28 downtown vs. the flea markets in the hotel zone if you have the time. But know that even Market 28 is a tourist trap.
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Tips for Cancun shopping
The jewelery vendors on the street in Cancun are very forceful and try to make u feel very bad if u don't buy something from them. First off all nothing they sell is of good quality. The silver they sell is very cheap and tarnishes within months and leaves u with black marks on your skin. secondly don't pay more than 10 bucks for anything, this includes braclets and rings. They will try to get u to bid your price. Offer them about a third from what they start their bid off at, nothing more. I wouldn't pay more than 10 bucks for anything. They will say rude things to you if u choose not to buy form them and try to pressure you into buying something. DO NOT FEEL BAD. just walk away. Secondly if u need to buy toiletteries, booze, sunscreen, or anything else while in Cancun there is a supermarket in downtown Cancun, not in the hotel zone. Take the bus and keep going passed the strip, pass LaBoom and about 10 minutes later get off. This supermarket is big and hard to miss.
Unique Suggestions: Hotel Zone prices vs Downtown Cancun Supermarket prices (hotel zone prices are around double, maybe more then downtown Cancun supermarket prices):
Don Julio Tequilla HZ: 44.00 DWTWN: 29.00
Jose Cuervo Tequilla HZ: 12.00 DWTWN: 5.00
Kahlua HZ: 9.00 DWTWN: 5.00
Havana Rum HZ:12.00 DWTWN: 5.00
Coppertone Sunscreen HZ: 6.00 DWTWN: 2.99
Kahlua Chocolates HZ: 10.00 DWTWN: 3.50
Market 28, gotta love this place, it will suck the day away....I suggest you look at the prices in your hotel gift shop and get an idea so u can bargin with the shop owners because if u dont you will pay WAY more than necessary. Thefunny cancun t shirts they sell can be as puchased as low as $2.50 each if u "bargin : well. I got this beautiful leather back pack for $27 instead of the 900 pesos they wanted($90) If u bother them longer than they bother you any thing is possible. They are TONS of nice things in these markets so still shop just be aware.
DONT EVER PAY $6 for bottle water ask for price becfore u touch softdrinks sold from coolers on the street!!
Unique Suggestions: go just pay attention
Fun Alternatives: there is no alternative
When Buying Ganja in Cancun
Some Mary Jane isn't hard to find, no matter what quantity you're looking for, it's the quality that may be disappointing.
I was buying souvenirs and decided to buy a carved-stone pipe when I got approached. I was taken across the street to another building, then escorted up the stairs and sat in a waiting room for 15 mintes while someone shuffled around in a dark room. When I got it, I was not surprised by the quality, but the price was outrageous, and he wouldn't give in to any haggling. Overall I paid twice as much as I do in The States, but hey, it'sbetter than nothing.
Unique Suggestions: Try not to go to the first person you have a feeling about, and if they're more eager than you are, then maybe you should consider another source.
Fun Alternatives: I guess your only alternative is to stick to alcohol, in which case you might be better off, as the police men are more than happy to have you spend the night in jail or take a hefty bribe.
- School Holidays
Local flea market in downtown Cancun
Unique Suggestions: Don't buy anything until you price other malls and then other stalls here. Everybody has the same merchandise so no piece is that unique that you will miss out if you don't buy right away. A jewelry store at Mkt 28 tried to sell me a bracelet for $130 that was priced at $50 at another mall.
Fun Alternatives: Flamingo Mall is good for cheap souvenirs and the jewelry prices weren't too bad either.
Flea market prices -- negotiate!
The prices at the flea market closest to the hotel strip and in the middle of the clubs are high so make sure you negotiate! Hold firm ... it make take some time but most vendors sell the same things and someone will give it to you for the price you want.
- School Holidays
Mercado 28. Downtown Cancun a place for CC Fraud
This is an open market in downtown Cancun. The place is very charming and different. You can find jewelery and art and crafts. The place is just a a market to rip pleople off. The sales people are very good at ripping you off and sell you everything more expensive. I also made the mistake of using both my credit cards and the merchant rip me off. He placed all these illegal transactions on both my credit cards I am now broke. When I came back home there were about $2500 of illegal transactions on my credit cards from this merchant. I am very mad at my self for being so stupid.
Unique Suggestions: DO not use your credit card
Fun Alternatives: there are many reputable stores in the area
- Family Travel
We went on a Chichen Itza tour for the day and the tour itself was wonderful, but beware of the tour guides trying to get you to overpay on souveniers. Our guide constantly reminded us about shopping and that we were going to get a great deal bargaining with the Mayans, but they took us to a Tour Shopping Stop (all the buses stop there I believe) and you are hurried through this market in the middle of nowhere with people following you around trying to get you to buy everything you look at whether interested or not.
I saw a pretty necklace as I was shopping for a souvenier for my 4 year old daughter and the guy saw me looking at it. He had me try it on and even got a full length mirror for me to look at it. Then he escorted me to another man whom informed me it was $299 USD. I was floored. I tried telling him I was not interested as it was too expensive to begin with but also I wouldn't spend that amount of money on a necklace for a 4 year old. It was very difficult to get them to stop pestering you.
Lastly, souveniers are more expensive there than in Cancun.
Fun Alternatives: If going on Chichen Itza tour, I don't believe you can avoid the market stop. I recommend driving on your own. Very easy to get there, no problems on the roads. Easy to follow signs and then you can stop in the small towns where the prices are NORMAL
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
The only thing that didn't...
The only thing that didn't go well with me was the prices that they were charging for everything from trinkets,meals,drinks & yes,even ice cream. Cancun is geared to much towards the American Dollar & their prices for everything are way to high. I would recommend going to Playa del Carmen instead of Cancun because their prices are a lot more reasonnable, your dollar will go a lot further.
These are very interesting...
These are very interesting people to be around. The tourist trap part is everyone has something to sell. When we went deep into the market we were approached with selling of illegal things and my husband was asked if I was for sale. He said it would cost hima lifetime to pay for me I was very expensive ha ha!
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Watch out for all the vendors....
Watch out for all the vendors. If you would like to do some shoping go into town were the locals shop instead of the tourist shops near the hotel strip. Luckily for us we are hispanic therefore was able to hagle the price down to a more reasonable price. One item they wanted to sell us for 20 pesos we ended up buying for 5 pesos. Be careful.
Hotel Zone -- Pricey Comfort Zone
Whatever it is that you want to buy, go outside the hotel zone. Most places in the hotel zone will sell film for 7-10 USD, where you can buy the same things outside the "Zona Hotelera" by much cheaper.
There are lots of stores and a flea market outside the hotel zone, near the downtown area of Cancun.
here is a picture of these cute little birds that hung around the restaurant; their heads were a dark pearly navy, and their body was black -- so beautiful...
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