Went to Starbuck on 5th ave. Bought a coffee at 70 pesos. Gave her 500 pesos, she gave me back 130 pesos. Told her I gave her 500 pesos, not 200.... She argued telling me I only gave her 200 pesos (they are kind of the same color).... We argued like that for a couple of minute, I was about to tell her to close her cash machine and count so she'll could see her cash register would not balance and that in deed I gave her 500 pesos and NOT 200 !!! The guy next to me, a local, spoke to her and told her he saw that I gave her 500 pesos and not 200, she instantly stopped arguing and gave me back my correct change of 430 pesos !!! Make sure you count your change and don't be shy to let them know you know what is going on and your are checking !!!
Unique Suggestions: Mention you give them such an amount and count your change carrefully !
Cambio exchange on 5th avenue, make your own calculation and count your money !!!
I excahnged 160.00 CAN for 12 pesos, the guy went in the back and came back handing me a little piece of paper that looked like a calculater receipt and 1824 pesos. I Said thank you and left, but felt that was not the correct amount, in deed 160 x 12 = 1920 !!! So I went back, he took that little calculater receipt from me, calculated this time with the calculator next to him, saying sorry Senora and all, and handing me the balance missing (96 pesos), with calculator receipt showing the correct amount this time of 1920 pesos !!! So the next day, we made test, knowing it was the same guy in the boot, my boyfriend changed 200.00 CAN, the guy calculated on his machine and handed him the calculator receipt and 2400 pesos. Perfect ! My girlfriend went with 160.00 CAN, the guy got up, went in the back, came back with what seemed like a calculating receipt and handed it to her with the money for a total of 1824 pesos !!!!!! BUSTED !!!! We made him such a scene, yelling at him so everyone could hear, said we were going to call the police (but knowing how corrupted the police is in Mexico that is not a thing we really wanted to do...) we scared him, telling him, tourist boards were going to check on him and he better watch himshelf since we were going to alert authororities and tourism board and his little game could be very dangerous for him. Also lectured him and attracted lots of attention, telling people around NOT to go change their money there and to be very careful when they exchange money, CALCULATE BEFOREHAND, COUNT, VERYIFY and make sure what they give you is correct. Did we scare him, maybe, will he stop NO... BEWARE !!
Unique Suggestions: Calculate before hand what they are suppose to give you back when you exchange money in Playa Del Carmen.
Re-count the money they give you.
Fun Alternatives: Exchange in a known bank if possible.
Beware of the excursions that take you to Chichen Itza, Tulum, Coba or the theme Parks like Xcaret. You can catch a public bus (ADO) that is even more confortable and takes you to all those places, faster, and for a quarter of the price. You also avoid the constant attempts to sell you things, and the short stops right in front of a souvenir shop that sells everything overpriced.
To take a cab from the airport to Playa Del carmen - they will charge $90.00 USD
However, to take tyhe cab back to the airport - you will pay $50 or $60.00...
Unique Suggestions: So ... don't offer to pay 90.00 coming back..
or even better, walk 200m away from the airport and take a cab for less...
Booked the trip through Apple Vacations and when we arrived at our scheduled resort we were told at check in that they were over booked and sent to another resort. We were not presented with any choices and the Apple rep was not available which is contrary to the corporate pledge to ensure that everything meets your expectations while on vacation.
Unique Suggestions: We were sent to the Occidental Grand Xcaret. This resort markets itself as "family friendly".
They stole the life of 8-year old Brent Midlock by operating a pool with incomprehensible negligence. To date, this resort continues to operate without remorse and continues to lure unsuspecting tourists with the theme of "Beyond Your Expectations". The death of a family, friend is unbearable and inexcusable.
Fun Alternatives: Do not go to resorts with proven negligence. The entire region of Cancun which is in the state of Quintana Roo has had an alarming increase of tourist deaths due to safety and security issues.
How can one avoid such a horrific tragedy? Travel elsewhere!
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Playa is basically a scaled down version of Cancun. I spotted a Starbucks, Subway, Haagen Dazs, Wal Mart and the first thing I saw when I arrived.. Macdonalds! As its a popular holiday location all the large internation corps have taken up their seat on the main street.
Would also be aware of the shop vendors.. they need to earn a living, so they try to engage you in convo as you walk by. I spent most of my time ignoring them although felt rather guilty.
Unique Suggestions: Remember, you're on holiday.. enjoy the mexican culture. Going abroad isn't just about eating Macdonalds on the beach.
If purchasing any of the tourist items from shops on La Quinta, try looking at some of the shops round the corner because its likely you can get it a lot cheaper there. I would strongly recommend some good haggling!
Fun Alternatives: If Playa is too crowded for you, try Tulum down the road or any of the places in Riviera Maya. IF Playa ISN'T crowded enough.. there's always Cancun!
There are so many great options for food in Playa del Carmen, there should be no reason to go to places like McDonald's, Burger King, TGIFriday's or Johnny Rockets, all American franchises that just don't belong in Playa del Carmen. Since our first visit in 2003, they have added a Johnny Rockets and a huge McDonald's on the highway and on our most recent visit in 2006 we were horrified to see a Burger King right smack in the middle of 5th Avenue.
Unique Suggestions: No reason to go to any of these!
Fun Alternatives: There are plenty of other types of cuisine besides Mexican, lots of pizza places, restaurants that serve seafood and steaks, lots of Italian restaurants, even German and Japanese.
All the ferry's used to come to a ferry dock near the main plaza. Now one ferry company is moving to a new ferry dock around Av Constituyentes. I don't understand why. It seems silly. Hopefully that end of town won't end up as tacky and overly-solicitous as the other end. There is also a dock that accepts cruise ships about 10 minutes south of town. The taxis generally drop passengers off at the taxi stand in the paseo del carmen mall close to the old ferry dock. One more reason to stay away from that area. Damn, nothing turns my stomach like the people on the balcony at carlos and charlies when there is a cruise ship in town.
Playa del Carmen is a nice little place - if you like being harassed by store owners, street vendors, and taxi drivers. Everytime my sister and I stopped to look at something, out of nowhere would come a worker of the shop asking us what we wanted to buy. As you can see in the picture, men would sit outside of stores harassing us to come in. After awhile we didn't even attempt to look in any stores and ended up buying nothing.
While it is an experience and things were cheaper than in the hotel, I wasn't too impressed with the area. Pretty much every shop sold the same cheap items.
When you get tired of being at the hotel, day excursions are an option. However, some of these things can be quite pricey. It also is kind of lame because your transportation arrives at a certain time, which either gives you too much time or not enough.
One of the things I did was the Swim Adventure with Dolphins. It was quite pricey ($99 for 30 minutes), and it feels more like a photo shoot then actual interaction with the dolphin. Also, they charge way too much for the "professional" photos - $19 for a 5x7 or $14 for 4x6. However, they don't give you an option of choosing the size for certain pictures, and obviously the good close up shots are the bigger ones. Try to get a friend or relative to get photos of you instead.
Also, don't buy the video! My mom bought it for $35, and the DVD is the cheapest quality imaginable. It already had scratches on it and it seems like the quality of it gets worse with each play (pausing during playback, etc.) Luckily I was able to extract the video off of it so I can send copies to my relatives.
When you enter the airport after going through customs, there is an information booth. They will try to get your attention to come over to the booth. They will ask you where you are staying. Then they will try to get you to go to a time share. Don't even bother to stop at the booth.
Unique Suggestions: If you really want to spend your time at a time share presentation, do so at one that is within walking distance to your resort. That way, you can always leave whenever you want to, rather than being at their mercy.
Cozumel island nice from the ferry.... dirty tourist trap once off. Shop keepers are a nice lot but, the place has so much junk stores selling the same garbage. You really have to search to find a bargain, and, the shop keepers don't haggle that much.
Unique Suggestions: Roam around buy a few junk items and leave, Playa del Carmen is much nicer and the goods are about the same. And you can haggle.
Alas, paradise is a bit tarnished by the capitalism imprints in the main tourist avenue of Playa del Carmen.
Unique Suggestions: Do not let this steer you away. At least it's not as bad as Cancun :). If you want more peace and quite, then head to Tulum and stay in one of the many nearby Cabins. I personally chose Playa since the brother of my brother-in-law lives there so I manage to avoid rent during most of my stay :).
Not a long time ago, the eastern flank of the Yucatan Peninsula was a virgin beach, its long stretches of white sand overlooked by nothing more than coconut palms. After the growth of Cancun, also the coast have been altered by the construction of many tourist services. If the expansion go on like this, in a few years all the Maya Riviera will be a succession of hotels and holiday villages. In this way many beautiful wild beaches could desappear.
Along 5th Ave and the side streets, you can find hundreds of small shops.
Unique Suggestions: You can try to bargain, but some shopkeepers won't go for it. Shopping must be more of a "girl" thing. It bores me.
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