Playa del Carmen Travel Guide

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Playa del Carmen Highlights

  • Pro
    ScubaCat profile photo

    ScubaCat says…

     Much quieter than Cancun, but you can still party hard if you want 

  • Con
    peggydaly profile photo

    peggydaly says…

     won't last forever. the next cancun? let's hope not. 

  • In a nutshell
    Dabs profile photo

    Dabs says…

     Perfect winter escape from cold, cold Chicago 

Playa del Carmen Things to Do

  • 5th Avenue

    The second part of 5th is wider than the first part and has less people milling about. The stores and eateries in the part seem to have a higher standard. Competition for souvenirs is little so the first part is probably where you will get the better deal. Definitely good for a relaxing stroll away from the crowds and the beaches are much better...

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  • Beaches

    Now that I've been to Playa del Carmen nine times I don't feel the need to schedule quite as many daytrips, often we find ourselves just lounging on the beach with a good book or a pile of magazines. If you stay in Playacar, your resort will have lounge chairs, small sailboats, kayaks, jetskis (extra charge) and volleyball nets along the beach with...

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  • Xel-Ha

    Rio de la Vida means River of Life. This is the main estuary for Xel Ha lagoon. There is a cement path way around the lagoon. At the far end from the dinning area there path leads to an arch which is the access point to the river. Xel Ha staff are present to set you up with a tube. They are available in one person or two person. You also must wear...

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Playa del Carmen Hotels

Playa del Carmen Restaurants

  • Alux

    As other post have mentioned it is truly a full, non-claustrophobic cave. From the street it doesn't look like much but as you enter there was a statue-like man dressed in full traditional costume. He startled my 13 year old but she just laughed it off. As you walk down the stairs you notice that it is muggy but not uncomfortable at all. We just...

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  • El Fogon

    My favorite "non-touristy" restaurant in playa..away from 5ta ave. but still accessible. Always friendly, vibrant, and very polite staff at your service. Around August this restaurant can be quite hot, but if you can get past that the food is great. Any other time of the year this restaurant is comfortable in temperature and always clean. I'll go...

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  • Senor Frog's

    Senor Frog's is a popular theme restaurant with several location in Cancun and PDC. In the past I always had a good time. Things seem to have declined here, especially with the food. The atmosphere is still fun but seemed to be very family oriented which is fine. Swings for seats at the bar and inner tubes with butts hanging out hanging from the...

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Playa del Carmen Nightlife

  • Blue Parrot

    2011 Update: The Blue Parrot has temporarily closed for renovations. The Blue Parrot has a long history of being the place to go and be seen around midnight. It's called a Playa Del Carmen "landmark". Crowds begin to come in around 11:00 p.m. and it stays busy for several hours, before the crowd moves on elsewhere (to Capitan Tutix). The Parrot...

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  • Senior Frogs

    July 2009. Carnival cruise port of call Calica. $13 each way taxi for four to Playa Del Carmen. Stopped in for an afternoon at Senior Frogs with the hubby in Playa Del Carmen while my inlaws went shopping. Sat, ate, and drank for hours while overlooking the beautiful Caribbean. Stayed there so long that the bartender gave us a free drink each. I've...

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  • 5th Avenue

    5th Ave is the main shopping street in this area. Its around 3km long. There are alot of bars and food places down there is makes it lively. Its good for shopping on a night time as the shops are open late but the street comes to life with street dancers, musical people and painters etc. It comes very colour and alot more lively than in the day...

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Playa del Carmen Transportation

  • Colectivos

    If you want to visit Tulum or Cancun from Playa, you can take a colectivo which is a small minibus. There is no schedule, they leave when they are full. It's 30 pesos to Tulum, 20 to Puerto Aventuras or Cenotes. They leave from Calle 2 between 15 & 20, across from the park. If you are hungry before or after your trip, see my recommendation for a...

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  • Ferries to Cozumel

    As of December 2013, price on either ferry is 312 pesos round trip (currently $26US), they take Mexican or US Cash Ferries run from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel on the hour but not every hour so make sure to catch the return times. The two competing companies, Ultramar and Mexico Water Jets, have booths right across from each other in both Playa...

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  • Buses

    The central bus station is situated on Fifth Avenue close to the Main Plaza and ferry pier. It's here you can catch frequent buses to the airport and to Cancun. Regular buses also depart here to many of the nearby tourist attractions such as Tulum, Chichen Itza and Coba. These can provide a cheaper alternative to going on an organised tour.

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Playa del Carmen Shopping

  • Chedraui

    I always like visiting grocery stores when traveling, you can find some interesting things to eat and occasionally something to bring back for friends and family. Just south of Juarez Avenue on highway 307 is Chedraui, a large supermercado selling groceries, liquor, some clothes, small appliances, household products, etc. There's also a small...

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  • East meets West

    This is a unique store for the area. It's a take on eastern style decor. Many Buddha statues and eastern art. It's a very big store and very popular with tourist. Surprising to find this here amongst all the Mexican souvenir shops.If you are in the market for a Buddha statue or other eastern art work, this is a great place. More expensive than...

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  • Know where to go

    Every place in Playa del Carmen will accept US dollars. I am not sure about other foreign currency. However the exchange rate is always less than what you can get from a money exchange booth. Also, the hotel desk clerk where I was staying said banks in PDC will not change money, I have to use a booth.There are plenty of these exchange booths all...

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Playa del Carmen Local Customs

  • Native Animals

    We've seen the large band of coatis on both of our trips to Riu Tequila, in 2009 they were hanging out near the pool and near some of the rooms near the pool waiting for someone to take pity on them and give them a snack. They seem to come out near sundown and don't appear to be particularly frightened of the large international group of sun...

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  • Pilgrims

    I took these pictures back in December 2003, eight years later we finally had someone tell us what they were doing and that it was connected to the December 12th festival of the lady of Guadalupe which we always seem to be in town for. Along the highway from the Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen we spotted the first of them, this on December 7th,...

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  • Festival of Guadalupe

    The was the 2nd time we've been in Mexico for the Festival of Guadalupe which is held on December 12th and celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe and her appearance to Juan Diego telling him to build a church in Guadalupe. It's not a public holiday but is said to be one of the most important religious holidays in Mexico.In Puerto Vallarta, there was a...

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Playa del Carmen Warnings and Dangers

  • Bats!

    Just a little forewarning about visiting Cenotes. Being that it is a cave, they make perfect homes for bats. These are fairly large and can be seen fluttering about and also can hear a screech every now and then. They are harmless. However several in my group were frightened so I would pas along a warning. It may not be for you if you have a fear...

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  • Negotiating the airport

    Getting through the airport in Cancun can be a challenge for the uninitiated. Getting through passport control is quick and getting your luggage is quick. Passing through customs depends on the number of people arriving at the same time, in December 2013 it only took a minute. Press the button, if it's green you are free to go through, red and they...

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  • Immigration forms

    On your way to Mexico, they give you a two part immigration form to fill out. One part of it is retained at immigration on the way in, the 2nd part they usually put inside your passport. I take my passport, with the form inside, and deposit it into the room safe where it stays until I'm ready to go home.On our most recent trip, two people got...

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Playa del Carmen Tourist Traps

  • 5th Avenue

    The vicious feathered warrior-god beckons to you because you can't help but look his way. "Come, come! It's okay, have your picture taken with me." Excited, you go and stand beside him. The god spreads his giant impressive wings, your friend takes the photo, and then "boom", the god hits you up for 50 pesos. It would have been nice if he had told...

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  • COUNT THE CHANGE THEY GIVE YOU BACK !!!

    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...

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  • BEWARE OF CAMBIO (money exchange boot on...

    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...

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Playa del Carmen What to Pack

  • What to bring for a beach holiday

    I pack a few of those pesky plastic grocery bags so that I can put our wet swimwear/clothes in them for the trip home. With the high humidity, nothing ever seems to dry.Check your airline, with additional fees on some airlines to check luggage, we decided to carry all our luggage on with us. There are restrictions on liquids, make sure to pack them...

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  • Mexico Travel Adapter

    Just remember if your going from the UK to take a UK to Mexico Travel adapter weather its so you can charge your camera up or phone etc. Our room didn't have any and the hotels prices for one was around £10 more than we paid in the UK. We took 2 with us which did the job.

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  • Bite Cream needed 100%

    You need to take a large tube of cream for bites when in mexico. I got bited 10 times by a Mosquito which are sore but the ant bites there itch for day and days. The only time they didn't itch was when i put cream on which is a relef.

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Playa del Carmen Off The Beaten Path

  • Cenotes

    This cenote is in Puerto Aventuras not far south of Playa and can be easily accessed by colectivo, see my tip re transport. It's a beautiful crystal clear cenote, one part is open like a lake, the other is partly covered like a cave. The water is cool about 25' and very refreshing. It's a nice change from the beach, and usually there are very few...

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  • Sian Ka'an

    Si'an Kaan is a national park to the south from Tulum, where you can see lots of wildlife. A boat will take you around a huge bay with mostly fresh water. You'll see lots of birds in mangrove brush. Then the boats will take you out to the open sea, and, if you are lucky, you'll see dolphins or turtles or both. After lunch you'll go to coral reefs...

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  • Beach

    paraiso beach club is a great place to have happy hr. starts at 3:00 also try their amberjack slightly breaded, delicious & I'm not much of a fish eater, went back twice last trip. when sitting on beach or going to little cantinas we always use Skintastic on our ft. & lower legs. it deters the sand fleas. located calle 14 norte on the beach.sorry I...

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Playa del Carmen Sports & Outdoors

  • Cave Diving

    For all you scuba divers out there. This is not to miss experience if your ever in the Maya Riveria region. It's an otherwordly experience, literally! A cenote, pronounce (say-no-tay) is a crystal clear body of water in the form of an underground river, lagoon and are entrance ways to underground caves. Most of them are in the jungle, but some can...

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  • For you Golf Nuts

    For those of you that stay in Playa Del Carmen or any of the many resorts between there and Tulum, there a place for you golfers. Not only is this a championship course in the world, but where else can you play golf and loose your ball in the jungles of Mayan ruins. The course and it's clubhouse is in it's own right a beautiful addition to the many...

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  • BarrieReef, Cozumel and Cenotes!

    We did three dive excursions on our trip to Playa del Carmen: First a trip to Cozumel, then a cenote dive and finally a day on the barrier reef, near Playa del Carmen. We dove Santa Rosa wall in Cozumel and it was pleasant enough but saw nothing much remarkable except there was a lot of sand on the reef even down deep. We dove with Studio Blue and...

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Playa del Carmen Favorites

  • THE COATI

    Also known as Brazilian Aardvarks, the COATI is a member of the racoon family. They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America and South-western North America. There were quite a few of them at the RiuTequila - my guess is about 30 Coati. I was quite surprised to see so many. They are odd-looking creatures with a long ringed tail,...

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  • TRAVEL TO MEXICO - THINGS YOU SHOULD...

    ARRIVAL IN MEXICOUpon arrival in Cancun, Mexico you will clear Immigration, claim your luggage and then clear Customs.You are then pointed in the direction of a person who will ask you to push a button. If you push "Green" you are free to Exit. But if you push "red" as what happened to both of us, you will have to go to secondary inspection. The...

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  • THE BEACH --- PLAYA

    Hans and I are not really into relaxing near the Swimming Pool. The place for us to be is on THE BEACH. We usually had the same routine every day. After breakfast, we headed for the front of the hotel, where the Beach Shuttle "Golf Cart" picked us up and took us to the Beach.(Beach Transport - 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m./3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).We...

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Explore Deeper into Playa del Carmen
Day Trips
Things to Do
Snorkeling
Things to Do
Ferry to Cozumel
Things to Do
Xcaret
Things to Do
Cozumel
Things to Do
Swim with Dolphins
Things to Do
La Parilla
Restaurants
Alux
Nightlife
Taxis
Transportation
Las Mañanitas
Restaurants
Dr. Taco's
Restaurants
Deseo Lounge
Nightlife
The Blue Lobster
Restaurants
Pancho's Restaurant
Restaurants
Akumal
Off The Beaten Path
Bourbon Street
Nightlife
Amazing!!!!
Nightlife
Rio de la Vida!
Things to Do
Manatee Sanctuary
Things to Do
Zipline at Xel Ha
Things to Do
Xel Ha
Things to Do
Incredible Crepes!
Restaurants
The old style pastries are here!
Restaurants
Streets with no name or number
Transportation
Averge bagel at best
Restaurants
5th Ave - Second Part (the quiet side of 5th)
Things to Do
Shop and eat on 5th Ave - First Part
Things to Do
Cute sign.....Unbearable wait for food
Restaurants
Best smoothie ever!
Restaurants
Nice coffee and dessert shop
Restaurants
Excellent Asian Fusion
Restaurants
Alux Restaurant…Terrible food!
Restaurants
Coba Archaeological Park
Things to Do
Danza de los Voladores
Things to Do
Not what it use to be
Restaurants
Best meal I had in PDC!
Restaurants
Chaak Tun Cenote
Things to Do
Time for Mole!
Restaurants
Pretty good verde sauce
Restaurants
Aero Feninco - Parking
Transportation
Map of Playa del Carmen

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