Playa del Carmen

  • Newer than Cancun (only 35 years old), the sea resort of Playa del Carmen has become the major site for partying. The famous Fifth Avenue is crammed with bars, restaurants, brand name boutiques and souvenir shops of all sorts. It now has a hip district, situated close to the beach, on 12th street. This is where you will find the Mexican culture for fiesta despite the tourist crowd in high season.

...
    © Tono Balaguer
  • View of the village promenade
    © Tono Balaguer
  • © Tono Balaguer
  • © Tono Balaguer
  • © Tono Balaguer
  • © Tono Balaguer
  • © Tono Balaguer
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Mexico

Newer than Cancun (only 35 years old), the sea resort of Playa del Carmen has become the major site for partying. The famous Fifth Avenue is crammed with bars, restaurants, brand name boutiques and souvenir shops of all sorts. It now has a hip district, situated close to the beach, on 12th street. This is where you will find the Mexican culture for fiesta despite the tourist crowd in high season.

Playa del Carmen: what to do?

You are 15 minutes by boat from the island of Cozumel, which has the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. Many hotels offer free introductory diving courses in a swimming pool and PADI certification courses. Another must-see place: the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, which lies west of Playa del Carmen in central Yucatan, about 1h 45m by car. It is one of the main cities of the Mayan ?New Empire? founded in 987. Climb the 91 steps of the main pyramid to enjoy the view of the surrounding jungle. Return in the evening. Another site: Tulum, whose façade on one of the main buildings from the 12th and 13th centuries dominates a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Combine this visit with a swim in the lagoon of Xel-Ha. A popular place, it is a natural pool where the freshwater springs meet the warm currents of the sea. In all, plan on a full day's visit with a 40-minute car ride. If you like swimming in the underground rivers and lagoons with crystal-clear waters in the middle of tropical birds and brightly coloured butterflies, do not miss out on visiting Xcaret: an eco-archaeological park just 5 minutes away. For bookings: most hotels leave the handling of excursions in the region to travel agencies. They all have information and sales offices in the hotels.

Tulum, whose façade on one of the main buildings from the 12th and 13th centuries dominates a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Combine this visit with a swim in the lagoon of Xel-Ha. A popular place, it is a natural pool where the freshwater springs meet the warm currents of the sea. In all, plan on a full day's visit with a 40-minute car ride.

  • Many hotels along the white sand stretching out to the blue sea.
  • Palancar, one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.
  • A seaside resort full of charm and even authenticity.
  • The proximity of the Mayan sites.
  • The often uncontrolled development of tourism.
  • The overkill of artisanal trade.

Reminders

It is better to bring small change - the nuevo peso (N$) -- and US dollars in small denominations. The smaller shops, taxis and street vendors can rarely change large banknotes. There are N$ 20, 50 and 100 notes.

To avoid

Some excursions offer a 'meeting of the Mayan people'. Though it is true that you will get an insight into the descendants of this pre-Columbian civilisation, the term 'meet' is often misused? Due to a lack of time, there is no time for a real discussion. Sometimes, meals are not even shared with the inhabitants. Get more information before leaving!

Playa del Carmen: what to eat?

The cuisine of the Yucatan peninsula is mainly composed of dishes made from corn (tortillas), and a wide variety of meat seasoned with chili peppers (which are less spicy in the hotels) or with coriander. The shellfish here is excellent. The grouper is the (well-priced) fish that you find the most often in restaurants.

Playa del Carmen: what to buy?

The hammocks of Yucatan are finely woven from nylon or cotton, which makes them so comfortable. You will find many different sizes at prices ranging from £10 and £16. Avoid the other materials that are rough on the skin. Corsages, shawls ('rebosos'), masks, and leather sandals are commonly sold items at the markets. Silver is worked according to various styles and motifs.

Playa del Carmen Reviewedhotels
  • 8.7 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Royal Hideaway Playacar
    Playa del Carmen - Mexico
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    Located in Playacar, this all inclusive Leading hotel of the ...

  • 8.35 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Iberostar Tucan (Quetzal)
    Playa del Carmen - Mexico
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    Parents, children and lovers of all ages who wish to spend a ...

  • 8.35 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Iberostar Paraiso Maya
    Playa del Carmen - Mexico
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    All-inclusive, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya belongs to one of the ...

  • 8.3 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Shangri-La Caribe y Playa
    Playa del Carmen - Mexico
    Hotel Hotel 3 Etoile(s)

    With rooms in rustic appearance, good restaurants, shores among ...

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