Is Playa Del Carmen Good for Vacation (and What Should I Know Before Going)?

A Mexican icon for getaways and holidays, Playa Del Carmen goes down as one of the must-visits in a vacationer’s list. One of Quintana Roo’s largest, most vibrant coastal cities, Playa Del Carmen, is one of east Mexico’s trendiest spots, along with fun Cancun, and charming Tulum.
Is Playa Del Carmen Good for Vacation
Table of Contents

What Country is Playa Del Carmen in?

Playa Del Carmen, or simply the “Playa” for locals, is in Mexico. Known for its amazing beaches, warm weather, and beautiful culture, Mexico definitely knows how to have a vacation.

This cozy, energetic coastal city takes a spot in the Central American nation’s pantheon of Holiday spots.

Where in Mexico is Playa Del Carmen Located?

The Playa can be found in the state of Quintana Roo in eastern Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula, that juts out of the Gulf of Mexico.

This coastal resort town is found in between Cancun and Tulum, and 20km west, lee side of Cozumel, at the heart of the famed Riviera Maya.

What Side of Mexico is Playa Del Carmen?

Playa Del Carmen sits in eastern Mexico, facing the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

This is the reason why the Playa boasts the most beautiful turquoise blue waters, and great winds perfect for lounging on the sand and kitesurfing.

The waters across the Playa also houses the second largest barrier reef that hosts rich marine life.

What Does Playa Del Carmen Mean?

Playa Del Carmen is literally translated as “Beach of the Carmel” – as in the Lady of Mount Carmel, the patron of Cancun. The Spanish named it after successfully conquering the already falling Mayan Empire.

Playa Del Carmen used to be a simple fishing town that survives on the gifts of the sea, after the Spanish. Now, after a decade of development came to be known as the fun Cancun’s little yet growing sister.

Do They Speak English in Playa Del Carmen?

People in the Playa speak English well enough for proper communication – locals, expats, and tourists alike. The great thing about this place is how international it is.

Most visitors that frequent the city are Europeans and North Americans, so you’d expect English is mostly spoken. Locals and people who work in tourism speak good English as well.

But of course, it doesn’t hurt to whip out some Spanish too, locals would appreciate it, and who knows what amazing experiences might come from that.

What is Playa Del Carmen Known for?

The nearby Mayan ruins and the cenotes – or natural sinkholes with freshwater, are synonymous with the Playa. But there’s one other thing that sets Playa apart from its trendier neighbors: The vibe. Fewer crowds, more authentic Mexican feel. Less metropolitan more tropical island.

There are many other things that the Playa is also known for, like the party scene, tours and activities, white-sand, blue water beaches, and a plethora of nationalities to meet and gaze upon, add the vibe to it then you have a more intimate, more laid back time in little Playa Del carmen.

How Far is Playa Del Carmen From the Mayan Ruins?

The famous ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek Balam are 2 and a half hours from the city center of Playa Del Carmen. While the ruins of Tulum and Coba are just about 40 to 45 minutes away. Being a part of the former Mayan empire, there are plenty more ruins that dot the Yucatan Peninsula, where you can take tours from the Playa.

What to Do in Playa Del Carmen When It’s Raining?

A food tour in the morning, perfect for a brunch under a tropical rain. Culture Tour in the afternoon where you can visit various museums like the famous Frida Kahlo Museum and neighborhoods that adds to the charms of the town.

And after a nice little siesta in the afternoon, go out to local clubs and bars along Calle 12 at night, meet locals and fellow visitors to have a full circle experience of the city.

When you’re in the Playa, you’ll soon realize that there isn’t a shortage of things to do, one of the special things this coastal town can offer, and not just the beach.

What is the Main Street in Playa Del Carmen?

Quinta Avenida, also called the 5th Avenue or just simply Quinta for locals, is the place to be in central Playa Del Carmen. The 5th Avenue is where all the bulk of tourist attractions of the Playa is, apart from its beaches.

A stop or a dozen should be at the top of the list in every visitor’s itinerary when visiting. This pedestrian lane stretches parallel to the beach. Whether you’re staying right at the beach or in a hotel in the city center, the avenue is easily accessible.

The 5th Avenue hosts tons of things to do, and things to see – shopping, having fun in its many parks, and even drinking and clubbing at night. The Quinta is one of the many jewels that make up the Playa’s charms.

What Should I Buy in Playa Del Carmen?

Playa Del Carmen has its own micro shopping scene right at the heart of the city, where you can shop for clothes and other retail must-buys.

The Playa also boasts its uniqueness with its artisan crafts and special concoctions like the Hand Blown Glass at the Vidrio Soplano Mexicano, Mayan Tapestries, their Xtabentun Liquor, and the local Artworks of local artists.

While you can shop ‘til you drop with all the fashion buys you can find but buying local products supporting the local industry and economy.

Where Can I Buy Cheap Souvenirs in Playa Del Carmen?

The 5th avenue has everything to offer a shopping-savvy person could get, especially cheap souvenirs.

Roam around the calles and you’ll find souvenir shops like Hacienda Tequila that, apart from its name it does not only sell Tequilas and other liquors, but other souvenir items like clothes, Mexican candies, and coffee.

Another one is Tequila Bazar not to be confused with the Hacienda, Tequila Bazar is extra special when its Christmas time as it sells Christmas themed ornaments and decoration, Mexican style.

The Paseo Del Carmen offers buys from the super expensive to the relatively cheap as well.

Is Playa Del Carmen a Party Town?

While Playa Del Carmen is largely known for its white-sand beaches and blue waters, it also boasts a vibrant, pulsating nightlife.

Attracting both beach bums and party-lovers alike. Other than its hippy, beach haven image, in over a decade the Playa has created a nightlife scene that competes with its trendy bigger sister Cancun.

Making it a new energetic center for nightclubs, booming sound systems, and open bars. All the big nightclubs and bars that stand in the Playa makes it one of the biggest party destination in this side of Mexico.

Where Should I Go Out in Playa Del Carmen?

Plenty of famous spots dot the city, the Mandala, Palazzo, Coco Bongo, Coco Maya, and La Bodeguito Del Medio are just few famous ones from the many.

For big nightclub goers, Mandala is the biggest in town, there’s also Palazzo. If you’re up for a full clubbing experience in the Playa, these two go at the top of the list.

There’s also the Coco Bongo right next to the Palazzo, this club hosts shows and has an open bar. But if you want to go for an outdoor beach club type, Coco Maya has made its mark on the Playa’s nightlife scene.

The club has Mayan-inspired interior design and has hosted many world-renowned DJs. If you want to go for a more relaxed vibe with live music full of Latin vibe then the Cuban-themed La Bodeguito Del Medio is for you.

Calle 12 never runs short with places to dance, drink, eat, and meet people, having a plethora of clubs and bars, it’s hard not to do a pub crawl.

How Much Does a Beer Cost in Playa Del Carmen?

A bottle of beer would cost around 1-3 US Dollars, that’s around more than 20 Mexican Pesos. However, prices vary from different bars. Make sure to look out for happy hours and bucket specials if you buy in bars to avoid paying the highest prices.

How Much Are Cigarettes in Playa Del Carmen?

The average price of 1 pack of cigarettes in the Playa is 2-3 USD, about 40-60 Mexican Pesos. While you can buy it at a local Walmart there are also special stores around downtown that sell other types of cigarettes and cigars that may have a price range higher than these.

Is Playa Del Carmen a Spring Break Destination?

Mexico is synonymous with Spring Break and Playa Del Carmen is up at the top of the list of Spring Break destinations.

As the Playa is gradually growing its presence and have been frequenting lists of vacationers, it makes sense that Playa Del Carmen is a place to be in, it might even soon take away the spotlight from Cancun’s long-standing title.

Trendy, chic, European vibe, with the same white-sand beach, and clear blue waters, the Playa is nothing short of spring-break worthy.

What Do You Wear in Playa Del Carmen?

Spring-summer, or resort collection pieces of fashion brands, designer or not, are obvious choices for a style that’s weather appropriate, yet chic and stylish. Thin, cool layers, like linen and cotton, are most advised by stylists or from those who have been to the Playa one too many times.

For both men and women, clothes that help you keep cool in the heat when you’re walking out on the Playa’s colorful streets is most recommended. Tank tops, cotton shirts, or thin button-downs for the top, while you can get away from the heat fast and easy if you stick to shorts made from cool fabrics.

A good pair of footwear like flip flops, sandals, trainers, and light shoes would do. When you’re on the beach, it is advisable to wear wet shoes when you plan on swimming to avoid stepping on small sharp objects like jagged stones or thorns from Sea Urchins.

And when you go out at night, dresses for the ladies and sleek button-downs for men are tres chic, and appropriate as the night is much cooler than the day.

To top your look off, it would be extra stylish to color-pair your pieces with the sea’s Caribbean blue and go extra with Mexican patterns for that cultural look.

Where Should I Stay in Playa Del Carmen?

The best areas for travelers in the Playa are The Centro, Quinta Avenida, Calle 12, and Playacar.

In downtown Playa Del Carmen, the Centro runs from the highway that goes through the city, from Cancun to Tulum. This area is arranged into streets and avenues that make things accessible to whatever a traveler might need, thanks to rich urban planning.

Quinta Avenida has everything. Its pedestrian lane makes everything within walking distance, from tour offices to shops and even the beach.

If you want to stay close to where the nightlife is, Calle 12 is where all the dancing and music is concentrated in the Playa. Places in Calle 12 range from small bars to big nightclubs, where there’s a seemingly endless amount of fun, which goes to say perfect for young party-lovers.

For an idyllic, romantic, relaxing, and all-inclusive area to stay, Playacar, at the southern end of the Playa is perfect. Fun activities sit by side with the comfort and luxury it offers.

How Many Days Do You Need in Playa Del Carmen?

For backpackers, solo travelers, and even families, you can explore most of the playa and enjoy the full experience for three days. However, it will always depend on the type of experience you want.

While you can go for three days, exploring and experiencing what the city has to offer you can always stay longer if you’re keen for that laid-back, slow travel style.

You can even make Playa Del Carmen your home-base when exploring this side of the Yucatan, taking short day trips in areas near the Playa, and come back and enjoy the nightlife.

In other words, everything that the Playa can offer can be maximized to your liking. Think nomadic.

What is the Best Time of Year to Go to Playa Del Carmen?

The best time to visit the Playa is between the months of Mid-March just after Semana Santa to late May, as there are fewer people on its beaches, and lesser crowds.

Temperatures during the day play around 70 to 80F or 20-26C, and they get cooler as the sun goes down.

What is the Best Month to Go to Playa Del Carmen?

May is the best month to go to the Playa as temperatures can range from 74F to 89F or 23C to 31C, compared to higher temperatures towards the middle of the year.

There’s little rain as well, and it’s not hurricane season yet.

How Cold Does It Get in Playa Del Carmen?

It could get cold as 64F to 62F or 18 to 17C in Playa Del Carmen around December to January.

It may be warm and sunny all year round in the Yucatan, the lowest temperature can go down to 17C in January.

What is the Rainy Season in Playa Del Carmen?

The rainy season in the Playa is from September to November, where it rains more than the rest of the year.

The average number of rainy days is around 15 days in September-October and 10 days in November.

Does It Rain a Lot in Playa Del Carmen?

It doesn’t rain a lot in Playa Del Carmen, as the weather is generally warm and sunny the entire year.

However, the rainy season brings in more rain than the rest of the year.

Does It Rain All Day in Playa Del Carmen?

No, it doesn’t. Most of the rain in Playa Del Carmen is only quick showers that usually happen late in the day, most of the time at night.

Does It Rain Every Day in Playa Del Carmen?

Typically, the only instances where it could possibly rain every day is during the rainy season. But most of the year, it doesn’t.

Is It Always Windy in Playa Del Carmen?

It is usually windy and breezy on the beach, and on to the streets that open up to the beach.

The winds on the beach make Playa Del Carmen ideal for Kitesurfing and Windsurfing, two activities that have a growing culture in the Playa.

Is It Safe to Go to Playa Del Carmen?

Being at the heart of a tourist hub, Playa Del Carmen is generally safe for travelers and locals. Safety and security protocols are in place together with the necessary manpower to enforce it.

This ensures that the Playa along with the rest of the tourist spots in the Riviera Maya is safe for security and tourism’s sake.

However, be proactive and be logical to avoid unwanted yet menial petty crimes like pickpocketing, and do not engage in any illegal things.

Is Playa Del Carmen Safe for American Tourists?

The Mayan Riviera and Playa Del Carmen with it are considered safe for tourists. But just like in any other tourist place, there are things to consider on your end and to watch out for.

The Yucatan Peninsula and the entire Mayan Riviera are hotspots for American tourists, but they can expect safety and security in these areas.

Is Downtown Playa Del Carmen Safe?

Yes, it is. Security is centered across the most happening places in the city, downtown is one of them.

Security details in super-packed areas downtown especially the Centro, and 5th Avenue.

Can You Drink the Water in Playa Del Carmen?

Food and drink serving businesses and all-inclusive resorts always serve filtered water. They prepare food and drinks using these filtered waters, big resorts even have their own filtration units. However, tap water can only be used for cleaning, rinsing and brushing your teeth, not drinking.

Are There Mosquitoes in Playa Del Carmen?

There can be mosquitoes in town. They’re typically around vegetated areas and there can be many of them before and after sunset, and after rain.

It is advised to wear mosquito repellent when sightseeing in vegetated areas. If you’re indoors, you can sleep under a mosquito netting called pabellon to have a sound sleep, mosquito-free.

Is There Malaria in Playa Del Carmen?

There were no recent cases of Malaria in Playa Del Carmen, according to reports of Malaria cases in Mexico, the entire Yucatan never had any alarming issues with Malaria.

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The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention or CDC did not recommend Malaria Prophylaxis anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Is There Dengue Fever in Playa Del Carmen?

Unfortunately, because of the presence of Mosquitoes across Mexico, it is possible to contract Dengue Fever, however, the local authorities in the Playa take measures to avoid the spread of Dengue via mosquitoes by spraying the town on certain days.

It is also imperative for coming tourists to be informed about Dengue and how to prevent them.

Is Playa Del Carmen Dangerous in Any Way?

Playa Del Carmen has seen growth in theft and street crime – especially during the pandemic and the hurricane season. The financial damages both these phenomena brought have caused desperation through lack of income and jobs.

While tourists who visit may not experience any difference, tourism authorities in the Playa are urging coming visitors to be informed of the changes. It is still of utmost importance to be well-informed and vigilant.

Is Playa Del Carmen Expensive?

Playa Del Carmen can offer cheap delights to expensive luxuries depending on the flavor you’re going for in your trip.

Relatively, it is cheaper to travel as a family because kids’ tickets are cheaper and hotel rooms can be shared. Traveling for two can help in sharing and dividing costs, whether you plan to stay in a week or a month.

But for a solo traveler, a slow pace of travel might be ideal, the longer you stay in the Playa the more the prices go down, like staying in hostels and Airbnb’s for longer periods than in resort and hotels.

There are places that offer cheaper prices but don’t take out the good of the experience as well. You can always tailor your budget to the tone you want to set for your travels and the Playa offers diverse experiences.

Is It Expensive to Eat Out in Playa Del Carmen?

With many food places opening up, price ranges vary from cheap to unnecessarily expensive in the Playa, the key is to first determine how much you want to spend and look for places that fit your metrics.

It is best to ask a local about cheap and expensive places or look up food review sites for a better perspective.

How Much Money Do You Need in Playa Del Carmen?

Base on the expense of past visitors who have frequented the Playa, the average daily expense is around 700-800 Mexican Pesos or more than 40USD.

A week’s worth of stay would get you almost 5,000 Mexican Pesos, or about 250 USD. Of course, meticulous consideration and budgeting can get you a long way.

How Much Do You Tip in Playa Del Carmen?

It is a standard to pay a 10 to 15% tip, with 10% being the usual.

But for gourmet or upper-end restaurants, it would be ideal to pay above 15%.

Can You Use Us Dollars in Playa Del Carmen?

US dollars and credit cards are widely accepted in restaurants, especially in main tourist attractions around the Playa.

However, it is more advisable to have your cash exchanged for Mexican Peso, to avoid any complications with finances.

Do I Need Pesos in Playa Del Carmen?

While tourist hotspots accept US Dollars, it is important and advised to buy pesos from your local bank before coming to the Playa. Exchange rates at your hotel and money exchange centers around town would have you at a disadvantage.

While it still stands at the shadow of its bigger, trendier sister Cancun, Playa Del Carmen boasts its own charm that sets it apart from the rest of the Yucatan’s places to be. It may not be perfect, it may not be the best but it is beautiful and worth it. From its pristine blue waters, windy beach, and vibrant dynamic town, Playa Del Carmen continues to rank up as one of the best vacation spots in Mexico and the world.

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