Playa del Carmen

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Playa del Carmen Money-Saving Tips

Market Bites

Opting for the open-air Mexican markets will save you money on food and let you get a taste of the locally-grown produce. Be careful to clean off any fruits or vegetables you purchase to avoid food poisoning or stomach aches.

Electricity

Mexican electrical currency is the same as in the United States: 110 volts.

Riviera Maya or Mayan Riviera?

Mexicans call the Yucatan coast the Riviera Maya, while North Americans tend to call it the Mayan Riviera. Both are fair game no matter which language you speak.

Departure Tax

A departure tax is usually included in the airfare, but be sure to check. If it’s not, you’ll need to pay $48 (in cash; credit cards not accepted) at the airport.

Currency

U.S. dollars and major credit cards are accepted everywhere. In restaurants and shops your change will often come in pesos, but many hotels can also give you change in dollars. You’ll find ATMs almost everywhere, except at hotels. When using an ATM, look for machines with signs that say “U.S. Dollar ATM,” or you’ll receive pesos instead.

Driving

When renting a car, don’t rely on your credit card for insurance protection in Mexico. Buy the accident insurance and save yourself potential nightmares. The main routes you’ll travel follow relatively good roads, including freeways. Driving is a good option if you intend to visit the Mayan ruins independently.

Stay off Fifth Avenue for the Best Deals

Avenida 5, or La Quinta, is the main tourist drag in Playa del Carmen, and also the most expensive. The further away you can get from this street parallel to the beach the cheaper food and shops are going to be.

Good, Old-fashioned Bartering

Bargaining at the flea markets is a great way to get a few dollars taken off your souvenirs. Mexican traders love a good barter, but make sure to offer a fair price or they will become upset and may even refuse to trade with you. If you speak Spanish, you stand a much better chance of getting a better deal on your purchases.

Seasonal Value

You may find some real deals at the tail end of hurricane season in September, so check with the hotels. With the exception of Easter week and the Spring Solstice when Mexicans flock to the beach, April and May are also lightly traveled, making deals easier to come by.

Family-Style Lodging

Families with kids should seek out one of the newer beachfront, condo-style hotels – offering two, three, or more bedrooms; a full kitchen; multiple bathrooms; plus a living room, dining area, and private balcony. These are affordable, spacious and modern, plus allow families to prepare some of their own snacks and meals to save on restaurant expenses.

Airport Etiquette

Plan on spending at least 90 minutes in Customs and Immigration when entering the country, and arrive two hours early to the airport prior to your international departure.

Health & Safety

In general, Playa del Carmen is an extremely safe place to vacation (unlike certain other parts of Mexico). You will see a police presence in the public areas, such as along Fifth Avenue and near the beach, where you can walk safely during the day or at night. In terms of the water, as long as you’re at a major restaurant or in a hotel, it’s perfectly safe for drinking, but many tourists still stick to bottled water.

How to Stay Plugged In

Playa del Carmen is one of the more sophisticated and modern regions of Mexico. Your U.S.-based cell phone will work well here, but you’ll be billed for international roaming fees. High-speed Internet access is readily available, and most hotels offer cable TV with many U.S.-based (English speaking) channels and networks, from CNN to MTV.

What to Bring

Pack for a tropical beach setting, and don’t forget sunglasses, sun block, a hat, beach shoes, your camera, batteries, prescription medications, and other toiletries and incidentals. These items are all readily available throughout Playa del Carmen, but you’ll typically pay a hefty premium.

Getting Around without a Car

Most visitors to Playa del Carmen don’t rent a car. Instead, they utilize bus or van transportation to their hotel from the airport, and then reply on walking or taxis to get around town. Many nearby tourist attractions offer transportation to their location, or you can participate in an organized, fee-based tour that includes transportation to the attractions.

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“Visit amusement parks in autumn for reduced admission prices and smaller crowds.”

Jaymie DeGaetano Travel Deal Expert

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