Everything Playa Del Carmen โ€“ The Complete Guide 2023

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Playa Del Carmen is a popular beach destination for good reason just 1-hour south of Cancun. It is located on the Riviera Maya which is well known for beautiful beaches, amazing cenotes and Mayan ruins.

Due to big all-inclusive resorts, Playa Del Carmen can be super touristy and often gets a bad reputation for being too touristy. But it is a big town and if you stay away from the touristy areas you will have a great time.

Playa Del Carmen is also a great place for digital nomads as there are great co-working cafes and fast wifi which can be hard to find in other beach towns in Mexico.

So whether you are looking for a holiday or want to work there for a few months our guide will tell you everything Playa Del Carmen has to offer you ๐Ÿค 

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Interesting History Of Playa Del Carmen ๐Ÿค“

The area where Playa Del Carmen is located was settled for centuries by the Maya. It is hard to imagine this today with all the big resorts covering the coast.

But there are actually still some small Mayan ruins that you can see for free in Playacar close to downtown Playa Del Carmen.

The life of the Maya changed dramatically with the arrival of the Spanish who tried their best to crush the culture of the Maya. But today many Mexicans who live in the Yucatan are proudly Mayan and their culture is still very prominent in the region.

Mayan ruins in Playacar overgrown by plants
The Playacar Mayan Ruins are some small free Mayan ruins next to Playacar beach

Today Playa Del Carmen is a city of well over 300,000 people but not so long ago it was a sleepy fishing village.

Up until the 1970s, most of the Yucatan Peninsula was not well known to international travelers. Then in the 1970s the Mexican government decided to develop Cancun as a tourist center in Mexico.

This resulted in the creation of the Cancun airport which bought tourists to the Yucatan in large numbers. Playa Del Carmen still remained a sleepy fishermanโ€™s village however over the years more and more tourists started to visit it from Cancun.

Playacar beach in Playa del Carmen with lot of colorful kayaks
Along Playacar beach you will find the most resorts in Playa del Carmen

In the 1990s there was a real tourism boom and Playa Del Carmen was for many years the fast-growing city in the whole of Mexico.

Today there are many huge resorts along the coast of Playa Del Carmen and the sleepy fishing village is long gone. But now it is a great place for digital nomads and tourism activities due to the development that has gone on.

Where is Playa Del Carmen? ๐Ÿ“

Playa Del Carmen is located on the Yucatan peninsula just an hour south of Cancun. It is a great place for day trips as Tulum is a 1-hour drive south of Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel is just a 40-minute ferry ride away.

There are also many cenotes, ruins and beaches to explore in the region. So you can stay for weeks and never run out of things to do ๐Ÿ™‚

Map of location of Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula
Playa Del Carmen is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, 1-hour south of Cancun

How Safe is Playa Del Carmen?

While Playa Del Carmen is not the safest place in Mexico in terms of crime levels it is not super dangerous either. There has been a little bit more negative news from Playa Del Carmen in recent years and an increase in crime.

However, nearly all of these incidents happen at night time in clubs and involve drugs. So as long as you stay away from drugs then Playa Del Carmen is a safe place.

We stayed there for 5 weeks and never felt unsafe once. The owner of our guesthouse actually used to leave his really fancy motorbikes and jeep parked on the road all night and they were totally safe. So that tells you that crime is relatively low here.

Black jeep parked outside the colorful wall of Case Ruli guesthouse Playa del Carmen
The expensive jeep of our owners guesthouse would always park outside

How To Get To Playa Del Carmen From Cancun

There are several very convenient ways to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun airport.

By Airplane โœˆ๏ธ

The best way to arrive in Playa Del Carmen is to fly to its nearest airport in Cancun. Cancun airport is a very busy international airport and is well connected to many parts of the world.

Cancun is only one hour drive north of Playa Del Carmen and it is very easy to get transport from the airport directly to Playa Del Carmen. I listed all options in detail below for you.

By Bus ๐Ÿš

The cheapest way to get from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen is by bus. The company that operates the route from the airport to Playa Del Carmen is ADO.

The tickets for the bus from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen cost 225 pesos (11 USD) and you can either buy them online on the ADO website or after exiting the airport arrival hall at a red ADO ticket counter.

Red ADO bus standing at the Playa del Carmen bus station
The red ADO buses will bring you from Cancun airport right into the city center of Playa del Carmen

ADO runs comfortable buses which leave from the airport every 20 minutes during the day and also very frequently during the whole night. Buses leave from directly outside the terminals and will drop you right in the center of Playa Del Carmen.

From the bus station, you can either walk to your accommodation if it is close or catch a taxi. Just a warning that there is a high chance the taxi drivers at the bus station will try to overcharge you.

People standing in front of the entrance of the ADO terminal turistica Playa del Carmen  bus station
The ADO bus station is right in the center of Playa del Carmen

A taxi ride in Playa Del Carmen is usually about 40-50 pesos (2-3 USD) for locals. But when we arrived they tried to charge us 200 pesos (10 USD) for a 10-minute ride. So you will most likely have to haggle to get a cheaper price.

By Shuttle ๐Ÿš

If you donโ€™t feel like taking the bus you can book a shared shuttle at playadelcarmenshuttle.com. This will cost about 29 USD per person and you will be in a van with other travelers heading in the same direction as you.

You can pre-book online and will be dropped off directly at your accommodation. This is an advantage over the bus as you will not have to find your way from the bus station to your hotel or Airbnb.

By Taxi ๐Ÿš•

Catching a taxi is the most expensive but most convenient way to get from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen. But it is best to pre-book rather than try to grab one when you exit the terminal.

If you try to find one on arrival you are definitely going to have to negotiate the price as they will try to overcharge you.

A private taxi should cost around 50 USD to get from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen which can be worth it if you are travelling in a group. You can also book a private transfer on cancun-shuttle-transportation.com for 50 USD.

Playa Del Carmen Transportation

There are three main ways to get around Playa Del Carmen by colectivo, bus and taxi.

๐Ÿ‘‰ NOTE: There is no Uber, DiDi or any other ride-hailing options in Playa del Carmen as the taxi union has kept them out of town.

So you will have to catch a normal taxi instead. There are plenty in town though so you wonโ€™t have trouble finding one.

Taxi ๐Ÿš•

Catching a taxi is the most convenient way to get around town. You will just need to make sure you donโ€™t get overcharged.

A ride anywhere within town should only cost around 50 pesos (2.5 USD). However if you are taking a longer ride prices will increase.

The best way to avoid being overcharged by taxi drivers is to learn the fares and zones in town. They can be found on TariTaxi which is a taxi app for Playa Del Carmen.

A taxi driving down the road in Playa del Carmen
One of the taxis in Playa Del Carmen

You will get the best price for a taxi on 30th Avenue which goes parallel a few blocks inland to 5th Avenue, the main tourist street in town.

Playa Taxi App ๐Ÿ“ฑ

Although there is no Uber in Playa Del Carmen there is an app that is useful if you want to catch a lot of taxis.

It is called radiotaxipdc and using it you can request a pick up anywhere in the city. There is also an English channel available which is useful if you cannot speak any Spanish.

Because you are requesting a taxi to pick up from you location there will be an extra fee. So it will usually be cheaper to catch a taxi on the street,

Homepage of Radio Taxi Playa del Carmen App
You can use the Radio Taxi Playa App to order a taxi

Colectivos ๐Ÿš

The cheapest way to get around town is by colectivo. You will mainly see them going along 30th Avenue which is a few blocks from the beach and runs parallel to the coast.

It is particularly useful to use them if you are staying in the North of town and want to go into the city. You will see the white vans with colectivo written on them and you just need to wave them down and get in.

You pay when you get out and just need to tell the driver what street you got in at. A colectivo ride is 10 pesos (0.50 USD).

Colectivo driving down the road in Playa Del Carmen
Travel like a local in a colectivo in Playa del Carmen

Bus ๐Ÿš

There are also white buses that run along 30th Avenue and we sometimes caught them as there is a bit more space than in the colectivos.

They are also very useful if you want to get from the North of the City into the center. The buses come every few minutes and only cost 7 pesos (0.40 USD) per ride. They are pretty old run-down buses and can get quite crowded but they are super cheap and fun.

A bus driving down the road to Playa Del Carmen
Old buses run from the North to the South of Playa del Carmen and are a great local experience

Playa Del Carmen For Digital Nomads

Playa del Carmen has become a bit of a digital nomad hotspot and for good reason as the city has everything you need to work online.

How Is Playa Del Carmen As A Digital Nomad? ๐Ÿ’ป

There is generally fast and reliable wifi in Playa Del Carmen which can be hard to find in Mexico. At the two Airbnb we stayed at we consistently had over 70 Mbps which is more than fast enough.

As well as having good wifi there is a wide selection of cafes to work at. Also, there are tonnes of good restaurants, bars, nightlife, gyms, shops and beaches. Basically, everything that you need when you want to work in a town for a few weeks or months.

If you are moving into town to work and are looking to meet up with other people doing the same then I recommend checking out Ex-pat groups on Facebook. A good one to check out in Playa Del Carmen is Friendly Expats in Playa Del Carmen.

In general, all over Mexico, you can find all types of information in Facebook groups. Ranging from places to stay, meeting other travellers, travel advice and things for sale.

Working as a digital nomad on the rooftop at Casa Ruli in Playa del Carmen
Working remotely on the rooftop of our accommodation Casa Ruli in Playa del Carmen

Where To Stay In Playa Del Carmen?

As Playa Del Carmen is a super popular tourist destination you can find a wide range of accommodation options. From cheap Airbnb and hostels to super fancy all-inclusive resorts.

El Centro ๐Ÿ“

The center of Playa Del Carmen can be very busy and loud, especially during the peak season which is from December to April. But if you are only coming into town for a couple of days staying in the center may be a good choice for you.

This is also where a lot of the best cafes, restaurants and bars are. So although you may pay a little more to stay here it is also convenient. I would just recommend staying at least a little bit away from 5th Avenue as it is expensive and super loud and busy there.

Colorful street in Playa del Carmen center with souvenir stands
One of the colorful souvenir streets in the center of Playa

The major negative for me about staying in El Centro for longer is that you are not next to the nicest beaches. The beaches in the center are all super narrow as the hotels are built right next to the edge of the water. The nicest beaches are in the North of the city which is where we chose to stay.

North ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

If you are coming to stay in town for an extended stay and maybe to work online I would recommend looking for a place in the North. The further North of the city center that you go the fewer tourists you will see and prices will also go lower.

The northern part of Playa Del Carmen also has by far the best beaches.

Walking on Punta Esmerald looking at palm trees in the North of Playa del Carmen
Walking on Punta Esmeralda our favorite beach in Playa Del Carmen

We stayed in an Airbnb in Playa Del Carmen for a month that was close to Playa 88 and it was perfect for us. The coast around Playa 88 is much less developed than the beach in the city center.

Thatโ€™s why you will actually see lots of palm trees and mostly local families hanging out. So if you want more natural quiet beaches and a more Mexican atmosphere I highly recommend looking for a place a bit north of the center.

One thing to be aware of is the further North you move there will probably be way more street dogs. Around Playa 88 where we stayed there were always lots of dogs barking at night. But the closer to El Centro you move the fewer dogs there where ๐Ÿ•

Playa 88, one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen
We stayed just 3 walking minutes from Playa 88 at Casa Ruli

๐Ÿ‘‰ Check out our list of the best beaches in Playa Del Carmen to visit and stay at.

Airbnb Playa Del Carmen

While we were in Playa Del Carmen we stayed at different Airbnbs that we really enjoyed and can recommend to you โฌ‡๏ธ

Airbnb Casa Ruli ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

The first Airbnb that we stayed at for a month was Casa Ruli. It is located in the North of Playa del Carmen near Playa 88 and the best beaches in Playa Del Carmen.

We really enjoyed our stay here and it is perfect if you want to stay somewhere cheap long term. Most of the guests were also staying for a few weeks so it was nice to get to know each other.

Wall painting outside Casa Ruli a guesthouse in Playa Del Carmen
The wall outside of Casa Ruli

We stayed here in October so the rooms were really cheap but if you are close to or in peak season (December to April) prices will go up a lot. We paid 400 pesos (20 USD) per night for a double bedroom including breakfast, a private bathroom and a small kitchen.

๐Ÿ‘‰ You can contact the owner for a monthly discount and see the Casa Ruli Airbnb listing here.

Casa Ruli yard with pool and tables
Casa Ruli yard with pool and tables

Why I Recommend Airbnb Casa Ruli

The neighborhood is very Mexican so you will be away from all the tourists and have a more local experience. The rooms at Casa Ruli are small but there is plenty of outdoor space and it is a nicely decorated property.

The internet is really fast (about 150 Mbps) everywhere too so it was a great place if you are working online as a digital nomad or if you just like to stream movies on your laptop fast.

Another awesome thing about Casa Ruli was that breakfast is included. It was nothing fancy just eggs, bread, fruit and juice or coffee but it was great to not have to make something for yourself for breakfast and to meet the other guests.

The owner of Casa Ruli's dog chilling in the entrance to our room looking outside
The dog of Casa Ruliโ€™s owner chilling in the entrance to our room

One warning I would give is that there are a lot of stray dogs in the area so there can be a lot of barking at night. So you will need earplugs but we were able to sleep through it after we got used to it.

Airbnb Casa Piรฑa ๐Ÿ

The second Airbnb in Playa del Carmen we stayed at for a week was Casa Piรฑa (Pineapple House). This property was located much closer to the center of town but in a quiet area. So it was a great place to stay if you wanted to be closer to town.

The host has multiple rooms in the same building that they rent out and are all decorated differently. Our room had a pineapple theme and was really well supplied with everything you need in an Airbnb in Playa del Carmen for a short or long-term stay.

The internet was also really fast so it was great for working online.

๐Ÿ‘‰ We paid 400 pesos (20 USD) a night in the off-season at the beginning of November. You can see the listing and book Casa Piรฑa on Airbnb.

Palacio Municipal in Playa del carmen with a big Catrina statue in front
Casa Piรฑa is close to Palacio Municipal in the center of Playa del Carmen

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Playa Del Carmen?

Playa Del Carmen is located in the tropics. So no matter what time of year you visit it will most likely be hot and humid. Every season has its pros and cons which I have listed below for you.

Best Month To Visit Playa Del Carmen โ˜€๏ธ

The coolest months (around 30ยฐC) are between December and April and this is the peak tourist season. This is also the time of the year when there is the least rain. So if you want the highest chance of perfect beach weather you should plan your trip in these months.

The downside of this time period is higher prices for accommodation and a bigger crowd of people.

Sunrise at Punta Esmeralda with clouds shaped like stripes on a blue sky
One of many beautiful sunrises we had in October in Playa del Carmen

From June to September the temperatures in Playa increase and so does rainfall so it will be hot and humid with a few days of heavy rain during these months.

October is the peak month for rainfall so you should avoid this time if you donโ€™t want to see any rain. But we stayed for a month in October and although there were a few days with heavy rainfall there were also still plenty of sunny days to enjoy the beach.

Because June to November is not peak tourist season the benefit is that prices will be cheaper. So particularly if you are a digital nomad looking for a cheap place to live this will be the cheapest months. But the cheap season is also the seaweed season, more on that below ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Sargassum seaweed at Playa Xpu-Ha
Some sargassum seaweed on the far end of Playa Xpu-Ha in October. In the peak season there are huge amounts

Sargassum Seaweed ๐Ÿชธ

There is one major negative to the off-peak tourist season and that is the Sargassum Seaweed. From April to September large amounts of seaweed can wash up on the shores of Playa Del Carmen.

This is a problem all throughout the Caribbean and if there is a lot of seaweed it can make the beaches very unpleasant.

One of the major reasons for the recent increase in seaweed is fertilizer runoff from farms in multiple countries. This adds more nutrients to the nutrient-poor area where the seaweed grows and allows for massive amounts of seaweed to grow.

The warming of the oceans is also thought to play a role.

One of the beaches in Playa del Carmen covered in dead sea weed
Between April and September Playa del Carmen can get a lot of seaweed. The town does big efforts to clean it up

The Seaweed arrives in such large amounts that it piles up in huge mountains on the beach and makes it almost impossible to swim. Also once it starts decomposing in the sun it smells really bad.

So if you are wanting to visit the beach it is best to check on the Sargassum situation before organizing a trip for example on sargassummonitoring.com.

17 Top Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen

We spent 5 weeks in Playa and never got bored. There is so much to see and do! I have listed the 17 best things to do in Playa del Carmen down below. Enjoy!

1. Go To The Beach ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

The number one reason that most people are visiting Playa Del Carmen is to be near the ocean. There are many beautiful beaches surrounding Playa Del Carmen. But if you donโ€™t know where to look you may not end up on a beach that is not so nice.

Playa Punta Esmeralda with blue water and white sand surrounded by palmtrees
Punta Esmeralda is one of our favorite beaches in Playa Del Carmen

Unfortunately, the development of the hotel zone in Playa Del Carmen has had a negative impact on the beach. Many of the hotels are super close to the water and during the day they cover the beach in sun beds leaving only a small strip of the beach for the public.

On the weekends and during the busy season, the beaches in the hotel zone can get really loud and busy with lots of people partying. So if you are looking for a party you might love it there.

But if you want a more chill experience you will need to head a little bit out of the city center to beaches such as Punta Esmeralda, Playa 88 and Coco Beach.

People relaxing at Playa del Pecado in Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Pecado is a secret super beautiful beach in Playa Del Carmen

๐Ÿ‘‰ For more info about all the beaches to visit around Playa Del Carmen check out the best beaches of Playa del Carmen.

2. Visit Cenotes ๐Ÿ’ฆ

If you are going to Playa Del Carmen then you have to visit at least one cenote. They are magical and one of my favorite parts of this region of Mexico. Once you start visiting them you will probably become hooked and want to visit more and more!

Iguana sitting next to Cenote Azul
Iguana next to Cenote Azul, one of the best cenotes near Playa Del Carmen

Cenotes are caves filled with crystal clear water that are found all over the Yucatan Peninsula. The reason for this is that the Yucatan Peninsula is made up almost entirely of limestone.

During the last ice age rainwater slowly dissolved the limestone creating beautiful caves. Then once the ice age ended the caves filled up with water and created the cenotes.

๐Ÿ‘‰ There are thousands of cenotes all over the Yucatan Peninsula. But you can read our best cenotes near Playa del Carmen guide to help you decide which ones to visit. Some are off the beaten track!

Pool at the back of Cenote Jardin Del Eden
Exploring the little pool at Cenote Jardin del Eden

What Is A Cenote?

There are all types of cenotes some are open-air pools, others are partially covered caves and others are entirely underground. Because all the water has been filtered through limestone the water is crystal clear and amazing to swim in.

The water in the cenotes is always nice and cool because it comes from underground so they are also a great way to cool off on a hot day.

๐Ÿ‘‰ In our blog post What is a cenote? 15 tips for visiting cenotes we tell you everything you need to know about visiting cenotes to get the best out of your trip.

Katharina climbing up the ladder to exit the cave at Cenote Minatauro
Climbing out of Cenote Minotauro, a fairly unknown unconte in Playa del Carmen

3. Eat Mexican Food ๐ŸŒฎ

Mexican food is known the world over and enjoying it is one of the best things about visiting Mexico. Playa Del Carmen is definitely full of great places to eat as long as you know where to look.

My advice is to stay away from most of the restaurants located on 5th Avenue which is the main tourist walking street.

3 pastor tacos from El Fogon on a white plate next to a bowl of limes
Tacos Al Pastor from El Fagon
2 conchinita pibil tacos from La Cochi Loka in Playa del Carmen on a paper plate
Conchinita Pibil Tacos from La Cochi Loka

Most of the restaurants along 5th Avenue are overpriced and aimed at people ready to blow some money. If you just head a couple of blocks over instead you can find lots of great places to eat at half the price of the main tourist street.

The most popular taco restaurant in town is El Fogon and they specialize in Al Pastor tacos. El Fogon is a good starting point if you want to visit a traditional Mexican taco restaurant. It is popular with tourists and locals and the food is great but also very affordable.

But if you are looking to experience some authentic Mexican street tacos you should look more around 30th Avenue. Lots of the side streets along 30th Avenue are packed with taco carts at night time.

The birria taco cart El Compa from the back with a big colorful menu sign
El Compa taco stand in the car park of Mega supermarket

Best Tacos In Playa Del Carmen

If you want to try some really good street tacos from a taco cart I recommend Tacos de Birria โ€œEl Compaโ€. They sell Birria tacos and quesadillas in the car park of a supermarket.

But the tacos are super good and really good value for money. They have to be some of the best tacos in Playa Del Carmen. No matter what time you go there it will always be busy with locals which is a good sign.

๐Ÿ‘‰ I have created a whole list of the best cheap eats in Playa Del Carmen for you, so make sure you check that out too.

Sitting on a stool eating at la antojera.
Join me on my cheap eats tour of Playa del Carmen ๐Ÿคค

4. Parque Los Fundadores ๐Ÿ’ƒ

Parque Los Fundadore (Park of the founders) is a square located on the beach right in the center of town. Although it is super touristy it has some free cool shows that are nice to check out.

Statue at Parque los Fundadores with beach in the background showing everything Playa del Carmen has to offer
Parque los Fundadores is right next to the beach in the city center of Playa

Regularly throughout the day and night, you can see the Danza de los Voladores. It is a Mexican ritual that is thought to have originated in the state of Veracruz.

The ritual consists of five men climbing a really high pole and four of them tie their legs to ropes attached to the tope. One of the men starts playing a flute and drum and then the four men with the ropes drop from the top and spin from the ropes upside down ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Four men hanging by ropes swinging from a pole near the beach in Playa Del Carmen
Danza de los Voladores in action โ€“ stunning!

The Danza de los Voladores was originally created hundreds of years ago as a way to please the gods and bring rain after a drought. Today you can see the ritual being performed in tourist locations all over Mexico.

This spectacular ritual is performed almost every half an hour throughout the afternoon so you can just head down to the square and wait for it to start. If you liked it I encourage you to give them a tip as thatโ€™s what they live by on.

Near the Danza de los Voladores you can also see groups doing dances in indigenous costumes at night. Once again it is a very touristy thing to do but still cool to watch the performances and support the artists and culture.

Cultural performance at the Parque de los Fundadores in Playa Del Carmen
Cultural indigenous performance at night โ€“ all for free, tips appreciated

The Playa Del Carmen Letters ๐Ÿ“ธ

If you want to grab a touristy photo of the Playa Del Carmen letters then you can do that right next to Parque Los Fundadores. You just have to walk a few meters towards the Cozumel Ferry Terminal and you will see them.

The Playa del Carmen letters
The Playa del Carmen letters, a popular photo spot

5. Eat and Drink On Calle 38 ๐Ÿป

The section of Calle 38 closest to the beach is full of restaurants and bars and in my opinion, the prettiest street in Playa Del Carmen. The street is full of big green trees that shade the street from the heat during the day.

Then at night the whole area is beautifully lit up and feels like an oasis away from the madness of 5th Avenue.

Trees overhanging Calle 38 a pretty street in Playa Del Carmen
Trees overhanging Calle 38, the prettiest street in Playa Del Carmen

There are lots of really nice but pricey restaurants with international cuisine to eat at. So we preferred to have a cheap eat instead and came there often for a nice walk or to grab a drink at Chela de Playa (beer of Playa). It is a craft beer bar that also does great tacos.

But one of our favorite parts about Chela de Playa is that there is a cenote right next to it. During the day you could always see turtles hanging out at the bottom of it. Also, the sound of the water running through the cenote really adds to the atmosphere of the bar ๐Ÿข

Looking down the cenote next to Chela de Playa an awesome bar in Playa del Carmen with brown camouflage turtles at the buttom
Can you spot the brown camouflage turtles at the bottom?
Cenote lite up at night time next to Chela de Playa
The cenote lit up at night time next to Chela de Playa

The beers are not the cheapest as they specialize in craft beer but they are really good and the atmosphere is super chill. Which can be hard to find in bars in Playa Del Carmen.

Two other great restaurants to visit on the street are Amate 38 and La Cueva Del Chango. Both are particularly popular places to get breakfast with Amate 38 specializing in cuisine from the Yucatan ๐Ÿฝ๏ธ

Visit The Free Art Gallery At La Residencia ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ

On Calle 38 there is a small free art gallery in the lobby of La Residencia. It is only a very small space but is worth going in quickly for 10 minutes as it has a few interesting exhibits.

Particularly check out the car in the entry that is surrounded by lights and mirrors which looks really cool in photos.

Car surrounded by mirrors and lights
Car in the entry to the art gallery at La Residencia
Art exhibit of a panther with arrows in it
A panther with an airplane covered in sand in the background

6. Walk 5th Avenue ๐Ÿšถ

Walking 5th Avenue is something that you will probably love or hate. 5th Avenue is the main tourist walking street in Playa Del Carmen and is full of all types of restaurants, bars and shops.

People walking down 5th Avenue the main shopping street in Playa Del Carmen
People walking down 5th Avenue

5th Avenue is a few kilometers long and goes parallel to the beach. It feels and is incredibly touristy and can be very busy. It is basically everything Playa Del Carmen represents to people who donโ€™t like the town.

However, you cannot visit Playa without going for walk here. Especially at night the street really comes alive with street performers and music everywhere. So it is fun to walk down at least once.

It is also a great place to go shopping in Playa Del Carmen and grab some souvenirs if that is something that you want to do.

Katharina sitting next to a cowboy statue in the center of Playa del Carmen
You will find plenty of photo spots on 5th Avenue

7. Try Regional Chocolate, Mezcal And Tequila For Free ๐Ÿซ

When you are walking down 5th Avenue you will be asked many times by people on the street if you want to try some free tequila. It may sound like a scam but there are actually no strings attached.

You can go into any of the stores for free samples. Of course, they want you to buy some of the tequila after the tasting. But they are generally not pushy if you do not want to buy any and give you great explanations of how to drink tequila the right way.

There are also places were you can try mezcal and chocolate in all kinds of flavours like chili, tequila or cinnamon. So if you feel like being cheap, go ahead and take advantage of the free samples. And if you end up liking something itโ€™s a great way to try everything before buying.

One of the many tequila shops along 5th Avenue with guys waving in people to try tequila
One of the many tequila stores along 5th Avenue offering free samples

8. Visit The Gaston Charรณ Gallery For Free ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ

The Gaston Charo Gallery is a free art gallery located right on 5th Avenue. The gallery was started by Gaston Charo a local artist whose studio used to be in the space where the gallery is.

Now the space is used to display art by himself and other local artists and is totally free which is awesome. There are lots of interesting colorful paintings and it is a great way to spend a few minutes looking around.

Entrance to the Gaston Charo art gallery with lots of colorful paintings
This is the entrance to the art gallery from 5th Avenue
Walking through the entrance to the Gaston Charo art gallery
Walking through the art gallery, lots of cool paintings and sculptures

9. The Frida Kahlo Museum ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ

If you feel like learning about one of Mexicoโ€™s most famous artists then you can visit the Frida Kahlo Museum. The entrance is 300 pesos (15 USD) so it isnโ€™t the cheapest museum but we enjoyed it a lot.

The Museum is more like an exhibit that tells you more about the story of Frida Kahloโ€™s life. So there are no original artworks by Frida but copies of them showing her life in a timeline drawing the dots between her illness and her art.

There is also a small room with a 3D experience of her accident which was a big surprise and you should not miss out on it if you go.

The exterior of the Frida Kahlo museum in Playa del Carmen
The entrance to the iconic Frida Kahlo museum

10. Enjoy a Green Oasis At Parque La Ceiba ๐ŸŒณ

Even though Playa Del Carmen is located in the tropics it can feel a bit like a concrete jungle at times. So if you want to go to a relaxed green space you can head to Parque La Ceiba (Parc of Ceiba trees).

Cafe in Parque La Ceiba in Playa Del Carmen
Cafe in the middle of Parque La Cieba

Parque La Ceiba is located inland on the other side of the highway and is a super green shady little park. It is everything Playa Del Carmen is not known for.

The garden hosts lots of community events and also has a cafe in the middle where you can stop for a drink. There are lots of families hanging out in the park so it has a very different vibe than the rest of Playa del Carmen.

There is also a second-hand books store located right next to the park that has books in English and Spanish.

Mural of books outside the second-hand-bookstore in Playa del Carmen
Super cool mural of books outside the second-hand books store

Because of the location of Parque La Ceiba, it is a great non-touristy thing to do in Playa Del Carmen as not many tourists go this far from the coast. Moreover, there is a lot more to do in this area as you will see when you read on โฌ‡๏ธ

11. Visit El Jardin De Todas ๐Ÿ‘ซ

El Jardin de Todas (The Garden for Everyone) is a super chill community center that we discovered after visiting Parque La Ceiba. The garden is full of trees and plants and has a really nice relaxing atmosphere.

At Jardin de Todas they host a variety of events for the community. When we arrived an older lady greeted us and gave us a tour in English of the whole space which was really nice and welcoming.

The colorful entrance of Jardin de Todas
The colorful entrance of Jardin de Todas

A good time to visit El Jardin de Todas is on Friday and Saturday from 9 am โ€“ 1 pm. During these times they have a variety of Mexican foods, breakfasts and products for sale.

When we went we had a vegan pozole soup and it tasted amazing. There was also freshly squeezed juice and Mexican coffee available for a cheap price.

So if you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town and have some delicious food in a relaxed environment I recommend coming here ๐Ÿคค

Inside of Jardin de Todas full of plants
Jardin de Todas feels like an oasis
vegan pozole in a bowl in jardin de todas
Yummy home-made vegan pozole soup

12. El Hongo ๐Ÿ„

El Hongo (The Mushroom) is a psychedelic looking restaurant that is located across the highway from downtown Playa Del Carmen and in walking distance from Parque La Ceiba and Jardin de Todas.

The whole place is decorated super cool with the kitchen located under a giant mushroom. There are all kinds of interesting details to the decorations if you look closely.

But not only is the place decorated super interesting they actually have really good smoothies and food. The music is always really interesting as well and there is a good chance that there may be some trance playing in the background if you visit.

Two smoothies in large glass jars from El Hongo standing on the table
The smoothies at El Hongo are huge and come in cool containers
El Hongo's entrance with colorful seats
The cool entrance of El Hongo

The area where El Hongo is located is interesting as there is kind of a hippy vibe which is not something you expect in Playa Del Carmen. The streets surrounding El Hongo are also covered in lots of really cool street art.

๐Ÿ‘‰ El Hongo is also located really close to Tacos ALV which has some of the best vegan takeaway or delivery tacos we have ever tried and is in our best cheap eats in Playa Del Carmen guide. Check it out!

Three vegan tacos from Tacos ALV in Playa Del Carmen.
The best vegan tacos we ever had from Tacos ALV, must try!

13. Take The Playa Del Carmen To Cozumel Ferry โ›ด๏ธ

When you are at the beach in Playa Del Carmen you will be able to see buildings that seem to be floating on the horizon. Those buildings are on Cozumel which is an island that is super popular for diving and is located 19 km from Playa Del Carmen.

Cozumel is a very developed island with over 100,000 people living there. So you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes and hotels if you want to stay the night. There are also some very beautiful beaches and a lot of diving, snorkling and sailing tours to take part in.

The ferry to Cozumel takes 45 minutes in each direction and costs 300 pesos (15 USD) return. You can buy tickets at the Ultramar Ferry Terminal which is located right next to Parque Los Fundadores.

The Cozumel ferry with people boarding from a whard in Playa Del Carmen
One of the ferries you can take to Cozumel for a day trip or longer

14. Day Trip To Tulum โœจ

Tulum is a more chill beach town that deserves a whole travel guide itself as there is a lot to do there. But it is also very convenient to visit on a day trip from Playa Del Carmen.

It is just a 1-hour drive away from Playa Del Carmen and you can get there by colectivo for just 60 pesos (3 USD) from the Colectivo Station next to Chedraui in Playa del Carmen.

Tulum is a very trendy town so it is full of great restaurants and cafes. However, the setup of Tulum is a bit strange because the town is actually located inland a few kilometers away from the beach.

Cafe in Tulum with colorful umbrellas on top
You will find plenty to eat in nicely decorated cafes in Tulum

Visiting Tulum Beach ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

So to get to the beach you either have to catch a taxi or ride a bike which is the most fun to do and will allow you to cover everything. Fortunately, many people ride bikes to the beach so there are good bike lanes and many bike rentals in town.

Once you are at the beach you will have to make your way to the public beach access which is at Playa Pescadores This is because many of the hotels that line the beach block access to it.

So even though the beaches are public land in Mexico there is no access to them where the hotels are. But the public beach is just as beautiful as the beach by the hotels so you are not missing out on anything.

Tulum public beach with yellow bike in front
The best way to get to Tulumโ€™s beautiful public beach is by bike

Visiting Tulum Ruins ๐ŸฆŽ

Apart from the beach one of the biggest attractions in Tulum is the Tulum Ruins. Which are some of the only Mayan ruins that can be found right next to the beach.

It is super beautiful to see the ruins sitting on the top of a cliff overlooking the super blue turquoise water. The ruins are also covered in iguanas that are really cool to look at and take photos of.

View of the Tulum ruins overlooking a blue bay
Tulum ruins overlooking the beautiful water
Close up of an iguana at the Tulum ruins
An iguana sunbathing at the Tulum ruins

How Much Does It Cost To Enter The Tulum Ruins? ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

The entrance to the ruins is 80 pesos (4 USD) so it is super cheap to visit as well. If you are visiting from Playa Del Carmen the ruins are located just outside town.

So the colectivo will actually stop on the side of the highway and you can get off at the ruins and visit them before going into town. Which makes visiting the ruins as a day trip from Playa Del Carmen super convenient.

Another tip I have is that the ruins can get really, really busy on the weekend and during peak season. So I would recommend getting there during the week and as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

Katharina standing next to the ocean at Tulum ruins forming her hands to a heart
Loving the view from the Tulum ruins

15. Visit The Coba Ruins ๐Ÿ’

The Coba ruins are a 1.5-hour drive from Playa del Carmen and a different but evenly cool experience as the Tulum ruins.

The Mayan ruins at Coba have been restored much less than other sites so it gives a very authentic feel, as many of the ruins are still covered in jungle and crumbling away.

Standing in front of the Conjunto de Pinturas at Coba
Enjoying the sun in front of the Conjunto de Pinturas ruins at Coba

To get there from Playa Del Carmen you can either hire a car or you can catch a bus with ADO that leaves every morning at 8:40 am arriving at the ruins at 10:30 am. There are also some amazing cenotes nearby which you can visit after the ruins.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Read my Coba Ruins and Cenotes travel guide to get the best out of your trip!

16. Visit Puerto Morelos ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

Puerto Morelos is a super chill fisherman village located just a 30-minute drive north of Playa Del Carmen. If you are wanting to visit a beach town with a slower pace of life than Playa Del Carmen or Cancun then Puerto Morelos is a good place to go.

There is a beautiful beach that is a lot quieter than other towns along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. So the best thing to do in town is to just grab something to eat at one of the local restaurants and then head down to the beach to relax.

The malecon in Puerto Morelos in front of the beach and blue ocean
The start of the little malecon at Puerto Morelos
Fishing boats in the water at Puerto Morelos
Fishing boats in the calm water at Puerto Morelos

To get from Playa Del Carmen to Puerto Morelos you can catch a colectivo at the same colectivo station that goes south to Tulum. But to get to Puerto Morelos you need to get into one that heads north towards Cancun.

The ride will be 40 minutes and should cost about 60 pesos (3 USD) but make sure to ask the price before getting in.

17. Snorkel With Turtles At Akumal Bay ๐Ÿข

Akumal Bay is a beautiful bay located just a 30-minute drive from Playa Del Carmen. The main attraction at Akumal Bay is the sea turtles that come to feed on the sea grass that grows there.

You can go snorkeling in the bay and you are almost guaranteed to see turtles up close feeding on the seagrass. It is really cool because you can really see the turtles breaking off the grass and chewing on it.

A few years ago you used to be able to go and snorkel with the turtles for free. But because the bay has become so popular you now have to pay to enter the beach and also for a tour guide to snorkel with the turtles.

The beach at Akumal Bay
The beautiful beach at Akumal Bay

How Much Does It Cost To Enter Akumal Bay? ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

To enter Akumal Bay and just stay on the beach costs 120 pesos (6 USD). However if you go to the Lol-Ha Restaurant you can get free access to the beach as long as you buy food and drinks.

How Much Does It Cost To Snorkel With The Turtles At Akumal Bay? ๐Ÿคฟ

You can snorkel for free at Akumal Bay however there is a special roped-off area where the seagrass grows that you have to be with a guide to enter. It is still possible to see turtles outside the area but it is much less likely.

The rules and prices are changing fast at Akumal Bay but the last I heard a tour inside the roped-off area costs around 500 pesos (25 USD) per person if you turn up at the beach.

Just be prepared that it is a very touristy area so you may be told all sorts of prices and rules especially when you park your car or approach the entrance on foot. Better to ignore that and get all your information at the official ticket counter and a guide there or directly on the beach.

Akumal Bay with lots of palm trees giving shade
There is plenty of space and natural shade at Akumal Bay

Now You Know Everything About Playa del Carmen

That brings us to the end of Everything Playa Del Carmen โ€“ The Complete Guide 2023. I hope it helped you plan your trip!

Remember to read also our other Playa del Carmen guides as they are super helpful for when you are in Playa Del Carmen too.

Let me know if you have any questions about visiting Playa del Carmen in the comments below and enjoy your stay in Playa!

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic. Co-founder of happyhealthynomads.

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2 thoughts on “Everything Playa Del Carmen – The Complete Guide 2023”

  1. Just a couple of FYIs…the ADO does not run overnight from the airport, the last bus leaves around 11. Intercity colectivos and busses are both 10 pesos and you pay when you enter not exit, it’s only the North and South running colectivos that you pay when exiting. Taxi fares are set, not negotiable, there are no ‘local” prices, Playa is zoned and the fares are the same for everyone. Learning the fares/zones is a much better way to use them as opposed to negotiating and giving some drivers the opportunity to rip you off. Fares and zones can be found at TariTaxi and the Radio Taxi app (Radio Taxi has an upcharge because you are ordering a taxi to your location)

    1. Hey Lizzie, thanks for the comment! We checked the ADO website and they have a schedule that runs all through the night. So I guess that information is correct. With the buses in the city, we always paid 7 pesos and the drivers always gave us change for 7 not 10 pesos each but we will make it clear when to pay. Everywhere else in Mexico we always paid when exiting so we got used to it.

      Thanks for the taxi information, very helpful! We know there are no local prices but we had a few drivers try and charge us 200 pesos when we first arrived. We asked our hosts who had lived in Playa for years but they didn’t tell us where the fares could be found just that it should cost about 50.

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