Here are 10 great tips for Playa Del Carmen to get your vacation off to a good start. Playa Del Carmen has a lot to offer and getting tips from locals is always nice so you can enjoy it even more. These tips can keep you safer, save you some money, and create and general well-read up feeling for your vacation to Playa Del Carmen soon.
10 Great Tips for Playa Del Carmen
Picking the right time of year to come to Playa Del Carmen
Really anytime of the year is good to visit but there are sometimes of the year when the weather is not 100% perfect. You might also be sharing the beach with more tourists at some times of the year. In regard to weather, the hotter months tend to be the end of April into the first part of June. This time of year, is also dryer, which is nice for the beach, but the jungles look dry too. For more on weather for Playa Del Carmen see our article here.
If you want to avoid the higher seasons when more people are in Playa Del Carmen here are three times of the year to avoid. Easter Holiday (Semana Santa as it is called in Mexico) since this is one of the busiest times for tourist especially national tourist. New Years is also packed in Playa Del Carmen because it is so popular with going out to clubs and seeing the sunrise on New Year’s Day. Right before and after New Year’s in Playa it is busy. People usually pad the time around the holidays and enjoy the warm weather.
Avoid overly pushy storekeepers or street sellers
This is not a major problem, but some can be tricky in the way they get your attention and then just try to sell you something. One of the most common things street sellers on 5th Avenue say is “Do you recognize me? I am your waiter from your hotel.” (Some might even say your hotel name because they recognize your bracelet for your hotel). This may seem innocent, but it is a flat-out deception. If you walk the length of 5th Avenue you are probably going to hear this line a few times. You can help yourself and other tourist by not falling for this pick-up line. Just pass them by. Other store workers will sit outside of shops and give you lines to get you in. Just follow this rule: It is your vacation, only go in if you want to, otherwise just politely say no thank you and continue your walk. For how to avoid other scams and tourist traps see our article here.
Taking photos with characters on 5th Avenue and tipping
There are many costumed people and street performances on 5th Avenue especially in the evening. These are for the most part licensed to do this and something that can add to your enjoyment of your vacation. You can see everything from flying Papantla dancers in Fundadores Park to a Michael Jackson impersonator. If you watch and take photos of the street performances, it is nice to support them with a little tip. You will also see costumed Mayan people along 5th Avenue and perhaps even some superheroes. You can take photos with these people, and it is a “donation of a tip” for taking a photo. It is polite to ask before just so there is no surprise after taking a photo. For the most part these people are very polite and working hard for your tips.
Drink up and we don’t mean just alcohol
Rehydrating yourself is important in the tropical climate in which we live. It can be cheaper to get a large bottle at a convenience store or grocery store rather than buying water at your hotel. Some hotels offer refills for free from a large water container. Take advantage of this because buying lots of water can get expensive and it is a lot of plastic bottles. Drinking water does not come out of the tap in Mexico and it is bought separately. There is no problem to drink the bottled water in Mexico and it is very clean. You can also get ice at any restaurant without worrying.
Better safe than sorry where you use your ATM card or credit card
Anywhere in the world it is easy to have your card cloned by thieves and Playa Del Carmen is not immune. Even if an automatic teller machine looks like it is not tampered with and even if you type in your numbers blocked from view, your information can still be taken. Use official physical banks to reduce your risk. The reason for this is because the bank ATM’s are under more video surveillance and are harder for thieves to access. See our map of banks near 5th Avenue in our article on exchanging money. For credit cards it is better to pay in cash at restaurants and bars. Not only is Mexico more of a cash society, but it also means your card is not out there and having more opportunities to have your information taken and used without your consent. These are some of our best tips for Playa Del Carmen!
Do as the locals do for transportation
If you are staying along the coast in the Riviera Maya and want to get around, you can take colectivos (affordable small vans that pick-up people and drop you off wherever you want). Even if you are staying in Playa Del Carmen you might want to take these colectivos to an eco park or cenote. See our article on how to take the colectivos. Be sure to book ahead of time for your airport transfer, like this recommended company.
Eat good food by avoiding tourist traps
Most locals do not eat on 5th Avenue because the prices are higher, and the quality is often not the best. Don’t fall for tourist quality “Mexican food”. There are many restaurants just off 5th Avenue on side streets that are good, and you can get about a 15% less price on your meal because they are more reasonably priced. You can check out our Restaurant Guide or our other guides for the Best Restaurants, Cheap Eats, Breakfast Restaurants, Lunch Deals, Vegetarian, or just about everything you need, just use the search box. We are always trying to link up tourist with the best places to eat so you don’t get tourist quality and prices.
Especially at touristy restaurants in Playa Del Carmen be sure to check the bill for several things. In Mexico, the law says all prices must be posted in pesos and all prices include taxes and fees. So, your bill should be a total of all the things ordered and nothing more. Adding a “propina” or tip to the bill is also illegal in Mexico, but it does happen at touristy restaurants because people might not see it and double tip.
Pack the right clothes
It is the tropics, and the good news is it is not overly formal! Make sure you bring light weight clothes and sandals. Remember Playa Del Carmen can be stylish at night for some restaurants and during the day it is casual beach wear. For more on what people wear in Playa Del Carmen check out our article on Playa Style. For a complete guide to packing and what to bring, see our article here.
Have fun and don’t pay too much!
Tours are going to be a great way to get out and have fun. First narrow down what you want to see. You can start with our article on tours and places to go or what activities there are to do here. We like to link you to where to buy the tickets at the best price. Buying them yourself online in advance can often save you 15%. We also do reviews of tours on this site and have comparisons of what Mayan Ruins you should visit to help you out. We will continue to add more reviews for you, so you get the best possible tour for your money!
Be safe and have fun in Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen is a pretty safe place and some of the problems people do have can easily be avoided. Most of the dangers are related to tourist drinking too much. Go out with friends and control your drinking. We have a complete guide on how to be safe here.
We hope you have a great holiday in Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. It is an amazing place to discover and with a few insider tips for Playa Del Carmen, we hope it is even better.
Do you have some Playa Del Carmen tips you want to share? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.