How to book tours and have a great time in Playa Del Carmen!

Booking tours Playa Del Carmen

Booking tours in Playa Del Carmen

If you are reading this, we are happy because so many come here with little preparation for their vacation and wing it. Which can be fine, but we love educated tourist that make great decisions when here. We want you to have the best vacation and best quality things. We love for good businesses to be rewarded with customers and we like when the area gets to show off the good things it has to offer. In this article we are going to talk about booking tours in Playa Del Carmen. Where to book tours, when to book tours and more.

Where not to book your tour Hint: on the street

All up and down 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen you will find tour booths selling every tour imaginable. Ticket hawkers will yell out their catchiest phrases to get your attention or just ask you where you want to go.

So, it is their job to sell tours, so why do we recommend not buying them from them? Here are several reasons.

Cheap cheap tours to second rate places

Not all tour destinations are equal. There are first class, second and even third-class tours in the Riviera Maya.

A slick selling point is the 2×1 tour. We will save you the trouble of asking, there is NO SUCH THING! No tour operator gives 50% even in low season. So, what is the deal? Well, they ask you what you want to do on a tour. You say zip lines and maybe a cenote. They show you a park like Xplor and say how it is X-amount of dollars. Then they say there is this other park that has the same things but is only half the cost. To them the reasoning is, that is 50% off. That is really rough thinking let alone rough math.

On top of this, many tour sellers have never been on these tours, so they are only repeating what people have told them about the tours.

Unless you are really on tight budget, you should not waste your vacation time at a basic park. Some of the top tourist attractions are the top for a reason.

Ticket to a timeshare

Yes, many of the people on the street work with timeshare organizations. Some directly and some indirectly. Often a tour is a real ticketed tour but when people waiver on price or they look like prime targets for timeshares, they reel you in. For about the same price as a tour commission, a tour seller can get a commission for sending you to a timeshare presentation.

Everyone might know the deal, you go, listen for one hour and the get your free tour or gift. But how many people have gotten caught up in the slick sales pitches only to have buyer’s remorse? The answer, many people. There is also the time you waste of your vacation. Often a promised one-hour presentation turns into three, and then there is the transportation time on top of that. Most timeshare and vacation club deals are not good. See our article on timeshares here.

You are number 321 customer to book a tour

Selling tours in Playa Del Carmen is a numbers game. These tour booths are all in high traffic areas. The more people pass, the better a chance to sell a tour. You are going to be another person and another chance to sell a tour. Since most tours come with varying rates of commission, you are often first presented with the highest paid commission tour first. This is the same thing that concierges do when recommending tours or restaurants in Playa Del Carmen. They send you to the ones where they get the best commissions and have the relationship with.

Do you want a tour that gives the best commission to the guy on the street or the best tour for you?

Note: There are some very honest and hardworking people that sell tours in Playa Del Carmen. We just want to tell you the motive of a lot of them and what can drive them to sell you a certain tour.

Are you a brochure shopper for tours?

Many people wait until they arrive and then shop the brochures in the lobby of the hotel for tours of interest. The flashy pictures make it easy for one to jump out at you. You collect some brochures and place them out for your family to see. Then the next day you go to the lobby and ask at the tour desk to book a tour for you.

What could be wrong with this time-honored traditions of vacations? Below are some reasons.

Brochure turf space in lobbies is political

Many large hotels have contracts with tour selling companies. They will only sell or offer brochures of the tours that have contracts with. So if you shop the brochure counter you only see some of what is available.

Even if you go to a politically neutral tour booth, some tour companies just don’t have brochures everywhere. There are some great small tour operators that have one unique tour. You might miss out on something that you would have really liked. For example, there are some great cooking classes in the area. You probably won’t see any brochures for this.

Booking tours Playa Del Carmen
Inside of Tzel-dzont cenote. Some amazing tours are not in brochures in lobbies.

Do your own research for what tours you are interested in

So, what do you want to see on vacation? A fun tour, nature tour, or a cultural tour? There literally is everything here. Everything from Mayan ruins to zip line parks. Once you know what you are interested in you can search online.

We try to list all kinds of quality tours on our website. One article is the tours and places to go. Many people find this helpful with doing research for their trip to Playa Del Carmen. We also like to put a link if possible, for readers to book for themselves the tour. We try only to put links to booking a tour if it is the best price possible as well.

Why booking a tour in advance is good

Here are several reasons why booking a tour in advance is good:

  • Some smaller tours have limited seats in a van.

    On one date there might only be 15 spots for a tour. If you are a family or couple, it is good to pick the date you want. Most people arrive for one week. The first two days people want to chill, and the last two days is spent relaxing at the pool and packing. So that leaves three prime days for a tour.

  • Discounts!

    Who doesn’t like saving money? Sometimes this is the only way to get a discount tour price. From 10%-25% savings for booking ahead. It does take some planning but for a family of four that means you can save about $40-$90USD. That is sure motivation to book ahead. One of the best companies that does discounts for booking ahead is Xcaret, Xplor, Xenses, and Xel Ha parks.

  • Limited availability.

    Some tours in Playa Del Carmen are only 3 or 4 times a week.  A tour to Chichen Itza might only go on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. So, if that was your first choice for a tour and it is sold out that day, you might be out of luck or have to go on another tour that is not your first choice.

  • Better service for you.

    It helps tour companies provide better service if they know how many are going on a tour and to where. Think about the logistics of a large tour company. Some tour companies have 10 or more tours a day all to different locations. They need to know how-to pick-up people from 20 different hotels, what languages the tour will be in, what guides to assign to the tour and have a driver.

    Knowing how many are already booked can help plan all this so there is no last-minute rush just to accommodate people that just booked. Some tours are even with food, so it is good for them to plan ahead for people’s diets and be well prepared.

  • Paid in full before you take off.

    It is a good feeling to have everything set before you go and paid for. That way on vacation you are not card swiping your way through the vacation and counting how much you spent. Having your tours and activities planned out can save you from impulse spending and control the overall cost of your vacation.

Do you have to worry about the weather for a tour?

You say you want to know what the weather is going to be like before you book a tour. Here is why most of the time you don’t have to worry about the weather for a tour.

Weather guarantee for tours

Some tours like Xcaret, Xel Ha, Xplor and others all have weather guarantees. If you pre book your tour and it is going to be bad weather, you can change it up to 24 hours before and there is not charge.

The weather does not matter for some tours

On some tours you don’t need to worry about the weather. Some of the water parks are open rain or shine. Plus, you are going to be wet most of the day anyways. Other tours are in caves and out of the weather for a majority of the time.

If you are going to one of the historic Mayan ruin sites, it is worth it to see such an important area. Most tours will provide umbrellas and even at Coba they have bike taxis with umbrellas that will take you around.

Some tours cover a large area with different weather

If you are in Playa Del Carmen and going on a tour to Chichen Itza or other Mayan ruin site, the weather can be different. There is a lot of transportation time and ground covered by a tour. So even if it is a sunny in one place it can be cloudy or raining in another. Chichen Itza is 3 hours from Playa Del Carmen and that is a lot of space for weather.

booking tours Playa Del Carmen
This is what everyone wants to see at Chichen Itza.

The weather is just the weather

When you are on your vacation and you have this special time of the year, you want to do certain tours. Of course, everyone wants that great Instagram photo or picture to post. That does not happen all the time in real life. It does rain, it does get cloudy, and it can be just an average weather day on your same day as you take a tour.

The good news is that the weather in Playa Del Carmen is pretty sunny year-round. You can even check out weather link to see what weather is like at certain times of the year.

We hope you enjoy your tours in Playa Del Carmen

There is so much to see and do here on tour. Each time you come you have the opportunity to explore more. We try to give you tour reviews and a big guide of place to go on tour or on your own here in our Playa Del Carmen tours and places to go guide. For a list of popular tours from Playa Del Carmen, see our article here.

If you have questions about booking tours in Playa Del Carmen or some comments, let us know in the section below. We would love to hear from you.

booking tours Playa Del Carmen
Some of the bikes with electric assist for this tour.

About The Author


  1. I always wondered about those ticket sellers in 5th Avenue. I wonder how they make their money, there are so many of them.

  2. Can you tell me which internet tour operator is reliable to book tours from homebassis? We arrived the 3 of december. Thanks

    • Hello. All of the links to tour companies on our website are recommended and reputable. If you don’t see a destination or tour you are looking for, just let us know and we can make a recommendation.

  3. Im loving your website!It’s fast becoming my go to guide for planning our first trip to Mexico (from New Zealand) in December this year for myself & my husband.Do you have any recommendations if we wanted to book a private tourguide for a number of trips?We are staying in Playa for 4 nights, then are going to stay near Chichen Itza, so were keen to get a guide to take us from Playa and stop in Valladolia to do a tour & have lunch.Then bring us back to Playa the following day via somewhere else amazing.Also wanting to head to Tulum for the day to view sites,beaches & lunch at Casa Malca.Would love your local recommendations! Cheers!

    • Hello Carla

      We are glad you found our website. Here are some tips and suggestions for your upcoming trip. December is a busy time in Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, especially 20th-31st. In Yucatan it is not as busy. For your tour to Valladolid, why don’t you leave Playa and stay there , see the town and then go to Chichen Itza from there? Or spend two nights in Valladolid? Near Chichen Itza there is a small town called Piste where there are hotels. Almost all of them are cheesy and the town is not much. Valladolid is much more charming. Plus if you combine it you are not driving 1 1/2 hours back and forth and then returning the same way. It saves you 3 hours. One cool hotel in Valladolid is Zentik Project. It is not in the center but is interesting. If you want to do a private tour from Playa to maybe Tulum to go snorkeling, here is a video and private tour company we like,
      Are you going to be renting a car? Or taking busses around?

  4. Hi, My two Colleague are visiting Tulum and Playa Del Carmen this year end vacations. Thanks for sharing deep information.

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