Travel Tips and Information for the Riviera Maya
2021 has been a year that many people pushed off plans, but are now exploring out on vacations. For those that will be traveling over the next six months or so, here are some tips for you to help in planning. We have all seen how things change and how regulations affect our daily lives. We hope with this information you will feel more comfortable traveling and be prepared for some things that are still different from normal.
Current covid-19 restrictions
This is something we get asked a lot and something that changes with conditions. In general, face masks must be worn in public spaces at hotels, walking on 5th Avenue and while shopping. Some stores limit the amount of people at a time. No masks are required for the beach or poolside.
Most restaurants are open and most things feel pretty normal. Two notes about restaurants: restaurants do require masks for entry , but you can remove them once seated and be sure to bring your smart phone for scanning codes for the menu. The Riviera Maya has been open for business since last year, so everyone is pretty used to living with Covid-19 at this point.
Most tours and parks are open. Xavage park is opening in December. That is one of the last parks to be reopened.
There are no covid-19 test required for arrival in Mexico. If you need to get a test to leave, there are many places to get tested. Some hotels offer it if you are staying for a week or so. There Cancun Airport even offers the test.
Hotel tips for the winter season 2021-2022
Many people have put off their trips to a possibly more predictable time. Having many restrictions and changing regulations have kept a lot of people grounded during the spring and summer of 2021. But now, looking forward to the winter season, many people are already booked at hotels. In talking to hotel owners, managers, and local travel agents, many hotels are booked full already or close to it. For those of you that want a certain hotel or better options, it is best to book as soon as possible.
Tip: Hotel stays are often more expensive on Friday and Saturday nights. More people incorporate the weekend in their trips to extend vacation time. Midweek prices are often cheaper. Of course you are probably coming for a week and this does not help much. But, if you are traveling around, staying in more expensive places (like Tulum or Playa) midweek and weekends in other places can save you a lot of money.
Tip: It can be overwhelming to select an all inclusive with so many choices. Plus many want the perfect trip after the past two years. If you need help booking, we recommend a local travel agent based here in the Riviera Maya. Lori actually stays and visits the hotels and is very helpful to readers. Here is an article with her contact info if you need help booking a vacation.
Tip: If you are going to be staying at an all inclusive hotel, there will be a few notable changes. Most buffets are not self serve for the time being. Most dishes are served to you. Some features of hotels are not open like nightclubs. Nightly shows are common at all inclusive hotels. Many of these are either spaced out seating or in outdoor theaters. Housekeeping is often only every three days or upon request. This keeps people from entering your room often and gives you your space.
Do not expect discounts on accommodation. With high traffic rates in the Riviera Maya, there is no need to lower prices. This is not only affecting hotels, but also vacation rentals and short term rentals as we will discuss next.
Booking longer term accommodations
For those of you who might be coming for a longer stay and looking to rent a condo or vacation rental, be prepared for a price hike. The pandemic has shifted a lot of travel around. Many people that usually go to other Caribbean destinations or even Asia, are exploring coming to Mexico. In addition to people looking for countries that are open, there are people with more flexible work arrangements. This means working remotely for some. Many more are coming for a few months to work online while taking in some sun and fun. The tourist visa policies of Mexico are also very generous offering up to 180 days of travel within the country.
With a more diverse crowd coming and people booking work/vacations, rental prices have gone up a lot. Many Airbnb owners are only doing shorter stays because it is more profitable also. So what are some tips for this time of travel?
- If you see a place you like, but it is only rented per night or weekly, write to the owner directly and offer a long term stay payment. This can work because a good client that wants a long stay is guaranteed income.
- Booking early is always a good tip. Last minute options are usually the bottom of the barrel sort of speaking.
- Make sure you book in a neighborhood that works for you. Some nice looking places are west of the highway in Playa Del Carmen. This means that public transportation or taxis are needed to get around. This can add a lot of extra time and expense to your stay that you might not want to deal with. See our guide on where to stay in Playa Del Carmen.
- Think about alternative cities or splitting your time between locations. If Playa Del Carmen is your main destination, it will most likely be your most expensive cost per night (except Tulum). So for example, if you are coming for three months, you could do two months in Playa Del Carmen and split a month between two places. Merida offers a whole different vibe for example. Merida is more affordable and a large colonial city. Valladolid is a small colonial place that makes it easy to be imbedded in a community. There are even digital nomad getaways to small towns like Espita.
- See our guide on renting apartments in Playa Del Carmen here for many more tips.
Transportation tips for traveling in Mexico
Travel with your ID
The first tip is one that covers all types of travel within Mexico. It is required to have proof of your stay in Mexico (your tourist visa or residential visa) and your identification with you when traveling. This has always been the requirement, but Mexico is checking and making sure people are in the country legally.
Some people, especially residents with visas, make it customary to travel with a copy of their visas because it is expensive to replace them if lost. However, copies are not legally accepted.
Why is Mexico checking legal status of people in the country? There are two main reasons. The first being that Mexico has a flow of people entering the country from the southern border and also flying into Mexico and looking to stay illegally. The second is the amount of people that have overstayed tourist visas or have not legally extended their stays. Mexico has been generous in extending visas for humanitarian situations (i.e. Covid-19). The movement of people from Central and South America looking for opportunities has increased a lot since 2020 so Mexico is getting stricter with checking immigration status.
Transportation to your hotel from the Cancun Airport
Since most people arrive by plane to the Cancun Airport, you will need transportation to your hotel. We have a complete guide to how to get to Playa Del Carmen from the Cancun Airport here and also a guide on how to get to Tulum from the Cancun Airport. It is recommended that you book your private transfers before you arrive so you can have a driver waiting for you.
How to save on bus travel
For those that might be taking the ADO bus to Valladolid or maybe to Chichen Itza, you can save on these trips. ADO offers a 20% off if you buy your tickets 7 days or more in advance. This might be hard to do if you are only coming for a week, most of the time online purchases do not work with a foreign credit card on their website. So it does require going to one of the ADO bus stations in Playa Del Carmen to buy the tickets. Even if you do not buy 7 days in advance, it is good to buy them a day or more before you travel. Some popular routes get booked fast. Some weekend travel and buses going to Holbox often fill up fast and leave you with expensive alternatives.
Flying domestic flights in Mexico
If you are going to travel beyond the beaches of the Riviera Maya, you can easily reach all parts of Mexico by flights. Flights within Mexico are often very affordable. We have a complete guide to local airlines with tips here.
Tip: For air travel it has been proven in recent months by ARC (Airline Research Corporation) that Sunday is the best day to buy your tickets and the worst day is Friday because of increased demand.
Tip: In Mexico, in general it is best to purchase your tickets about a month in advance. Also consider alternative airports. For example, if you are traveling around, you could leave from Cancun or Merida to fly to Mexico City. Prices can range a lot.
Tip: Mexican airlines can cancel flights last minute. It seems like a horrible thing to do and customers and should be protected. Most of the time a different day is given or a credit. That does not help much with your hotel reservations and plans. It should be noted that this can happen. The largest carrier, Aero Mexico is better than the others since it is a larger airline with more options to move people to other flights. It is also the more expensive airline.
Trend destinations to travel in Mexico in 2021
For the past year, these destinations have been the most searched within Mexico. As you can see, Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are the top two most searched. Both international and domestic travel is keeping these spots popular. This further alludes to the popularity of the Riviera Maya and why prices have remained high.
- Playa del Carmen
Thank you for reading our article about the upcoming winter tourist season in the Riviera Maya. We hope you will benefit from some of these tips. We hope to keep bringing you more so you can stay informed.