What to buy in Playa Del Carmen
Are you coming on vacation and want to know what to buy in Playa Del Carmen? A lot of people write to us and ask about what is good to buy, where to find crafts and so much more about what things are good to look for. So we are writing this large article so we can answer many of the common questions we get from you. This way when you come to can find the good stuff and know what to buy that is good.
Where can you buy crafts in Playa Del Carmen?
There is actually very little made in Playa Del Carmen. Unlike some of the older cities and towns of Mexico that are known for their crafts, Playa Del Carmen is in a new area. Most people live in Playa because of tourism and work in the tourism field. Most everything labeled as a craft is made in other parts of Mexico and brought in.
This does not mean you cannot find crafts of Mexico, just done expect many them to be made locally.
Street sellers from Chiapas Mexico
Along 5th Avenue you will see people with a blanket spread out selling traditional crafts from Chiapas Mexico. They sell brightly colored textile items like handbacks and stuffed animals. Prices are not set so you have to ask. Prices are reasonable though. There is no set location but you will find more of these craftspeople from 24th Street to 38th Street on 5th Avenue.
See our video here of where some of these things come from in Mexico.
Hand blown glass made in Playa Del Carmen
One cool place to visit in Playa Del Carmen is Vidrio Soplado Mexicano. It is a glass blowing workshop where you can see them make items and also purchase crafts made in Playa Del Carmen. The workshop and store is not in the center of Playa so you will need to drive here or take a taxi. More information is in our article.
Is leather good to buy in Playa Del Carmen?
Many people ask us about buying leather in Playa Del Carmen. Again, just because Playa is in Mexico does not mean it will have good quality or good prices on products from Mexico. It is like trying to by Texas BBQ in Maine in the United States. Most leather comes from the central and northern parts of Mexico. What leather you see on the street is not exactly fine craftmanship nor good quality leather. It is imported from other parts of Mexico because there is very little leather produced in the Yucatan Peninsula.
You can buy cowboy boots and leather bags like you see in the photo below in Playa Del Carmen. You can find shops like the one in the photo around 5th Avenue and Calle 1 Sur. This is just below Juarez Avenue headed toward the Cozumel Ferry Pier.
For boots you can find a store on 5th Avenue between 10th Avenue and 12th Street and a large boot store on 10th Avenue between Juarez Avenue and 2nd Street.
Is jewelry something good to buy?
It seems like jewelry stores and cruise ports go hand in hand. Exotic gem stones set in gold and silver seem to attract a lot of people on vacation. While Playa is not a cruise port, it is a jumping off point to Cozumel where there are a lot of jewelry stores and cruises. 5th Avenue in Playa has a good number of jewelry stores, so what about buying silver, gold or jewelry here?
First off gold and silver plus other precious metals are not from this part of Mexico. Taxco, Mexico is know as one of the best places to buy silver in Mexico for example. There are no mines here nor excess supply of cheap materials for jewelry. Just because Playa Del Carmen is in Mexico does not mean it is a good place to buy silver nor does it mean you will get a good deal.
Our recommendation is if you like the design of the piece and you can afford it, it can be a nice thing to buy in Playa Del Carmen. Don’t buy it for the value of the materials. Most of the large jewelry stores are not from artisans. You are looking at high price tag pieces sometimes with just fancy sounding names of gems that are not a good deal.
Note: There is tax free shopping in Mexico which entices some people to splurge on jewelry. We will say that we have had numerous comments on our tax free article about jewelry stores not filling out the forms or people getting the tax back. So the point is, don’t buy just because it sounds good to get the discount of the tax.
What we recommend you buy on vacation here
Here are some of our top picks of things to buy in Playa Del Carmen and where to find them.
- Mexican spirits. For the people that have everything a taste of Mexico in liquid form is nice. We did say above that some items from Mexico are imported and not the best to buy in Playa Del Carmen but alcohol is a little different. Licor is a bit standardized and you can buy at the same price pretty much everywhere. La Europea is a retail store in Quinta Alegria Mall that even locals and restaurants buy from. You get good prices and a nice selection. Be sure to look for Xtabentun liquor. It is a traditional liquor made here in the peninsula.
- Ay Guey clothing. This is a Mexican design store with shirts, jewelry and a few other things. It is very Mexican with cool designs. There are three Ay Guey stores in Playa Del Carmen on Quinta Avenida. You can find them at 6th Street, between 10th and 12th streets and 28th Street.
- Art. There are some local artist like Jacobo Roa and others. Some of them show art on 5th Avenue on Thursdays around 7:00pm-10:00pm. Others show on the south side of Quinta Alegria Mall. If you see something, get it because many people go back and they are not there or it is sold.
- Mexican crafts. Ambarte is another store that sells craft items including jewelry made from Mexican amber.
- Pineda Covalin is a Mexican design store that sells traditional Mexican imagery printed on silk. This is a higher end store where you can find a piece that will be part of your collection for some time. You can find this store on 5th Avenue between 26th Street and 28th Street.
The really touristy souvenir stores in Playa Del Carmen
There are a lot of big souvenir stores in Playa Del Carmen. Some with really tacky souvenirs. Keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is made in China and not really indicative of what is the best of Mexico. A lot of people buy this stuff because there are many of these large stores on 5th Avenue and they would not survive if no one shopped there.
Buying locally made things preserved the culture and craftsmanship of the area. Plus you can have something of quality that you will have for years to come.
Some guides to help find what you want to buy
- Our very big Playa Del Carmen shopping guide for tourist and locals about where to find things.
- The fashionistas guide to 5th Avenue.
We hope you have enjoyed our guide on what to buy in Playa Del Carmen. Do you have some more favorite things to buy here or are you looking for something? Let us know in the comments below.
I always try to look for things made locally to support artisans and local economy. Newer tourist areas like the Riviera Maya can be hard to find somethings to buy for gifts. THis list is good for us who like to shop locally.
I always wondered where the people were from that made the things sold on the sidewalk. I thought maybe from the other part of the peninsula.
I love the Artevelas candle boutique on 1st Ave between Calle 14 & 16. Not sure if it’s still the case, but the base of the candles used to made with Sand from local beaches. They’re very unique & absolutely beautiful when lit!
They just closed this last year, so we had to take them off the site after years of being in Playa.
That’s too bad that candle place closed! We’ve bought numerous candles from them over the years and they’re all high quality and look amazing.
We did hear they were still going to be available for purchases but just not run a shop open to the public. If you go to Valladolid, in the market you can find handmade beeswax candles that smell amazing and are very well priced.
I am impresed with your list. It is authentic and good options for shopping. Normaly you get a standard paid list of the standard stores.
Appreciate the recommendations. I will be on the lookout for items when in Playa.
Is it ok to buy silver and turqouise from street vender in playa del Carmen
Don’t expect it to be real, but if you only like it. There is not way to verify it on the street.
Do you know a place to buy a Tortilla press or even a tortilla machine? (the machine is for a friend that owns a restaurant)
There are some restaurant supply stores on 30th avenue between 38th and 50th. There are metal or wood options. Some of the grocery stores even sell them in the kitchen section but the better ones will be on 30th. Many of the basic metal ones rust and wear out fast.