Traveling to Playa del Carmen? Here you will find all the information you need to plan and enjoy your stay! Find out below when and what to pack, where to find the best souvenirs and how to spend your time in this Caribbean paradise!

Seasons and Weather

Playa del Carmen's weather is ideal year-round – the average air temperature being around 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the water being 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to travel is in mid-October to late April, due to the summer climate being quite hot and humid. In winter however, there is a nice dry heat and the waters are still warm.

Mexico's various regions have very different climatic conditions depending on their latitude and the altitude. In the north the weather is hot and dry, whereas the south has a warm, humid tropical climate. The Pacific coast is mostly characterized by high humidity and high temperatures the whole year round.  There are mainly two types of seasons – dry and rainy. The rainy season is between the months of May to October. The rest of the year sees little rain. Be cautious during the rainy season as there may be hurricanes or other natural disasters.

Medical Advise

There are no international vaccination requirements for your stay in Mexico, however there are a few that should be considered depending on the length of your trip. Vaccinations against tetanus, typhoid, malaria, diphtheria, and hepatitis A, which will protect you against infections through contaminated food and water, are highly recommendable. Stomach and intestinal illnesses are common – so please be careful what you eat. To avoid any uncomfortable stomach problems, follow the principle of “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it”. Do not use ice or ice cubes, unpeeled fruits or vegetables, seafood or anything that is not quite cooked enough. Finally avoid drinking tap water – this may lead to unpleasant consequences.

Customs Regulations

The following goods can be imported duty free:

Gifts worth up to 300 US dollars,

12 photos or videos ,

up to 3l wine / spirits,

400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.

Prohibited the export of gold (excluding gold jewelry), corals, cacti, archaeological artifacts and antiques.

Banks

Usual opening times: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Currency exchange offices (casa de cambio) offer the possibility of money exchange- open Mon - Fri 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat - Sun 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

 

Shops

Opening times are usually Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.. Small shops are usually closed from 1 to 4 p.m. for “Siestas”, which are naps/breaks after lunch. In the whole of Mexico and especially in touristic areas such as Playa del Carmen, you should always haggle before you agree on a product’s price. Be aware of vendors selling you fake items; especially arts, crafts and jewelry are often fake. Bigger stores generally accept both cash and credit card. Smaller stores mostly accept only cash as payment.

Traffic

In general, Yucatán and the rest of Mexico have a well-developed rail network, far superior to Canada or the U.S. For car rentals, there are traffic laws you must follow. These are similar to those in the US or Europe; however, you will be met by the locals who sometimes ignore them. For these reasons, caution is warranted on the streets. Gas stations can be found approximately every 50 kilometers.

Electric Converter

The electricity outlets are compatible with the US, so you won’t need a converter for plug-ins. If you do run into any problems with the plug head, visit a large supermarket and they will have what you need.

Language

The official language in Mexico is Spanish. In addition to that, there are over 80 Indo languages (the most important ones are: Náhuatl: 24%, Maya: 13%, Mixteco: 7,2%). English is spoken in large hotels and tourist centers. However, Mexicans really appreciate it if you try to speak a little bit Spanish with them and if you learn at least some words, such as “Hallo”, “Thank you” and “Goodbye”.

Beach and water activities

The long coastal beach of Playa del Carmen with its white sands and crystal clear turquoise waters convey perfectly the typical Caribbean feeling.

The waves and winds are very gentle – ideal for swimming/diving/snorkeling in the warm waters.

The world’s second largest reefs are found in Playa del Carmen and this makes the area one of the most famous diving spots worldwide. Most activities in Playa del Carmen can be found in or on the water. Therefore, snorkelers and divers of all experience levels can enjoy the beautiful waters inhabited by many tropical fish and caves. Visitors can also borrow a kayak or take a deep-sea fishing trip.

Shopping

Shopping in Playa del Carmen is a wonderful experience, as there are various souvenirs available that make your trip unique. Shopping takes mostly place in the center of Playa del Carmen, and most shops are located in the famous Quinta Avenida. There you can buy all kinds of souvenirs such as pens, key chains, postcards, T-shirts, as well as local arts and crafts made of wood or sea shells created in the region. Along the Quinta Avenida and the small shopping mall “Paseo del Carmen” there are exclusive boutiques and shops for beach and sport clothing as well as jewelry and perfume and Mexican and Cuban cigars.

Right on the main road from Playa del Carmen passing Tulúm is the Central Mayan shopping center (“Centro Maya”) with numerous clothing stores, restaurants and a cinema. The center is about 20 minutes (on foot) from the beach.

In general, the farther you go away from Quinta Avenida, the cheaper the prices become. There are also supermarkets in Playa del Carmen where you can buy souvenir goods. These include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Chedraui and Comercial Mexicana.

Excursions

Given its central location Playa del Carmen is the perfect starting point for exploring the surrounding area. The beach promenade with its lighthouse is the landmark of Playa del Carmen, and you should definitely visit it.

There is so much culture and history along with the best of what nature has to offer. Here are a few top destinations for trips and tours:

Mayan cultural sites, such as Chichén Itzá, Tulím, Uxmal and Cobá

Cozumel Island(a ferry ride away), because of the bright coral reefs Cozumel is one of the most popular diving spots in the Caribbean.

A trip to the 3,000Cenotes(sink holes) and freshwater caves around Playa del Carmen offer a unique diving experience – Cave Diving that is world class! The most famous Cenotes Sites : Gran Cenote – Sac Aktun, Casa Cenote, Dos Ojos, Cenote Sagrado, Taj Mahal

Water amusement park Xcaret: Swim with dolphins, relax on the beach in hammocks, visit the exotic wildlife, exhibitions, etc.

Nature ParkXel-Há: This one has a large aquarium.

Park and Zoo, Crococunhas botanical gardens and wild crocodiles.

Adventure Park Xplor: With zip-lining, underground word and much more.

Eco Park Tres Rios

Bird Park Xaman Ha Aviary: This place contains about 200 birds and 60 species.

Festivals

Compared to other destinations, Playa del Carmen is a relatively small coastal city. The inhabitants rather take part in events and festivals on the other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula. One of the popular locations is Cancún, in the north of Playa del Carmen. The most important events of the region are:

October: Riviera Maya Underground Film Festival

This event shows different movie screenings of experimental animation, fiction and documentary in different locations in Playa del Carmen, such as Plaza Pelicanos Hollywood Cinemas, Ayuntamiento de Solidaridad or Plaza 28 de Julio. This 5-day festival takes place every October in Playa del Carmen. Beside showing national and international movie screenings, people can also take part in different workshops and conferences about movie-making. Regarding more information click on RMUFF.

November:  Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

This festival is one of the most popular events in Playa del Carmen and it is typically held in November. The annual event gives local and foreign jazz performers a chance to showcase their talents. It lasts four days and starts around 8 p.m. It fills the streets of Playa del Carmen with music and dancing throughout the night, taking place near the Ultramar pier on Mamitas Beach. It attracts tourists from all over the world! The entrance is free. Are you interested? For more information please follow Riviera Maya Jazz Festival.

November: Taste of Playa

In the Fundadores Park various top international restaurants and chefs will allow you to taste and admire delicious and top national and international cuisine. This famous international food festival takes place from 3 to 9 pm. Are you interested? Please click on Taste of Playa.

November: The Bird Festival

For several years now enthusiastic bird watchers meet up in Yucatán, in order to participate in workshops, conferences and to organize and visit exhibitions.  For more information, click on Yucatan Birds.

November – December: Yucatan Fair

This colorful and lively show started as a little fair for stock breeders and today it is one of the biggest exhibitions in the industry. In the last few years other features have been added to the event, so as to provide entertainment for the general public. People can buy regional products, watch horse races and cockfights, enjoy rides and children’s shows and much more. All of this is part of the traditional Palenque festival. For more information click on Feria de Yucatan.

February: Mayakoba Golf Classic

This event annually takes place in the “El Camaleón Golf Club” in Playa del Carmen. It is the venue for Mexico’s Mayakoba Golf Classic and it has been part of the US PGA Tour since 2007.  For more information, please click on PGA Tour or Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Next to these festivals there are festivities such as “Carnaval” (February),  “Semana Santa” (March/April) and “Posada de Navidad” (December), the public holidays “Todos los Santos” (1st November), “Dia de los Muertos” (2nd November), “Independance Day” (15th/16th September), “Day of the Virgin Guadalupe” (12th December) and Christmas and New Year.

Nightlife

Playa del Carmen is definitely one of the best places in the Mayan Riviera to celebrate and have fun. Although the nightlife in Playa del Carmen is not as crazy as in Cancun, the party does not let you down. Along the famous Quinta Avenida there are bars, restaurants and lounges where you can go to eat and drink before the real nightlife starts. These offer you international and Mexican cuisine. Then, on the famous 12th street, you can find all the bars and discotheques that play the best of salsa, dance hall, electronic music and lounge music till dawn. There are also a few clubs with dance floors that extend to the white beaches of Playa del Carmen. Bar hopping is also very popular in Playa del Carmen as the clubs are located really close to each other.

One discotheque that deserve at least one visit is the “Coco Bongo”, one of the best clubs worldwide. To start we highly recommend  the “L’ambassade”, which has nice cocktail offers, or “Frida Bar”, which has a surrealistic ambience, “Pura Vida” with the best of reggae music and “Siesta Fiesta”, where life music is played every day. Pay a visit afterwards to the discotheques “Los Danzantes” y “Mandala”, which offer a really exclusive and modern decoration. The discotheque "Brahma" is especially popular among the inhabitants of Playa del Carmen. For the “after-party” (people go around 2am) you should visit “La Santanera”, playing the finest of electronic music. We also recommend a visit to the “Blue Parrot”, one of the most famous and oldest clubs on-site.

If you want more of a quiet night, there are also other bars and locations around the Quinta Avenida where one can find jazz or reggae music to relax a little bit. Go watch a new flick in of the cinemas, “Plaza las Américas” or “Centro Maya”.  Clothing is more casual at la “Playa”. Depending on where you go, you can dress up or dress down. Keep in mind that there are a few discotheques that do not permit shorts or sandals.