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11 Tips on How to Prepare a Playa del Carmen Vacation
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11 Tips on How to Prepare a Playa del Carmen Vacation

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2017)

Planning a Playa del Carmen vacation may seem simple.

But is it?

You may think that once you book your room the rest will just kind of fall into place.

That can be true, especially if you’re looking for more spontaneity and adventure.

However, if you’re looking to spend your vacation (and spend less on it) more relaxed and semi-organized, it’s important you consider these Playa del Carmen vacation tips.

#1 Figure Out What You’re Looking for in a Hotel

Frontal view of Viceroy Riviera Maya hotel in Playa del Carmen

This one may seem easy, but it’s actually more complicated than you think.

In part, that’s because when people offer you “Playa del Carmen hotel” they are often talking about Riviera Maya hotels located a fair distance away from the city.

What’s important to you in a hotel?

What experience are you looking to have in Playa del Carmen?

Here are just a few things you should consider:

  • Location
  • All-inclusive or breakfast only
  • Size
  • Family-friendly or adults-only
  • On-site activities
  • Price

We have over 80 hotels on our website. Some are within Playa del Carmen, others are in the Riviera Maya.

When in doubt, contact a travel guru!

#2 Don’t Leave Airport Transfers to Luck

Timeshare salesmen laughing while saying, "And then I told them it's only going to take 90 minutes"

So you arrive in Cancun and have cleared that funky stoplight at customs.

Now what?

Quite a few people think that they can arrive at Cancun International Airport and just take a cab to Playa del Carmen.

While possible, it’s the furthest thing from advisable.

Costs can be exorbitant and there’s no way to ensure quality and safety on the fly.

Then, of course, there are the timeshare sharks.

In other words, book your airport transfers in advance online.

For more information, be sure to check out our guide to airport transfers from Cancun.

You may also consider Über as an option. Über Cancun did recently launch operations amid a conflict with the state taxi unions.

However, you may want to avoid the stress associated with unhappy taxi drivers and local officials until it all gets sorted out. When it does, we’ll update this article and remove our caveat.

#3 Search Google for Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

A boat glides through the mangroves on a Sian Kaan tour

Have you thought about what you would like to see in do in Playa del Carmen?

Put those internet skills to the test and check out the different options for the best things to do in Playa del Carmen and places to visit.

It really is important that you get an idea of everything there is to see and do in and around the Riviera Maya.

The list of activities is endless, but many of the organized tours offer the same basic activity with slight variations.

Figure out the type of activity you would prefer to do (culture, adventure, nature, etc.), and research the best options.

Some of our more popular tours are:

Remember, most people only do about two to three tours, so think smart.

#4 Book Your Tours in Advance

Boy waves at the camera while zip lining on the Mayan Xtreme excursion

This is not something I would recommend for every single activity, but it does make sense for most.

Why?

Because you can save a ton!

To begin with, booking in advance will often get you a significant discount in your price of purchase, sometimes as much as up to 20%.

That makes a huge difference, especially when traveling with your family or in groups.

Second, cancellation policies for Playa del Carmen activities are normally quite flexible, with changes allowed to be made often times with at least 48-hours advance notice at no charge.

Moreover, whenever you book through PlayaDelCarmen.com, you have an experienced travel guru ready to help out in case there are any changes.

That’s in addition to all the discounts.

#5 Prepare to Eat Out

A plate of stew-filled tacos Mexico City style served at El Gran Taco Playa del Carmen

One of the biggest misconceptions about Mexico in general, and Playa del Carmen in particular, involves food.

First that it’s Tex-Mex and second that it’s all tacos.

Little do people know that Playa del Carmen is a foodies haven.

And here’s a hint: most of the best restaurants actually aren’t even on 5th Avenue.

What type of food do you like?

It would be a stretch to say that Playa has it all, but there are many great restaurants.

You can find some great Italian food here. Awesome Mexican cuisine goes without saying.

There are several options for Asian fare, but nothing that I would deem anything more than average.

Perhaps the Po Thai restaurant. They have awesome Tom Kha Gai.

For more ideas on where to eat, be sure to check out our Playa del Carmen restaurants section on our website.

And by the way, if you ask me about my favorite place to eat in Playa del Carmen, it’s El Gran Taco (pictured above).

Open only for breakfast and lunch, they serve up about 15 different and oh so savory stew-filled tacos with fresh tortillas for under a dollar.

#6 Don’t Worry Too Much About the Weather

A Playa del Carmen beach on a sunny day

We all know that weather can make or break a vacation, especially one designed to take place at a white sand beach with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.

True that.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of inquiries about the weather in Playa del Carmen for any given time of the year.

What’s important to know are these two things:

1) Playa del Carmen has over 300 days of sunshine

2) We can’t predict or change the weather.

While we do get the occasional storm, most of the wet weather we get in Playa del Carmen goes away just as quickly as it appears.

You can check out our article on Riviera Maya weather for more detailed information.

And remember: if you’re checking out Playa del Carmen weather on Google and see rain in the forecast, don’t sweat it (or get out the umbrella).

First, check to see the amount of precipitation for the day.

That will give you a far better idea of what to expect than a picture with clouds and a few raindrops.

#7 Don’t Fret the Seaweed

Sand castle in Puerto Morelos Mexico

Seaweed in Playa del Carmen is another topic our travel gurus get asked about a lot.

This is a result of the mutant invasion we had back in 2015.

Since that time, seaweed levels have been back to normal.

In other words, it will wash ashore occasionally, sometimes more than others, but the hotels and local government remove it almost just as quickly.

Nevertheless, we still get weekly inquiries asking about how bad the problem is.

It was then, it isn’t now.

If that changes, we will be sure to add an update to our blog post on seaweed in Playa del Carmen.

#8 Plan to Visit the Surrounding Region

Lazy afternoon in Valladolid Yucatan

Playa del Carmen is much more than just a beautiful beach and a hip and happening Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue).

With its cenotes, jungle, Mayan pyramids, and colonial towns, the region surrounding Playa del Carmen warrants a visit (or two or three) as well.

A day trip to Valladolid, for example, is a great way to get a change of scenery and enjoy the beauty of a nearby colonial town.

There is so much to see and do in and around Playa del Carmen that you’ll never have time to do everything.

If you still want to stay at the beach but would like to visit a small but hip fishing village between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, see our travel tips for Puerto Morelos.

Read up on the Yucatan Peninsula and all it has to offer, and plan to spend at least one day outside of Playa del Carmen.

For some more ideas on other nearby places to visit, read our article on the top 8 day trips from Playa del Carmen.

#9 Check Out the Nightlife Scene

A rock singer performs live music at La Culpa Playa del Carmen

Are you ready to rock?

Good, because people often reduce Playa del Carmen nightlife to electronic music, Coco Bongo, and the rowdy nightclubs on 12th Street.

There’s that, too.

But there’s also so much more.

Live music, a Xoximilco dinner cruise through man-made, jungle-lined channels, and a vaudeville-type show at Rauxa Theater are just some of the options available to spice up your night.

There’s even a circus-like bar with all kinds of unique and sometimes weird art all over the place: Le Lotus Rouge.

Sound like fun?

Read our live music guide for some inspiration.

#10 Learn a Little Spanish

Donald Trump Mexico meme

Trying to speak a little Spanish while in Mexico will go a long way toward making not only your trip more enjoyable, but also for making you a better ambassador for your culture.

No one can learn a language overnight, so don’t think you have to come here and immediately understand the complex world of Mexican slang.

Keep it simple.

Common phrases like “please” and “thank you,” “my name is,” and “one more round” will work wonders for your personal public relations.

You can also download the best language apps for travel such as Duo Linguo or Fluent Panda.

And if they call you “Peachy Cool Arrow”, which loosely translates as f*#!ing a*#!hole, remind them that title is reserved exclusively for the orange-haired man in the picture above.

He’s earned it.

#11 Reach Out to a Travel Guru

Playa del Carmen team on a private yacht tour

Did you know that the travel gurus at PlayaDelCarmen.com are all locally based?

We’re not a massive company with headquarters and operations in New York, Berlin or Zurich.

We’re not just some automated machine of Fortune 500 company with call centers all over the world.

We also don’t sell timeshare.

Quality and service are at the essence of our company’s identity.

We’re here. We’re local. And we love helping people plan the perfect vacation.

Our travel gurus know all the hotels and can price match almost any Playa del Carmen vacation package you find.

Have questions?

Our advice won’t cost you a dime and we’re available toll-free at 1-888-537-9797!

Is there something we missed? Let us know in the comment section!

Lisa Wright Lisa is a travel expert who lives and works in beautiful Playa del Carmen. A native Montrealer who has successfully escaped winter for 15 years straight, she's all about helping people organize awesome vacations as a travel agent for PlayaDelCarmen.com.

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