Mexico Trip - Playa del Carmen?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by puma1552, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #1
    Wife and I just booked a trip here for the week after Thanksgiving. We are staying right on the beach in the just a couple blocks from downtown.

    We are planing on at least taking a ferry over to Cozumel, not sure what else we should do.

    Anyone been there? What's good to see/do? First time to Mexico.
     
  2. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #2
    Playa Del Carmen is amazing, MUCH better than Cancun. Cancun is basically just a mini America with all the establishments and comforts of home. Playa del Carmen has more of an identity, more bohemian. Everyone is super friendly.

    First things first since this is your first time to Mexico: don't be scared. Don't be scared of the cartel, or drug wars, etc. All the things you most likely hear, happen thousands of miles away. It would be like saying you don't want to go to New York because of drug wars happening in Texas.

    In Playa you should see Fifth Ave, which is a street with no cars allowed - it's 100% walking. There's shops, restaurants, and hotels. This is the place to be for nightlife as it's sort of like a power line that feeds the city at night. There's clubs, there's lounges, there's live music, pick your poison... However during the daytime, I'd recommend going off the beaten path. Go to the places where there's no tourists (basically off Fifth Ave), discover a part of Playa most people don't. Go to Jaurez street, go south, go west. Might get dodgy in that area at night, but hey where's your sense of adventure? On Fifth Ave you're gonna pay high for food, off Fifth Ave it's ridiculously cheap. My travel style is going off the beaten path, so perhaps you're different and would prefer something different, just throwing it out there.

    The beaches are the main attraction during the day, not sure how comfortable you are with public nudity, but Playa is very European and the ladies go topless. Basically, the further north you go up Mamitas Beach, the more nudity you'll see.


    Cozumel is good for a day trip, rent a scooter and you can make it around the island in a couple of hours with taking stops. Go snorkeling, there's no snorkeling in Playa.

    Check out Tulum, that's where all the Mayan Ruins are. Truly an amazing sight.

    Check out Xel Ha, a natural lagoon. Has a lazy river and other neat stuff. You can swim with dolphins too. Admittedly, it is very "touristy" with a lot of obnoxious travellers, but it is pretty neat. Hey for a little money you get unlimited food and drinks.....let's party!

    I haven't been to Isle Mujeres, but I've heard great things about it. Apparently has the best beach in the world, but again has a lot of tourists.

    In the end, just have fun. Explore, get lost, find your own way, drink like a fish, meet fellow travellers.....you'll have a blast.
     
  3. 12vElectronics macrumors 68040

    12vElectronics

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    #3
    Awesome!

    I'm going to Puerto Vallarta (sp?) on December 4th for 5 days with my gf!
     
  4. rick snagwell macrumors 68040

    rick snagwell

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    #4
    whats your take one $$ bring cash, credit?
     
  5. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #5
    Cash is always king. Credit is not always accepted, especially with street vendors selling handmade goods. Restaurants and such will accept credit, however they get charged from your bank - and pass the charges on to you. Same idea if you pay in USD.

    I'd recommend taking USD and get it exchanged to pesos in Mexico, there's a few currency exchange boothes on Fifth Ave. The ATM's there dispense American money, which you'll pay for, then have to get it converted to pesos which you get charged for again.

    As a side note, when buying any kind of goods (clothes, souvenirs, pottery, etc) - haggle! The price told isn't the final price. If they say it's 200 pesos, offer 100, then meet in the middle. If they're unwilling to go lower than what you think it should be, walk away - they'll most likely strike the deal when they think they've definitely lost the sale. Buy a delicious margarita on the beach with the money you saved :cool:. I don't care for them, but I hear their piña coladas are out of this world good because they use super fresh coconut picked that morning.
     
  6. 12vElectronics macrumors 68040

    12vElectronics

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    #6
    I would recommend taking alot of small bills $1, $5, $10...
     
  7. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    Nov 20, 2008
    #7
    Great info here, much appreciated. We are staying quite close to 5th Avenue.

    For snorkeling on Cozumel, is there a recommended tour we should do it through? We are total beginners and are not looking to do anything deep, just shallow snorkeling. Looking online, there are tons of places to do it through. Should we book ahead or just book it when we get there? Also, what's a good price to pay?

    How much cash do you think two people spending 6 nights there should bring? Of course this depends on how much you like to drink, but we are not heavy drinkers. Also, our resort is all inclusive but we plan to eat more than a few meals elsewhere. We'd like to do the scooter thing on Cozumel, snorkel there, and go to Tulum. Still need to look into the Xel Ha thing and Isle Mujeras, but might be interested.
     
  8. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #8
    As a general rule of thumb, don't book anything online beforehand. Book it a couple of hours in advance. You can get it cheaper in Playa at an independent seller, you can haggle, and get a better sense of where you're going. Just walk down 5th ave and people will try to sell you tours. When I've been snorkeling I just booked onsite on Cozumel. The snorkeling tours are right there on the main dock when you get off of the boat from Playa, scooter rentals are right there as well. It's been a couple years since I've been there so I don't really remember how much the snorkeling was, going to guess approximately $20 a person. FYI all snorkeling is surface swimming, you don't have an oxygen tank - you only have a snorkel (mouth piece to breathe when your face is underwater).

    Mind you Cozumel is a day trip, Tulum would be another, and Xel Ha would be another.

    As far as how much to bring, I'd bring more than you think you would need because you can always bring it back with you. You can travel Playa for $15 a day or $150 a day. Average cocktail is $5, a fulfilling meal is $10 (or as low as $3 off of 5th ave), or you could spend $50 on a meal. That's the beauty of Mexico, is everything is dirt cheap compared to a fairly similar American destination such as Hawaii. For 6 days, say $400 each give or take. As a frame of reference I was there for 10 days and spent $700 not including accommodation. Keeping in mind I bought a lot of drinks.
     
  9. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    #9
    Awesome, great info - one other question I forgot to ask - for that scooter rental on Cozumel, do we need international driver's permits?
     
  10. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #10
    No. I don't think I even had to show my regular California drivers license. Hahaha.....Mexico! There's hardly any rules. I might be wrong though it's been a while since I've done it, better bring your state issued drivers license just in case.
     
  11. Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

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    #11
    Playa del Carmen ... a highlight of ~2 months spent in Mexico about 6 years ago! Beautiful beach town. Highly recommended over Cancun. Have a great time!!! There are a lot of expensive resorts outside of town too with FANCY gated entrances... that memory sticks out for me. But you need not spent a lot of money to have a great time, get a place in town walking distance from the beach and you will love it!!!
     
  12. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #12
    Wow 2 months? Where else did you go? Other than Playa I've only been to Cabo, San Filepe, and Rocky Point. I really want to see the deep country though surrounding Mexico City such as Querétaro, and San Miguel De Allende.
     
  13. Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

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    #13
    Six weeks in Cuernavaca, studying Spanish . Fantastic experience! Then other cities like Merida, Palenque, Mexico City, Puebla, Taxco... It was a great trip !!!
     
  14. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #14
    Holy guacamole! Out of those places I've heard of Mexico City and Merida, never heard of the others. I looked up some pictures and all those towns just look stunning, will definitely have to put all of them on my list!
     
  15. Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

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    #15
    Definitely check out Palenque, it's a jungle town with a very central-american feel. The trip was probably the best international trip I've ever taken!
     
  16. samiwas macrumors 68000

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    Atlanta, GA
    #16
    I'm going to assume you weren't in an all-inclusive resort? We went to Playa a few years ago for I think 5 nights, and spent I think under $200 on "stuff" (trips, food, drinks, etc). Most of that was tips.
     
  17. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #17
    Correct. I personally don't like all inclusive resorts (or non-inclusive resorts), because in my opinion it creates a barrier between you and what you traveled far to see. More geared for someone who demands guaranteed safety and comforting ammenities, buffets, bacon & egg breakfast, and a heated pool. Nothing against those who prefer it, I just like to travel differently. You're almost inclined to stay on the premises, or only go to the touristy areas, and really could be anywhere in the world. What's the difference between being at an all-inclusive in Mexico, Jamaica, Virgin Islands, or Greece? Practically nothing....I prefer to be more immersed in the local culture and not have any extra comforts besides accommodation with no extra perks. It forces you to go explore, find yourself a meal (had the best huevos rancheros at a small tucked away restaurant in Playa), meet the locals (not the ones who live to serve), and get a better taste of where you are. In a sense, traveling like a local would.

    Again, just my preference...
     
  18. samiwas macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Makes total sense. I spent 7 years 100% traveling all over the world for work, and had a lot of free time during those travels, so I saw everything I needed to see. So now when we travel, we usually go pretty easy, or "safe", and just relax. Although, my wife is much more of a travel bug than I am.
     
  19. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #19
    Whatever makes you happy, it's all good! Every body is different, and will have different travel styles. I'm 25, single, full of piss and vinegar, with an insatiable desire to travel.
     
  20. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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    Nov 20, 2008
    #20
    couple other questions, trip is coming up saturday

    1) beach towels, need to bring them or will the regular hotel towels likely suffice for hanging on the beach/pool?

    2) fruit and veggies and salad - since these are likely washed in tap water, no good to eat? ways around it? obviously uncut fruit isnt really a problem, but if the cut fruit is exposed to tap water os the salad is washed in tap water, maybe no good?
     
  21. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #21
    1) don't see why they would be an issue
    2) interesting question. i've never washed cut fruit though, fwiw.
     
  22. mtneer macrumors 68020

    mtneer

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    #22
    Chichen Itza.

    They have better souvenirs and trinkets there than the stores in Cancun, just bargain hard.
     
  23. palmerc2 macrumors 65816

    palmerc2

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    #23
    1. If your hotel has a pool I guess you could just use the pool towels. When I went my hotel didn't have a pool, so I brought my own beach towel from the states.

    2. You'll be fine.....I ate everything from fruits, veg, meat, seafood, etc etc and didn't have a single problem. The tap water is fine, I wouldn't go drinking it but just the general prep is fine. For drinking water go to Esso (convenience store) and get a few gallons of drinking water. If you're legitimately worried about getting a parasite just eat spicy food, that's what the locals do and amazingly they never get sick. Hey if you get a parasite it adds to the experience! You can tell your friends you got montezumas revenge in Mexico and look at the expression of fear on their faces, it sounds frightening ya know? I got montezumas revenge in cabo, was inconvenienced for 2 days.
     
  24. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

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