Traveling is the best education you can have. And to you have the best experience possible, it’s advisable to have someone to guide you through the learning process.
Coming to México may raise some of questions. Is it safe? Can I drink the water? In reality is Mexico is not very different from any other country. Basically everything works the same way, especially in touristic destinations.
Nevertheless, there are some tips that may come in handy when traveling to an unfamiliar place, and we would like to help you with that.
We need to talk about safety because the very first question that crosses many tourist’s mind is “is Mexico safe?”, and the answer is yes! Of course it is.
Mexico just broke its own record on the amount of tourists welcomed during 2016! More that 35 million people visited this beautiful country last year, and Mexico is within the 10 top destinations in the world. So yes, Mexico is safe.
Playa del Carmen is part of the Mexican Caribbean, and is one of the hottest destinations, so if you are concerned about safety just follow these tips:
- Never leave your belongings unattended. This applies to basically anywhere worldwide.
- Take a cab or hire transportation if you don’t know how to get to your destination.
Layout and Transportation
Moving around in an unknown city is may be a complicated subject but Playa I well laid out and as such it is very easy to move around.
Let’s talk about the layout of the city: it is very simple. The city is divided in two by the main highway that goes through the Riviera Maya. You need only to care about the part of the city that is between the highway and the beach.
This part of the city is designed as a grid, streets are perpendicular to the beach and avenues are parallel. Both streets and avenues in Playa are one way, except for main streets that have a ridge.
All the streets that go from the highway to the beach are numbered and they go 2 by 2, starting from the main bus station on 5th Avenue. For example: 2nd Street, 4th street, 6th street, etc.
All Avenues go 5 by 5. Famous 5th Avenue is one of them. So starting from the beach they go 1st Avenue, 5th Avenue, 10th Avenue, etc. Knowing this is fairly easy to move around by yourself.
Going to Nearby Destinations
Taking tours is a big part of most people’s vacation, and the Riviera Maya has a infinite number of places to visit.
Asking our concierge to book a tour for you would be the easiest way to go, but if you have an adventurous soul you could also go by yourself.
The transportation vans that go through the main highway are located on 2nd street and 15th avenue. They depart almost every 15-20 minutes and they go to Cancun (north) and Tulum (south) making stops on small towns, cenotes, beach clubs, theme parks, and secret beaches.
Some of these places are:
- Punta Venado Beach Club
- ATV theme Park
- Beach and Cenote Xcacel
- Cenote Dos Ojos
- Xpu-Ha Beach
- Maroma Beach
- Akumal Town
- Puerto Morelos Town
Almost all the nightclubs are on 12th street between 1st and 10th avenues. It is very easy to locate them because it is the busiest street during the night.
There is a club for every taste so no big problem there.
If you are more into bars and drinking while having a nice conversation they are also located on 12th street and on 10th street but you’ll find a lot alongside 5th and 10th avenue too.
Rooftops are always great places to watch the sunset and spend the evening. Some of the best rooftops in playa are:
- Thompson Hotel Rooftop
- The Live Aqua Hotel Rooftop
- Be Playa Roof
- The Palm at Playa Roof
- Artisan Hotel Rooftop
- Reina Roja Hotel Rooftop
ATMs are everywhere on 5th avenue but most of them do not belong to a bank so they could charge a lot of commission for every transaction so it is better to go to a known bank’s ATM.
If you need to exchange money remember to take your passport with you, it is required by law to present your passport for every money exchange transaction. There are several places where you can do this; we recommend exchanging your money on places that are located in busy areas.
If you are paying in dollars, the exchange rate varies depending on where you are buying. Some stores have a fixed exchange rate and they have this announced at the entrance.
Avoid Pushy Sellers
Yes they are annoying and you might find some around Playa but you just need to ignore them as engaging in a conversation even just to say “no thanks” could take a couple of minutes of your day, and time is gold when on vacations
Being a touristic destination prices tend to be higher on the most touristic areas so the closest to the beach the higher the prices of basically everything, so if you are looking to save some money walk a bit towards the opposite side and look for a nice place to buy or eat.
Ask around to locals and you’ll find interesting places at more fair prices.
Tipping is a big thing in Mexico. Most of the income for bartenders, waiters, bellboys, supermarket baggers, parking lot assistants, gas pump assistants, etc. consists of tips.
Most service personnel are hard working and honest people so they won’t actually ask you to tip them but leaving a 10% -15% tip is the standard for a good service.
It is typical to leave between 1 and 10 pesos to the people that helps you park or pack your groceries.
To make it easy for everyone here in Playa, all the emergency services are available dialing 911.