Playa del Carmen was the first destination we visited in Mexico. After a long flight from Lisbon with Lufthansa, we arrived in Cancún at night and we had a transfer (ZIP Transfers) waiting for us to go to Playa del Carmen.
Hotel Hacienda Maria Bonita was where we stayed, right next to 5th Avenue, which is the main avenue in Playa de Carmen, where everything happens.
We arrived late, tired and hungry! After simply leaving everything in the room, we went out to eat something when we discovered a small pizzeria (Pizza Mama Mia) with only two tables and take-away, perfect for take-away to the room, eating and resting! That's what we did... However, already in the room after eating, we remembered that we wanted to buy a SIM card to have internet on the phone. There we went out again and went to the OXXO supermarket, which operates 24/7 and sells the cards.
After all this, we went back to the room and went to sleep. Rest to be full of energy for the first full day in Mexico!
Places we visited and recommend:
- 5th AVENUE
This is the main avenue in Playa del Carmen. It's about 3km long, closed to traffic and here you'll find everything: restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, supermarkets.
It's a very lively area, with a lot of life and always with people walking in both directions. Compared to other destinations in Mexico, prices in Playa del Carmen are a little higher, but nothing too much.
5th Avenue is close to the beach and all the beach clubs and hotels, as well as the famous Coco Bongo.
On the 5th Avenue is also the only gay bar: Playa 69.
- PLAYA 69 GAY DANCE CLUB
Despite some negative reviews that we read on the internet, we liked the space.
It's a very large space with very friendly staff and an outdoor area where you can smoke.
True that the space needs some renovations and with them, it would be spectacular indeed, however, nothing that prevents us from having fun.
On week days it's more frequented by locals and some tourists, but at the weekend it's more crowded even with tourists.
There are two types of shows: in the center of the bar gogo boys and a little later, drag show on stage.
In our opinion the space deserved more visits from gay tourists since, as is known, they are in the area, but some don't attend the only gay space that exists.
- CHICHÉN ITZÁ
There are several ways to get to Chichén Itzá from Playa del Carmen.
Perhaps the easiest and most practical is with a tour, however, we chose to use public transport, namely the bus.
We had already bought the ticket in advance on the internet, at ADO. The bus station is on 5th Avenue. But if you want, you can buy the ticket at the ticket office on the same day, if there are still seats available. The bus station is organized and easy. When your bus arrives, someone tells you to line up.
Chichén Itzá is about 2.5 hours away, but the bus is comfortable and the journey is very smooth.
The advantage and why we go by bus? We had a lot more time to visit the entire complex compared to a tour. We had about 4 hours which was more than enough to see everything, including shopping and resting.
In terms of prices, with a round trip bus plus Chichén Itzá tickets, the two spent around 100€.
To find out about the always up-to-date price of admission to Chichen Itzá and other information, visit the government website.
The archeological complex of Chichen Itzá is not to be missed! It's one of the 7 wonders of the world and we confirm that it's worth the visit. Keep in mind that the complex is very large and if you want to see everything calmly you really need a lot of time. You have several people selling souvenirs [some made in China] at various types of prices. Always bargain until you get a good value, but again it was not the place in Mexico with the best prices.
Once again we went by bus (Ado) buying the return ticket, same process we did visiting Chichén Itzá. Tulum is about an hour away. We recommend going by bus, having as much free time as you wish and once again you don't have to walk with a group and guide.
Tulum is an archaeological area and is located along the Caribbean Coast. The ruins are located on the top of a cliff above a fantastic beach.
On our visit we still had time to do a little beach in Tulum. To go to the best beach area and with more space, you need to follow the path straight ahead that is in front of the ticket offices, it's quite easy and has directions.
On the way back to Playa del Carmen since there was still some time left for our bus, we decided to take the mini bus so we wouldn't have to wait any longer. The mini bus is a small van that goes to and from Playa del Carmen. It's a simple process: the vans stop beside the Ado bus terminal and you just need to ask if they are going to your destination (the guy also calls for people), get in the van and wait until it's full. You pay when you arrive. It's safe, faster and cheaper.
- COZUMEL ISLAND
The island is right in front of Playa del Carmen, famous for snorkeling, great cruises and its reefs. To tour the island you can rent a car, bicycle or taxi. We went and returned the same day, since the ferry trip is fast.
We travelled with Ultramar ferry company and there are several booths where you can buy tickets. We bought the vip ticket, but in our opinion it's not worth it, just buy the normal ticket.
In Cozumel island was where we first saw the famous Caribbean Sea. The island has a very relaxed atmosphere and the small center deserves your visit, where you can find souvenir shops and stores from the most expensive brands in the world.