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Planning a trip to Playa del Carmen? This Playa del Carmen itinerary is packed with insider tips on how to make the most of 5 days in Playa del Carmen!

Confession: I lived in Playa del Carmen for a year and after writing this post I’m questioning my decision to move away. It’s so incredible there!

Playa del Carmen sits right in the middle of the Riviera Maya, and while there’s plenty to explore in Playa itself, it’s also the perfect base for visiting the entire region.

What I love most about Playa is the fact that the town sprawls right along the beach, unlike Tulum, where the main part of town is a few kilometers away. In Playa, you can wander between beach bars, swanky hotels, and exceptional restaurants within just a few blocks! 

But, since you probably want to do more than just eat and drink (you don’t have to though) during your trip, I’ve compiled a ton of my favorite Playa activities (and eateries) into this epic 5 day Playa del Carmen itinerary.

In addition to the itinerary, I’ve included a comprehensive Playa del Carmen travel guide in hopes that this article can guide you all the way through the trip planning process. 

If you follow my advice you’ll be cenote diving, snorkeling with sea turtles, exploring ancient Mayan ruins, and learning about Mexican cultural and culinary history along the way.

But first, let me answer a few FAQs before we jump in…

Playa del Carmen Travel Tips

Best time to visit Playa del Carmen

The high season in Playa del Carmen is November through April. The weather is gorgeous during these months, usually hovering between the mid-’70s and the mid-’80s, with minimal rain. 

Naturally, many people seek an escape to the beach during these months, which can be frigid during this time. As a result, the city can be pretty packed, especially during school holidays in December.

If you’re willing to bear the crowds, November through April is definitely the best time to visit in terms of weather.

However, for those who prefer to travel during the shoulder season, May through October isn’t necessarily a bad time to visit. 

There are just a few things to keep in mind if you want to visit Playa in the offseason:

  • Expect rain. While you’ll still experience plenty of hot weather, May through October is Playa’s rainy season. Usually, it will rain for a couple of hours in the afternoon and then the sun will come out again. Rarely will rain for an entire day. Though, October tends to be the wettest month.  
  • Plan for heat. These may be the wettest months, but they are also the hottest. Expect temperatures in the high 80’s along with plenty of humidity. 
  • Sargassum. If you’ve been doing your research, you’ll likely have heard of Playa’s ongoing struggle with Sargassum seaweed inundating the beaches. This is much more common in the offseason.
  • Hurricanes. Technically hurricanes can occur anytime between May and October but are much more likely to happen between August and October. Playa has been lucky in recent years and has narrowly avoided contact with hurricanes, but they are definitely something to be aware of if you’re planning to visit during these months.

Ultimately, Playa del Carmen is great to visit at any time of year. If you’re willing to brave the weather conditions between May and October, you’ll practically have the place to yourself!

How to get to Playa del Carmen

Part of the reason that Playa del Carmen is such an attractive destination is that it’s SO easy to get there from the US. To get there, you would fly into the Cancun Airport (CUN) and then catch a bus or shuttle to Playa del Carmen, which is about 40 miles to the south. 

Many major carriers offer direct flights to Cancun from airports all over the US. I like to use SkyScanner to find affordable flights.

Once you land in Cancun you’ll need to arrange airport transportation to Playa del Carmen. There are a ton of different ways to get to Playa from the Cancun airport. 

If you’re looking for luxury, book an airport shuttle

Or, if you’d rather save your $$ for beers on the beach, take the ADO bus from the airport to downtown Playa del Carmen. You can buy tickets in cash when you land in Cancun.

I know the options can be a little overwhelming, so I’ve summarized how to arrange each of them in this post on Cancun airport transportation. 

La Quinta Avenida is the heart of the action in Playa del Carmen
La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) is the heart of the tourism zone in Playa del Carmen.

Solo Travel Tips for Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is generally a safe destination for solo travelers. Though, petty theft is an elevated risk in touristy areas of Mexico, such as this one. Additionally, since Playa is a known party destination, it’s important to drink responsibly and be extra alert at night, as criminals may be looking to prey on individuals who are under the influence.

While it’s always important to be cautious, I do think Playa is a very friendly destination for solo travelers.  

  • Get a local SIM card – One of the best ways to stay safe and help yourself feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment is ensuring you can call for help any time you need to. 

Whether this means calling up a family member or close friend, calling a taxi, or dialing 911, you’ll feel better just knowing you have the option.

If your wireless carrier doesn’t offer affordable roaming packages, you can pick up a SIM card in Mexico at an Oxxo store for about $10 USD. You can top it up with data and minutes in 20 peso increments throughout your trip. That way you won’t be isolated in the event of an emergency.  

  • Download Whatsapp – Whatsapp is the most common way for people in Mexico to communicate. Whether you want to keep in touch with a new friend, call a taxi, or arrange a tour, it’s likely to be done over Whatsapp. 

Stay ahead of the game and download the app before you arrive in Mexico so you’re reading for anything as soon as the plane touches down.

  • Connect with locals and fellow travelers – Connecting with people who live in Playa is a great way to make the most of your trip. There will be plenty of opportunities to strike up conversations with people once you arrive, but you can begin making friends in advance over social media.

Consider joining a Mexico traveler’s Facebook group, or the Expats in Playa del Carmen Facebook group to ask questions as you plan your trip. You can also post call outs for meetups or Playa recommendations in general travel groups such as Women Who Travel or Girls Love Travel. 

Facebook groups are a powerful way to crowdsource answers to all of your travel questions.

nervous about safety in mexico

Aside from the advice above, the general solo travel safety tips apply. Always be alert, store some spare cash and credit cards in a separate location for emergencies, and be careful about how much you drink.

Further Reading: 9 Travel Safety Products You Need to Pack

Language in Playa del Carmen

Spanish is the predominant language in Playa del Carmen. Most people that work in the tourism industry will speak at least a little bit of English. But, it’s still wise to brush up on some basic Spanish phrases just in case. 

I’d definitely suggest packing a phrasebook so you have a quick reference in case of an emergency. 

Another language challenge that Playa presents is that there is a large population of people from Argentina and their accent when speaking Spanish can be difficult to understand. 

It took me months of living in Playa before I was able to understand even the most basic phrases in an Argentinian accent. So, don’t feel too intimidated if you find yourself struggling. Even some of my Mexican friends admitted that they struggled to understand the accent at first.

Money in Playa del Carmen

The currency in Playa del Carmen is Mexican pesos, which are denoted with the $. 

Many places in Playa del Carmen will accept US dollars in place of pesos, but they usually offer a very poor exchange rate, so pesos are always a better option.

You may encounter ATMs that distribute US dollars in Playa, but they don’t typically offer a favorable exchange rate, so I recommend avoiding them unless absolutely necessary. 

When you arrive at the Cancun airport or Playa del Carmen, go to an ATM and take out some pesos to use on your trip. I find that Santander, CI Banco, and CitiBanamex banks have the lowest ATM fees (at least for me). 

Fortunately, there’s no need to carry a ton of cash around with you because most businesses take debit and credit cards. 

The beach in Playa del Carmen
To avoid the crowds (like this!) head to beaches further away from centro.

What to Pack for Playa del Carmen

Waterproof cell phone pouch – This waterproof phone pouch is the perfect solution to protecting your valuables while you swim. 

The lanyard enables you to wear it around your neck while you’re in the water. This way, instead of “risking it” and leaving them in your backpack on the beach, you can carry your cash and phone with you during your swim.

No, it’s not the most stylish accessory, but it sure beats having your stuff swiped while you’re swimming!

Reef Safe sunscreen – Due to the high volume of tourists in Playa del Carmen and the sensitive underwater ecosystems, it is advised (and sometimes required) that visitors wear reef-safe sunscreen

Not only is this Sun Bum lotion safe for the environment but it’s non-greasy and has an inoffensive smell, making it a welcome alternative from most commercial sunscreen brands.

Anti-theft purse or backpack – Unfortunately, pick-pocketing is relatively common in Mexico, especially in touristy locations like Playa del Carmen. I’ve never had issues with pick-pockets myself, but I still carry an anti-theft purse because it’s just one less thing to worry about while I’m out and about. 

There are tons of awesome anti-theft purses and backpacks on the market these days, so it’s just a matter of choosing one that fits your style! If you’re not sure where to begin, check out this post for my recommendations.

Sarong – A sarong is a super handy accessory to bring on any beach trip. They work as a towel, a beach blanket, or even a dress depending on what you need at the moment. Plus, sarongs are super lightweight and compact making it easy to stick one in your beach bag! 

They also happen to make great travel souvenirs if you don’t already have one!

Phrasebook – A phrasebook will help you avoid confusion and have deeper interactions with the people around you. It will also come in handy in any sort of emergency. Lonely Planet has an excellent phrasebook specifically for Mexican Spanish, which is sure to come in handy during your trip.

Need more help packing for Playa? You can find a complete Riviera Maya packing list in this post.

The Ultimate Playa del Carmen Itinerary

I designed this Playa del Carmen itinerary to give you an introduction to not only Playa but the entire Riviera Maya. After living in Playa for a year, this is the type of itinerary I would design for anyone who came to visit me. 

I hope you find it helpful! Feel free to rearrange the days to find a pace that works for you.

Travel Tip: I mention a lot of different locations in the sections below. If you’d like a done-for-you Playa del Carmen Google map for your reference, join my email list and gain immediate access.

The map includes everywhere I mention in this itinerary, as well as a few additional suggestions, all arranged by category for easy reference.

Day 0: Welcome to Playa

Hoorah! You made it to paradise! 

Spend the evening getting to know Playa del Carmen a little bit. Stroll on La Quinta Avenida, the heart of the action in downtown Playa. This pedestrian thoroughfare is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, and presents plenty of people-watching opportunities. 

Be sure to stop at Parque Fundadores to admire the view and catch a performance of the Danza de Los Voladores. They perform a traditional dance while swinging upside down in the air, suspended from a pole. Don’t forget to tip the dancers a few pesos for their trouble.

Though the tradition of the Voladores is believed to originate in Veracruz, it’s common to see these performances throughout Mexico. The dance is even recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage!

After poking around on La Quinta for a bit, head down the beach to sip cocktails with your toes in the sand.

For a super laid back vibe head to one of my favorite bars in Playa del Carmen: Fusion Beach Bar. This is a literal beach bar offering affordable cocktails served under palapas in the sand. Fusion often has live music, usually starts around 9 PM. 

If you’d prefer something a little more upscale, head to Zenzi Beach Club. You’ll still be right on the sand, but with a more modern vibe. They have a full dinner menu and a huge cocktail selection. 

Zenzi has live music every night starting a 5 PM, and they have rotating theme nights, including Brazilian night, salsa lessons, and more!

Playa has no shortage of nightlife, but don’t stay up too late because tomorrow you’ll want to get an early start!

Day 1: Let’s dive in

Today is all about one of the quintessential Riviera Maya experience: swimming in a cenote.

But first, you’ll need to fuel up for the day. Pop into Chez Celine on 5th Avenue for a delicious (and Instagram-able) breakfast. This little French bakery with a Mexican twist offers an array of delicious dishes from omelettes to French toast and everything in between.

After breakfast, it’s time for your cenote adventure! 

In case you’re unfamiliar, cenotes are sinkholes that expose the underground river systems which permeate the entire Yucatán peninsula. 

Every cenote is different, and there are literally hundreds of them to choose from. Some are exposed to the sun and others are partially covered by rock. Some are hundreds of feet deep while others are quite shallow. 

Cenotes are fed with freshwater, which is usually exceptionally clear because it’s naturally filtered through the porous limestone which holds the river. Because the water in these river systems has limited sun exposure, cenote water is cold (in a good way) to swim in. Prepare to be refreshed! 

Choose your cenote experience:

If you’re on your own, join a cenote tour and you’re sure to make friends with fellow travelers. 

If you prefer to visit cenotes on your own, you’ll need to first decide which one to visit. I recommend cenote Dos Ojos, which is easiest to access with a rental car

Dos Ojos is part of a cenote park (a very informal one) that features numerous swimming holes. However, each of the cenotes lies along a 5km dirt road, making walking between them a punishing experience. Your day will be much more rewarding if you have a car to navigate between stops. 

Dos Ojos is so named because the main feature is a pair of cenotes, which resembles eyes (ojos). One of the draws of this cenote, in particular, is that you can dive in the cave system connecting the two main pools. Or, if you prefer you can simply explore with a snorkel.

dos ojos cenote is one of the most amazing spots near playa del carmen
Cenote Dos Ojos makes a fun (half) day trip from Playa del Carmen!

If you’re relying on public transportation, Cenote Eden is a good choice. It’s close enough to the highway that you can be dropped off by the colectivo and walk the rest of the way. Eden happens to be one of the most gorgeous (and most popular) cenotes in the Riviera Maya. It’s well worth a visit but try to get there early to avoid crowds.

After spending the better part of the day frolicking in cenotes, it’s time to relax. 

Head back to Playa for an afternoon of lounging on the beach.

If you’re ready for lunch, grab a healthy bite at La Senda Vegana. This vegan restaurant is great for fresh juice, smoothies, and Mexican and international food made with fresh, natural ingredients. 

After a tasty meal, head to one of Playa del Carmen’s beaches to lounge in the sun for the afternoon. If you’re looking for a full-service experience go to a beach club. Lido Beach Club and Indigo Beach Club are fan favorites on TripAdvisor.  

If you’d rather hang where the locals do, head to the beach at the bottom of Calle 38 and find a spot to plop your towel in the sand.

sirloin tacos are an itinerary item of their own!
Don Sirloin is one of my favorite places for tacos in Playa del Carmen. Don’t forget to sample all of the salsas!

In the evening…

Later, after you’ve had your fill of sun, head to Don Sirloin for some carne asada tacos. There are multiple locations, but I’ve always found that the restaurant on Constituyentes and 25th Ave has the best service. 

Travel Tip: Most people will recommend El Fogón for tacos but I think it’s kinda overrated, plus it’s always super crowded.  

For drinks tonight, head back to the beach and sip cocktails at INTI Beach Club, a trendy lounge overlooking the ocean. If you’re more in the mood for beer, try out Club de la Cerveza. This casual bar is a favorite for both locals and visitors and features dozens of different beers, including a huge selection of Mexican craft beers.  

Day 2: Day Trip to Akumal

Today you’ll start your morning with a tasty, traditional breakfast at one of Playa’s most popular and beloved restaurants: La Cueva del Chango. Nibble on classic plates like huevos a la Mexicana or chilaquiles and fresh-squeezed orange juice at a rustic table surrounded by leafy green plants. 

Be sure to eat your fill because today’s adventure will require a lot of energy. 

Today, you’ll be snorkeling with sea turtles in the wild.

Quick disclaimer: If you’re not interested in snorkeling with turtles, I still recommend Akumal as a fantastic beach day destination. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya.

After breakfast, head to the colectivo station on Calle 2 between Avenida 20 and 25. All along this block, you’ll find white shuttle vans departing for either Cancun or Tulum. To get to Akumal, find a van that’s headed to Tulum. When you board tell the driver you’re getting off at Akumal.

Note: You’ll be let you off on the highway and you’ll have to cross on the pedestrian bridge and walk along the road for 5 or 10 minutes before you arrive at Akumal Bay. For the nitty-gritty details of executing an Akumal day trip, read this post.

Once you arrive in Akumal, head to the Akumal Dive Shop.

Whether you’re planning to purchase a tour or prefer to rent equipment and go on your own, the Akumal Dive Shop is the best place to start. They have a fantastic location right on the beach.

At the dive shop, you’ll find storage lockers, clean bathrooms, showers, equipment rentals, and tours, all steps from the beach. Basically, everything you need for the perfect beach day!

Akumal Bay is only about 40 minutes from Playa del Carmen
Akumal Bay is so beautiful. Even if you’re not interested in snorkeling, it’s a great spot for a beach day!

Spend the day snorkeling with turtles, swimming in the calm bay, or lounging in the silky sand in Akumal. Don’t be afraid to wander down the beach to appreciate the beautiful surroundings from a different perspective.

If you get hungry (or thirsty), you can pop into the Lol-Ha Restaurant for a bite on the beach (I recommend the ceviche). Or, if you’re on a budget head to Oxxo and pick up some snacks and cervezas to tide you over.

In the afternoon, make your way back to the highway and catch a colectivo back to Playa to unwind from your day frolicking in the sun.

And for dinner…

After you’ve had a chance to rest and recover from your day of snorkeling, it’s time for dinner. Head to Trujillos Cantina de Selva for delicious Mexican dishes with a modern twist in a bohemian jungle setting (don’t forget to wear bug spray). 

With great music, a relaxing outdoor setting, tasty food, and creative cocktails, this is a great place to warm up for a night on the town. 

If you’re in the mood for a night out, swing by Kitxen on 5th Avenue to enjoy some live music. This open-air bar is owned by the lead singer of one of Mexico’s most famous rock bands, Caifanes. As a result, you can count on this venue to deliver fantastic music, with occasional appearances by super famous acts. 

If you’re looking for a night out but don’t want to partake in the nightclub scene, Kitxen is a solid option.  

Day 3: Experience Xcaret

Start your morning with a traditional breakfast and a killer cup of coffee at Cafe Andrade. This was one of my go-to restaurants when I lived in Playa because it has a homey feel and a menu packed with Mexican comfort food.

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming decor: the food, the coffee, and most importantly, the service are all excellent. 

Once you’ve had your fill, you’re headed to XCARET Park for a day of immersive fun. The park features all kinds of attractions that honor what the Riviera Maya is known for including cenotes, Mayan culture, and the unique natural environment.  

You can float down a lazy river, visit an aviary and spot native bird species, enjoy a chocolate making experience, and so much more. One of the most popular attractions in the park is the evening show, called Xcaret Mexico Espectacular. It highlights the culture and history of Mexico through song and dance and is a truly incredible performance. 

Click here to book tickets for Xcaret!

Travel Tip: To get to Xcaret from Playa del Carmen take a taxi or a colectivo. If you take a colectivo you will be dropped on the highway and will need to walk into the park. A taxi will likely cost $300 – $400 MXN each way. 

There’s no question that you’ll be tired after a full day frolicking in Xcaret, so take it easy tonight.

Head to Patio 8 on La Quinta for dinner and drinks. This gorgeous open-air lounge offers Mexican fare with a modern twist, as well as artisanal cocktails. The servers are attentive and will help you select the perfect cocktail. Don’t forget to snap a photo with the stunning hummingbird mural before you leave!

Day 4:  Food and Sun in Playa del Carmen

Today’s itinerary has you sticking close to home. Your days have been pretty packed, so today you’ll take it easy and appreciate the slow pace (and the culinary scene) of Playa del Carmen.

Your first order of business? Brunch.

enjoying the view during brunch at Catch in Playa del Carmen
Brunch makes me happy! Go to Catch for the food, but stay for the view.

For a delectable meal with a view, head to Catch at the Thompson Hotel on Calle 12. Grab a table on the patio so you can admire the pool and the ocean view at the same time. As the name implies, the menu heavily features seafood items but there are other options as well.

If you happen to be in Playa on a Sunday, head to PLANK for brunch. PLANK is so named because they cook much of their food on wooden planks or salt stones to ensure it is infused with flavor. 

Their menu offers a mix of western classics such as pancakes, traditional Mexican fare like chilaquiles and sopes, and boujee favorites like Açaí bowls. 

Then it’s time to chill…

Spend the afternoon at the beach, swimming, and lounging in the sun. Hint: now would be a great time to break open that beach read you insisted on bringing! If you want a full-service experience head to a beach club. Otherwise, DIY it and find a spot anywhere you can.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can take a taxi or colectivo to Xpu-Ha beach for the afternoon. Xpu Ha is popular among both locals and visitors, and since it’s a little bit out of the way, it’s often less crowded than the beaches right in Playa. There are beach clubs and chair rentals there as well!

Feeling hungry? 

This evening, instead of dining at a restaurant, take a food tour to discover some authentic Mexican flavors. Your guide, Cristobal, will teach you about the history and culture surrounding Mexican food while leading you to sample tasty morsels from fruit markets, food stands, and family restaurants throughout Playa del Carmen.

There are time slots available throughout the day, but I suggest opting for the 5:30 PM option so you won’t be wandering around in the hot sun. 

Click here to book your food tour!

Tulum Ruins, Mexico
If you go to Tulum and DON’T take this photo, did you even go?

Day 5: Explore Tulum

Today’s adventure will take you to Tulum for the day. After breakfast hop on a colectivo to Tulum. 

Or, if you prefer to grab breakfast in Tulum, I recommend Babel Cafe. They have everything from bagels and pastries to omelettes, smoothies, breakfast burritos, and more! Also, the coffee is excellent.

Next, head to the Tulum Archaeological Site. The earlier you arrive the better, as they tend to get crowded when tour groups begin arriving in the late morning. If you want a chance to enjoy the secluded beach within the ruins, you’ll need to arrive by 9am (the site opens at 8 am). 

The Tulum site is believed to have been constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries and served as a port for the Maya city of Cobá. The city was situated on an important trade route, accessed by both land and sea, which is why it was protected by thick stone walls. 

Fun fact: The word Tulum means wall or fence in the Maya language.

The ruins are not terribly large, so you will only need a couple of hours to explore them. Even if you’re not particularly interested in their historical significance, the site is incredibly beautiful due in large part to its position overlooking the turquoise sea.

When you tire of the ruins grab a taxi to Tulum’s hotel zone to take in the scene. It’s filled with boutique hotels and shops ranging in price from affordable to “you don’t even want to know.” 

My favorite place to spend the afternoon is Taquería La Eufemia. It’s a beach club/taquería and has the most reasonable prices of anywhere in the hotel zone, making it a favorite spot among locals. With great music and tasty food this a great way to get into the heart of the hotel zone!

Another great spot is Revolución Pancho Villa, a beach club closer to the Tulum ruins. They’ve got comfy loungers, palapas, and a full food and cocktail menu. This stretch of beach is less crowded than the hotel zone but just as beautiful. 

Pancho Villa is a fun and relaxing spot to post up for an afternoon at the beach. They have great music and good service in my experience. Order the ceviche! 

There are tons of souvenirs for sale on La Quinta Avenida
There are tons of places to shop for souvenirs on La Quinta, but you’ll save money by straying a few blocks away.

Back at home…

Once you’ve had your fill of sun in Tulum, head back to Playa del Carmen for the evening. It’s your last night in paradise so you need to make the most of it.

Stroll La Quinta to pick up any souvenirs you haven’t gotten around to buying yet. Then grab dinner and drinks. 

If you’re in the mood for something a bit different, try Mu Burger House tonight. They have an eclectic selection of different burgers, including veggie options, tuna, and more! Mu always has great tunes, and their patio is adorned leafy plants creating a hip, modern vibe. 

Click here to join my email list and receive instant access to a done-for-you Google map including every stop on this Playa del Carmen itinerary. 

Transportation in Playa del Carmen

When it comes to getting around within Playa del Carmen and the surrounding areas, you have a few different options.

  • Walking – Playa del Carmen itself is quite walkable. The center is compact and the main street, La Quinta Avenida, is a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops and eateries. Most of the downtown streets have wide sidewalks making it easy to get around on foot.
  • Bikes – Bicycle is another popular way to get around in Playa. There is a bike lane on 10th Avenue that makes it easy to zip in and out of downtown. Many accommodations provide courtesy bikes for guests to use during their stay.

The only thing to keep in mind is that bicycle theft is fairly common. Always make sure you lock your bike securely.

  • Taxis – Taxis are an easy way to get around within Playa, especially if you’re traveling long distances. To avoid surprises, always agree on a price for the ride before you get in the taxi. 

I recommend taking taxis from taxi stands or having someone call you a radio taxi rather than flagging one off the street. This is especially critical at night. This will help keep you safe if you’re on your own. 

If you’re looking to travel outside of Playa taxis are an option, but they can get pretty costly. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, keep reading.

  • Colectivos – These are small passenger vans that travel up and down the coast between Tulum and Cancun. They depart from the station on Calle 2 Nte and 25 Avenida in Playa del Carmen. 

The final destinations are written on the windshield of each van. Generally, if you’re heading south, look for the van that says Tulum and if you’re headed north look for the van that says Cancun. 

Colectivos are a great transportation method for day trips or any journey in which you don’t have much luggage. If you have anything more than a day pack it may be too cramped.

For reference, the trip from Playa del Carmen to Tulum should cost about 50 pesos in a colectivo.

  • ADO Bus – The ADO bus company services destinations throughout southern Mexico. Whether you’re looking to go to Tulum, Bacalar, or all the way to Chiapas, ADO is a great option. 

These Greyhound style buses have comfortable seating, no luggage limits, air conditioning, and on-board restrooms all for affordable prices.

For more info on using the bus system in Mexico, check out this post.

  • Rental Car – Rental cars are definitely the most convenient way to get around in the Riviera Maya. If you’re on a budget, rest assured, cars are not necessary, but they certainly make things more straight forward. 

With a vehicle, you’ll be able to visit some of the harder-to-reach (and subsequently less crowded) locations and attractions in the region. Plus, you’ll have the convenience of being able to store your extra gear (and snacks!) in the vehicle instead of having to cart around a daypack. 

If you’re interested in renting a car, click through to Discover Car Hire to find the best rates.

Casa de Sal #5 is just one of many awesome Airbnbs to be found in Playa del Carmen (Image courtesy of Casa de Sal).

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen

On a Budget: Casa de Sal, Airbnb

If you’re trying to save money but aren’t feeling the hostel scene, this sunny Airbnb with a 4.9-star average rating is a solid alternative. Located just off of the desirable Calle 38 within just a few blocks of La Quinta, you’ll be able to walk just about anywhere in Playa, including the beach!

The unit features one bedroom with a double bed as well as a fold-out sofa if you’re traveling with a friend. The kitchen is stocked with essentials but has a hot plate rather than a stove. 

The Superhosts, Nacho and Pau, live locally and speak both English and Spanish, which is always reassuring, especially if your Spanish is lacking.

Click here to book now!

Mid-Range: Fully Equipped Condo in Centro

The only problem with this luxurious condo is that you’ll never want to leave the building. But, if you do manage to tear yourself away, you’ll be just a few blocks from the action. The building is located near Constituyentes and 20th Avenue, meaning it’s just 4 blocks from the beach.

The spacious one-bedroom offers a ton of light from floor to ceiling windows. The bedroom has a king-sized bed, and the bathroom is equipped with a luxurious rain showerhead. There is also a fully equipped kitchen, and the building features a rooftop pool and a gym! 

If you happen to rent a car during your stay you’ll be happy to learn that the building offers free parking. 

With a 4.94 star average rating, this deal shouldn’t be missed!

Click here to reserve now!

Splurge: Boho-Chic Condo With Private Hot Tub

If you’re looking to treat yourself, this spacious Airbnb Plus is a wonderful choice. With 2 bedrooms, and 2.5 baths it might be overkill for a solo traveler, but perfect for a girls’ trip! 

The apartment is beautifully decorated with minimalist boho vibes. The unit has a fully equipped kitchen and a full dining table. There is also a private terrace and a hot tub exclusive to the unit. 

On the roof of the building, you’ll find a shared pool, hot tub, and loungers for sunbathing. 

Another perk of this unit is that it’s located super close to the beach and La Quinta. You’ll be able to walk everywhere!

Click here to book this unit!

Click here for more advice on where to stay in Playa del Carmen.

Click here for to check out the best beachfront Airbnbs in Playa del Carmen.

sunset in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen Itinerary at a Glance

Did you just pack your bags for Playa? I know I’m ready for my next visit! Here’s a quick look at everything we just covered. 

Day 0: 

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

  • Brunch at Catch at the Thompson Hotel or PLANK Restaurant
  • Chill on the beach in Playa del Carmen or head to Xpu-Ha for a new perspective
  • Take a food tour to experience local flavors and learn about the history and culture surrounding Mexican food

Day 5:

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As you continue with your trip planning, these posts are sure to come in handy:

Still have more Playa del Carmen questions? Let me know in the comments or join my Facebook group for Female Travelers in Mexico. I’d love to have you!