If you like to haggle, Mercado 28 is the place for you. If you want to casually stroll through vendors booths and peruse their wares without being pressured, go somewhere else. If you get nervous away from the touristy areas of the city, give this place a pass as well. We never felt unsafe, but it's not in the best neighborhood (see note about exiting the market below). It didn't bother me, but I've never been one to get nervous in the seedier parts of a city.
I've been to some places with pushy salespeople before, and even worked as a carnival barker myself back in my late teens, and nothing holds a candle to this place for pushy vendors. Everyone here is your new best friend, they've been waiting for YOU all day, and they're not going to let you get by their booth without a fight, doing everything short of physically dragging you into their stall.
If you're staying at an all-inclusive, and have a wristband from your hotel on, they know what all the hotel bands look like, and will even go so far as to claim to have served you or checked you in at your hotel. We were staying at the Sun Palace, and they kept trying to tell us they had seen us/waited on us/checked us in at "the Palace". They never said which one, because the multiple locations of the Palace chain in Cancun all use the same wristbands.
As you're walking in (most people get there by bus, from the hotel zone it's the R2 bus), there are a number of smaller shops that call themselves Mercado 28, and they'll try to suck you in before you ever get to the real market. Not that some of these folks don't have good stuff, and you can get it at good prices, but they're not part of the real market. Once you get into the real market, you'll understand. It's HUGE.
The place is also like a rat's den... there is no real organization to the place, it's just a huge number of tents and stalls set up in a square in the middle of a giant traffic circle, surrounded by dilapidated buildings. It's incredibly easy to get turned around and lost in there, and when you come out, the exits pretty much all look the same, and the exit roads look almost identical. If you're coming in from the R2 bus, and looking to get back to the stop, make sure you exit where all the fake "Mercado 28" shopfronts are, otherwise you're taking a detour into the Cancun ghetto... Learn from our mistake!
All that being said, the negatives out of the way... You can get some beautiful, authentic Mexican crafts here, at a very good price. There are plenty of vendors selling stuff as "authentic" that's made in China, so be sure to look for that stamp on whatever you buy. The authentic stuff generally won't have ANY stamp on it at all. The most common items are silver jewelry, reproductions of Mayan artifacts and clothing, t-shirts, and cigars. NEVER pay asking price for anything. They will immediately try to overcharge you for whatever you're buying by at least double what it's worth, and then offer you a small "discount" to try to make you feel good about the price. One example: we were looking at a couple pieces of pottery, the vendor said they were $120, but "for us", he'd discount them to $110. After much haggling, we paid $40. Probably could have gotten them for even less, but we felt we were getting good value at $40, and these folks do have to make a living. The market used to be a farmers market, but when WalMart came into town up the street, it pretty much ended the grocery sales, and the market filled up with local artisans.
Bottom line: If you don't mind a trip outside the tourist areas to a slightly seedier part of Cancun, can put up with uber-high pressure sales people coming at you from every direction, and don't mind haggling to get some authentic souvenirs at a fair price, Mercado 28 is worth a visit.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.