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Plan Your Playa del Carmen Holiday: Best of Playa del Carmen

What is Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best?
This award is our highest recognition and is presented annually to those businesses that are the Best of the Best on Tripadvisor, those that earn excellent reviews from travellers and are ranked in the top 1% of properties worldwide.
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Explore Playa del Carmen

Once a sleepy fishing village, Playa del Carmen is now a Riviera Maya destination for nature lovers, history buffs, and party people alike. Here, lively bars and cool boutiques sit next to local taquerias and chic luxury hotels—all a bit more grounded in Mexican style than some of its neighbours up the coast. By day, hit the beach, chill out at a waterpark, or hop the ferry to Cozumel. At night, stroll La Quinta (the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare) for some people watching and the perfect margarita. And, if all of that’s not enough, amazing diving and snorkelling are just offshore, while famed archeological sites, like the ancient ruins of Coba and the pre-Columbian ruins of Tulum, tower over the inland jungle and the coast nearby.
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Travel Advice

A high-low food tour of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is one of my favourite beach towns in Mexico. It has it all: nearby ancient archeological sites, beautiful beaches, magical cenotes, world-renowned nightlife, and, most importantly, fantastic food at all price points. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve had delicious meals everywhere from hole-in-the-wall spots popular with locals to upscale restaurants in fancy hotels. Here are some of my favourites.
Lola Méndez, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • The Pitted Date Vegan Restaurant Bakery & Cafe
    One of my top restaurants in Playa del Carmen, the Pitted Date just happens to be vegan. But even meat-eaters will love the food here, especially the conchita pibil tacos made with jackfruit. Standards like chilaquiles and huevos rancheros are also great, as are more international dishes like the croque monsieur and gluten-free pancakes. I love to come here for brunch before heading to the beach just a few blocks away.
  • Las Quekas
    A type of fungus that grows on corn, huitlacoche is basically a Mexican truffle—it’s delicious and a must-try when visiting the country. I love to eat it at Las Quekas, where it’s cooked into a massive quesadilla (called “quekas” for short). Get one to see if you like it, and if you don’t, don’t worry. You can get quesadillas filled with mushrooms, chicken, and chorizo instead.
  • El Fogon
    If you go to Playa del Carmen and don’t get tacos at El Fogón, did you even go? This open-air spot is my absolute favourite for made-to-order tacos al pastor, but I also love the Oaxacan queso fundido with chorizo, which comes with a pile of fresh flour tortillas. Of all the El Fogón locations, I prefer the two-story outpost at 30 Avenida Norte because it has the most seating.
  • Las Hijas De La Tostada
    When I’m craving freshly caught fish, I always head to this trendy seafood bar for the tostadas topped with chipotle shrimp and chili tuna. There are three locations around Playa, but the Coco Beach outpost is best because of the water views. Despite being a chain, Las Hijas isn’t a fast-food joint, so budget some time to sit and enjoy your meal here.
  • La Vagabunda
    I’m not huge into the Playa del Carmen nightlife scene, but I can’t resist an al fresco margarita at this popular spot. It’s just a few minutes from the beach, so I’ll make a pitstop here for drinks and starters like guacamole, ceviche, and aguachile on my way back to my hotel to get ready for dinner. Check the calendar of events on their website, as there’s often live music in the evening.
  • Trattoria Del Centro
    Just because you’re in Mexico doesn’t mean you need to eat Mexican for every meal. Playa del Carmen is an international city with plenty of global cuisine. For Italian, my go-to is Trattoria del Centro. I love the spaghetti alla trapanese (pesto). The pizzas are great, too; just don’t sit too close to the wood-burning oven, it gets really warm. Also, be sure to start your meal with some of the rosemary focaccia.
  • Estero
    Located in the ultra-luxurious La Casa de la Playa resort, Estero is helmed by award-winning Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, who runs Central in Lima (the number one restaurant on the “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants” list). The eight-course tasting menu mixes Mexican and Peruvian flavours and was some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. Totally worth the splurge, but be sure to make bookings well in advance.
  • Alux
    If you’re in the mood for a fancy night out, try ALUX, which serves gourmet fare in a cenote cavern. It’s one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had in Playa del Carmen. The food is contemporary Mexican; get the slow-cooked pork belly in beet mole or splurge on the Caribbean lobster. Either way, you’re in for an amazing night—you’ll be eating under ancient stalactites illuminated by neon lights.

Playa del Carmen Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Playa del Carmen


Try to use at least a little Spanish. “Hola” and “gracias” go a long way.

Monica U

It is best to carry plenty of cash with you when visiting ruins, cenotes, and adventure parks. ATMs can be hard to find.

Monica U

Playa del Carmen is easy to get around on foot, but if you are going to take a taxi, make sure you negotiate the price first!


Playa Del Carmen is the hidden jewel south of Cancun in Mexico.

Monica U

Playa del Carmen is one of the most romantic places on earth. From cute little spots to watch the sunset, to delicious candlelit dinners at award-winning romantic restaurants, to diving inside a sacred Mayan cenote.

Thel Lina C

From water sports — such as snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving — to magnificent white sandy beaches and delicious food; Playa del Carmen is the perfect Caribbean destination where you can relax and have fun.

Monica U

Playa del Carmen may not compete with his older cousin, Cancun, for nightlife and entertainment, but if you are looking for a more chilled-out vibe, sophisticated venues, live entertainment, and even hidden bars; it could be for you!

What is the best way to get there?


The closest international airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport. Buses, shuttles, and taxis head to the town from the airport. It’s about a 45-minute journey.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Mexico from overseas, use the government’s Visa Wizard to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Peak season in Playa del Carmen is December through March, when the sunny skies and calm warm waters are ideal for a beach break. Expect temperatures around 74-77°F (23-25°C). To dodge the crowds and peak season price hike, opt for the quieter months of October and May.

Temperatures rise even higher in summer (as does the humidity), but it’s also hurricane season from June to Sept., when storms and showers are common.

Get around

on foot

Playa del Carmen is small enough to get around on foot, and it’s easy to walk between the town and the beach.


Taxis are easy to find in Playa del Carmen and can be hailed on the street.


Colectivos (shared taxis) connect Playa del Carmen with nearby towns and towns.


Regular ferries depart from Playa del Carmen for the island of Cozumel, an about 45-minute journey.


Uber is not currently available in Playa del Carmen.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Eastern Standard Time.

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in Mexico is 127V and the standard frequency is 60Hz. There are two plug types — one with two flat pins and another with two flat pins and a grounding pin.

What is the currency?

Mexican peso. US dollars are also widely accepted.

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes, in town. Draw money out before heading out on day trips or smaller beach towns.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes, in town. It’s worth carrying cash for markets, street food stalls, and entrance tickets.

How much do I tip?

Tipping is not obligatory in Mexico, but waiters and hotel staff will have become accustomed to it in Playa del Carmen.


A service charge is added to the bill at some restaurants; otherwise tipping 10-15% is standard practice.


$1-$2 US tip for bellmen and housekeeper is the norm.

Are there local customs I should know?


The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old.

Try to speak the language

English is widely spoken in establishments frequented by travelers, but learning a few Spanish phrases will be appreciated.

Bring your own sunscreen

Items such as sunscreen are considered luxuries in Mexico and can be vastly overpriced.


Be prepared to haggle over prices, particularly at markets and street stalls (although food markets and shops typically have fixed prices). A good starting point is to half the initial asking price, then work up from there.