Playa Del Carmen, Mexico Travel Guide
My husband and I visited Mexico this past winter and it was a completely unexpected trip! It all started when we flew to Utah over Christmas to visit my husband’s family. Our flight returning to Wisconsin was over booked and they were looking for people to volunteer their seats in exchange for a travel voucher. We gave up our seats in exchange for 1st class tickets home to Wisconsin the next day and two $400 travel vouchers on United Airlines, good towards anywhere United flies!
Winters in Wisconsin can be long and grey so we were very excited to have $800 towards airfare to visit somewhere warm. We have a travel fund that we are always adding too so we had the money to pay for lodging, meals, and other travel expenses. We got onto google flights and searched the cheapest flights we could find to anywhere warm. We booked flights from Chicago to Cancun for a little under $400, so our flights were free!
I highly recommend volunteering you seats for travel vouchers if the opportunity comes up! I know we are always going to do it from now on. Who doesn’t love free plane tickets?!
The bus dropped us off at the bus terminal in Playa Del Carmen, which is located on just a few blocks from 5th Avenue, the walking street where all the action in Playa Del Carmen takes place. We arrived around 8pm and the place was full of life!
We spent 3 nights in Playa Del Carmen at Hostal MX. We were very happy with our stay there!! It is right in the middle of 5th Avenue and minutes from restaurants, shops, the beach, etc. We reserved a private room since we wanted the trip to be more of a relaxing getaway. The hostal had a great courtyard with reggae music playing, a bar, foosball table, and hammocks to hang out on. They also have a public kitchen that provides eggs, coffee and other items to cook your own breakfast. There are several fridges too if you wanted to store groceries and cook your own meals while there. They have staff at the desk 24 hours a day and offer lock boxes to store your passports & other valuables for $5 a day. Internet is included in your stay as well.
We loved our stay at Hostal MX because of its amazing location & price ($50/night for a private room on Hotels.com) but I would offer 2 pieces of advice if you stay there. 1. Pack earplugs. 5th Avenue is noisy at night and the other guests at the hostel were up late partying at night. We didn’t mind others enjoying themselves but it was hard to sleep. 2. The hostel did not offer bike rentals like the website said. This was not a problem though because Playa Del Carmen is VERY pedestrian friendly. We walked for miles exploring the town!
While we were in Playa Del Carmen we mostly laid out at the beach, walked around visiting shops, and ate a lot of amazing food! The first place we visited was La Tarraya. It is located directly on the beach, close to where you catch the ferry to Cozumel. We actually spent 2 mornings here. They also offer beach chairs to customers so we did that both days. The staff was very attentive and the food was amazing. Very affordable too!
Another amazing restaurant we found was El Fogon. They are famous for their tacos al pastor and they did not disappoint! It is located on Avenue Constituyentes, which is another main street in Playa Del Carmen. It intersects with 5th Avenue so it is easy to find. The food was VERY cheap compared to some restaurant on 5th Avenue. A mariachi band even stopped in to play while we were eating. It was a perfect Mexican moment!
Kaxapa Factory is another restaurant that I highly recommend in Playa Del Carmen. It is a family run restaurant serving phenomenal Venezuelan food. When I say family run restaurant, I mean that Mom, Dad, and their children are all running the small restaurant together. You can tell they put their heart and soul into both the food and your dining experience! The food was amazing, and very affordable. You can see photos of the amazing food here. I highly recommend the empanadas, arepas, and kaxapas! I loved this restaurant because it is off the main streets of Playa Del Carmen, perfect for a quiet date night!
Another great food spot I highly recommend is La Cueva del Chango, translated to Cave of The Monkeys. My husband and I are obsessed with chilaquiles, we probably eat it once a week. When we were in Mexico, we had to dine on all the authentic chilaquiles we could find! We ate here for our last breakfast before leaving town and we wish we had found it sooner! The atmosphere of the restaurant is adorable. It's open and airy, and surrounded by beautiful greenery. You feel like you are in the jungle! I could have spent all day there. In addition to breakfast, they also serve lunch and dinner.
Overall, I would highly recommend a vacation to Playa Del Carmen. We will definitely be making a trip back! It is very easy to get to, has lots of affordable lodging options, so many great food spots, and it is very pedestrian friendly! It is also very close to Cancun, Akumal, Cozumel, and Tulum. If you ever get a chance to visit, don't pass it up!
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