8 Things to do in Playa Del Carmen that are not expensive!
Playa del Carmen, Mexico is fun to be, especially when the beaches and the water are free from seaweed. The city is a buzzing, fast-growing tourist hub with long stretches of white beaches, lots of nightclubs and bars and 5th Avenue as the main tourist shopping area.
But all that comes with a price tag. Tourist prices are going up and up, and for my budget, it is becoming pretty much unaffordable. I can imagine that when you booked a short holiday here you want to see all. and maybe are provoked to stretch your holiday budget a lot. But for me, living and traveling Mexico at the moment, I cannot afford to do so.
Also, I know when I get my temporary resident visa, I will get a discount on most touristic sites and another thing: when I organize my own trip I save tons of money For entrances fees to, for example, the Archeological site in Tulum isn’t as high as they tell you at the tour kiosk. And the ADO bus stops at the site.
The regular trips you are offered at the tourist kiosk are:
visit Chichen Itza
swim in Cenotes
visit one of the many Xcaret parks
But what if your budget does not allow you to pay like 50 or so dollar per person for a trip? And believe me 50 dollars is a cheap one, prices can go up in hundreds of dollars per person for a full-day excursion.
So I came up with 8 inexpensive things to do in Playa del Carmen that will give you a great local vibe and save you tons of money!
1. Walk down 5th Avenue
Just stroll down the tourist hot spot in town, without spending money. Do not buy your icecream at Aldo’s (or do, they make great ice cream!) but hop into one of the OXXO stores or a 7-Eleven store for drinks and icecream. Plenty of places to sit down, watch the crowd and enjoy your refreshment.
And while doing so, look out for great cheap eats, like a 25 pesos coffee and croissant at La Brioche in the morning or a brownie at one of the many AH Cacao’s that serves good ice coffee as well for a reasonable price. Or bury your feet in the sand at Palapas bar close to the ferry terminal. You get your Limonada and cocktails there for less then the price in the fancy restaurants and the food is good.
5th Avenue is also fun by night, maybe even more so!
It is the place to be in Playa del Carmen for souvenirs, cheap tourist medicine, clothes and tequila: Calle Quinta ... Read More
2. Visit Parque Los Fundadores
Next to the ferry to Cozumel and Palapas bar is a square, with a little church, the famous Playa Del Carmen letter-statue, and a music chapel. This square is always fun. There is Maya dancing almost every day in the late afternoon and it is free, they ask for a donation after the performance. And the Papantla Dancers begging the gods for rain while descending upside down from a 30-meter high pole are a must-see for every tourist.
Take your picture at the turtle sculpture in the middle of the square, or buy fruits and snacks from one of the many vendors in the street next to the church. And stand underneath the arch-like statue near the sea and take amazing pictures of the sunrise.
The Parque is a community space since the late ’50s and was used by the founders of Playa del Carmen to meet socialize and sit together in the evenings and on Sunday.
3. Visit the local Market on 30th Avenue
Every Sunday on 30the avenue there is a local market that stretches over several blocks. Where Avenida CTM and 30 crosses, (coming from 5th ave. and walking on CTM, turn right) walk in the direction of the church and on your right hand after two blocks or so you see the market.
It is completely safe to go there, people will love to see you there and it is fun to see all the merchandise. Not many tourists go there, so you really mingle with the Mexican people. You can buy fruits, clothes, kitchenware, eat lunch and buy drinks.
The market is only on Sunday!!
4. Visit the Glass Blowers workshop
Now this will be a field trip. But so worth it. In the middle of Playa del Carmen on the other side of the Highway between Tulum and Cancún, there is a glassblower shop and workshop. They actually make glass for most of the restaurants and hotels in Playa del Carmen.
It is an amazing experience to see how those large tequila glasses are made there, and to feel the heat!! And they love to show you their work. Make sure you leave a tip in the tip box since the entrance is free.
How to find it?
They have a Facebook-Page, with plenty of information. But let me try to explain: if you take Avenida 28 de Julio to Avenida Chemuyil and turn right, then go about four blocks you will find the orange 2 story building on your right.
Now you can take the bus from 30th going to Plaza Americas, (7 pesos per person) and get out at the corner of ave. Chemuyil. (just get off before the traffic lights right after the bus station for locals to get to the resorts they work) the bus will turn left there to go to Walmart, you turn right.
You will see some fun restaurants along the way to stop for a refreshment.
Please note that the workshop and shop are closed on Sunday, daily opens at 10 till 6.
5. Visit Cenote Xca Ha in the middle of the town
When you visit the glass shop and walk there, you pass a square with statues of great names in Mexican History, in the back of that little square, there is a swimming spot, a city cenote, with the same name as the Parque: Xca-Ha. it offers for a little price several small pools to swim. And a real cenote in the middle of the town. it is a nice and affordable place to go and relax and refresh. It has a small shop where you can buy drinks and snacks.
Tip: go on a weekday, on the weekends it will be busy.
6. Visit Punta Esmeralda
If you are staying in Playacar or anywhere in the area of 25th Avenue and CTM and you like a stiff beach walk, walk to Cocoa Beach Club at Punta Esmeralda. It is a lagoon-like area, you have to cross the water to get to the beach club, the water of the lagoon is cold, underground water surfacing, shallow and a great spot for scenic pictures. If you look wack the way you came, you see Playa del Carmen bending around the Carribean Sea in all its splendor.
From Playa del Carmen, Playacar or the Parque de Los Funadadores, turn left on the beach, walking away from the town, and the Cozumel ferry terminal, follow the sea, and you will see the lagoon on the left. Cross the lagoon, walk behind the Playground, back to the seashore and find on the left Cocoa Beach Club.
From the Cozumel ferry terminal, it is approximately 5 kilometers walk.
When you love to walk a little more, continue after a rest at the Beach Club, and visit the Turtle Beach. You may stumble across sea turtle nests. It is a beautiful walk, some very desolated quiet places, especially on weekdays. In the distances lots of resorts and beachgoers. Make sure to bring water, the restaurants further on along the beach are for resort guests only and I encountered only 1 little shop at the beach for refreshments.
7. Visit the local Cemetery
Visit the local cemetery, The cemetery is a great cultural place to visit, seeing how Mexicans bury their death is a colorful experience. All the little houses on the graves tell stories about the lives of the people buried there.
The Cementerio Municipal is located at the foot of the Carretera, bordered by Calle 82 Nte, Calle 88 Nte, and Avenida 40 Nte.
No bus going directly to the cemetery, the closest you get is the bus doing 30/30 final and Colosio, getting off at Calle 82 Nte., walk in the direction of the Highway between Cancun and Tulum. The cemetery is on your right, after 2 blocks. You cross Avenida 35, when crossing Avenida 40 you see the back wall of the cemetery on the right side, there is a small entrance on 40th. The grand entrance is in front of the Carretera.
8. Do a Mural walk in downtown Playa del Carmen
The cemetery is actually a great starting point for a mural walk back to the tourist area of Playa del Carmen. The burial place has some awesome murals on the fencing wall. Especially those near the main entrance. I love the one of death dancing with a señorita.
From the Cemetery walk through the downtown area back in the direction of Playacar, zig-zag away from the Carretera and discover the amazing murals of Playa, especially the area around Colosio and Zazil-Ha has amazing murals. This area is known for both its colorful street art and little local restaurants.
And don’t miss out on the pillars of the Carretera!! They are all different and are very photogenic.
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.