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The always busy Playa del Carmen is the perfect vacation spot for visitors looking for a relaxing and trendy atmosphere.
LOCATION: Playa del Carmen is about an hour south of Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.
ABOUT: The name “Playa del Carmen” was given by the Spaniards in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patron saint of Cancun. The Mayan name of Playa is Xaman Ha, which means “waters of the north.” Most locals just call it “Playa.” It has a population of about 100,383 and it has become one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico.
TOURISM & TRADITION: It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Playa Del Carmen began to place itself among the ranks of Cancun and Cozumel as an important tourist destination. There are more than 70 hotels, small cabins, and luxury resorts throughout Playa. The city has an ordinance stating no building can exceed the 3-floors-limit, ensuring Playa conserves the sleepy fishing village and small town atmosphere that differs from Cancun’s busy lifestyle.
ARRIVING: There are two ways to arrive to Playa del Carmen: Cozumel International Airport and Cancun International Airport. In Cozumel, the ferry to Playa leaves every hour and will arrive to Playa in about 30 minutes. From Cancun, visitors have several different options to travel to Playa—taxis, colectivos—or communal vans, or charter buses. It takes about 30 minutes from the airport to get to Playa.
HOTEL ZONE: The tourist zone is considered 5th Avenue—La Quinta Avenida or La Quinta. The white sand beaches and blue, turquoise oceans of the Caribbean are just 500 meters from 5th Avenue. This cobbled stone pedestrian walkway is lined with shops, art, crafts, cafes, restaurants, and bars that fulfill a call for a diverse and international atmosphere.
TRANSPORTATION: Playa del Carmen is ideally built to walk just about anywhere with interesting, beautiful, or unique sight-seeing opportunities from your point of departure to your destination. Playa also offers all the comforts of a mayor city with taxis, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles to move around the city. For excursions to the archeological sites, Cozumel, Cancun, and other attractions, visitors and locals travel in colectivos, car rentals, ferries, and buses.
ATTRACTIONS: Shops, restaurants, and beaches are Playa’s most attractive attributes. This once-small fishing village offers the delights of a small town and pristine beaches with modern, cosmopolitan shops and restaurants. Located in the middle of the Riviera Maya, Playa is also close to the Mayan ruins of the region such as Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza. It is also a ferry away from Cozumel and 45 minutes away from Cancun.
LANGUAGE: The official language in Mexico is Spanish. Most of the people who work in tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula speak English. Playa del Carmen is visited mostly by Europeans while Cancun draws more visitors from the United States.
MONEY: The Mexican Peso is the official currency in Playa del Carmen. Exchange rates can vary, but has been steady at 13 USD. Some stores and restaurants accept US dollars, but offer a lower exchange rate. Exchange houses, banks, and even some hotels will offer the best exchange rates.
CLIMATE: With a sub-tropical climate, Playa del Carmen is almost always warm. The average temperature year round is about 27 C or 80F. This tropical climate offers great beach days and warm oceans. There is more rain during September and October and temperatures drops slightly during the winter months.