Playa del Carmen Journals

Playa del Carmen on a budget

A January 2005 trip to Playa del Carmen by JesusW

Marasol Hotel Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico More Photos
Quote: This little town has a little bit of everything to please all budgets; here is the low-budget trip.
Marasol Hotel Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This is a very clean and rustic place, a family-run business. You won't find a TV, air-conditioning, or luxury items, but the place is centrally located half a block from 5th Avenue and within few steps from the grocery store, a pharmacy, an internet café, a travel agency, Mexican souvenir stores, and places to eat. A few meters going inland you will find a good place to dance Salsa, at Mambo Cafe. At your room you will have two double beds in fairly good shape, a ceiling fan, some shelves for your clothes and baggage, a very small buy private bathroom with shower. For cooling down you have a nice and fresh balcony overlooking 6th street, there are a couple of plastic chairs and a low table to p...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 3, 2005

Marasol Hotel
6th St. N
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
(984) 873-0112

Hotel Delfin

Hotel | "El Delfin"

Quote:
It's an economy hotel--very basic. I got a room with no view on the third floor, and it was very cramped, with almost no room between the bed and the wall. It looked almost like a big closet. It was clean but also very spartan. I was able to get better prices (this one was $40 a night) on a hotel a few steps away.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on February 3, 2005

Hotel Delfin
5 Avenida
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 77710
(52) 984-8730176

Hotel Labnah

Hotel

Quote:
Great location within walking (read steps, not miles) distance from the beach and to the main activities area.You will find this place a little treasure as the prices are very reasonable (it was usd$45 for the basic room with no view); the rooms are nice, clean and roomy; showers fully work and are spotless; interior garden has a great looking pool and you can actually sleep without the noise of fifth below your window. What do you need your hotel at Playa for? That is the main question to answer in order to choose this hotel. If you need a place between the beach and the food/shooping area, it's difficult to beat this one. You walk half a block to the beach during the day and the other hal...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 27, 2005

Hotel Labnah
6th St. N
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
984 873-2099

Complimento La Ruina

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "La Ruina"

Quote:
Okay, it's a hostel, so it's accommodations are spartan (very rudimentary to say the best); you have to share the bathroom everyone; and depending on the room you choose, you may have to share a room. Traveling this way should be the cheapest and most convenient way to lodge, but I found that this, in the particular case of La Ruina, is not exactly true. I arrived on Playa del Carmen without reservations, as my scuba-diving trip to Cozumel suffered from the really bad weather (the port was closed to all diving boats), so I decided to check the most economical place I could get. The first recommendation was this hostel and the one on 5th Avenue. After checking the price of both, I got a private roo...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2005

Complimento La Ruina
2th Street Between 5th Avenida And The Beach
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Oasis

Restaurant | "El Oasis"

Oasis Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
They have very fresh seafood. To start, they have ceviche, which is a appetizer with lots of lime (limon in Spanish); fresh chopped tomato; and parsley, onion, and other seasonings. It can be with fish, octopus, shrimp, or a combination of all three. The fried tacos are one of the main attractions of the place, as they are very good and cheap, less than $1.20 per taco. The options again are fish, octopus, shrimp, and marlin. For main dishes they offer fish, octopus, and shrimp served many different ways. I tried the garlic shrimp and the Cajun fish, and both were very good. I missed the French fries as a side dish, but the dishes come with rice and vegetables. Service is good...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 3, 2005

Oasis
12th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tacos de Cochinita Pibil Stands

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Tacos de Cochinita Pibil Stands Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Breakfast, Yucatan-style Go by the bus station and have the best and most authentic Yucatan breakfast. There are several taco stands in this corner, accompanied by one that serves fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice. The tacos are of cochinita pibil (roasted marinated pork), relleno negro (turkey bathed in a black chili--not hot--sauce), marlin, chicken, or steak. The first two are 100% regional dishes, and they have the best flavor I have tasted, even compared to expensive restaurants. Do not be intimidated by their being served on the street (imagine a hot dog stand in NYC) because these are very fresh (there are no leftovers for the next day, and everything ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 4, 2005

Tacos de Cochinita Pibil Stands
Avenue Juarez and 5th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Babes at Little Italy

Restaurant | "Babe's Noodle Bar"

Quote:
This place is a great spot to have dinner and a drink. They have outdoor tables, a bar with stools, and an intimate dimly lit interior garden area. The decorations are nice; they put up vintage-style posters, all of them depicting glamorous girls, hence the name Babe's. It is supposed to be a Thai noodle bar (curry, spring rolls, Tsatziki, etc.), but you have more options than that, like pesto (a very Italian flavor with a touch of the house), salmon pizzas, chicken burgers, arracheras (cut of beef cooked Mexican style), Caesar salads, and sandwiches. The portions are huge and tasty. You can order a half order or a full one. If it's your first time, order half to sample what...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 5, 2005

Babes at Little Italy
5th Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
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Dr. Taco

Restaurant

Dr. Taco Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This place has tacos, tacos, and tacos, but seafood ones (and vegetarian). This is a small place (no more than six tables, plus four stools at the "bar") with excellent ideas, like serving deep-fried shrimp or fish in tacos, which makes them inexpensive food, contrary to when you have a craving for shrimp but have to order a full dish of them in a typical seafood restaurant. Here you get the quantity you want, and the food is very tasty by the way. If this is not enough, they offer you a salsa bar with eight types of salsa for your tacos, ranging from the traditional to the exotic flavors.The name is strange, but it is so named because the owner graduated as a physician but preferred to make his mo...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 27, 2005

Dr. Taco
10th Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Pizza Pazza

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
These are pizza places conveniently located, with good prices (was 16 pesos per slice in Jan 05) and excellent flavor. The crust is thin and tasty, the toppings are varied and nicely choosen, the ingredients always fresh, and the pizzas keep coming out of the oven all day and night long. Normally you don't have to wait more than 10-15 minutes if your favorite is gone when you arrive, which can happen, as they are very popular with both the local population and tourists. You won't find tables to sit at, as this is fast food; you only have some stools for a quick bite, but that is enough, as you will devour these pizzas on the act. The nice thing about per-slice serving is that you c...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 27, 2005

Pizza Pazza
Avenida 5
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tacos Billy the Kid

Restaurant

Quote:
This place can't get more local anyway you see it. This place is for people who would really want to try real Mexican food in a local atmosphere. You probably need to speak a little bit of Spanish to order and pay for your food. Tourists are not often seen here (except for those who want the real thing). The menu is not extensive; you can have tacos and tortas. Beef, chicken, rib, etc., tacos are only 3 pesos (less than $0.30) each. They are not big, but finding cheaper ones will be hard and you will get less bang for your buck! The flavour is authentic to the last shred of pork and last drop of spicy salsa. Even the sodas are authentic, though of course you will find the omnipresen...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2005

Tacos Billy the Kid
10th Avenue and 4th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Churros

Restaurant

Quote:
Okay, this is just dessert. Eating this is like having a pretzel in a sidewalk in NYC. Churros, for those of you who don't know them, are sticks of dough fried in very hot oil and then sprinkled with sugar. They are similar to plain donuts, but these are crispy and crunchy, with the inside as soft as the donuts. Always get the freshly fried churros, as the difference is very noticeable. Instead of a crunchy (on the outside) snack, you end up trying to tear soggy leather-like thingies. The churros are an old Spanish tradition but have stuck firmly in Mexico. In colder climates you have them with hot chocolate or coffee. Here you just grab a bag to eat while strolling ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 29, 2005

Churros
Cart at Main Plaza
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tacos Israel

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
If you read my review of Tacos Billy the Kid, you can find this place a little bit better in regards to the food, but it is as local as it gets. Tacos Arabes and Tacos al Pastor should be synonymous, as well as Tacos Orientales. All of them have the same idea - pork meat roasting in a vertical rotisserie at the entrance of the restaurant. This place serves authentic Mexican tacos, not those you will get at a Taco Bell in the USA. Real tacos are made with soft tortillas whether they are made of maiz (corn) or harina (flour). The kind of tortilla depends on your preference, so some restaurants (this one for example) offer you both. They taste different and the te...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 30, 2005

Tacos Israel
15th Avenue and 10th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa Mamitas

Attraction | "Playa del Carmen's Playa Mamitas"

Playa Mamitas Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
There are two beach clubs, Tukan and Mamita's, side by side. Mamita's is for a young and middle-aged crowd, with electric music playing loud and the volleyball court on its side. The prices are reasonable. At both beach clubs (sometimes you can´t distinguish which one is which) you can have snacks ranging from guacamole and chips to hamburgers and fries and a nice bar with beers by the bucketload.If you arrive early you can rent a chair or bed (yes a bed at the beach with some curtains and little roof) for the day, price is very inexpensive and you can have food and drinks delivered to your spot under the sun.The beach in this area is very wide, and the waves are of...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 3, 2005

Playa Mamitas
North from the ferry pier at about 26th street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Ferry Pier

Attraction

Ferry Pier Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
The ferry pier is the point to cross to Cozumel Island, a paradise for scuba diving.

There are two different companies leaving at the same time almost every hour. The yellow one tries to impress you with a "faster trip" on their signs, but I have noticed that faster can mean only 1 or 2 minutes over the other ferry. Both companies have good boats that are very comfortable to ride in. It takes about 40 minutes to cross the Yucatan Channel to get to/from the island.

The price starts at 20 pesos and can be higher if you get caught in their advertising tricks.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 3, 2005

Ferry Pier
The beach south of Av. Juarez
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Beaches

Attraction | "Playa del Carmen's Coco Beach"

Beaches Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This is a very quiet beach, somehow isolated from the main area in town but close enough to walk there. It's a good area for sunbathing--topless is accepted and does not cause finger-pointing. Nude sunbathing is practiced in the more remote areas or between the little bushes. Waves are not very strong in this area, and the water is relatively shallow.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2005

Beaches

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Bus Tours

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Traveling by Bus"

Bus Tours Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Okay, this is the cheap way to travel in the Riviera Maya, with Playa del Carmen as your operation base. All trips in the area depart from this terminal (there is another one for longer trips going out to other states), so it is easy to plan trips, as the name of the destinations are all written on a huge board on a wall of the station, just above the ticket counters. There you will find the name of the town you want to visit and the price for a one-way ticket; in some cases, you will also find the scheduled hours for each trip. The most popular destinations have buses leaving every hour or more often (like Cancun, Tulum, etc.). Clerks at the ticket booths will try to help confused tourists, but...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 5, 2005

Bus Tours
Bus Station, Ave. Juarez and 5th Ave.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Riviera Maya!

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Xel-Ha and Tulum"

Riviera Maya! Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
Okay, for those of you who are thinking of touring the Riviera Maya and especially these two spots, the Xel-Ha water/eco park and the Mayan archeological ruins of Tulum, don't ever think of buying a package that includes the transportation. It would be very expensive and you would have to wait for the company to pick all the passengers in all those various resorts and reunion spots, so you will have less time to enjoy those places. What is the alternative? It’s simple - the bus at the bus station. You will get a very comfortable bus with air-conditioning, just like the one from the Cattle Tour, but this one you won't have to remember by a number like the people on tours do. Also, ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 31, 2005

Riviera Maya!

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Xelha

Attraction | "Xel-Ha"

Quote:
It's an amusement park that’s not as Disney-like as Xcaret. That is a plus for some, a disadvantage for others depending on your approach to nature. If you like Cancun and all the gringo experiences, then is better for you to skip this one. If you like something closer to nature but very civilized, this may be for you.

To go to the farthest corner, there is a little "train" that you can take to the beginning of the river, or you can walk along the caves and cenotes on the other shore.

The food and shops are of the theme park quality, so don't expect too much or be surprised by the prices. It is labeled an eco-park, but it caters more to average tourists.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 12, 2005

Xelha
Near Mayan Ruins Of Tulum
Playa del Carmen, Mexico