Please keep in mind that I am updating prices from the Internet, and that it is advisable to double check rates with the hotels before travelling.
PUNTA DEL ESTE is expensive, and I have never stayed in the city, except once when I took an aparment in the Cantegrill Country Club through a timesharing exchange. I really enjoyed it. The country club was full of beautiful residences with fantastic parks, and was halfway between both beaches, with both near. It is a very quiet spot for staying, while it is not far away from the downtown. If you have timesharing in any other part of the world, try and exchange through RCI or any other reliable timeshare organization. But keep in mind that most timeshare exchange fees are not refundable, even if the desired exchange is not available. It is a sort of administrative fee. For a complete list of hotels in Punta del Este and other destinations, visit www.topuruguay.com and then click on hotels. This site also has a beautiful photo gallery of Uruguay. As a general reference, three-star hotels in Punta del Este are costing some 120 dollars per night for a double room, while two-star hotels cost some $45 per night. That is nearly double the price you would pay in Mar del Plata, Argentina, but Punta del Este is beautiful. But you will find cheaper hotels on the above website.
PIRIÁPOLIS: Here the average cost of a three-star hotel is $50 to $60 per night for a double room. It is about half an hour away from Punta del Este by bus, and the whole trip is really enjoyable. When going towards Punta del Este, get a window seat on the right-hand side and you will enjoy the scenery. I have been through Piriápolis many times, but have never stayed there. Generally speaking, I used to stay at Montevideo. The whole trip from Montevideo to Punta del Este on the bus (two hours and a half) is beautiful. To choose your hotel at Piriápolis, visit www.topuruguay.com Then click on hotels, and after that on Piriápolis.
MONTEVIDEO: Here you can find two-star hotels for as little as $18 per night (Arapey) or three-star hotels for $39 (Ibis). The Days Inn Montevideo charges $39 per night for a double room (four-star rating), but you might prefer the Pocitos Plaza Hotel (four stars, $63), because it is on the Pocitos Beach, next to the sea. I stayed at the Hotel Presidente (three stars); it was good and inexpensive. A single room costs $35 and a double room, $40. They are located on Ave. 18 de Julio 1038, phone +598 (2) 902 00 03 - 908 48 50. Buses to Punta del Este leave from the Tres Cruces Bus Station, and take two hours and a half to get to Punta del Este. But the tour from Montevideo to Punta del Este is far more convenient, because you will stop at all the points of interest on the way, including Piriápolis and Punta Ballena.
COLONIA: The Days Inn Casa del Sol Resort (four stars) could be a very nice option
CARMELO: Based on the information I have, the Four Seasons hotel is the very best. I have not stayed at Carmelo.
PAYSANDU: You will find three-star hotels like the Mykonos for $27 per night.
SALTO: The best option seems to be the Hotel Horacio Quiroga (five stars); that also has thermal baths, and a double room costs $106
BEST WAY TO GET AROUND: One word of caution: as long as the confrontation between Argentina and Uruguay continues regarding the installation of paper mills next to the Uruguay River, you stand a high chance of being unable to cross to Uruguay. And with yesterday's ruling of the International Court of Justice of The Hague that these blockings do not cause a permanent damage to Uruguayan economy, this situation could last for months. Roads are blocked at all international bridges (Gualeguaychu-Fray Bentos is where the protest is more active, but the bridges at Colón-Paysandu and Concordia Salto are also blocked frequently by protesters). So the safest way to get around is travelling by Buquebus from the Port of Buenos Aires to Uruguay, or by plane. Uruguay has very good bus services that cover the whole country. EGA (Empresa General Artigas) seems to be one of the best, and it goes from Montevideo to Buenos Aires and also to Córdoba (Argentina). However, read the previous paragraph regarding road blocking and check with the bus company to see if services are running normally. This page gives valuable information regarding bus services inside Uruguay: www.visit-uruguay.com/es/comollegar.htm. (Buses from Montevideo to Punta del Este, Piriápolis, and other destinations). All buses leave from the Tres Cruces Bus Station in Montevideo. Taxis in Uruguay are more expensive than in Argentina, but far cheaper than in the US or Europe.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO URUGUAY FROM ARGENTINA PLANES (From Aeroparque domestic airport): TO MONTEVIDEO: 10 daily flights (Pluna and Aerolíneas Argentinas) at a cost (round trip including taxes) of 163 dollars TO PUNTA DEL ESTE: 6 to 12 daily flights at a cost (round trip including taxes) of 225 dollars. THERE ARE ALSO CHEAPER FLIGHTS BOTH TO CARMELO AND COLONIA, BUT THEN YOU MUST CONTINUE BY BUS TO MONTEVIDEO OR PUNTA DEL ESTE. BY SHIP (FAST AND STANDARD SERVICE) By fast ship to Montevideo (two hours and a half): Buquebus, US$ 117 round trip. By normal ship to Colonia and transfer by bus to Montevideo (5 hours, $60 round trip) or by fast ship to Colonia and transfer by bus (2 hours 40 minutes) $100 round trip. BY BUS: You must remember that there is no direct highway from Buenos Aires to Colonia, and that all buses must pass through one of the 3 international bridges (read first paragraph of this Experience). The shortest distance through Gualeguaychu (the most conflictive bridge) is 570 kilometers or 350 miles). Both Empresa General Artigas and Bus de la Carrera offer this service (probably there are other companies also), that should take some 10 to 11 hours from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. From Cordoba to Montevideo the best option is EGA (Empresa General Artigas, that takes some 14 hours of travel. These services are not expensive. From SALTO (just across the river from Concordia, Argentina) buses take some 6 hours to Montevideo, and about eight hours and a half to Punta del Este. Four bus companies operate this service. If for any reason you are travelling by road and you find the international bridges blocked, the best way to get out of this is travelling from Salto to General Artigas, crossing to Coarao (Brazil), from there to Uruguaiana (Brazil) and accross the river to Paso de los Libres (Argentina). You will probably loose some 5 or 6 extra hours, but you never know how long a bridge blocking can last... sometimes 3 or 4 days, or even more... Nearly all international airlines have direct flights from the USA and from Europe to Uruguay. Enjoy your trip to Uruguay