Below you will find specific and common information on how travel to Playa del Carmen, types of accommodations, getting around town, currency and communications. Please make sure you are familiar with what you need to enter Mexico from the Mexican Customs Office.
Playa del Carmen does not have an international airport. Flights arrive at Cancun International Airport (CUN) daily. The airport is approximately 42 miles (68 kilometers) to the north. Almost all domestic and international airlines fly to Cancun. Playa del Carmen does have a small domestic airport (PCM).
From the airport, your options are to take a taxi ($40+), car rental, colectivo (type of shuttle - $18+), hotel shuttle or bus to Playa. Most major rental car companies have airport counters or can be found online in the Cancun directory. There is a bus called the "Riviera" which runs from/to the airport throughout the day. The cost is around $7-$8 US per person each way.
Playa del Carmen's bus station
Playa del Carmen can be reached by driving from Cancun (1 hour) on Hwy. 307, or from Chetumal (5 hours) to the south also on Hwy. 307. Buses run throughout Mexico and this is another option. A return bus from Playa's bus station to the Cancun airport leaves hourly.
If you do drive your vehicle to Playa del Carmen, you must have Mexican auto insurance, it's the law. Please look under the Travel &
Lodging directory for a list of companies.
There are now three options to arrive by sea. Your own boat (you must report to the Captain of the Port), the ferry from Cozumel or a new ferry from Tampa, Florida which docks north of Playa at Puerto Morelos (20 miles north).
The Peso presently values between 9-10 Pesos to 1 US dollar. Banks
generally have the best exchange rates & open at 9am (M-F), make
sure you check what hours they do money exchanges. Lines may be
longer at banks, but rates are probably a little better than exchange houses.
Money exchange houses or Casa de Cambios are found in downtown Playa and will exchange money throughout the day and into the early evening. Check with your hotel also as they may exchange money. Both are probably more convenient than the bank.
Some of the larger establishments will readily accept US currency. The issue in that case will be the exchange rate that they offer; it is advisable to ask first in order to avoid any disappointments. Many businesses will not be able to make change for anything higher than a $20 U.S. dollars so it is a good idea to carry small bills with you, or pesos.
Credit Cards are accepted by most of the hotels, with
some or no surcharge, but not all of them. ATM's are found throughout town and can be used to secure funds, although it will be in Pesos. This is one of the easier ways to travel, although there will be a small fee attached to your withdrawal. While you are planning your trip, make sure that you carry - or have access to, enough cash or traveler's checks.
Time & Pace
Playa del Carmen is in the Central Time Zone and does observe daylight savings time. Businesses are open throughout the day. Since Playa doesn't really have slow season (it slows a little in the storm months of August-October), the traditional siesta isn't usually observed except in some of the small towns outside the town. Siesta or the mid-day break is a
tradition that reflects not only the necessity of avoiding heat-related
fatigue, but is also a traditional time to spend with family, eat the meal of the day and recharge the batteries so to speak.
You can call (direct dialing) and fax to anywhere in the world from
Playa, using the facilities at your hotel or at Larga Distancia office. You can purchase prepaid phone cards throughout town. Internet access is available throughout Playa's center in "cyber cafes", some hotels may offer the service.
Playa is a small town by most standards and most activity is surrounding the beach (Playa means beach in Spanish). Another hot spot of activity is Avenida Quinta (Fifth Ave.), and a two-block radius around it, where the majority of shops, restaurants, bars and services are found.
This makes Playa an easy place to walk or bike around. You will find you will need a taxi (if you don't have a rental car) if you plan to see the coast, Tulum or any of the nature/theme parks in the area. Also, visitors staying in the Playacar area of hotels will need taxi transportation to get back and forth.
Playa's taxis lined up for service