Playa del Carmen, Mexico's virtual guidebook written by locals

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Practical Info

Introduction to Playa del Carmen
This little Caribbean beach town has grown tremendously in popularity during the last decade. There's a good reason for that - Playa is a fantastic place to spend your vacation, hang out, or live. The town has grown along the beach...
Arriving in Playa del Carmen
You will most likely arrive at Cancun international airport, which is only about 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen. Playa has a small airport that mainly has service to Cozumel and some ruins, like Chichén Itzá and Palenque...
Getting Around
First of all, there is good reason to warn about the traffic in Mexico, regardless of whether you're driving, biking or walking. Tourists come down here worried about sharks, malaria and the Mexican Bandido with a big bushy moustache and a machete, but one of the biggest health hazards here is actually traffic...
Currency and Communication
The currency in Mexico is called the peso. The exchange rate used to fluctuate like mad, but it has been between 10 and 11 pesos to the dollar for years now. The sign for pesos is the same as for US dollars ($), which can be a little confusing sometimes...
Weather and Wear
Playa del Carmen has a sub-tropical climate, which means it's almost always warm. Or hot. The annual average temperature is about 27C or 80F. Temperature is not the only consideration when in a tropical climate...
FAQ (frequently asked questions)
Pretty self explanatory. We welcome your suggestions to help complete the list. Sort of a primer for the forums.

Mundo Maya

The Mayan World - a Background
This overview gives a good basis of the history and development of the Mayan people.
Mayan Culture and Traditions
The Mayan world is a place full of spirits and ghosts. They believed that every creation had un unseen power and they make a distinction between natural and supernatural power. This is something the Maya had in common with people throughout Mesoamerica and a notion that is very much alive in today's Latin America...
Mayan World after the Conquest
The very first Europeans came to this area in 1511 when a Spanish ship sunk off the Caribbean coast. Out of the 19 survivors, only two eluded sacrifice or disease - Brother Gerónimo de Aguilar and Seaman Gonzalo Guerrero. They settled down with the Maya; Gonzalo Guerrero married a Mayan woman and had three children...
Chichen Itza
Chichén Itzá, arguably the most impressive Maya site on the Yucatán peninsula, lies about three hours from Playa del Carmen. Its famous pyramid offers a challenging climb and a breathtaking view over the jungle...
Coba
This grand Mayan site lies less than two hours from Playa del Carmen, and is different from the other big sites in the Yucatan. First of all, it's situated by four natural lakes, which is a rare sight in the Yucatan. These lakes are believed to have given the city its name, which means Waters stirred by wind...
Ek Balam
This little gem of a Mayan city is rarely visited and you may very well end up strolling around all by yourself among temples and jungle. It's a bit off the beaten path since it's located about 20 minutes north of Valladolid. From Playa del Carmen it's a two hours and 45 minutes trip, which is best handled by car. But if you're into Mayan art and architecture, this is a real treat and should not be missed!...
Muyil
Only a short drive south of Tulum, there's a nice little site with very few visitors. This site goes under two names, Muyil and Chanyaxche. It is not big, but there are a few interesting buildings and the historical significance is apparent. Muyil makes a nice stop on your Tulum or cenote day-trip.
Tulum
The Mayan ruins of Tulum, only an hour from Playa del Carmen, undoubtedly has one of the most breathtaking settings of any city past or present. The only significant large scale Mayan ruin on the coast, it is perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea...

Things to Do

Sports Overview
If you're the sporty type, Playa will keep you busy, both above and beneath the surface of the Caribbean. No matter what level of thrill you are looking for there is something to do here, between hanging out on the beach and stomping around ruins...
Reef Diving
Detailed overview of what to expect from conditions, operators and dive locations written by an instructor with more than a thousand local reef dives.
Cenote Overview
Find out what a cenote is, how they were formed, and what makes them special. Learn what to expect if you decide to dive in the cenotes and what to look for in a qualified quide.
Fishing
The quality of deep sea fishing in the Playa del Carmen area may come as a surprise to you. This area is perhaps more famous for its fantastic diving and its amazing Mayan ruins, but the truth is that fishing is here is ranked extremely high by serious anglers from all over the world...
Eating Out
The major international influence is apparent in Playa's array of restaurants. You won't run the risk of being bored of the food when in Playa. You can go Mexican, Mayan, Tex-Mex, Italian, Thai, German, Japanese, Cuban, Chinese, Argentinean, Swedish, Spanish and probably something else that we can't think of right now. Oh, yeah, seafood! ...
Activities and Daytrips
Get oriented quickly with this overview of the area. We cover the major points of interest on the coast that are comfortably reached for interesting daytrips from Playa del Carmen.
Colonial town of Valladolid
The colonial town of Valladolid was founded in 1543 by Francisco de Montejo, who established Spanish rule in most of the Yucatán peninsula. As in so many other places in the New World, the Spanish built their own churches on the site of the old pagan temples. Valladolid used to be a Mayan town by the name of Zací...
Skydive!
The only way to experience this incredible activity is to do it yourself, so we went for a jump and had a blast. Have a look at some cool images and find out why Playa is the best place on earth to jump out of an airplane!

Features

Mexican Food
A brief overview to get you oriented. From street food to traditional dishes, you'll have an understanding of what real Mexican food is before arriving in Playa del Carmen. Leave the yellow cheese and sour cream at home.
Hammock Guide
A fixture in any home in the Yucatan peninsula, the Mayan hammock is the perfect introduction to the land of the siesta. Learn what to look for, how to use it, maintain it and keep it clean for years of heavenly rest.
Tequila
Learn about the history of this firey spirit and a little bit about the differences in types and quality. Playa del Carmen is full of places where you can do follow-up research once you arrive.
Learning Spanish in Paradise
Playa del Carmen is a fantastic location to brush up on your Spanish. Playa.Info sent a staff member back to school for two weeks, and here's the article to prove it.
Bacalar Exploration Project 2001
The labyrinth of underground rivers in this region of Mexico fuels the fire of exploration. Read the details of a recent project aimed at discovering new places where man has never been before.
All inclusive concept
Some observations on the all inclusive vacation concept.