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Playa del Carmen, Mexico City Info
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Central America > Mexico
Cancun Los Cabos Playa del Carmen




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Population:  47,200

Location:

In the State of Quintana Roo, off the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula, south of New Orleans.  Approximately 1.5 hours flying time from Miami.

Languages: Spanish and Mayan, but English is spoken in most areas.

The original inhabitants of this part of Mexico were Mayan and although Spanish is the official language, most of the indigenous population still speaks their native tongue. In the past few years, people from all parts of the world have settled here, giving this region a cosmopolitan atmosphere

Time Zone:  Central Standard Time.  The time is one hour behind that of New York City.  When it is 11:00am in New York City; it is 10:00am in Playa del Carmen.  However, Daylight saving time is observed from the first weekend in May until the last weekend in September.

 

Average Temperatures:

 

 Month  

   High

 Low

January  

   80F  

  68F

February

   81F

  68F

March  

   82F  

  69F

April  

   84F

  71F  

May  

   87F

  74F  

June  

   85F

  75F 

July  

   88F

  75F  

August  

   87F  

  75F

September  

   87F

  75F

October  

   83F

  73F

November  

   81F

  71F

December  

   80F

  70F

 

When to Visit:  Playa del Carmen is warm year round, but the steady sea breeze tempers the heat.  There is outdoor swimming all year.  Rainfall is evenly distributed over the twelve months.    The chance of hurricanes is greater in September and October.  The sun reflected from the water is intense, so it is important to come prepared with sunblock.  Most visitors wear shorts and T-shirts.  A sweater is useful for air-conditioned places and for the occasional cool winter day. 

 

National Holidays:  

Jan 1                New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo)

Feb 5                Constitution Day

Mar 21              Birthday of Benito Juárez, Mexican president and national hero

Holy Week            (Semana Santa)  Good Friday through Easter Sunday

May 1               Labor Day (Día del Trabajo) with workers’ parades

May 5               Battle of Puebla commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at

                        Puebla in 1862        

Sept 1               The president of Mexico delivers the annual State of the Nation address

Sept 16             Independence Day

Oct 12              Day of the Race (Dia de la Raza)  Columbus Day

Nov 1-2             The Day of the Dead

Nov 20              Revolution Day:  Anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution

Dec 12              Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadelupe

Dec 25              Christmas Day

 

Currency:  The currency is in Mexican Pesos. 

Banks and Currency Exchange Facilities:

US Dollars are easily exchanged into pesos in banks, major hotels, airports and exchange houses. Mexican banks are open from 9 am to 2:30 pm weekdays only. Most credit cards are accepted in shops, hotels and travel agencies. Major purchases are best made with a credit card. You automatically receive the bank rate of exchange, which is higher than the rates given in town or at the hotels.

Cash advances and ATM withdrawals typically come in pesos.

Major ATM cards work at ATMs at the big banks such as Banamex .Banks advertise their closing hour as 5 PM during the week.

 

Departure Tax: is approximately US $17.  Be prepared with US cash for this.  Change may not be available.   Children under 2 years are exempt.

 

Customs Regulations:  After passing through immigration, you must claim your luggage and pass through Customs. You must present a Customs form, which will be given to you at check-in before you leave the US or during your flight.  You will be asked to press a button at a sort of traffic light:  Green means go, red means your baggage will be briefly searched.   Questions can be directed to the Customs office at the Cancún Airport at (52-98) 86-00-73.

 

Mail

A post card home will probably take many weeks, or even months. A package will probably not make it.  Don't send anything valuable with the Mexican Mail. If you do want to send some post cards, stamps can be found at the Post office and at the pharmacy or the mini super. Stamps are called estampillas.

 

Business Hours:

Most stores are open from 10 am to 10 pm daily in the Hotel Zone. Stores downtown may close between 2 pm and 4 pm for the traditional “siesta” and on Sundays.

Public rest rooms:  Restrooms are difficult to find in most places.  You are expected to supply your own toilet paper.

Children:  Many resorts, hotels, and beachfront villas have many activities especially for families with children.

Car Rentals:

Major rental car companies operate from the airport and some hotels.  You must be 25 years old, hold a driver’s license and major credit card. Road signs are in Spanish.

Public Transportation:

Tips and Taxes

In cases where the gratuity is not included or provided for, 15% is the accepted amount. Most items sold in Mexico have a “value added tax” or sales tax of 10% that is additional to the posted price. In Spanish, it is called IVA. You will see it itemized separately on your receipt.

 

 

Arriving

 

Airports:

Visitors 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, such as  Chichén Itzá and Palenque. There is also an international airport in Cozumel, from which it is easy to get to Playa del Carmen.  Cancún International Airport - Phone  870088.   The airport is  9 miles southwest of Cancún City.

 

Exiting customs, you will find a mass of people calling out their readiness to help. Some with with hand carts try to confuse you into using their service by calling out different destination names until one catches your attention. Plan your transportation in advance or just keep moving forward to the exit to the taxi kiosk. Look for  an authorized white, yellow and black airport taxi. It is a 45 minute ride to Playa del Carmen. The union controls who can carry tourists from the airport and what they charge. Taxis originating in Playa del Carmen are not actually authorized to take people to Playa, but you can go with a transfer company that is authorized. The ride to Playa del Carmen will cost a little over $50. The fare can be shared among others traveling ot the same destination.  To take one of these authorized taxis, go to any of the TTC kiosks located around the terminal and buy a ticket.

 

The Mexican bus company, Riviera, now operates  direct bus service between Cancun airport and Playa del Carmen. Tickets are reasonably priced  each way, either way. It leaves from outside the main arrival hall at the airport. Just before you exit the terminal, there is a Riviera counter where you buy the ticket. In Playa del Carmen the bus works out of the main bus terminal on 5th Avenue and Juarez.  These are big blue Mercedes buses with huge butterfly fish decals on the back.

 

The crowd of sales people for other modes of transportation (authorized and unauthorized) will continue to shout out invitations to use their services or to accept boarding assistance from them even as the visitor is boarding the Riviera bus with a ticket in hand. It is best to ignore these entreaties and to proceed on your own onto the bus,  as planned.   This is the schedule (subject to change on short or no notice):

 

Cancun airport - Playa
10:30, 11:45, 12:45, 13:45, 15.00, 16:45, 17:45, 19:00, 20:30
Playa-Cancun airport
8:00, 9:00, 10:30, 11:45, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18.15

 

From Cozumel Airport:  Take a taxi to the dock, (el muelle). Ferries to Playa leave every hour on the hour, except at 11am and 1pm. The ferry ride will take about 30 minutes. By the dock in Playa, there are guides on tricycles who can take your luggage to your hotel, or to the taxi stand by the bus station.

 

Air-conditioned passenger ferries to Cozumel leave every hour on the hour from the town's pier one block from the main square. Construction of a second pier at the end of Av. Constituyentes proceeds in fits and starts. There is also a car ferry to Cozumel from the Calica pier just south of the Playacar development.

 

The ferry dock in Playa is 1 block from the main square and within walking distance of hotels. Playa has two bus stations. Buses coming from Cancún and places along the coast, such as Tulum, arrive at the Riviera bus station, at the corner of Juárez and Quinta Avenida, by the town square. Buses coming from destinations in the interior of the peninsula arrive at the new ADO station, on Avenida 20 between 12th and 14th streets.

 

Getting Around

 

It is easy to get around in Playa. You don't need a car to get around town, in fact it's easier not to have one. Playa del Carmen is small enough to for you to walk almost everywhere. Taxis are cheap and they are found everywhere. As soon as you leave the center area of town, the rates rise steeply and inconsistently, so ask before you go. Another popular means of transportation is the scooter or bike, both of which are available for rent in Playa. There are plenty of buses going to Cancun or Tulum, and if you want to go on a day trip, it is easy to rent a car in Playa.

 

Buses

The are two bus terminals in town, one on the corner of Avenida Juarez and 5th Avenue and one on Avenida 20, between Calle 12 and 14. Both have direct bus service to Cancun, Tulum, Merida and a lot of other places in the area and the country. The Colectivos are white vans running up and down the highway. They stop anywhere you want, and you can flag them down by the side of the road. They operate from Calle 2 between Avenida 15 and 20, next to the baseball court.


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