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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.
Spanish and Mayan, but English is spoken in most areas.
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
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.
When to Visit:
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.
New Yearâs Day (AĂ±o Nuevo)
Birthday of Benito JuĂĄrez, Mexican president and national hero
Week (Semana Santa) Good Friday through Easter Sunday
Labor Day (DĂa del Trabajo) with workersâ parades
Battle of Puebla commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at
Puebla in 1862
The president of Mexico delivers the annual State of the Nation
Day of the Race (Dia de la Raza) Columbus Day
The Day of the Dead
Revolution Day: Anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution
Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadelupe
currency is in Mexican Pesos.
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.
and ATM withdrawals typically come in pesos.
cards work at ATMs at the big banks such as Banamex .Banks advertise their
closing hour as 5 PM during the week.
approximately US $17. Be prepared with US cash for this. Change may not be
available. Children under 2 years are exempt.
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
CancĂșn Airport at (52-98) 86-00-73.
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.
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 âsiestaâ and on Sundays.
Restrooms are difficult to find in most places. You are expected to supply your
own toilet paper.
Many resorts, hotels, and beachfront villas have many activities especially for
families with children.
car companies operate from the airport and some hotels. You must be 25 years
old, hold a driverâs license and major credit card. Road signs are in Spanish.
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 âvalue added taxâ 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.
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 ChichĂ©n ItzĂĄ and Palenque. There is also an
international airport in Cozumel, from which it is easy to get to Playa del
- Phone 870088. The airport is 9 miles southwest of CancĂșn 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
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.
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 CancĂșn and places along the coast,
such as Tulum, arrive at the Riviera bus station, at the corner of JuĂĄrez 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.
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.
The are two bus terminals in
town, one on the corner of
Juarez and 5th Avenue
and one on
between Calle 12 and 14. Both have
bus service to
Cancun, Tulum, Merida and a lot of other places in the area and the country. The
are white vans running up and down the highway. They stop
want, and you can
by the side of the
road. They operate from
15 and 20, next to the baseball court.