Things I’ve learned about Playa Del Carmen in 24 Hours.

Playa del Carmen, southern end.

When you’ve stayed in a place for a while it’s easy to forget what the brand new, fresh off the plane, first time visitor needs to know.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my first 24 hours here.

– The buses from Cancun airport leave about once every 40 mins.

– The cost of the bus is 120 MXN (around $10). You can either buy your ticket inside the departure terminal or outside near the bus departure area. The price is the same as there is only one bus company, Ado.

– You can pay for the bus with your credit card, which is a better option than attempting to use the ATM at the airport. The airport ATMs have high fees, are only in Spanish, and didn’t even work for the girls in front of us who tried.

– The bus from Cancun takes an hour. Come out of the arrivals terminal, turn right, and walk a long way (maybe 200m). Go past the arrivals terminal. There is a person manning a little gate who will need to let you through to the bus departure area. You can wait in the departures terminal if you want to stay cool. However, our bus left a couple of minutes early so don’t leave it till the last minute to walk out there.

– You will arrive in PDC here on the main street 5th Ave. The Ado bus station is on the corner over 5th Ave and Juarez Ave.

5th Ave, Playa del Carmen
5th Ave, Playa del Carmen

– Once in Playa, use the ATMS in the Mega supermarket or the Scotiabank ones and not those on 5th Ave. These are bank owned and give better rates. Don’t use the ones on 5th Ave (which seemed to dispense USD anyway). There are some ATMs just off 5th Ave which are fine to use, but saying use the ones at the supermarket is the easiest.

– The streets are weird.

The “Avenues” run vertical on the map. 10th Ave is the next avenue to the West from 5th Ave. Go figure! This makes the distances closer than they sound.

The “Streets” ( or Calles in Spanish) run horizontal on the map and seem to jump in even numbers i.e., 8th St is between 6th and 10th Sts.

– We arranged an apartment though Elizabeth of She has helped a number of other travel bloggers find apartments and is an old friend of Wandering Earls from when they used to work on cruise ships. She worked her butt off to find us a place on very short notice and we greatly appreciated it! The above tip about the ATMs was from Liz.

– Currently prices are around 12,500 MXN per month (approx $1000 USD) plus electricity for a place with no pool. There are not many 1 bedrooms so most likely if you need a 1 bedroom you will end up with a two bedroom.

apartment kitchen

apartment lounge

apartment bedroom

apartment bathroom

– Places to shop for essentials are located an easy walk from 5th Ave. Walmart and Mega are almost next door to each other. Just Google Map.

– You can use your credit card at the 7/11, Walmart, the “Mega” Supermarket etc for any small amount. You can also use USD at the supermarket and get a good rate.

– I bought a pair of jandals (flip flops) for $2 from Walmart.

– From Mega, I bought a 1kg packet of warm, just-out-of-the oven tortillas for around $1. I couldn’t see where they actually sold these in the supermarket. I just saw them coming off the conveyerbelt and the guy packaging them up so I asked for a pack.

– I also bought some delicious chipotle salsa in a jar. I thought there might be fresh guac and salsa for sale, but there wasn’t which surprised me.

Northern end of 5th Ave

– Just North of the Mega Suprmarket there is an organics type market that is awesome! It’s called DAC apparently but we couldn’t see a sign and walked straight past it the first time. It’s on the beach side of 30th Avenue, just below 20th st. It sells great fruits and lots of other items such as almond milk, rolled oats, vegan chorizo and tofu. We learned about DAC from Erin’s post.

– Limes cost 1/30th what they cost in NZ. Less than $1 a kg compared with up to $33/kg at home!!!

Thanks to the folks who helped answer our questions and plan our arrival here

– Dani and Jess
– Ty
– Liz

Adendum: We thought we liked our first apartment until we moved to our second apartment a week later, which is so much better. The first apartment had lots of tiny ants in the kitchen and was very damp. We did have a lot of rain that week but still, nothing seemed to dry. The second apartment is more modern, dry damp, has more natural light and is ant-free. The issues with the first apartment is no reflection on Lizabeth at all. She has done a fantastic job of finding us accommodation at VERY short notice.


  1. //

    Great post!!! It’s true, you do forget all these little quirks and essentials when you’ve been in a place for a while. Excellent tip about the ATMs.

  2. //

    Hi guys! So glad that you’re having a great time in Playa. Make sure you take time to swing by Nativo, West of Mega on Avenida 30 Norte. They make the most amazing fresh smoothies (even the small smoothies are huge), and the breakfasts are delicious.

  3. //

    Glad you guys got in ok. Some great tips there. It sounds like things have changed a bit at the airport since the last time I went through there. I have discovered that Playa seems to change almost on a daily basis.

    Let us know when you guys are settled in and we can go get a coffee!

  4. //

    Looks like a really nice apartment Liz found you! These are some great tips, I’ll definitely keep them in mind when we eventually make it to PDC!

  5. //

    Thanks for the tip Micki!

  6. //

    Will do. We are moving apartments tomorrow so will get in touch later in the week. Coffee would be awesome.

  7. //

    That apartment looks great! I love how it’s decorated. :) I know, minor things, but hey, whatever brings me joy, right?

    Now you have me wanting to visit Playa del Carmen. Have to convince the hubs… :)

  8. //

    Thanks for stopping by to comment Laurie.

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