This Friday, September 15, Mexico starts its biggest fiesta, the Independence Day celebrations. Flags, hats, lanterns, and whatever else patriotic in the national colors red, white, and green, decorate the city during the whole month. It’s truly one of the best time of the year to be here if you like to get to know the Mexican culture. Here are some ideas what to do in Playa del Carmen on Independence Day.
During your vacation at Playa Palms Beach Hotel, we strive to make your vacation in Playa del Carmen a memorable one. But as they say, you need to love yourself first to be able to love someone else – that applies to work too. Only because we truly love our jobs are we able to provide a service and an experience that you will love. Here’s what our staff likes most about their jobs and their favorite anecdotes:
If you only know her as the face printed on shirts, you should definitely visit the newly opened Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen, dedicated to her work and life.
Because Frida Kahlo is way more than just a face on a cool hipster-shirt. The Mexican artist is one of the most remarkable and controversial female artists of the first half of the 20th century, showing a glimpse of the amazing woman and artist she was through her self-portraits.
Frida Kahlo, the woman who would always wear a traditional Mexican Tehuana dress, usually with decorative flowers braided in her hair, and who was known for her outspokenness and bravery. She managed to be a successful artist already during her lifetime, with her art being exhibited in New York and Paris, where one of her pieces was purchased by The Louvre in 1939.
Until recently, the only Frida Kahlo Museum was in her birth house in Mexico City. But last Sunday the world’s second Frida Kahlo Museum opened its doors in Playa del Carmen, giving people traveling to the Riviera Maya a chance to learn more about who Frida Kahlo really was and her controversial art. It takes you on an interactive journey through the artist’s tumultuous life, showcasing her art as well as copies of her diary, photos, personal letters and other objects that were of importance to her. All Displays are in Spanish and English.
The Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen “is about getting to know the real Frida, the woman who would not be limited by the social norms of the time, who was politically active, and always true to herself”, says Alejandro Tamayo, the museum’s president. Although there are no original pieces of her art, the Frida Kahlo Museum makes you travel back in time and meet Frida in a very creative way. You learn about the history behind her art in a 270° cinema, in a beautiful multimedia show, replicas, or on interactive touchscreens.
The Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen is located downtown on the 5th Avenue, just underneath the famous Frida Kahlo Restaurant. You really can’t miss it, with the huge Frida face looking over the Avenue.
Where: 5th Avenue with 8th Street
How much: $15 USD (10% discount for Mexicans, 50% discount for locals)
When: Daily from 9 am to 11 pm
Sweat it all out in an ancient Mayan steam bath that comes with plenty of physical and spiritual benefits.
A temazcal is a traditional Mayan sweat lodge, kind of a Mayan sauna, used by many indigenous people not only in the Riviera Maya but throughout Mesoamerica. In the Mayan culture, it was part of every major ceremonial center and used as part of a curative ceremony to purify body and mind. For example, after a battle or for healing purposes. While the body rids itself of toxins, the spirit is renewed through the ritual.
It all takes place in a small, circular domed hut, made of stone or mud and some are next to a cenote, where you can cool off afterward. Also, cenotes often were sacred places for the Maya. The structure represents a womb, symbolizing that you are reborn when you come out after the ceremony. Throughout the Riviera Mayan and the Yucatan Peninsula are many such temazcals.
In its center is a pit with hot stones. The shaman performing the ceremony will pour herbal water over them to create steam and increase the heat. You sit or lie on the earthen floor as the entrance is closed with a heavy cloth, for the steam to stay inside and to shut the light out (if you are claustrophobic you might want to sit this one out…). Sweat it all out to the sound of chanting, drums sometimes, and the fragrance of herbs! It is a unique experience for each participant and definitely requires an open mind.
The temazcal ceremony has many health benefits: it cleans the digestive tract, improves the blood circulation, your body will be relaxed and stimulated, it clears and softens your skin and it’s really helpful in treating respiratory problems. But it’s also meant to clean you spiritually, to help you leave behind toxic thoughts and behaviors. The temazcal was also used by pregnant women as a preventive and healing medicine during labor.
But a temazcal is way more than just healthy sweating. The process you’re going through during the ceremony is supposed to help you connect with your inner self and get a better understanding of your own process and mind, about opening up to receive ancient spiritual medicine.
If you are visiting Playa del Carmen and would like to live this special experience, we are happy to help organize a temazcal ceremony for you. Guests of Playa Palms Beach Hotel can contact us prior to arrival or ask our concierge once they arrived at the hotel.
The Riviera Maya is one of the most beautiful destinations, with a unique and very diverse eco system and a rich cultural heritage. Just think of the many Mayan ruins, the cenotes or the fact that it’s home to the world’s second largest coral reef!
It is easy to just come a few days, have a good time and take photos without thinking of the impact we leave. Traveling is a great way to connect with people and to enrich our lives, but it’s also important to recognize that it can have negative effects on the places we travel.
If you want to travel more responsible, here are some very easy things you can do to help conserve the Riviera Maya’s environment and culture:
1 Use biodegradable sunscreen and bug spray
One of the easiest ways to help protect the natural ecosystem is to use biodegradable sunscreen and bug spray. Regular products contain harmful oils and chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs, marine plants, and animals in the cenotes. It’s a small change that makes a huge difference not only to the cenotes and the sea, but it’s also healthier for your skin. You can buy biodegradable sunscreen or repellent at any supermarket or pharmacy here in Playa del Carmen.
2 Reduce trash and recycle
At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we help you to recycle. All our rooms come with a drinking water dispenser for you to refill your water bottle rather than buying new ones.
3 Use less energy
At your hotel, you can take care of the environment by something as simple as turning off the air conditioning and the lights when you’re going out. At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we help saving water and energy by changing sheets and towels only when requested.
4 Know what you are supporting
Think critically when it comes to choosing your activities and excursions. Avoid local shows or parks that exploit animals, like swimming with captive dolphins. Rather enjoy and observe the animals in their natural habitat. For example, go swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres or observe birds and marine animals in Sian Ka’an or Isla Contoy!
5 Shop smarter
Don’t buy souvenirs made of shells, starfish or endangered animals.
6 Stay at smaller, not all inclusive hotels
Staying at smaller hotels instead of big resorts gives you a chance to get around, eat at local restaurants, buy in local shops and thus support the local culture and economy.
7 Go local
Support locally owned businesses, restaurants, and other services whenever you can. Trying local food and drinks is fun, just think Tequila and Mezcal or tasty tacos!
8 Respect cultural differences and learn from it
So many countries, so many customs. Respect and value the culture you are visiting. Care for the archaeological sites you visit in the Riviera Maya and don’t pollute or damage them. Experience the place the way locals do, respect them and engage with the culture!