When traveling to Mexico, many people worry about the safety in Playa del Carmen. But lately, it has gained a bad reputation and people are worried if it is still safe to travel here. Here is everything you need to know so you can enjoy your vacation in Playa del Carmen without worrying.
When traveling to Mexico, many people worry about safety. Mexico has gained a certain bad reputation, mostly because of sensational news coverage. The media tends to paint the whole country with a broad brush, and people expect drug wars and crime.
Even though you are probably visiting Playa del Carmen as a tourist, you might want to avoid an all too touristy experience. Our guests at Playa Palms Beach Hotel come here to relax, enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean, and get to know the Mexican culture. If that is your idea of a perfect vacation, make sure to keep it that way by staying away from these tourist traps.
Playa del Carmen’s most famous street itself is probably the biggest tourist trap. But, let’s be honest, would you expect otherwise? Some restaurants and bars have very high prizes that are unreasonable taking their food quality in account. But of course, there are also many very recommendable places. Our concierge at Playa Palms Beach Hotel knows the best places to have dinner or a drink.
Walking along the 5th Avenue, you will pass by many souvenir shops that advertise with “special prize” or “Sale” signs, or telling that they are closing soon, making you believe that they have an extra good deal for you. Only that it’s not true, they always have the same prizes. Better look at different stores and buy your souvenirs where you find the best price after comparing.
As in probably every city around the globe, the taxi drivers here usually try to rip you off. To avoid paying three times the actual prize, ask the staff at the front desk of your hotel how much a taxi should charge you for what distance or ask them to order a taxi for you.
Guests at Playa Palms Beach Hotel can explore the city center easily by foot, since restaurants, nightlife and entertainment are within short walking distance. For more information about getting around in Playa del Carmen, read here.
Playa del Carmen is surrounded by plenty of interesting places to visit, like Chichen Itza, Tulum or Xcaret. But not all excursions are created equal and if you asked different tour vendors, you’d find out that prizes vary widely. Talk to the concierge desk at your hotel to find out which tour guides and companies offer the best value for your money. The concierge desk at Playa Palms Beach Hotel knows the highest-quality tours in the area and can make the necessary accommodations for you.
Currency and exchange
You can pay pretty much everywhere in Playa del Carmen with US dollars. Just be sure to know the actual exchange rate. While for tours, parks or accommodations the prices in pesos or dollar usually are the same, at restaurants or bars they often use an exchange rate that doesn’t benefit you at all and you end up paying more using US dollars.
We recommend to always have Mexican pesos on you too. The best way to get pesos is by using an ATM. Make sure it’s an official bank ATM, not the blue ones on the 5th Avenue, since the exchange commission rate there is about 30%. For more tips about currency exchange, read here.
When you make your reservations at Playa Palms Beach Hotel, our staff will ensure you have the exclusive Riviera Maya vacation you were dreaming of.
Everything about which currencies are best to use, where to change your money and what to keep in mind when using a credit card in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Can I pay in US Dollars?
Generally everybody here loves to receive dollar bills, but beware of the exchange rate they use. Especially at stores, taxis or restaurants you’re better off paying with Mexican Pesos since they usually use a lower exchange rate, meaning you get less value for your Dollars.
How about other currencies?
Hotels or tour operators usually accept different currencies, like Canadian Dollar, Euro or British Pound. Again, check the exchange rate. At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we only accept Mexican Pesos and US Dollars.
Where can I change money?
It’s best to only bring a little cash, and once you arrived get Mexican Pesos at an ATM, where you typically get a better exchange rate. Most ATM’s are in English and Spanish. The withdrawal fee is little, around 30 Pesos, and whatever your bank charges for international usage. Find out if your home bank has a relationship with any bank in Mexico, this way you can save fees. For example, Citi Bank works with Banamex, and the international chain HSBC has branches here too.
Avoid the ATM’s on the 5th Avenue. They are mostly privately owned and thus charge higher fees. Plus incidents of card cloning have been reported. Our staff at the front desk is happy to show you where you can use official bank ATM’s.
Another possibility is to exchange money at a “casa de cambio” on the 5th Avenue. They will ask to see your ID. Casas de cambio don’t charge fees, but they give you a lower exchange rate than the official one. If exchanging a bigger amount of money this could mean quite a difference of how many Pesos you receive.
Don’t waste your time exchanging your money at a bank. Usually there is a long waiting line and some only attend their own customers.
Is it better to exchange money at home?
No, usually you get a better exchange rate once you’re in Mexico. Also it might not be the safest option to travel with a huge amount of cash.
How about using a credit card?
Most places accept Visa and MasterCard, American Express and Discovery are less common. At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Inform your bank prior to the trip that you’re traveling to Mexico, to prevent the card from being denied for security reasons. Also ask if they charge a fee.
When paying with credit card at stores or restaurants you usually have to show an ID to ensure it’s yours.