Playa del Carmen is a stunning coastal resort town located in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Mexico is known for its white-sand beaches, warm weather, and wonderful hospitality. The capital of Mexico is Mexico City, and it’s also one of the most populous cities in the world. Mexico’s rich history pulled us towards it and we booked a flight to PDC. Read about all the best things to do in Playa del Carmen itinerary 4- 5 days.
You can very well use this itinerary to create your own ideal beach vacation in Playa del Carmen. Each attraction or activity is listed by duration and we have included something for everybody. Enjoy!
Best Things to do in Playa del Carmen Itinerary 4- 5 days
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An ideal Playa del Carmen Itinerary should include ample beach relaxation time, great food, and pool parties. Set aside a day or two for exploring Mayan Ruins like a day trip to Chichen Itza, Tulum, or Coba or all three (we did all there – a day each).
There are many underwater activities to enjoy in and around Playa del Carmen – you can do it your own or allot for one day to Xcaret or Rio Secreto (all equipment will be provided or can be rented, more details below). Also spend half a day strolling the city centre or 5th avenue!
4 to 5 days in Playa del Carmen Itinerary: At a glance
- Day 1: Arrive in Mexico. Cancún International Airport is your entry point. Cancun to Playa del Carmen is 45 minutes away. Check in to your all-inclusive resort, enjoy your pool and suite
- Day 2: Explore Quinta Avenida (city centre), hit the beach or the pool, and then hang out at the Fifth Avenue (in the evening)
- Day 3: Take a day tour to Chichen Itza
- Day 4: Visit Tulum and Coba ruins. Swim in a cenote
- Day 5: Puerto Morelos Reef National Park (half day), OR Xcaret (full day)
- Optional: Day tours to Cancun, Cozumel, snorkelling adventure and more (below)
Choose an awesome Resort in Playa del Carmen Mexico
Cost: $ 89- 500+ USD (per night, double occupancy, all inclusive)
First things first – book an awesome resort to spend an amazing beach vacation. Although there are many hotels and vacation rentals to choose from, look for an all-inclusive resort (which means meals and airport transfers from Cancun Airport will be included).
Amenities to consider before booking is access to private beaches, pools, Mexican and multi-cuisine restaurants to name a few.
In an all-inclusive resort, you are treated like royalty. Whether it’s a 3 star or higher, you can expect great service. We stayed at the Gran Porto Real Resort. It was a 3 star- reasonably priced resort. Gran Porto Resort has a beach and over 5 restaurants. Located near the Royal Plaza, you also have access to their property and beaches. The resort’s new name is Panama Jacks Resort.
Here are some other favorite resorts in Playa del Carmen below. We drove around some of the listed hotel properties and they are lovely!
Pro tip: Choose the right resort. Ensure it’s all-inclusive, includes airport transfers in your vacation package. Choose a centrally located resort to access all tourist areas (like the public beaches, Mayan ruins, museums, shopping district, etc)
- Paradisus La Esmeralda All Inclusive Playa Del Carmen
- All-inclusive luxury hotel
- Great service and location
- Pools, private beach, and multiple bars and restaurants located on-site
- BOOK YOUR STAY HERE
- Hilton Playa del Carmen – An All-Inclusive Adult Resort
- 5-star all-inclusive resort
- Amazing scenic views and beach staycation
- Pools, restaurants, and luxurious suites
- Free parking
- Indoor and outdoor parking
- BOOK YOUR STAY HERE
- Playacar Palace® All-Inclusive Resort
- 5 stars all-inclusive resort
- Airy quarters with in-room whirlpool tubs
- The hotel property has pools and a spa on site
- A 9-minute walk from Playacar Beach
- Free parking
- BOOK YOUR STAY HERE
Search for more Playa del Carmen hotels below
Quinta Avenida – Playa del Carmen City Centre (a few hours to half day)
Visit and stroll the streets of Quinta Avenida, which is the city centre of Playa del Carmen. This area is filled with shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and more. This is a perfect place to unwind have a drink, go shopping, buy souvenirs or just walk and experience the Mexican nightlife!
Chichen Itza – Check off one of the seven wonders of the new world (Half day or full day activity)
Cost: Priceless, for us (otherwise $65 – 150+ USD for a tour)
One of the major bucket list items for us was to see Chichen Itza. We booked an early morning access tour to explore the Mayan Ruins.
The tour included the return trip from the resort to Chichen-Itza, entrance fees, a guided tour with a historian, and lunch. We had a small group of 5 travelers. Our guide was a Mayan expert, and he was so engaging. Read our Chichen Itza Tour experience
Tip: The key to taking amazing, tourist-free pictures at Chichen-Itza is to start early. When we reached the complex, we had lots of time in hand to get some amazing shots.
The national currency of Mexico is Mexican Pesos. US Dollars are widely accepted here.
We carried cash (in USD) and used that to make purchases. Any change was returned in Pesos and we used that for the next transaction. Although USD is stronger than Pesos we didn't notice a big saving when it came to making purchases at fine dining restaurants or souvenir stores especially in the Riviera Maya area as it is a tourist zone.
Safety: Travel Safety in Mexico
Currently, there is a travel advisory issued by the US government for 11 Mexican cities (2018).
Before our trip to Mexico, we read the travel advisories for Mexico on the Government of Canada and US websites.
Canada (2019) clearly says “ due to high levels of criminal activity, as well as demonstrations, protests and occasional illegal roadblocks throughout the country” exercise caution.
In the resort areas, especially the Riviera Maya area (Playa del Carmen included), rest assured they are safe. Mexican authorities take all possible measures to keep those hotel zones free of crime or tourist trouble.
In our humble opinion, make yourself aware of these warnings, but as long as you stay in a resort or a known Airbnb and avoid unknown areas you should be fine.
We were in Mexico post-hurricane and after the earthquake in Mexico City. We took tours to visit the Yucatan forests in small groups and also walked in and around the resort zone in Riviera Maya, we felt safe.
As a tourist, we didn't face any issues. Occasionally while strolling the streets of Playa del Carmen people pulled us to listen to their sale-sy pitch for tours, but we had our itinerary all planned out and booked online, so we smiled and walked away.
It is very normal to see police patrolling the highways in the Riviera Maya or 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. As always, be aware of your surroundings, adhere to local safety instructions in case of emergencies.
Learn a Few Phrases in Spanish
Mexicans speak Spanish and you will find it useful to learn a few words/phrases to communicate with them. In the resort areas in Playa del Carmen, most people speak some English, but you might encounter people in certain areas with no English.
Tip: Download Google Translate or Duolingo app to learn Spanish.
Mexico is a beautiful country. The people here are very welcoming and down-to-earth. The hospitality that I have experienced here is unmatched.
Mexico has lots to offer - beaches and relaxation, water sports and adventures, nature, history and culture, and amazing cuisine and time!
Mexico awaits you and you will not be disappointed! <3