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Riviera Maya Travel Guide

  • Photo: Agnieszka Guzowska / Shutterstock

Playa del Carmen

Welcome to the party! "Playa" is one of Latin America's fastest-growing communities, with a population of more than 135,000 and an international flavor lent by the Estadounidenses (United States citizens), Canadians, and Europeans who have moved here since the early 1990s. The eminently walkable downtown, full of lively bars, restaurants, beach clubs, shops, and hotels is one of

the few places on the Riviera Maya where you can have a car-free vacation.

Sun and swim at trendy beach clubs by day, then drink and dance at nightclubs until the sun comes up and start all over again. In between, there's an enjoyable array of diversions along Avenida 5, a pedestrian-only cobbled street that is the town's main drag. Its southern section, from about Calle 4 to Constituyentes, is busy, noisy, and sometimes rowdy—the place to go for nightlife, tequila shots, and souvenir shopping. Its quieter, more upscale northern end, north of Constituyentes up to about Calle 38, is the place for chic cafés and stylish boutiques. Rapid development means a decline in Mexican culture, with chain stores and cheap souvenirs emerging on every corner (Starbucks junkies can easily get their fix.)

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