Budget-Friendly Accommodations in Playa del Carmen

Budget Accommodations Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a small city located one hour south of Cancun, along the Gulf of Mexico in the Mayan Riviera. It is a popular tourist destination and is known for its gorgeous beaches. Playa del Carmen features world-class nightlife, a variety of restaurants and cuisines to choose from – from authentic street food to traditional taquerias to casual international eateries to fine dining, and a shopping district along 5th Avenue – a walking street that is completely closed to traffic.

Playa del Carmen also has a wide variety of places to stay – from cheap backpacker hostels to budget hotels to unique guesthouses to Airbnb apartment rentals to expensive all-inclusive resorts along the beach.

If you are traveling on a budget and are looking for cheaper accommodations, this is my comprehensive guide for budget-friendly places to stay in Playa del Carmen that won’t break the bank.

I hope to show you that by staying in budget accommodations and traveling cheaper, you can save money so that you are able to travel slower and for longer periods of time.

Budget Hotels ($100 USD or less per night):

Hotel Colorado | Starting at $30 USD per night

Calle 4 Norte between Avenidas 20 and 25 

Hotel Colorado is a charming and laid-back small hotel with unique and colourful decor. It is clean, comfortable, simple and quiet. It is located a short distance off the tourist path and is within walking distance to the beach, shopping, restaurants, banks and the ADO bus terminals.

The hotel features a common terrace and garden, housekeeping services, a book exchange and library.

The private rooms offer a fridge, cable television, a fan or air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, private bathroom with hot water.

Hotel Colorado

Hotel Colorado

Official Website, HostelWorld, TripAdvisor

Hotel Casa Tucan | Starting at $50 USD per night

Calle 4 between Avenidas 10 and 15

Hotel Casa Tucan is a charming and colourful hotel located only blocks away from the beach, public transportation, restaurants, and shopping.

The hotel offers a swimming pool surrounded by tropical gardens, free Wi-Fi, parking, laundry services, and a relaxed and friendly environment. The hotel also features a small restaurant, library, internet cafe, car rental, and diving school.

Casa Tucan offers 30 different rooms from cabanas with palm roofs to standard double rooms to studios with air conditioning, fans, cable television, and some even have a small kitchenette. Some rooms even have a balcony or terrace. All rooms have a private bathroom.

Hotel Casa Tucan

Official Website, TripAdvisor

The Bric Hotel | Starting at $65 USD per night

Calle 28 between Avenidas 5 and 10

The Bric is a clean, comfortable and quiet boutique hotel that is centrally located just steps from 5th Avenue, with shopping, restaurants, banks, public transportation and the beach. The hotel provides luxury at an affordable price.

The hotel features a swimming pool, daily breakfast, housekeeping services, beach towels, private balconies and terraces, and cable television.

The hotel offers 14 charming rooms with en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi internet.

The BRIC Hotel

Official Website, TripAdvisor, Expedia

Hotel Villa del Mar | Starting at $60 USD per night

Avenida 10 between Calles 2 and 4 Norte

Hotel Villa del Mar is a clean, comfortable, and simple boutique hotel located one block from 5th Avenue with shopping, restaurants and transportation and two blocks from the beach.

The hotel features daily housekeeping services and free Wi-Fi.

All rooms offer air conditioning, a ceiling fan, a safe, private bathroom, satellite television and comfortable mattresses.

Hotel Villa del Mar

Official Website, TripAdvisor, Booking

Hotel Hul-Ku | Starting at $45 USD per night

Avenida 20 between Calles 4 and 6 Norte 

Hotel Hul-Ku is a stylish, modern, clean and comfortable hotel that is centrally located within walking distance to the beach, shopping, restaurants, transportation and other attractions.

The hotel features a garden, continental breakfast, beautiful shady courtyard, a wood terrace with hammocks and a beautiful fountain, on-site restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, guest computer, and free parking.

The hotel offers 26 rooms that are basic, clean and spacious and that provide natural lighting and have views of the garden. Rooms feature a balcony with resting area or terrace, private bathroom, air conditioning, cable television and free Wi-Fi internet.

Hotel Hul-Ku

Official Website, TripAdvisor, Booking, Expedia

Hotel Barrio Latino | Starting at $45 USD per night

Calle 4 between Avenidas 10 and 15

I stayed at Hotel Barrio Latino for one night during my solo travels to Mexico.

Hotel Barrio Latino is a simple, clean, comfortable and modern small hotel with a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. It is located a short walking distance to the beach, 5th Avenue, shopping, restaurants, and transportation.

The hotel features a central courtyard surrounded by a lush tropical garden area, free continental breakfast that is served in the treed courtyard under a palapa roof, fast and free Wi-Fi, free international phone calls, and a guest computer terminal. The staff were polite and friendly.

The hotel offers 18 comfortable rooms. The rooms are entered from the outside and they all face towards the central courtyard. The rooms are quite charming, clean and spacious and provide large and comfortable beds, a safe, full private bathroom, a ceiling fan, air conditioning, small fridge and a small terrace/balcony with a hammock that looks out towards the courtyard. The rooms have a Mexican flavour to them, with the decorations and tile flooring.

To read my full review of Hotel Barrio Latino, visit this link.

Hotel Barrio Latino

Hotel Barrio Latino

Hotel Barrio Latino

Official Website, TripAdvisor, HostelWorld, Expedia

Hotel Banana | Starting at $45 USD per night

Avenida 5 and Calle 32

Hotel Banana is a simple and comfortable hotel with Caribbean-Mexican decor, located on the northern section of 5th Avenue with a quieter atmosphere. It is close to the beach, restaurants, shopping and transportation.

The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, 24 hour front desk, terrace, on-site restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and a small library. The hotel also provides beach towels.

The rooms are air conditioned and include a mini fridge, a safe, cable television and a balcony. They are cleaned daily.

Hotel Banana

TripAdvisor, Official Website, Booking

Hotel Riviera Caribe Maya | Starting at $80 USD per night

Avenida 10 at Calle 30 

Hotel Riviera Caribe Maya is a stylish, comfortable and peaceful hotel situated in a central location, a short walk to the beach, restaurants, and transportation.

The hotel features a small swimming pool with lounge chairs, pleasant courtyard, free Wi-Fi internet, 24 hour front desk and security, continental breakfast, private airport transfer for a fee, massage services, laundry services, local tour information and booking services, car rental services and complimentary beach towels.

The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, telephone, cable television, ceiling fan, safe deposit box, and a view of the tranquil courtyard. They are decorated with Mexican furnishings.

Hotel Riviera Caribe Maya

TripAdvisor, Official Website, Expedia

Hotel Luna Sol | Starting at $90 USD per night

Calle 4 between Avenidas 15 and 20

Hotel Luna Sol is a comfortable and modern hotel with a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere, located within walking distance of the beach, shopping, transportation and restaurants.

The hotel features a huge outdoor swimming pool with Jacuzzi, a poolside communal guest kitchen, free parking and free Wi-Fi in public areas. Other amenities include laundry facilities and coffee/tea in the lobby.

The hotel offers 16 comfortable rooms. All of the rooms have free Wi-Fi, private balconies or patios that overlook the hotel’s gardens, and cable television.

Hotel Luna Sol

Hotel Luna Sol

Official Website, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking

Hotel Playa del Karma | Starting at $50 USD per night

Avenida 15 between Calles 12 and 14

Hotel Playa del Karma is a comfortable, tranquil, modern and affordable boutique hotel located close to the beach, supermarkets, banks, transportation, shopping and restaurants.

This adults-only hotel is surrounded by tropical gardens and a lush courtyard, and features an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi.

The rooms provide air conditioning, a hammock, magnificent garden views, and private bathroom.

Hotel Playa del Karma

HostelWorld, Official Website, TripAdvisor, Booking, Expedia

Hotel Alux | Starting at $40 USD per night

Calle 14 between Avenidas 10 and 15

Hotel Alux is a friendly and clean budget hotel located just a few blocks from the beach and the famous Fifth Avenue, along with restaurants, shopping, transportation and other attractions.

The hotel provides free Wi-Fi as well as luggage storage.

The rooms offer air conditioning, cable television and private bathrooms.

Hotel Alux

TripAdvisor, Booking, Official Website

Hostels:

Hostel 3B | Starting at $20 CAD per night 

Avenida 10 and Calle 1 Sur 

I stayed at Hostel 3B for two nights during my first solo travels to Mexico.

Hostel 3B is a new and clean hostel with modern decor and a stylish boutique appearance, located on the south end of Playa del Carmen, one block away from the shopping district of Fifth Avenue and only three blocks from the beach. It is within walking distance to the ADO bus terminal, restaurants, shopping and banks.

Hostel 3B is a party hostel complete with local and internationally known DJs playing music nightly on the rooftop (it can get noisy at night if you trying to sleep). The hostel features a rooftop patio with lounge chairs, swimming pool, bar and DJ booth, a communal kitchen, fast and free Wi-Fi in the common areas (lobby and rooftop), board games, and book exchange.

You can choose to stay in dormitories ranging from 6 to 12 beds (mixed or female-only). The hostel also offers private rooms. The dorms are air conditioned, have private bathrooms attached to them, have large lockers big enough to fit a backpack, and comfortable pillows and mattresses.

Check out my full review of Hostel 3B at this link.

The hostel pool on the rooftop

The hostel pool on the rooftop

View of the hostel from the street (10th Avenue)

View of the hostel from the street (10th Avenue)

Lounging areas on the hostel rooftop

Lounging areas on the hostel rooftop

Official Website, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Booking, HostelWorld

Hostel Che | Starting from $17 CAD per night

Calle 6 between Avenida 15 and 20

Hostel Che is a friendly, fun and unique hostel with a social atmosphere and chill vibe and is centrally located only three blocks from the beach, two blocks from the supermarket and three blocks from the ADO bus terminal. It is close to shopping, restaurants and attractions.

The hostel features a guest kitchen, rooftop bar and music, themed social parties in the evenings, guest computer, free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, tour and travel information, 24 hour reception, fans and common areas to meet people, relax and have fun.

There are a variety of rooms to choose from, including private rooms and shared forms (ranging from 6 to 10 beds, female-only and mixed gender). The rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable.

Hostel Che

Hostel Che

Official Website, Facebook, TripAdvisor, HostelWorld

The Yak | Starting at $21 CAD per night 

Calle 10 Norte Bis between Avenida 10 and 15 

The Yak is a popular and well known party hostel with a friendly social atmosphere, centrally located in Playa del Carmen, close to restaurants, transportation, shopping and the beach but just a little ways off the busy tourist track.

The hostel features a bar, relaxing common areas, free Wi-Fi internet, free continental breakfast, hammocks, air conditioned rooms, luggage storage, BBQ facilities, a book exchange, live music, activity nights, housekeeping, 24 hour reception and security and a rooftop terrace.

The Yak offers simply decorated shared dorms (ranging from 4 beds to 12 beds, all of them are mixed gender) and private rooms, which all include a small kitchenette and fridge along with bathrooms and showers, as well as lockers in the dorms.

The Yak

The Yak

HostelWorld, Official Website, Facebook, Booking, TripAdvisor

Youth Hostel Playa | Starting at $17 CAD per night

Avenida 25 and Calle 8

Hostel Playa is a clean and fun hostel, centrally located a short ways off the tourist track, but close to transportation, restaurants, the beach and shopping.

The hostel features free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, a guest computer, fully equipped kitchen, free breakfast, good music, housekeeping, fans, swimming pool, rooftop terrace, hammocks and quiet lounging areas, BBQ area, secure parking, large garden area where you can socialize, living room with cable television, DVD player, books and board games. The hostel has a huge common area which is perfect for playing cards, relaxing, meeting other travelers, watching TV or reading.

The hostel offers shared dorms (ranging from 5 to 8 beds, female, male and mixed gender) and private rooms. The dorms include lockers, individual fans, mosquito nets, comfortable mattresses and all rooms have linens included.

Hostel Playa

Hostel Playa

Hostel Playa

HostelWorld, TripAdvisor, Official Website

Humble Bumble Hostel | Starting at $17 CAD per night

Avenida 30 between Avenida Constituyentes and Calle 18

Humble Bumble is a new, friendly and comfortable hostel with chic modern decor and a laid back atmosphere, located off the tourist track, but within walking distance to restaurants, local taquerias, supermarkets, shopping, transportation, and the beach.

The hostel features a rooftop terrace, small swimming pool, shared kitchen, and BBQ facilities.

The hostel offers a variety of rooms including shared dorms (female, male and mixed) and private rooms. All rooms have free Wi-Fi access, air conditioning and a private bathroom.

Humble Bumble Hostel

Humble Bumble Hostel

HostelWorld, Facebook, Booking, TripAdvisor

Hostal MX | Starting at $21 CAD per night 

Avenida 5 between Calles 10 and 12

Hostal MX is a newer and unique hostel in a rustic-style building with Mexican style and flavour and an abundance of vegetation. It is centrally located on the popular 5th Avenue and is steps from restaurants, shopping, the beach and transportation. The hostel has a peaceful atmosphere despite its location.

The hostel features a beautiful garden with tropical vegetation, hammocks, a bar, outdoor Jacuzzi, 24 hour reception and security, free Wi-Fi internet, included breakfast, housekeeping, linen included, lockers, book exchange, hot showers, and board games.

Rooms include 6, 8, and 12 bed mixed dorms.

Hostal MX

Hostal MX dorm

HostelWorld, Booking, Official Website

Tres Mundos Hostel | Starting at $14 CAD per night 

Calle 6 Norte between Avenida 20 and 25

Tres Mundos is a unique, colourful, comfortable hostel located within walking distance of shopping, restaurants, banks, transportation and the beach. It is surrounded by cheap eateries with tasty local food. This is not a party hostel but it does maintain a friendly social atmosphere and the staff treat guests like family.

The hostel features free and fast wireless internet, free continental breakfast, fully equipped kitchen, comfortable common area with cable television, rooftop terrace with hammocks, BBQs and big tables for relaxing and socializing with new friends, included linens, book exchange, laundry service for a fee, towel rentals for a fee, and tour information.

The hostel offers a variety of rooms including mixed or female-only dorms with 6 and 8 beds, with a bathroom ensuite or shared bathroom. They also have private rooms, with or without a bathroom ensuite. Two private rooms have air conditioning. All dorms have fans and lockers.

Tres Mundos Hostel

Tres Mundos Hostel

HostelWorld, Official Website, TripAdvisor

Xaman Eco-Hostel | Starting at $13 CAD per night 

Avenida 10 between Calles 4 and 6

Xaman Eco-Hostel is a simple and basic hostel, centrally located just two blocks from the beach and one block from 5th Avenue with restaurants, shopping, and transportation. The hostel uses recycled decorations, has lots of plants and uses earth friendly products.

The hostel provides complimentary breakfast, free purified and cold drinking water, free Wi-Fi, outdoor terrace and common lounge area, communal kitchen, luggage storage, and hot showers.

Room options include private rooms, a 4 bed female dorm and 10 bed mixed dorm. The shared dorms feature a fan and storage lockers for personal belongings. All bathrooms are shared.

Xaman Eco-Hostel

HostelWorld, Official Website, TripAdvisor, Booking

Siete Colores Hostel | Starting at $17 CAD per night

Corner of Avenida 10 and Avenida C.T.M. (Lane 46)

Siete Colores Hostel is a quaint, colourful, friendly and comfortable hostel located refurbished colonial house off the tourist path, but close enough to the beach, 5th Avenue, shopping, restaurants and transportation.

The hostel provides 24 hour reception, free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, book exchange, guest kitchen, common areas, housekeeping, hot showers, outdoor terrace, lounge with cable television, and board games.

The hostel offers a 6 bed male dorm, 6 bed female dorm and 7 bed mixed dorm.

Siete Colores Hostel

Siete Colores Hostel

HostelWorld, TripAdvisor, Facebook

Tequilita Hostel | Starting at $14 CAD per night

Calle 6 between Avenida 15 and 20

Tequilita Hostel is a party hostel with unique and colourful decor located a little bit off the beaten tourist path from the busy 5th Avenue, but still close enough to restaurants, banks, the beach and transportation.

The hostel offers free Wi-Fi, a communal kitchen, TV area, bar, outdoor terrace, luggage storage, common areas to relax and a book exchange.

You can choose to stay in a 6 bed mixed dorm, 7 bed female-only and mixed dorm, 10 bed mixed dorm as well as some affordable private rooms.

Hostel Tequilita

HostelWorld, Facebook, TripAdvisor

Hostel Buhos | Starting at $11 CAD per night

Avenida 15 between Calles 4 and 6

Hostel Buhos is a comfortable and stylish new hostel in Playa del Carmen, located only three blocks away from the popular and busy 5th Avenue on a quiet and less touristy street, but still within walking distance to restaurants, bars, transportation and the beach.

The hostel features air conditioning, hot water, free Wi-Fi, a guest computer, free purified drinking water, in addition to new furniture, mattresses, beds and fresh linens.

The hostel offers an 8 bed female dorm, 12 bed mixed dorm and a selection of affordable private rooms.

Hostel Buhos

HostelWorld

Popol Vuh | Starting at $17 CAD per night

Calle 2 between Avenida 5 and the beach

Popl Vuh is a small and simple hostel located in the heart of Playa del Carmen, literally steps from the beach and less than a block from 5th Avenue along with the ADO bus terminal, restaurants, banks, and attractions.

The hostel features free and fast Wi-Fi, a central garden surrounded by palm trees with peace and tranquility to relax, and a guest kitchen for you to prepare your own meals.

There are a variety of private rooms to choose from that include double rooms and a variety of cabin style-rooms. Select rooms have air conditioning, cable television, and private bathrooms. The other rooms have shared bathrooms.

popol

TripAdvisor, Official Website, HostelWorld, Facebook, Expedia

Airbnb:

Airbnb is a website where locals in destinations around the world can rent out a private room in their home or apartment or their entire home or apartment to travelers.

Playa del Carmen has TONNES of unique properties and rooms to choose from, in all areas of the city.

If you are planning on traveling slower and staying in Playa del Carmen for a longer period of time, Airbnb is a great option as you can find places that offer weekly and monthly rental prices. Airbnb rentals are also often much cheaper than staying at a hotel, more so for the long term.

Click here to get a $25 USD discount off your first booking when you sign up for Airbnb!

Volunteer Exchanges:

Workaway and HelpX are websites that connect volunteers to places in destinations around the world where you can help and offer your skills and time.

In exchange for volunteering 4-5 hours per day for 5 days a week, your host will provide you with free accommodation and sometimes food. Popular places where you can volunteer include backpacker hostels, guesthouses, local hotels, travel companies, farms, businesses and individuals.

This is a great option for budget travelers who wish to stay longer in Playa del Carmen while saving money on accommodation and food costs! You are also rewarded with the satisfaction of helping a local business or individual out.

You can check out the websites to browse through the volunteer listings and purchase a membership to contact the hosts.

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I hope that you have found this comprehensive budget-friendly accommodation guide to be helpful for your Playa del Carmen travel planning!

I value budget travel and slow travel and I kept these two travel styles in mind when making this list to help you save money on accommodation costs while traveling and helping you be better able to stay for longer in Playa del Carmen.

Have you been to Playa del Carmen? Stayed at any of my recommendations? Do you have any other suggestions for places to stay that you feel should be added to my list? 

Comment below and let me know what you think!

20 Reasons Why I Love Mexico

Untitled design

The first time I visited Mexico, was in 2011 with my family. It was my first trip abroad (aside from going to the United States) and we stayed at an all-inclusive resort near Playa del Carmen, in the Mayan Riviera. Even though we didn’t stray too far from the resort, it was absolutely amazing!

Since then, I have been to Mexico two more times with family and once backpacking as a solo traveler. With every trip, I have fallen more and more in love with this beautiful country!

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The beautiful beaches of Tulum

Mexico offers so much more than the all-inclusive beach resorts from Cancun to Tulum. The beaches are some of the most gorgeous in the world, but if you visit Mexico and stay on a resort property or the beach the entire time, you are missing out on so many amazing things. Mexico is a diverse country and there is a wide variety of activities to do and experiences to be had. You can swim, snorkel or dive in natural underground sinkholes known as cenotes, explore some of the many ancient Mayan ruins, see gorgeous waterfalls in the jungle, explore authentic Mayan villages, eat traditional Mexican food, engage in adventure activities like zip-lining over the jungle treetops, wander through colourful and colonial towns and cities, and much more. There are many things to do, both touristy and off the beaten path.

The country has an array of landscapes, from jungle to desert to mountains to beaches to colonial cities to traditional villages.

Mexico is definitely a country worth exploring. If you are staying at a resort, I highly recommend venturing into the “real” areas of Mexico in order to experience and interact with the country’s authentic culture, cuisine, language and people.

Backpacking through Mexico on my first trip as a solo female was an unbelievable experience!

Here are some of the reasons why I am in love with Mexico (in no particular order):

The Food:

There is no question about it, Mexican and Mayan food is absolutely delicious. In the Yucatan Peninsula, you can find tacos, panuchos, sopes, salbutes, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, guacamole, paletas, aguas frescas, cochinita pibil, poc chuc, and so much more. As a fruit and veggie lover, I was in heaven with the constant availability of fresh produce. If you want to read all about the various foods you should sample in the Yucatan, then check out this post.

Mexico has everything from street vendors, to family-run eateries, to upscale restaurants serving traditional and authentic Mexican cuisine and regional specialties. If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend trying the street food at one of the many food carts everywhere. It is fresh, spicy, delicious and authentic.

My favourite foods would probably be tacos al pastor, panuchos, huevos rancheros and guacamole. I loved the fresh fruit popsicles known as “paletas” for snacks and desserts. And my favourite aguas frescas (a beverage made with water, sugar and fresh fruit) flavours were jamaica (hibiscus flower), horchata (made from rice, vanilla and cinnamon), and sandia (watermelon). Visiting the local markets was one of my favourite things to do and there were so many exotic and delicious fruits and vegetables to try!

I loved eating at the street vendors and small eateries or “loncherias” (lunch restaurants). I was often the only Caucasian female tourist eating at these places, and it was fascinating to just observe the daily life of the locals around me, practice my Spanish with the restaurant staff and immerse myself in the culture.

Huevos Rancheros

Healthy Greek Salad

Panucho, sope and taco

Mexican People:

The majority of the locals that I interacted with in Mexico were super friendly, warm, welcoming and helpful; from the shop-owners, to the restaurant staff, to the bus/colectivo/taxi drivers, and more. They are so cheerful too! When I would go for morning walks and wander through the streets, the local people and shop-owners would say “buenos dias” (good morning) to each other and to tourists as they passed by on the streets and sidewalks. It felt really welcoming and I liked that everyone acknowledged each other, instead of just burying their faces in smartphones and keeping to themselves, as is the case in Western cultures.

I bought fresh coconut water from a local man in Tulum, during my walk through a residential neighbourhood near my hostel. He was so friendly and inviting, and offered for me to have a seat on a chair in his front “yard” (a cement block in front of his house). He spoke great English, as he worked as a scuba diving instructor at the nearby Dos Ojos Cenote, and we chatted about our lives. His mother (who spoke no English) also joined us outside. It was such a cool experience being able to interact and connect with the locals like that!

The Weather:

Compared to Canada, the weather is always warm in Mexico! I love the heat and visiting Mexico in May, which is one of the hottest months, was absolutely amazing for me. It can’t get much better than +35 to +40 degrees Celsius every day! Perfect weather for cooling off for a swim in the cenotes.

The Culture:

I am fascinated about culture, and the Mexican and Mayan culture is very interesting to learn about. I loved sitting in a park or wandering the streets and just observing the culture around me. If you want to read more about my cultural observations, check out this detailed post.

The Safety:

The mainstream media wants you believe that Mexico is a country that is much too dangerous to be visiting. However, they tend to generalize violence and crime in certain states (usually the central and northern border states) to the entire country, which is unfair. The three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula, have some of the lowest violent crime rates in Mexico and is considered the safest region of Mexico. The crime rates are even lower than rural areas and large cities in the United States!

The Yucatan Peninsula is a very safe area of Mexico to explore, in addition to some other states. As a solo female traveler, I felt super safe there.

The Markets:

Visiting the vibrant local markets in Tulum and Valladolid was one of my favourite things to do in Mexico. The markets are colourful and a hub of activity, and most of the locals do all of their shopping here. They are colourful and busy and a great place to immerse yourself in and learn about the local culture while practicing your Spanish and getting off the beaten path. As I toured the markets, I was often the only Caucasian female tourist wandering around. It was such a cool experience!

Some of the markets are so big and it’s overwhelming at times, because there is just so much to see, smell and taste. The markets don’t just sell fresh fruits and vegetables, they sell everything you can imagine! There are toys, games, personal care products, shoes, clothing, handbags, spices, dry goods, herbs and more.

As a vegetarian (most of the time), walking through the meat section of the market was interesting and slightly nauseating. The aisles were lined with tables, with local men chopping up and portioning very fresh meat, and then bagging it up for customers. I saw almost every animal body part imaginable being sold to people… things that I had no idea people even consumed! There were animal eyeballs, heads, intestines (hanging from strings above the meat table), legs, hooves, and other body parts that almost induced vomiting as I walked by. There were so many flies sitting on everything, that I couldn’t imagine eating the meat… How is everybody not sick all the time? But it was definitely interesting to walk through the area.

My favourite sections of the market were obviously where the fruits and vegetables were! There were local Mayan women dressed in their traditional outfits selling their produce, which was fresh, local and ridiculously cheap. You could even buy freshly cut fruit pieces in a bag for only 10 pesos, which you could enjoy eating immediately! There was produce I was familiar with and then some exotic things that I had never heard of or seen before.

I recommend checking out some of the many markets when you are in Mexico!

Mercado Municipal in Valladolid

Market in Valladolid

Market in Valladolid

The meat section of the local market

The meat section of the local market

The Abundance of Retro VW Beetles:

Mexicans appear to have a fascination with brightly painted retro Volkswagon Beetles. They can be seen everywhere, and make for fantastic photo opportunities! I saw many different patterns and colours, including leopard print and hot pink.

Hot pink VW Beetle in Tulum

Cenotes:

Cenotes are natural sinkholes in the ground filled with clear, fresh water. They are often connected to expansive underground river systems that run throughout the Yucatan. The porous rock has eroded over time and has caved in to form these beautiful natural wonders. You can swim, snorkel or dive in them. Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan and there are thousands of them all over the peninsula.

During my first solo trip to Mexico, I swam in eight different cenotes around Tulum and Valladolid. They are so refreshing (especially after climbing some Mayan ruins!) and the water is so clear. Little black catfish live in many of the cenotes and they will swim around you. There were a few cenotes I visited that had A LOT of catfish, which freaked me out a little bit. I swear I felt one of them brush against my leg (but I can’t be sure), which is a strange fear of mine.

Nevertheless, swimming in these natural wonders is absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed visiting the lesser known and off the beaten path cenotes, like Cenote X’Canche near the Ek Balam Ruins and Cenote Oxman near Valladolid (You can read more about the cenotes I visited in Tulum here, and near Valladolid here), because I (along with some friends from my hostels) were often the only people there. Being pretty much alone in such a gorgeous place, was magical and I loved the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, and being surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty.

Getting to and from the cenotes is usually pretty straightforward and easy using local transportation (colectivos, taxis, bikes, etc.).

Swimming in the cenotes should be a must on your list of things to do in the Yucatan! They are all so unique and beautiful in their own ways, so I suggest visiting more than one to see the variety. I highly recommend seeking out some lesser known cenotes, by asking your accommodation staff or any local for their recommendations. Guaranteed, they will know of a place that only the locals know about and visit. Those are the places where you can really get a feel for the culture, interact with locals and have unique and authentic experiences.

Cenote Zaci in Valladolid

Cenote X’Canche near Ek Balam

Cenote Samula near Valladolid

San Lorenzo Oxman Cenote near Valladolid

Valladolid:

Valladolid is one of my favourite cities in the Yucatan. It is a charming colonial city in the centre of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a laid-back and slow pace atmosphere. The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with pastel coloured low-rise buildings, all with such unique architecture and character.

I fell in love with Valladolid almost immediately after stepping off the bus. Most tourists only end up staying one or two nights in this city, in order to visit Chichen Itza and other nearby ruins and cenotes. But I believe that Valladolid is worth more than a two nights’ stay! There is so many things to do and see (check out my complete guide to Valladolid). There is a cenote in the middle of the city, colonial churches, a massive ex-convent to explore, a beautiful central park, delicious places to eat and much more.

I loved how prominent the Mayan culture was in Valladolid and it is a great place to immerse yourself in and learn more about the culture. Hardly anyone spoke English, and I enjoyed the challenge of practicing my Spanish and learning more of the language. I walked everywhere in Valladolid, and especially enjoyed wandering through quiet residential neighbourhoods where I was the only tourist around. It was fascinating to be able to observe the local life around me. I also loved admiring the beautiful colourful and colonial architecture.

Valladolid is a fantastic city, that is definitely more authentic of Mexico and further off the beaten path than Tulum and Playa del Carmen, which I loved. You will get a real feel for the culture here and have some pretty unique experiences.

Catedral de San Gervasio in Valladolid

Central Park in Valladolid

Colourful doors and wall in Valladolid

Cobblestone streets lined with pastel-coloured buildings

The Beaches:

When you inform people of your upcoming travel plans to Mexico, most people will assume that you are going there for the resorts and beaches. This is what I went to Mexico for during my first three visits.

I have visited the beaches at Playa del Carmen and Tulum and they are absolutely gorgeous, and the water is a beautiful turquoise colour.

I am not a huge fan of beaches (I don’t enjoy the feel of sand or how it gets in everything), so beaches are no longer the primary reason why I visit Mexico. But if you love beaches, this is definitely a great place to find them!

The beach at the Tulum Ruins

Secluded beach below the Tulum Ruins

The Ancient Mayan Ruins:

Mexico is well-known for its many ancient Mayan ruins. There are so many of them in the Yucatan! Learning history behind these ruins and of the ancient Mayan civilization fascinate me, and the ruins are a huge reason why I love and continue to return to Mexico.

My favourite ruins that I visited during my first solo trip was Ek Balam, which is a site located about twenty minutes north of Valladolid. The ruins were lesser known and were surrounded by dense unspoiled jungle. Very little had been done to modernize the site (aside from the entrance area and washrooms) and you were free to explore and climb all of the structures. I loved how “undiscovered” these ruins felt and it was definitely an off the beaten path experience!

I have also visited the ruins of Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba, which are all unique and amazing as well.

The main pyramid at Chichen Itza

The main pyramid at Ek Balam

Public Transportation:

Mexico has an amazing public transportation system; definitely better than Canada’s! The ADO first and second class buses are convenient, safe, comfortable and reliable. The local colectivos (shared shuttle vans) are fast and air-conditioned and do not operate on a fixed schedule, so it is easy to catch one whenever you need.

Tulum:

Tulum is a small village located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, along the Mayan Riviera. It has a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, and the locals are welcoming and friendly. There is so much to do in and around Tulum! You can visit the Tulum Ruins, wander the residential streets finding colourful street murals along the way, visit the ruins of Coba, swim at the beach, check out some of the many wonderful produce markets, and eat lots of delicious authentic Mexican food! Here is my detailed guide to Tulum, with everything else you need to know.

Postcard scene from the beach at Tulum

A colourful mural on a quiet street in Tulum

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Produce market in Tulum

The Amazing Hostels:

Mexico has so many amazing hostels! I stayed in hostels for the first time in Mexico during my solo trip. Of the three hostels I stayed at, they were all so unique and I had such positive experiences. I loved the colourful decor at the hostels, the extremely friendly and helpful staff and how easy it was to meet new people and travel friends. My favourite hostels were Mama’s Home in Tulum and Hostel La Candelaria in Valladolid.

Mama’s Home had a beautiful outdoor courtyard in the centre of the hostel, with colourful paintings on the walls surrounding it, a large palm tree in the centre and hammocks to relax in along the edges.

Colourfully painted floor and walls in the outdoor courtyard

View of the hostel from the street

View of the hostel from the street

The outdoor courtyard

Hostel La Candelaria was located in a colonial building and featured a rooftop patio, a beautiful treed garden with hammocks behind the building, and even an outdoor kitchen!

Colourfully painted outdoor washrooms and showers

Colourfully painted outdoor washrooms and showers

The front of Hostel La Candelaria from the plaza/square

The front of Hostel La Candelaria from the plaza/square

View of the hostel from the garden behind it

View of the hostel from the garden behind it

The History:

Mexico’s history is fascinating. If you are interested in the Mayan civilization, there is so much history you can learn about the ancient ruins, the cenotes and the towns and cities. I recommend reading about the history of the places you plan to visit before you get there, so you have some background knowledge.

The Local Shops:

Something I loved about Mexico, was the lack of big department chain stores (in small towns and cities, like Tulum and Valladolid) and the abundance of small specialty shops that were locally-owned. Every shop has its own specialty. There is the “papeleria” which sells stationary and paper; the “tortilleria” sells fresh tortillas; the “floreria” sells flowers; the “paleteria y neveria” sells popsicles and ice cream. There are so many more that I could list as well.

I love supporting local businesses and individuals, both at home and when I am traveling, and I loved how easy it was to do that in Mexico.

Local woman in Tulum selling fresh fruit from a bicycle cart

Local convenience store or “abarrotes” in Tulum

One of many paleteria and neverias in Tulum

The produce market in Tulum

Affordability: 

When you hear people talk about traveling to Mexico, you might assume that it is an expensive luxury destination. While there are definitely some pricier areas and types of accommodation in Mexico, like boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts along the Mayan Riviera, traveling in Mexico doesn’t have to be expensive.

If you are traveling on a budget and independently, you can travel for very cheap, especially if you are willing to stay in hostels, eat cheap and authentic local food and use public transportation. The total cost of my 12 day solo trip to Mexico was significantly less than when I stayed at an all-inclusive resort for 7 days. You can read a more detailed report about what exactly I spent in Mexico during my solo trip here. On average, I spent around $50 CAD per day, but I could have spent even less.

It is also worth noting that the slower you travel and the longer you stay in one place, the cheaper your travel is going to be. This is because you won’t be trying to cram a bunch of activities and sightseeing into a short period of time, but will be able to space things out.

Mexico may not be as bargain cheap as South East Asia or Central America, but it is affordable. If you travel in the off-season, you’ll find even better value for your money outside the November-March season. May is a great month to travel to Mexico because it is between high season and rainy season. For budget travelers, you can get by on very little. The food is cheap as well as the local transportation.

The Spanish Language:

I love everything about the Spanish language. It sounds gorgeous and it has a nice flow to it. The grammar rules make more sense to me than those in English and I like that everything is pronounced how it is spelled. Spanish is the primary language spoken in Mexico and aside from the touristy cities and attractions, it becomes increasingly difficult to find English speakers. Even in Tulum, which is pretty touristy, the minute you step off the main highway with all of the souvenir shops, there were not many people who spoke English! Thus, it is essential that you know the basics of the language and a few key phrases, so you are able to express yourself with words instead of relying on body language, charades and other non-verbal forms of communication. I enjoyed the challenge of having to practice my Spanish skills!

The Colours:

Everything is so colourful and vivid in Mexico! The houses, traditional clothing, the food and the colonial buildings.

The Cathedrals:

There are so many cathedrals and churches in Mexico. The large cathedrals are often located on the main squares and parks in the city/town/village. They are all so unique, grand and beautiful with such detailed architecture. It was fascinating to wander around inside some of them and admire everything.

Catedral de San Gervasio in Valladolid

The cathedral across from Hostel La Candelaria in Valladolid

The cathedral across from Hostel La Candelaria in Valladolid

Catedral de San Gervasio at the main plaza in Valladolid

Catedral de San Gervasio at the main plaza in Valladolid

I hope that through this post, you can appreciate all of the amazing attractions, activities and gorgeous natural beauty that the country of Mexico has to offer!

No matter what kind of traveler you are – off the beaten path, independent, luxury, budget, family, solo female, adventure – there is something for everyone in Mexico.

It is definitely a country worth exploring!

Here are some other blogs that have written about their favourite things in Mexico:

http://globetrottergirls.com/2010/09/33-things-we-love-about-mexico/

http://themexicoreport.com/2011/03/08/things-we-love-about-mexico/

https://www.hotelesboutique.com/en/30-things-i-love-about-mexico/

http://www.alongdustyroads.com/posts/2014/9/10/21-things-we-love-about-mexico

http://www.crazysexyfuntraveler.com/26-reasons-love-mexico/

Have you been to Mexico? What do you love about this country?

Let me know in the comments!

Hostel Review: Hostel 3B in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Hostel 3B

I stayed at Hostel 3B during my first solo trip to Mexico for two nights from May 21-23, 2015 in the 8-bed female dorm. It was the first hostel that I had ever stayed at.

Playa del Carmen is known for its shopping on 5th Avenue, nightlife, and beautiful beaches and resorts. It is similar to Cancun, but on a much smaller scale. There are lots of great places to eat (the further you get away from 5th Avenue, the more authentic the food gets), Tulum is a quick colectivo ride away (to visit cenotes or ruins), the beaches are beautiful and the city is very clean and modern. It is not an authentic Mexican town and is very commercialized with American chain stores slowly taking over the local industry and shops.

Quick Facts:

Location: 10th Avenue (Avenida 10) at the corner of 1st Street South (Calle 1 Sur), Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Phone Number: +52 (984) 803-2901

Website: http://www.hostel3b.com/

Email Address: reservations@hotel3b.com

Facebook: Facebook Fan Page

Languages Spoken: English and Spanish

Cost: 225 to 270 pesos for dorms ($18.75 to $20.00 Canadian), depending on the number of beds and whether it is mixed or all-female. They also offer private rooms which cost about the same as a local hotel room.

Amenities: Rooftop bar, free city map, rooftop lounge, rooftop pool, board games, book exchange, lounge in the lobby, free Wi-Fi, lockers in the dorms, guest kitchen, hot showers, linen included, air conditioning, reading light in dorms, all-female and mixed dorms.

Reserve a Room: HostelWorld, Booking.com, Official Website

Things to Note: They accept credit cards, breakfast is not included, check-in is 2:00 PM and check-out is 12:00 PM.

The Things I Loved: The rooftop pool and lounge area; the huge backpack-sized lockers in the dorms; the perfect location; electrical outlets beside each bed; comfortable mattresses; decent Wi-Fi (however, it only worked in the common areas); the staff; the cleanliness and modern look of the hostel.

The Things I Didn’t Love: The party atmosphere; the fact that breakfast is not included in the price of your stay; the noisy fan in the female dorm

View of the hostel from 10th Avenue

Security and Safety: The hostel is located in a safe area. You are provided with a key to your dorm upon check-in and the dorm room is always locked. I felt that my belongings were safe in the locker beside my bed.

Location: The hostel is in a good location, close to the beach, the shopping district on 5th Avenue, restaurants, nightlife and only two blocks from the ADO bus terminal. The hostel is located at the corners of Calle 1 Sur and Avenida 10 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Great place to lounge and relax on the rooftop

Staff: The staff were friendly and helpful. This hostel had multiple owners/staff members and they made it a point to chat with the guests personally, including myself, and ask questions about my life and how I was enjoying my stay. I thought that was a nice touch.

Value For Money: This hostel is considered expensive for Mexican standards, at $18 CAD per night. It is not the greatest value, as they do not include breakfast in that price.

Atmosphere: This hostel is a party hostel. As someone who does not enjoy the party scene, it was a negative point for me. I prefer a quieter environment and a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. Most of the hostels you will find in Playa del Carmen have a party atmosphere. They have DJs playing dance and electronic music on the rooftop every night and there is a bar on the rooftop. I was glad that I couldn’t hear the loud rooftop music in the dorm when I was sleeping. I found the guests at this hostel appeared to be traveling in groups and everyone either seemed to keep to themselves or stick to their group, which made it difficult to approach and meet other travelers here. I did not make any friends or meet anyone at this hostel, aside from chatting with a few of the hostel owners.

Pool area on the rooftop

Cleanliness and Comfort: The common areas, dorms and bathrooms are all kept very clean and the hostel hires Mexican female staff to clean daily. The beds and pillows were very comfortable.

Lounge area on the rooftop

Common Areas:

The hostel has a rooftop bar and lounge along with an outdoor pool as well as tables and benches in the lobby area. The rooftop features live music by prominent and international DJs during some nights of the week. On Sundays, they have a big day party on the rooftop.

Refreshing rooftop pool

Lobby seating area

Breakfast:

There is no included breakfast at this hostel. I remember seeing a sign saying that they offered breakfast but that you had to pay. I did not. I walked down the Playa del Carmen streets and usually found some fresh fruit or fresh juice for breakfast instead.

Dorms:

I stayed in the 8-bed female dorm. The beds were nice and fairly comfortable and everything was clean. The dorm had its own bathroom, attached to the room which was nice and private. It was advertised online that the dorms were air conditioned, however, it must not have been working during the time I was there. There were a few very noisy fans spinning on the ceiling and the window was left open in the nighttime to help circulate the air flow. The noise from the fans combined with the street noise and music from nearby bars outside, made it somewhat difficult to fall asleep and I woke up a few times during the nights. Thankfully, I could not hear the music from the party on the hostel’s rooftop patio, which as a bonus. There were reading lamps and electrical plugs beside each bed which was handy (they are only two prong plugs, so keep this in mind if you have a three prong). A few girls in my dorm would come in late from partying and turned the lights on or made some noise, but once they realized I was trying to sleep, they toned it down and turned the lights back off. Each bed is provided with a large locker (bring your own lock) that fit my 48L main backpack and my smaller 12L daypack.

View out the window of the female dorm

My bed in the 8-bed female dorm complete with a huge backpack-sized locker

Another view of the 8-bed female dorm, complete with a private bathroom

Internet:

There is free Wi-Fi in the lobby common area as well as the rooftop lounge and pool area. The internet seemed to faster on the rooftop and I was able to make Skype calls. In the early mornings (before everyone was awake), it worked fast everywhere. There are two different passwords for both the lobby and rooftop internet. There are no computer terminals to use at this hostel.

Other:

There is a book exchange in the lobby common area, as well as various board games.

Improvements:

In terms of improvements, I would suggest is making sure that the air conditioning is functioning in the dorms, and possibly purchasing a new fan in the 8-bed female dorm that does not make such a loud noise in the night. I also hope that breakfast is included in the nightly price in the future.

Appearance:

The hostel is nice and modern and most of it is fairly new. The dorms feature minimalist and modern decor.

Recommended For:

Solo travelers, couples and groups who enjoy drinking and partying in a very touristy Mexican city.

You can check out more reviews from other guests here on Trip Advisor.

I hope you enjoyed reading my review!