Cancun vs Playa del Carmen: Which one is better?

Are you trying to decide between Cancun and Playa del Carmen for your next vacation destination? You’re in luck – I’ve got all the information you need to determine which one is better for you.

With their unique attractions, culture, and activities, both destinations offer something special for travelers.

In this post, together we will compare and contrast these two popular spots in Mexico so that you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your needs.

But how do I know all this? Well, I have lived in Cancun for the past 12 years and spent many months in Playa del Carmen as well. So I am sure I can help you figure out which one is the best vacation destination for you.

Ready to pick your next dream destination? Let’s get started!


Cancun or Playa Del Carmen? an overview






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Cancun is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and it’s easy to see why. This paradise city on the Yucatan Peninsula is a perfect combination of sun, sand, and surf, not to mention plenty of opportunities to have fun.

Stretching along miles of white-sandy beaches, Cancun has plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. From snorkeling and scuba diving around the Mesoamerican Reef to visiting ancient Mayan ruins, there’s always something new to explore in Cancun.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or an exciting night out on the town, this vibrant city has everything you need.

Mexico cancun beach

Playa del Carmen

But so is Playa del Carmen, or more friendly known as Playa.

In Playa del Carmen you can find the same activities also because both cities are located about 1 hour’s distance from one another.

In both locations you can find impressive luxury resorts and spas to charming boutique hotels and clubs, visitors will find everything they need to make their stay enjoyable in Playa del Carmen.

The city also boasts plenty of shopping opportunities including colorful markets and designer stores as well as numerous dining options ranging from fine dining restaurants to beach shacks.

The main difference between Playa del Carmen and Cancun is that in Playa del Carmen the city is a block away from the beach, and so are the shops and restaurants which makes the city very walkable.

Everything you need can be within walking distance or if you need a taxi they are not so outrageously expensive as you may find it in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

Playa del Carmen Mexico

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Location

Cancun location

Located on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun has alluring beaches, crystal-clear waters, and easily some of the best sights and attractions in Mexico.

For those who love to explore the outdoors, there are plenty of activities like snorkeling and swimming in one of the many cenotes scattered around Cancun.

Or take a day trip to Isla Mujeres for some gorgeous views over turquoise waters.

If you’re more into city life, you can stroll through La Isla Shopping Village or visit nearby Riviera Maya to explore ancient Mayan ruins such as Tulum or Chichen Itza.

Of course, the nightlife is always an option with lively bars and clubs staying open until sunrise.

Cancun is the closest city to the Whale Sharks tours and Isla Mujeres.

Playa del Carmen location

Playa Del Carmen sign

Playa del Carmen is a popular resort town located on the Riviera Maya, about 70 km South of Cancun and 35 km of Puerto Morelos. Located along the Caribbean Sea, it is conveniently located halfway between Cancun and Tulum.

Over the past decade or so, this Mexican town has become a major tourist destination, as visitors flock to its stunning beaches and enjoy its perfect blend of culture, art, and activities.

Playa del Carmen is the city with the most strategic location, being at a close distance to many cenotes, Mayan Ruins, and amazing beaches.

Also, Playa del Carmen is only 30 minutes ferry ride from Cozumel.

If you are a diver, staying in Playa del Carmen is probably the best choice.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – layout and vibe


Sunset in Cancun Mexico

Cancun is comprised of two distinct areas: the Hotel Zone and Downtown. The Hotel Zone boasts white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, where visitors can relax by the shore or partake in exciting water activities such as snorkeling, jet skiing, and more.

It’s also home to many all-inclusive resorts that offer luxurious amenities such as spas, golf courses, and world-class restaurants.

Meanwhile, Downtown Cancun is nothing charming except for a couple of areas such as Avenida Nader with many interesting Restaurants, and Mercado 23 where you can find interesting stoles.

This area features bustling nightlife, world-class restaurants, vibrant markets, and cultural attractions such as museums and galleries.

In addition to its many entertainment options, Downtown Cancun also has plenty of shopping opportunities to explore.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen offers a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of activities for visitors. The town has a great layout that ensures you are never far away from the beach or other tourist attractions.

The main drag is Fifth Avenue (also known as Quinta Avenida), which runs parallel to the beach and stretches for over three miles.

The avenue is lined with bars, restaurants, galleries, and shops, and gives Playa del Carmen it’s distinctive feeling; it’s perfect to wander around during the day or late into the night.

There are also plenty of dining options available throughout the city center so you can get your fill of Mexican cuisine without having to venture too far.

Playa Del Carmen catamaran

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Beaches

Cancun beaches

Cancun is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. From relatively quiet stretches of sand to bustling nightlife hubs to luxurious beach clubs, you’ll get plenty of options to enjoy the fantastic beaches the city has to offer.

For those looking to enjoy the sun and surf, there are several fantastic beaches in Cancun to explore. Playa Delfines is known for its stunning turquoise waters and offers plenty of space for beachgoers to relax and soak up the sun.

Further south lies Playa Chac Mool which is ideal for swimming due to its calm waters. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, take a trip down Isla Mujeres whose pristine, picturesque beaches are famous with tourists and locals alike.

Playa del Carmen beaches

Playa del Carmen is no slouch either when it comes to beaches. The town is famous for its stunning white-sand beaches and crystal-clear Caribbean waters.

From party-lovers beaches like Mamitas Beach Club and the tranquil beaches in Playacar, or even further south to the popular Xpu-Ha Beach, there is no shortage of amazing spots to explore.

Many of these locations also offer plenty of activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, and more.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to soak up the sun with your loved ones, Playa del Carmen is sure to have what you need.

Playa Del Carmen beach in Riviera Maya

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – The best time to visit

Best time to visit Cancun

The best time to visit Cancun depends on what type of experience you’re looking for. From December to April, temperatures remain comfortable during the day while nights can get a bit chilly, making it ideal for beach days or exploring nearby attractions.

This time of the year also offers tourists a great chance to take part in exciting activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and deep-sea fishing.

The downside is that it’s also peak tourist season so prices and crowds are likely to be higher than usual.

On the other hand, the summer months (June-September) have the advantage of higher water temperatures but also bring a high level of humidity and the highest temperatures.

Also, that is the season for the sargasso which has been visiting the Mexican Caribbean Coasts in the past few summers.

The shoulder season, which includes late April and May as well as October and November, is considered by many to be the best time to visit Cancun due to several factors.

For starters, visiting during these months means avoiding peak tourist season. Prices for flights and hotel rooms tend to decrease during these months since there are fewer tourists in town – meaning more savings for travelers.

Additionally, temperatures tend to be milder during this period than in the low season, and there are still plenty of activities to enjoy.

Cancun beach view

Best time to visit Playa del Carmen

Since Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located so close to each other, the recommendations for the best time to visit Cancun also apply to Playa del Carmen.

December through April offer the best weather and lowest chance of precipitation; however, these months are also among the busiest times of the year due to peak season travel.

If you don’t mind a little rain, May, June, and September through November can be great times to go – there will be fewer tourists and lower prices at hotels and attractions.

However, keep in mind that hurricane season gets active from August through November so if you want to travel at that time of the year you should book last minute and check the weather forecast before.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Things to do

Top things to do in Cancun

If you are on a romantic vacation with your partner, there are many things to do in Cancun for couples, among which booking a private tour, to have a unique experience in peace and tranquillity. For other regular tours and things to do in Cancun check out the below recommendations.

✅ Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour

5⭐ 9320 Reviews

Ik Kil Cenote
Ik Kil Cenote

Experience the ancient Mayan civilization of Chichen Itza, the breathtaking underwater beauty of cenotes, and the colonial charm of Valladolid all in one incredible all-inclusive tour.

With this amazing package, you can explore one of Mexico’s most iconic archaeological sites and experience some of its best sights.

✅ Isla Mujeres All Inclusive Luxury Catamaran & Snorkel from Cancun

4.5⭐ 1872 Reviews

Discover an idyllic Caribbean paradise when you book a cruise on Isla Mujeres Inclusive Luxury Catamaran & Snorkel from Cancun.

This is the perfect way to explore the islands and turquoise waters surrounding Cancun. On this luxurious catamaran, you will enjoy a full day of snorkeling, sightseeing, and relaxation.

✅ Xcaret day trip and night show

4.5⭐ 1068 Reviews

Xcaret lagoon
Xcaret lagoon

Xcaret is the perfect destination. This eco-archaeological park offers a unique adventure surrounded by nature and stories of the Mayan culture.

From snorkeling in underground rivers, exploring caves, and swimming in natural pools to enjoying fun activities like rafting and zip lining, Xcaret has something for everyone to enjoy.

What’s more? The breathtaking scenery serves as the backdrop of their nightly show that features Mayan dances, music, and colorful costumes.

✅ Diving in the Mexican Caribbean for Beginners | 2 Tanks 2 Dives | All Inclusive

5⭐ 222 Reviews

If you’re new to diving, then this all-inclusive tour is perfect for you. It offers everything that a beginner needs to get started with diving and gain enough confidence to do it on your own.

An experienced team will provide all your necessary gear and safety measures so you can relax and enjoy your dives in good hands.

Diving in the Mexican Caribbean for Beginners

✅ ATV Tour, Ziplines and Cenote Swim

4⭐ 1595 Reviews

If you’re looking for a truly unique travel experience, then look no further than a tour that combines ATV rides, zip lines, and swimming in cenotes.

This tour is perfect for thrill seekers and those looking to explore the beauty of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Top things to do in Playa del Carmen

✅ Playa del Carmen Buggy Tour with Cenote Swim and Mayan Village Visit

5⭐ 877 Reviews

Playa Del Carmen tour

Tired of the same old beach vacation? Then consider a buggy tour in Playa del Carmen, Mexico! This thrilling excursion takes you off-roading through the jungle, cenote swimming, and a visit to a Mayan village.

From start to finish, it’s an action-packed adventure that will leave you with memories for years to come.

✅ VIP Chichen Itza Private Tour

5⭐ 753 Reviews

Chichen Itza is an amazing Mayan site, but it’s also a site that gets a LOT of visitors, especially during the peak season.

Skip the crowds and get a private tour of the place with this tour. Afterward, you’ll take a refreshing dip in the Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman before concluding the tour with a scrumptious lunch (included in the price) in Valladolid.

✅ Coba Ruins, Cho Ha Cenote, Tulum, and Paradise Beach Day Trip with Lunch Included

5⭐ 684 Reviews

Coba Ruins Mexico
Coba Mayan Ruins

With this tour, you get to visit two different Mayan sites: the Coba Ruins and the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Your guide will explain their background and cultural significance during the tour.

Get a taste of ancient Mayan, then journey to the mystical cenote (underground cave) of Cho Ha for a refreshing swim.

✅ Small-Group Eco Friendly: Whale Sharks tour in Cancun & Riviera Maya

4.5⭐ 588 Reviews

If you don’t swim with whale sharks, have you really visited the Yucatan Peninsula? This unique excursion offers visitors the opportunity to observe whale sharks – the world’s largest fish species – up close and personal, in a small group setting.

It’s an experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

✅ Tour Cenotes Oasis Maya by Xcaret from Cancún and Playa del Carmen

5⭐ 582 Reviews

Cenote tour in Playa del Carmen

Since ancient times, people have been captivated by the mysterious underground world of cenotes. These natural pools, formed over thousands of years, are unique to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

There’s no better way to explore these hidden gems than on this full-day guided tour.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Renting a Car

Both Cancun and Playa del Carmen are surrounded by natural wonders and the incredible historical site which makes renting a car a great idea to explore at your own pace.

However, if you are not comfortable you don’t have to worry. There are many tours available to take you to the most spectacular sites, either private or in groups.

Also, if you want to spend all your time at all-inclusive resorts and not go anywhere else, then renting a car may not be necessary.

You can take advantage of resort shuttle services or taxis to take you around town.

Just keep in mind that sometimes if you take 2 or three taxi rides in one day it may be more convenient to rent a car (moneywise).

If you are planning on exploring beyond the city limits (highly recommended), then renting a car is essential.

You will have more flexibility in terms of where and when you can travel plus it will be easier to navigate unfamiliar areas quickly and efficiently if you have your own vehicle.

Hotel zone in Cancun
Cancun hotel zone

Where to rent a car and driving tips

If you are planning to rent a car during your trip, there are several options available. You can rent online from popular sites such as Enterprise, Avis, or Hertz.

I recommend Discover cars and you can check out my reviews with the pros and cons of using Discover Cars in this related post I wrote from my other site.

I highly recommend doing so as this allows you to compare prices from different car rentals and pick-up locations before even arriving in Mexico.

When renting a car, always make sure to compare not only rates, but also age restrictions, fees for additional drivers, insurance policies, deposit fees, and other details, before making your selection.

Be sure to read all of the paperwork carefully so that you understand the terms of your rental agreement.

Let’s also cover some driving tips.

✔️ For starters, it is important to make sure you have the proper documents with you at all times while driving.

✔️ A valid driver’s license from your home country is enough unless your original language is not written in the roman alphabet, in which case an international driver’s permit is necessary if you want to be allowed on public roads.

✔️ Additionally, having a copy of your rental agreement will come in handy if traffic police need to verify your vehicle’s registration information.

✔️ Secondly, pay attention to road signs and always obey all local traffic laws.

✔️ In both Cancun and Playa del Carmen, make sure you adhere to speed limits at all times so that you will avoid giving police a reason to stop you and look for a bribe, which gets us to our next tip.

✔️ Never, ever bribe the police. If they try to ask for it just tell them to give you the ticket or to drive you to the next police station for you to pay.

Unfortunately, it is not only a legend but a common practice and if you give up on it you will become part of the problem.

✔️ Additionally, always wear your seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle and be aware of “topes” (speed bumps) which sometimes are very high but not marked.

You can read my above-linked post to learn more about driving tips in Cancun and Playa del Carmen or Mexico overall.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – costs

Playa Del Carmen portal maya sculpture
Portal Maya

Cancun cost

The cost of a 7-day trip to Cancun can vary greatly depending on your budget, desired accommodation type, travel dates, and activities you plan on doing during your stay.

Generally speaking, airfare from the United States will cost an estimated $500-$800 per person from the main hubs.

Lodging at a hotel or in an all-inclusive resort may range from around $1,000-$2,500 for seven nights (separate from the airfare) for two people.

If you’re on a budget, a much cheaper option would be to stay at an affordable hotel in the downtown area and opt for home-cooked meals with groceries from local markets.

Thanks to Cancun being so popular, there are plenty of affordable accommodations available to suit all budgets.

Activities such as visiting the beach are free and archaeological sites have minimal entrance fees.

Playa del Carmen cost

On average, Playa del Carmen is relatively cheaper than Cancun because accommodations are more affordable here on average.

Also, probably because of the great variety of accommodation offered you will find very competitive rates for cute modern apartments right in the center, near the Quinta Avenida and the beach.

While the airfare will cost the same because you’ll be flying into Cancun International Airport, accommodations will be cheaper, which is a good thing because accommodation is often the biggest expense when taking a vacation.

If you want to splurge, though, also in Playa del Carmen you can find spectacular hotels or apartments to stay in the lap of luxury during your visit with a spend from $2,500-$5,000 for a 7-day visit.

This will cover accommodations at the resort as well as meals and drinks at their restaurants and bars.

Many budget hotels can be found near the beach for less than $100 USD per night with amenities such as air conditioning and free Wi-Fi included.

If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb rental or private villa, prices will vary based on location and size but can range from $25-$200 USD per night.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Food and nightlife


Perhaps one of the best features of Cancun is its amazing food scene. From upscale restaurants to small street vendors, it’s a foodie’s paradise.

The city’s local dishes are often rooted in Mayan traditions, utilizing fresh ingredients such as plantains and corn.

For those looking for something more familiar, there is a wide selection of international fare including Italian, Mexican-American fusion, and more.

Mexican food

Additionally, high-end seafood restaurants line the coast offering freshly caught seafood delicacies with breathtaking views.

No matter what your palate desires during a trip to Cancun you will find it with ease! Whether you’re seeking out traditional Mexican flavors or something exotic from around the world, you’ll easily be able to find it here.

The bustling city is also home to a variety of nightclubs and bars, including upscale lounges to casual cantinas.

With its numerous beach bars, you can easily find yourself dancing in the sand under the moonlight until sunrise.

There are also many clubs located away from the beach that features international DJs and some of Mexico’s best live music acts.

Cancun is in fact one of the Spring breaker‘s favorite destinations in Mexico. But also very suitable for families and romantic getaways.

Playa del Carmen

When it comes to the food scene, though, Playa del Carmen is nothing short of delicious restaurants and a variety of Cuisines too.

The majority of the best restaurants are located along the Quinta Avenida or the nearby streets and are therefore reachable after a nice walk and window-shopping stroll on the famous street.

There are authentic local restaurants offering traditional Mexican cuisine and world-renowned establishments serving dishes from around the globe.

Enjoy freshly caught seafood on a beachfront terrace, tuck into succulent steaks at an upscale steakhouse or sample some local delicacies such as chilaquiles and empanadas – it’s up to you!


Vegetarian and vegan options are also widely and easily available throughout the city, more than in Cancun. And after dinner, why not take a stroll along 5th Avenue where you can find plenty of bars and cafes offering refreshing cocktails and sweet desserts, including delicious homemade Gelato 🙂

Playa del Carmen is known for its vibrant nightlife as well. This party town offers an array of activities and venues to explore, from beach bars and dance clubs to rooftop terraces and live music venues.

The downtown area of Playa del Carmen features many chic and hip clubs. These are great options for anyone looking for a wild night out with drinks flowing until dawn.

For those who prefer live music instead, Coco Bongo offers up an exciting mix of international DJs and Latin performers every night.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Safety

Safety in Cancun

Safety is one of the biggest concerns for tourists who are planning to visit Mexico. the overall crime rate in Cancun is relatively low, even when compared to cities in the US or Europe.

The city itself is home to one of the largest police forces in Mexico and there are both military and police patrols throughout the area.

CCTV cameras are also common throughout Cancun’s busiest areas, notably along its main beaches where security personnel will often monitor activity to ensure safety.

Additionally, many hotels and resorts have their own private security guards as well as additional surveillance equipment installed around their property.

It’s important for visitors to remember that although crime rates are low, they should still take common-sense safety precautions such as avoiding carrying large amounts of cash or walking alone at night.

Cancun beach views
Tropical Cancun beach

Safety in Playa del Carmen

When it comes to safety, Playa del Carmen is just as safe as Cancun. To begin with, the town has a very low rate of violent crime.

Most crimes that do occur are related to pickpocketing and petty theft from tourists who are not aware of their surroundings or fail to take necessary precautions when out and about in public spaces.

The authorities in Playa del Carmen have taken extra steps to ensure safety for both residents and tourists.

The local government has implemented strict policies on public security and law enforcement officers patrol the city day and night, allowing travelers to feel secure while enjoying all that this vibrant city has to offer.

The local government has also implemented street lighting systems to make it safer for locals and visitors alike.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen – Where to stay

In this section of the post I am going to share my recommendation on the best hotels where to stay both in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

Where to stay in Cancun

1. Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun

Live Aqua Beach Resort
Live Aqua Beach Resort – Photo © Expedia

Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun is an oasis of luxury, fun, and adventure in the heart of Cancun. With its stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, pristine white sand beaches, and crystal-clear pools – this resort is the epitome of a dream vacation.

2. Le Blanc Spa Resort (Adults Only)

Le Blanc Cancun hotel
Le Blanc Spa Resort – Photo © Expedia

This adults-only paradise is the ideal destination for a romantic getaway, relaxation, and luxury. Step into this sophisticated and luxurious resort and be swept away by its contemporary elegance.

Guests can luxuriate in the world-class spa facilities, enjoy gourmet dining experiences, or simply relax poolside while taking in breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea.

3. Hyatt Ziva Cancun Resort (family)

Hyatt Ziva Cancun Resort
Hyatt Ziva Cancun Resort – Photo © Expedia

When it comes to family resorts, few can compare to the luxurious Hyatt Ziva Cancun. This all-inclusive resort offers a unique vacation experience that’s sure to thrill everyone in your group.

With its stunning beachfront location and world-class amenities that are a signature of the Hyatt brand, you won’t believe the incredible value available at Hyatt Ziva Cancun!

4. Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa (Adults Only)

Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa
Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa – Photo © Expedia

Breathless provides an experience that’s tailored to make you feel like royalty. From its world-class amenities and exquisite cuisine to its spectacular ocean views, Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa truly offers Unlimited Luxury.

5. Selina Hostel

Selina hostel downtown
Selina Hostel – Photo © Expedia

Are you looking for a place to stay in Cancun that is affordable and comfortable? Look no further than Selina Hostel! Selina provides you with two locations to stay in: in the Hotel Zone or Downtown Cancun.

With communal living spaces, shared kitchen facilities, and more, there are plenty of ways for guests to feel at home.

For those seeking adventure outside their room, Selina offers activities such as biking tours, snorkeling trips, and yoga classes so you can get out and enjoy all that Cancun has to offer.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen

1. Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort – Photo © Expedia

Set on the beautiful, white-sand beaches of Playa del Carmen, this luxurious resort invites you to experience all that this stunning Mexican city has to offer.

From the moment you arrive, you will be treated to a grand escape with exceptional service and amenities.

2. Thompson Playa del Carmen (Adults Only)

Thompson Playa del Carmen hotel
Thompson Playa del Carmen – Photo © Expedia

One of the most stunning beachfront resorts in the world, Thompson Playa del Carmen is an adults-only paradise!

Located on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, this luxurious hotel offers guests a unique mix of activities and amenities.

Thompson is particularly popular with couples looking for a romantic getaway, with an average rating of 9.3/10 from couples.

3. Marvic Hotel Boutique

Marvic Hotel Boutique
Marvic Hotel Boutique – Photo © Expedia

Playa del Carmen is one of the most beautiful beach destinations in Mexico, and the Marvic Boutique hotel provides its guests with a luxurious stay at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

Located right on the stunning white sand beaches of Playa del Carmen, this boutique hotel offers its guests an unbeatable combination of style, comfort, and convenience.

4. Hotel 12 BEES by Kavia

12 Bees Hotel
12 Bees Hotel – Photo © Expedia

This 3-star hotel offers an unbeatable combination of affordability and convenience. Located just minutes from a variety of popular restaurants, shops, and attractions, it’s the perfect spot to explore all that Playa del Carmen has to offer.


Photo © TOH HOUSE Luxury Apartments Near 5tv Av

TOH HOUSE offers spacious accommodations with all the comforts of home. Guests can enjoy full-sized kitchens and bathrooms that come equipped with free toiletries and towels.

The living room offers plenty of seating space, which makes entertaining easy and enjoyable. Additionally, guests can take advantage of the onsite pool area or relax in their private balcony area with an amazing view of the city skyline.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen FAQs

Is Playa del Carmen better than Cancun?

It depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. Playa del Carmen is more laid-back and relaxed than Cancun, with a unique downtown area full of shops and restaurants, and, most important, it’s close to the beach.

However, Cancun has more nightlife options, as well as more all-inclusive hotels to choose from.

Cancun is close to Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, whereas Playa Del Carmen is closer to Cozumel, Tulum, and many cenotes.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which destination is best for your needs.

Is Playa del Carmen or Cancun safer?

Both Playa del Carmen and Cancun are relatively safe cities. In general, Playa del Carmen is considered a bit safer than Cancun due to its smaller size and lower population density, but it’s highly unlikely that visitors would encounter crime at either of these locations.

That doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind, however. It is important to take the same safety precautions you would in any large city while visiting either one of these cities.

Boats and the beach - Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Is Cancun more expensive than Playa del Carmen?

Yes, Cancun is slightly more expensive than Playa del Carmen. The cost of accommodations in Cancun can be a bit higher than in Playa del Carmen.

Why is Playa del Carmen so popular?

Playa del Carmen is a popular tourist destination due to its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and variety of activities.

It’s also conveniently located near the Mayan ruins of Tulum and the eco-parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha.

Its warm climate and access to the Caribbean Sea make it a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and other water sports.

Playa del Carmen is also more popular among digital nomads and expats, possibly for its small-town vibe where everything is within walking distance.

Is Cancun or Playa del Carmen better for a Solo Traveler?

Both destinations are great destinations for solo travelers and if you have the explorer bug like me, you will want to spend some time in both cities and make the most of your time there.

However, if you like to walk around in freedom and reduce the use of transportation, Playa del Carmen is probably your place.

What’s cheaper Cancun or Playa del Carmen?

Cancun is a bit more expensive than Playa del Carmen due to its higher popularity as a tourist destination.

However, during the low season, you can find great deals in both places. It’s worth comparing prices and researching different options before booking your trip.

Tourist visiting Mayan ruins in Cancun, Mexico
Mayan ruins in Cancun, Mexico

Is Playa del Carmen a party town?

Playa del Carmen is definitely a destination for those looking to have a good time. Its vibrant nightlife offers everything from beach bars and clubs to live music venues and salsa dancing.

That being said, it’s not necessarily just a “party town” – there are plenty of activities to enjoy during the day as well.

Whether you’re looking for a lively night out or a more relaxed atmosphere, Playa del Carmen has you covered.

Are Playa del Carmen beaches swimmable?

Yes, the beaches in Playa del Carmen are swimmable. The waters are generally calm and clear, making them perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.

Additionally, many of the beaches have lifeguards on duty to ensure that visitors stay safe while enjoying the beach.

Is Playa del Carmen worth visiting?

Absolutely! Playa del Carmen is an amazing destination for anyone looking for a relaxing beach vacation. It has beautiful white sand beaches, plenty of activities to do both on the beach and in town, and delicious Mexican cuisine.

Plus, it’s within easy reach of other popular tourist destinations like Cancun and Tulum. So it’s pretty easy to take a day trip to or from here.

Is Playa del Carmen walkable?

Yes, Playa del Carmen is very walkable. The town center is easy to navigate on foot and many of the attractions are within walking distance.

Additionally, there is a well-maintained sidewalk system that makes it easy to explore the area without a car.

And definitely much more walkable than Cancun.

walking in the streets of Playa del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen street views

Cancun or Playa del Carmen, then? Final thoughts

When it comes to choosing the perfect Mexican beach destination, travelers may find themselves torn between two popular favorites: Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Both locations boast miles of white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. But which one should you choose?

In my opinion, it’s not an “either-or” answer. Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located close enough to each other so you can visit both and decide for yourself which city has a better vibe for you.

Both cities are only an hour’s drive away, so any time you want to visit the other, all you’ll have to do is hop in your car or catch a bus.

One thing’s for sure, no matter which of these two you pick, you’ll have a great time. There are countless opportunities for adventure, luxury, and fun at both locations, and you’ll never find yourself short of options at either of them.

About the Author

Hey there! This is Isabella, the owner, and writer of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 12 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun’s spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!

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