Shopping in Playa Del Carmen
…souvenirs, sombreros, and satisfaction…
But I decided it deserves its own post at the end of the day, even though I am a dude.
You often hear talk of places with “great,” “excellent,” or even “superb” shopping.
But have you ever been to a place where the shopping is limited, over-priced and difficult to find?
Only when you’ve had that experience do you understand the general importance of shopping, whether you’re on vacation or not.
So here’s how it goes down in Playa Del Carmen.
Fifth Avenue – One Street, Tons of Optionsfamous street before, but it bears going over again.
The selection of shopping venues makes it the central shopping spot for Playa Del Carmen.
There’s just no way around it.
The variety of shopping is another plus.
In terms of souvenir stores and gift shops, it has everything you could want to take home from your vacation on the beach.
One thing that I particularly like about this avenue is that it has the street vendors and open stalls that are traditional in Latin America.
You’ll find them all over Mexico (at least in the places that I’ve been).
So if your vacation includes onward travel, you can practice your Spanish and bargaining skills right here.
In addition to the flea market-type places, there are a variety of upper scale shopping places too.
Although you should be prepared to pay slightly higher prices for the same things you might find in another country.
Playa Del Carmen – and Fifth Avenue in particular – are tourist destinations. So they cater to their visitors with a variety of upscale offerings.
They don’t call Playa Del Carmen the “retail heart” of the Mexican Riviera for nothing.
Spice Up Your Shopping
And as if a variety of options along a clean, safe avenue wasn’t enough, they throw in some entertainment for you too.
If you’re lucky, you could also catch an impromptu break dancing performance, fire spinners, and mariachi bands.
Actually, it can also be a comedic experience (depending on your sense of humor, I suppose).
The sheer creativity of the sellers to get your attention and draw you into their store to buy something can get pretty funny.
The trick is just to laugh at it, not be annoyed, and not take yourself too seriously.
Finding Peace in the Push
On the other hand, it is worth a word of warning about the pushiness of many sellers, just so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
North of the border, we have definite expectations and definitions of personal space.
And that’s something that I can appreciate. However, when you’re in Mexico, people will invade your personal space.
I mean, if it’s a cute Latina at a club, I’m liable to be okay with that.
But some little sweaty dude selling trinkets?
Not so much.
Lots of sellers will come right up to you and try to – somewhat aggressively – draw you into their store.
Some may try to hold your hand.
They’ll promise that it’s only for “one Mexican minute,” etc… etc…
Whether you give in to the pressure or not, it’s up to you.
But again, it doesn’t really serve any purpose to lose your cool about it.
As soon as you’re gone, or maybe before you’re gone, they’ll be trying it on someone else.
You just have to go with the flow.
I mean, hell, if you’re really feeling the vibe here, you can even get yourself a tattoo in Playa Del Carmen.
There are many tattoo shops to choose from, but only one that is good.
The Fifth Avenue Layout
Since the avenue is pedestrian-only, you won’t have to worry about dodging cars to cross the street.
But you will have to navigate the foot traffic, which can get congested at certain times of the day – and year.
But it also opens out to most of the other main streets in Playa.
So if it becomes absolutely necessary, you should be able to escape the rush by turning onto another, quieter street.
Fifth Avenue runs parallel to the beach, and moving away from the beach on one block increments you’ll encounter Tenth Avenue, Fifteenth, etc.
Most people don’t have any problem with getting lost or turned around.
But if you do lose your way in all the activity, just ask anyone and they’ll be happy to help.
That All-Important Question
But I’m of the mind that it does make a difference.
Your souvenirs should say something about you, or the place itself, or both.
I’m always happy with a shot glass that says the name of the place.
But if that’s not your style, there are a lot of things to choose from.
The sombreros are popular, and very colorful and well-made.
But I’m still not sure how people fit them into their luggage for the return trip, unless they wear it back.
But then you’re just walking around with a giant “TOURIST” stamp sitting on your head – sure to be out of place anywhere you go.
Alternatively, there is a really great array of pottery and handicrafts made in the traditional Mayan styles and techniques.
That speaks to the cultural aspect of a visit to Playa Del Carmen, which is always in good taste.
Walmart is one and there are others, all of which are newer arrivals on the scene.
These include the newish mall Centro Maya, where you can also find a McDonald’s and other American chains.
Personally, I prefer to avoid these stores, although they serve their purpose if you need something and can’t find it anywhere else.
All in all, Playa Del Carmen caters to practically any taste when it comes to shopping.
From high-priced to low end, local to American and European, you’ll find what you need.
Just make sure you’re prepared for pushy sellers if you go to Fifth Avenue.
And I almost forgot, keep your eyes peeled for pickpockets!
I will see you shopping here soon!
Lots of love,