Should you go to Cancún or Playa Del Carmen 

How do you decide where to go and why is this decision so hard?  To visit Cancún or Playa Del Carmen?  Which is better Playa Del Carmen or Cancún?   We have the answer and actually, it is an easy decision.


The fabulous Cancún is a Mexican city on the Yucatán Peninsula.  This Holiday Mecca along the Caribbean Sea is known for its nightlife, iconic beaches, and fabulous resorts.  Especially Zona Hotelera, a “hotel zone” along the beach, which is a popular stop with its nightclubs, shops, and restaurants.

Cancun or Playa del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen Mexico

Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town in Mexico.  It is situated along the Yucatán Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip along the Caribbean Sea coast. Known for its beaches and coral reefs as well as the famous Quinta Avenida pedestrian thoroughfare with shops, restaurants, and nightspots.

Playa del Carmen vs Cancún

In summary; Playa del Carmen has more of a beach town feel, and is much closer to everything, while Cancún is a city composed of 2 distinct areas: the more traditional downtown area, El Centro, and Zona Hotelera, a long, beachfront strip of high-rise hotels, nightclubs, shops, and restaurants.

The best time to visit

The best time to visit Cancún is actually any time of the year and naturally, it is the same for Playa Del Carmen. 

Statistics from the last 30 years for Cancún show an average daytime max temperature of 26° degrees to 31° degrees during the whole year with May to September being the hottest months.  Sea temperatures range between 27° degrees and 33° degrees, which makes it the perfect place to be during those hot sunny days.

Cancun vs Playa del Carmen

Is Mexico expensive?

Mexico can be considered a destination that offers a range of options for different budget levels. It can be both affordable and moderately expensive, depending on the specific location within Mexico and the choices you make during your holiday.

In general, Mexico is known for its affordability compared to many other popular tourist destinations. The cost of accommodation, food, and transportation can be relatively inexpensive, particularly in less touristy areas and local establishments. Budget-friendly hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals are widely available, offering affordable options for accommodation.

Local street food and traditional restaurants in Mexico can provide delicious and inexpensive dining experiences. Public transportation, such as buses, can be an affordable way to travel within and between cities. Mexico also offers a wide range of free or low-cost attractions, including archaeological sites, natural wonders, and vibrant local markets.

However, it’s important to note that Mexico is a diverse country with regions that cater to luxury tourism, particularly in popular beach destinations like Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Los Cabos. In these areas, you can find high-end resorts, upscale dining options, and exclusive activities, which can increase the overall cost of your holiday.

Ultimately, the cost of a holiday in Mexico will depend on your choices, preferences, and the specific locations you visit. With careful planning and selecting budget-friendly options, Mexico can provide an affordable holiday experience.

Cancun or Playa Del Carmen Mexico

Holiday in Cancún or Playa Del Carmen?

Which is best: Cancún or Playa Del Carmen?  The answer is easy:  You can do both! 

It is only a 1 hr 25 min (68,2 km) car trip from Playa del Carmen to Cancún (via Carr. Tulum – Cancún/México 307).  The biggest decision would be where to stay.  Cancún is a bit more “upmarket” with big hotels and Playa Del Carmen has a certain town feeling and charm about it.

Playa del Carmen vs Cancun

A few things to do while in Cancún and Playa Del Carmen

Visit Xcaret a privately-owned theme park and resort for lots of fun. 

There are 7 parks in total: XCARET, XEL-HÁ, XPLOR, XENSES in Playa Del Carmen, XOXIMILCO in Cancun, XPLOR FUEGO, XAVAGE in Cancun, AND XENOTES

If you stay at Hotel Xcaret you’ll have free access to all of these parks.  (More accommodation options below.)

Cancún Underwater Museum with its statues.

Go swimming at the natural rock pools of Cenote Cristalino – Playa Del Carmen

Learn more about the life of Frida Kahlo @ the Museo Frida Kahlo Playa Del Carmen

Visit Playa Del Carmen with its Fifth Avenue promenade for some shopping and souvenirs.

Watersport, like diving, snorkeling, fishing, and boat rides.

Book adventure trips in Cancún

ATV and jungle adventures or go on a zipline adventure from Riviera Maya: Top Riviera Maya & the Yucatan Ziplining

Nearest airport

The nearest airport to both Cancún, as well as Playa del Carmen, is the Cancún International Airport (IATA code: CUN).

It is the primary airport serving Cancún and the surrounding region. Located approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) southwest of downtown Cancún, the airport is well-connected and serves as a major hub for international and domestic flights. Many airlines offer direct flights to Cancún International Airport from various destinations across the world.

Playa del Carmen is located approximately 68 kilometers (42 miles) north of the airport. From Cancún International Airport, there are various transportation options available to reach Playa del Carmen, including airport shuttles, private transfers, taxis, and rental cars. The journey from the airport to Playa del Carmen typically takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic conditions.

Travel Tip(s)

Fly like a butterfly in and out of the airport! You can have your baggage delivered to your hotel instead of checking it in at the airport. This way you have a faster check-in, no baggage checks, skip the crowded baggage carousels, and no more baggage delays. Besides your baggage, almost anything goes, like golf clubs, skis, snowboards, and even boxes!

Suggested Read: Bring Mexico holidays to your home –  Make your own Quesadillas

Best Accommodation in Cancún

Superb Beachfront Accommodation - Cancun

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Accommodation in Playa Del Carmen

Superb Beachfront Accommodation - Playa Del Carmen

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