A trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico can often be jam packed with beach time, tours, and adventure activities. But if you’re looking for a more leisurely activity, downtown Playa del Carmen is also a great place to spend a day shopping on the vibrant 5th Avenue. Here’s my Playa del Carmen shopping guide, including everything you need to know about shopping for souvenirs, clothing, and swimwear.
Playa del Carmen is a small beach town and while you can find a surplus of Mexican souvenirs, it really doesn’t have a huge selection of major retail stores. The stores have gotten better in recent years but it still doesn’t have an amazing selection, especially if you’re looking for brand names. For better shopping options, many people will go to Cancun, where you’ll find larger shopping malls and modern retail centers.
Playa del Carmen Fifth Avenue
Shopping in Playa del Carmen mainly centers around 5th Avenue, which is a pedestrian only street that spans for about 20 blocks. This is the most touristy part of Playa del Carmen and where you’ll find all of the souvenir shops and major clothing stores.
Fifth Avenue is vibrant and colorful, and you’ll often see the colorful Mexican flags known as “papel picado” just like in Sayulita, another one of my favorite Mexican beach towns. Filled with non-stop entertainment, mariachi singers, and street performers, it’s a lively place to spend the day just walking around and perusing the shops and stalls.
In terms of retail, you can pretty much find everything you need within a few blocks of 5th Avenue, so you most likely wouldn’t need to venture too far from the touristy area.
How to Get to 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen
If you’re staying at a resort in Riviera Maya, there are likely transportation options available to get to downtown Playa del Carmen. Many resorts will offer a complimentary shuttle to Playa del Carmen that drops off and picks up at scheduled hours. Be sure to check with your resort concierge for more information.
If your resort does not offer transportation or the times are not convenient, you can also take a taxi to 5th Avenue. Just tell the taxi driver you are going to 5th Avenue or “La Quinta Avenida” in Spanish, and they will know where to go. The taxi driver will most likely drop you off at the start of 5th Avenue shops near Avenida Juarez or a central location. Depending on where you’re staying, the one-way price for the taxi could be up to $500 pesos (~$25 USD).
Playa del Carmen Souvenir Shopping
Souvenir shopping is probably one of the most popular things to do in Playa del Carmen. It’s a leisurely activity and the perfect way to explore the famous 5th Avenue. I’m honestly not a huge souvenir person but whenever I have friends and family visiting we spend hours going in and out of all the Playa del Carmen shops and it’s always a lot of fun.
Once you arrive to Fifth Avenue, you can explore the stores and stands at leisure. There are retail stores for souvenirs as well as vendors selling items on the street. Usually the stores will have set prices and the street vendors will be more likely to barter. I usually just browse shops that catch my eye.
Travelista Tip: Most of the souvenir shops in Playa del Carmen have the exact same or similar looking items so don't feel like you need to go into each and every one.
My Favorite Playa del Carmen Souvenirs
You can find hundreds of Mexican souvenirs in Playa del Carmen including Mexican blankets, traditional clothing, sombreros, dolls, artisanal crafts, and so much more. There’s literally SO MANY things but below are a few of my favorite Mexican souvenirs that are a little more unique.
These backpacks are colorful and embroidered by hand. They can be a little more expensive but the intricate hand work makes them so unique.
Vanilla is native to Mexico and is the one thing my mom always buys when she comes to visit. You can purchase pure vanilla in both clear or dark color.
You can find many handmade leather goods including purses, wallets, and backpacks. I have purchased small leather purses for my nieces and they were a big hit!
Tortilla baskets are another colorful and inexpensive souvenir to take back home. I've given these as gifts and they make a great addition to any Mexican themed dinner or party.
Huichol (pronounced "witch-ul") beadwork is a traditional handicraft produced by the Huichol people, an indigenous group in Mexico. They make highly intricate beaded jewelry, artwork, and statues.
The cacao plant, which is what chocolate is made from, was first domesticated by the Mayan people. You can find cacao in souvenir stores or Ah Cacao, which is a popular coffee shop on Fifth Avenue.
Dreamcatchers can be found in many different sizes and colors. They make a unique gift or wall hanging. I'm always in awe of their intricate hand woven design.
I love the handblown Mexican glassware with blue rims. You can find glassware including margarita glasses, drinking glasses, and shot glasses.
Colorful sugar skulls can be found in many sizes and are a tribute to the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. It's a unique and colorful souvenir to display in your home or a trinket for your desk.
There are many tequila stores on Fifth Avenue, where you can find specialty tequilas and unique souvenir bottles. Some of the coolest bottles I have seen have been in the shape of a gun.
Straw beach hats or fedora hats are practical and inexpensive and can be used for the duration of your trip or for your next beach vacation.
Purse Pom Poms
These colorful charms and tassels can be attached to your purse or handbag. They can also be a fun addition to decorate a kids room.
Clothing Shopping in Playa del Carmen
Aside from the hundreds of souvenirs shops, there are also three main Playa del Carmen shopping malls located on 5th Avenue–Paseo del Carmen, Calle Corazon, and Quinta Alegria. These shopping centers are where you’ll find the best clothing retailers.
Paseo del Carmen
Located near the Cozumel ferry, Paseo del Carmen is an open air shopping mall in Playa del Carmen at the start of Fifth Avenue. Personally, Paseo del Carmen is my favorite Playa del Carmen mall because they have all the best women’s clothing stores.
These include Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, and Old Navy. Another one of my favorite stores at Paseo del Carmen is Miniso, which is a Japanese retailer that sells a variety of really cute home and beauty products at surprisingly low prices.
Food options at Paseo del Carmen include Starbucks, Haagen Dazs Ice Cream, Krispy Kreme, and Sushitto. The Starbucks has a cute outdoor seating area, which a great place to take a break and refuel with a hot or iced beverage.
Travelista Tip: Paseo del Carmen is a great place to start your shopping and then you can work your way down 5th Avenue from there.
Calle Corazon is one of the newest shopping centers in Playa del Carmen and is located at the base of the Thompson Playa del Carmen Hotel. It’s an open air plaza that has a few more high end retailers.
Major stores include H&M, Steve Madden, Michael Kors, Sephora, Hollister, and Lacoste. There are also some restaurant options including Starbucks, Sushi Roll, Cantina La No. 20, and 50 Friends.
Located at 5th Avenue and Avenida Constituyentes, Quinta Alegria is a larger Playa del Carmen shopping mall. With three stories, it offers a number of major retailers including Forever 21, American Eagle, Aerie, Aldo, L’occitane, and Columbia Sportswear. There is also a Victoria’s Secret, but it is just a beauty product and fragrance store and doesn’t actually sell lingerie. On the top floor you’ll find Sandborns, which is a small department store.
Food and beverage options at Quinta Alegria include Starbucks, Haagen Dazs Ice Cream, and Sushitto. At the back you’ll also find La Europea, which is a speciality wine and liquor shop. I would definitely recommend La Europea–they have some of the best wine selections in Playa del Carmen.
Local Shopping Centers
Outside of downtown Playa del Carmen, there are two major shopping malls located on the other side of the highway–Plaza las Americas and Centro Maya. These malls are mainly where the locals shop and you won’t often find tourists shopping here. I don’t love these malls and the only time I usually visit them is to go to the movie theater. If you do want to visit, the easiest way to get there is by taking a taxi.
Plaza Las Americas
Located a few miles from downtown Playa del Carmen, Plaza Las Americas is the larger of the local shopping centers. Major retailers include Sears and Coppel, and there is also a movie theater, food court, small casino, and a Chedraui supermarket. It can get very crowded on Sundays when most locals have the day off.
Located just south of downtown Playa del Carmen, Centro Maya is a shopping center that is attached to a Soriana grocery store and City Club (similar to Sam’s). There is also a movie theater, food court, and California Fitness gym.
Also located on the other side of the highway on the way to Tulum, you’ll find Liverpool. Liverpool is a large stand-alone department store that is similar to Macy’s in the United States. Liverpool definitely has higher quality department store products but the location makes it a little bit out of the way.
Swimwear Shopping in Playa del Carmen
Located just a block off of Fifth Avenue, Alas Olas is a beachwear store that has some of the cutest and most reasonably priced swimwear in Playa del Carmen. They sell one piece swimsuits, bikini separates, and beach coverups and accessories. Everything in the store is super fun, beachy, and colorful.
Aside from all the cute beach items that Alas Olas has in the store, they will also customize a bikini or swimsuit just for you. You can pick out the style and print and they will make the swimsuit to your exact measurements. How cool is that??
Sandmade Swimwear offers colorful bikinis and one piece swimsuits that are more reasonably priced. All the swimwear is made by hand in Playa del Carmen and the suits are all reversible. It’s like getting two swimsuits for the price of one! There are two locations in Playa del Carmen–one right outside of the entrance to Mamitas Beach and the other is a smaller stand near 5th Avenue and 34th Street.
Located just across 5th Avenue from Quinta Alegria, Beach House is a retail store that carries brand name swimwear and beach clothing. Their Mexico shops carry higher end surf brands like Billabong, Roxy, Rip Curl, and Tommy Bahama. I bought a reversible bikini at Beach House and it’s one of my favorites!
Located on 5th Avenue near 20th Street, La Bikineria is a small specialty swimwear store that sells higher end beachwear. It’s a cute boutique store with a light and airy feel and all the swimwear is designed and made in Mexico. I’m always drawn into the store whenever I’m walking down 5th Avenue.
With multiple locations in Playa del Carmen, Zingara is a popular swimwear store that sells designer swimwear. The prices can be a little more expensive but there are often sales and promotional offers where you can get a great deal on a designer bikini. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re shopping at Playa del Carmen stores on 5th Avenue.
Playa del Carmen Shopping Tips
While 5th Avenue shopping in Playa del Carmen can be a fun experience, it’s also a place where you can easily be taken advantage of. Many of the vendors make their living from selling to foreigners that simply don’t know any better. Here’s a few shopping tips to avoid getting ripped off.
Pay in pesos.
If you want to get the best exchange rate, I would recommend paying for your items in pesos. When you’re checking out, it’s common for the clerk to ask you whether you would like to pay in pesos or dollars. I would always recommend paying in pesos, as you will end up paying less with the exchange rate. This is also true if you’re paying with a credit card, as most credit cards will convert using the official exchange rate.
Barter if you can.
Most of the retail stores on Fifth Avenue will have set prices and the street vendors will be more likely to barter. I would definitely recommend trying to negotiate the price if you can. The vendors will always start really high but you can almost always get the price down. It never hurts to try!
Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Most retail stores and restaurants in Playa del Carmen will accept major credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Be sure to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to save the most money. I personally use the Chase Sapphire Preferred and love the perks for international travel.
Don't use the ATMs on 5th Avenue.
Keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
Fifth Avenue can be a crowded place and it is not uncommon for pickpocketers to target your purse or wallet. Always be mindful of your surroundings and keep a close watch on your personal belongings. I always recommend a crossbody purse or waist pack for women and I usually always sit with my purse in my lap or in close sight while dining at a restaurant. Check out my Playa del Carmen safety guide for more safety tips.
Ignore the sales gimmicks.
Just walking down the street, you will no doubt be exposed to the countless sales gimmicks on Fifth Avenue. They can be funny but also kind of annoying. One trick I’ve seen many times in that the vendors will approach you and act like they remember you as a server from your resort. In reality, they are just looking at your hotel wristband to know which resort you’re staying at. Don’t fall for it! Most of the time they are harmless and just trying to get your attention but always be cautious.
I hope this shopping Playa del Carmen guide was helpful! Shopping in 5th Avenue stores can be a lot of fun but also pretty exhausting. When you’re done shopping, head over to one of my favorite Playa del Carmen restaurants to refuel or grab a drink at one of these fun Playa del Carmen bars. Trust me after your shopping excursion, you’re definitely going to need a cold beverage! Happy shopping!
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