Renting a Car in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a great city for walking, with many options for transport and sight-seeing. It is also the perfect base for a variety of day trips to cenotes, ruins and deserted beaches, so renting a car in Playa del Carmen is a great way to explore the surrounding Riviera Maya.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

There are a multitude of car rental companies around town, and the process for renting is very straightforward. Prices generally range from about $50 for a compact car to $100 for an SUV, including full insurance. This is important to have, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry when embarking on a self-drive tour.

Are the roads safe in Mexico?

The road in Playa del Carmen

Some people who have never traveled to this region of Mexico may be concerned about the roads, but after driving around Playa del Carmen and beyond to the surrounding Riviera Maya countless times, I can assure you that they are in very good condition.

Some of the local streets around town may suffer minor disrepair after it rains, but the highways are very well sealed and well signed.

Watch out for the topes!

One of the main differences I have noticed about the roads in Mexico is the prevalence of speed bumps, or ‘topes’. As a safety precaution and speed deterrent they perform a very important role, but keep an eye out for signs marked ‘Tope’ or you will be in for quite a shock when you suddenly find yourself at one!

Why rent a car when you can take a tour?

This really comes down to personal preference, and what your individual vacation style is. Some people prefer to have the concierge organize all their transport and tours, and this is a very convenient option. Some of us, however, prefer a little more adventure and freedom on our travels, and renting a car offers the freedom to create your own schedule and be your own tour guide.

Many people prefer having the freedom to go wherever, whenever they want without relying on someone else’s pre-determined schedule. Also, renting a car for a family or a small group can be very economical, both time and money wise.

Where should I go?

There are so many options for day trips from Playa del Carmen. Drive to a local cenote, explore ancient ruins, deserted beaches or visit a colonial town.

Suggested itineraries:

Turtles and Cenote - Head south to Akumal bay (about 40 mins) and snorkel with giant sea turtles. Relax on white sand beaches and have lunch at a waterfront restaurant. Visit a cenote in the afternoon, such as Azul, Cristallino or ‘Jardin del Eden’ and take a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water of these natural sink holes.

Coba Ruins - About one and a half hours’ drive south-west from Playa del Carmen is the ancient city of Coba. Explore by bicycle or cycle taxi, climb an ancient pyramid, and then drive to one of three nearby cenotes to cool off from the heat of the day.

Yal ku lagoon - A unique and fascinating place to spend the day, snorkeling, swimming and relaxing, north of Akumal bay.

Day trip to Valledolid - About two hours’ drive from Playa del Carmen, Valledolid is a great town to visit for history buffs and cultural enthusiasts. Eat ice cream in the zocalo, visit the small museum and wander through cavernous cathedrals built hundreds of years ago. Stop off to marvel at the natural wonder of cenote Zaci, in a natural cave filled with fresh water and dripping with green vegetation.

Valledolid

Valledolid

Wherever you decide to visit with your rental car, you will be sure to discover the many fascinating sites of the Riviera Maya and beyond, with the freedom to explore them at your leisure. As long as you have a valid driver’s license and purchase the necessary insurance, you can be assured a unique and adventure filled vacation. Happy driving!

Rental Car Playa del Carmen

Valladolid: a day trip to colonial Mexico

The wonderful thing about Playa del Carmen, aside from the sparkling Caribbean Sea and laid-back atmosphere, is its location to many wonderful sights and attractions. From ancient ruins to cenotes and deserted beaches, there is a wide variety of experiences to be had along the Riviera Maya.

Venture inland, however, and you will discover a different side of Mexico, the colonial heart of the country; towns with crumbling cathedrals and neat zocalos (squares) set among historic buildings, all just a day trip away from the white sand beaches of Playa del Carmen.

If, indeed you manage to pull yourself away…

Valledolid church

Just two hour’s drive from Playa, you will find yourself in the charming town of Valledolid, where you will catch a glimpse of traditional Mexican life. It is home to two very large, impressive Cathedrals, and the most prominent one, San Gervasio, sits adjacent to the main square, or zocolo, in the center of town.

valledolid square

The zocolo is the heart of every old town in Mexico, and it is here you will experience the typical way of life; stout Mayan ladies selling hand-made wares, children laughing and playing, while elderly couples sit peacefully, watching the world go buy.

Most of the tourist stores are located around the main square, along with a traditional ice-creamery. Buy a cup of your favorite flavor and sit on a bench under the shade of a golden flowering tree and observe local life going on around you.

Valledolid handicrafts

About ten minutes from the center of town is another smaller square with an large, yellow Cathedral called San Bernadino. Stroll through the peaceful interior under a high pitched ceiling, while a few birds flutter around, escaping the midday sun.

When you have had enough of churches, squares and pretty architecture, stop off at the nearby cenote, Zaci. For just 20 Pesos entry, descend the wooden staircase leading down into the cave filled with crisp, cool water.

It makes for a great escape from the heat of the day, and is conveniently close to the center of town. The cenote is named after the ancient Mayan city that Valladolid was built on, after it was invaded by the Spanish. These days, Valledolid’s Mayan heritage is celebrated, and you can buy various handicrafts around town and at the entrance to the cenote.

Valledolid locals

Sometimes it’s nice to experience another side of Mexico, and Playa del Carmen’s convenient location allows you to do this in one day. Hire a car or a driver for the day, leave early in the morning and return to your Condo Hotel early evening. You could even tie in a visit to the ancient ruins of Chichen itza which is about 45 mins drive way.

Hit the ruins in the morning and stop for the afternoon in Valladolid before returning to Playa del Carmen for sunset cocktails at Indigo beach club, having experience a different side of the country – colonial Mexico – that many tourists don’t ever get to see.