Despite being one of the main cities of the Riviera Maya, the first time I visited Playa del Carmen I felt like I was in a beach town.

Cheaper and less glamorous than neighboring Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a place worth spending at least a couple of days.

In this popular destination you will find accommodations, restaurants and activities for all tastes and budgets.

Here’s how to visit Playa del Carmen on a budget.

How long to stay in Playa del Carmen?

If you want to get to know Playa del Carmen, a couple of days will be enough. The city is not very big and you can visit its main attractions in a short time.

On the other hand, if you are thinking of using Playa del Carmen as a base to visit other places in the Riviera Maya, I recommend staying at least a week.

This way you will have time to explore the city, enjoy its beaches, visit the archaeological ruins, go to Cozumel and perhaps also to one of the nearby parks or cenotes.

In my case, I had already visited other places in the Riviera Maya based in Cancun, so I only stayed three days in Playa del Carmen.

If you are also interested in visiting Cancun, here is a guide to travel to Cancun on a budget.

How to get to Playa del Carmen?

The closest airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport.

To get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen, the cheapest option is (2.1) to take the ADO bus from the Airport to the Cancun Bus Terminal. And from there, (2.2) a shuttle from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.

Here you have the information to make those two trips:

From the Airport to the Cancun Bus Terminal.

The ADO bus from the airport to the Cancun bus terminal costs 90 MXN [5 USD] each way.

Departures are every 15-30 minutes and you can buy the ticket directly at the airport.

The trip to the Cancun Bus Terminal takes approximately 30 minutes.

From Cancun Bus Terminal to Playa del Carmen

Once at the Cancun Bus Terminal, the cheapest option to go to Playa del Carmen is to take the Playa Express colectivos (white vans) that leave from the side of the bus terminal (see map below).

This means of transportation is frequently used by locals and you should take into account that the colectivo will make several stops along the way.

The price per leg is 45 MXN [2.5 USD] and you can store your suitcase in the back of the bus without any problems.

Another option, a little more comfortable, but also more expensive, is to take an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen.

This bus can be taken inside the Cancun Bus Terminal and costs approximately 65 MXN [3.5 USD] per leg (the price can go up depending on the season and schedule).

If you want to book your tickets, you can do it on ADO’s website.

The transfer from Cancun to Playa del Carmen takes approximately 1 hour and a half, very similar to the Cancun to Tulum Shuttle.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen with little money?

In Playa del Carmen you will find several hotels where you can stay paying only a few pesos a night.

Inn Hostel

In my case I stayed at the Hostal Inn (*unfortunately this hostel is not available at the moment; below I leave you more options for cheap lodging in Playa del Carmen) and it was a good experience. It is very cheap, has a shared kitchen, breakfast included, swimming pool, free coffee and water all day. It also has a Chedraui supermarket right across the street. Something I really liked is that the beds are twin beds and quite comfortable. The atmosphere of the hostel is quiet and with a lot of good vibes.

One negative point is that it is a bit far from Quinta Avenida (the street where the tourist activity in Playa del Carmen is concentrated), but you can still walk there. Another point against is breakfast. The truth is that it is not very good and I would recommend you to bring your own food. The same applies to the coffee (and I am not very demanding on this point).

Another negative point that I read on Booking when booking this hostel is that there are shared bathrooms where the showers do not have a door, only a curtain. However, I was lucky and got a room with a private bathroom (which was very comfortable).

All in all, I was quite happy with my choice, especially for the prices. I only paid 402 MXN [21.5 USD] for three nights, in a shared female room.

Where to eat in Playa del Carmen on a budget?

One place in Playa del Carmen where you can find several places to eat cheaply is Parque Portal Maya.

There you will find stalls and carts of typical Mexican food. In general, it has very good prices.