Which is better between Cancún and Playa del Carmen?


When comparing the benefits of the tourist beach towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it can be difficult to choose between the two. But while beaches and fine sand abound, each city has unique assets to offer visitors. In this article, we’ll explore some of the stranger perks of Playa del Carmen and Cancún that may help you make your decision.

Overview of Cancún and Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen (known as ‘Playa’ to the locals) and Cancun are two cities located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Although both feature a multitude of attractions for travelers, Playa is generally considered a quiet and chic hotel zone, while Cancun is more popular and lively.

Both are important tourist destinations, revered for their vibrant club scenes and nightlife.

Location and Size

Cancun is situated at the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, while Playa del Carmen is located along the coast of Quintana Roo around 60km south. In terms of size, Cancún is much larger with a population of nearly 750,000 people, while Playa del Carmen hosts only about 35,000.

As such, Cancún has many more high-rise hotels and resorts than its smaller counterpart to the south.

History and Culture

Each have their own unique history that can be traced back hundreds of years ago when they were part of the powerful Mayan civilization. Both cities also share similar cultures; however, it’s important to note that Cancun has been heavily influenced by tourism over the years, while Playa remains largely unchanged from its original culture.

Tourist Attractions

Both cities offer tourists a variety of attractions to explore. Whether it’s relaxing on one of the many white sandy beaches in either city or exploring the local culture through traditional shops and restaurants, you can find something to do in both places.

Visitors can also take day trips to some of Mexico’s most impressive ancient ruins including Chichen Itza and Tulum near Playa del Carmen or Cobá in Cancún.

Comparing Cancún and Playa del Carmen

Beaches and Water Activities

The beaches in Cancún are larger than those in Playa del Carmen thanks to its long coastline. Each beach offers plenty of chairs and umbrellas as well as water activities like snorkeling and diving.

There is also an abundance of reefs off the coast which makes for excellent scuba diving conditions. The nearby islands like Cozumel provide even more opportunity for exploration beneath the waves.

Nightlife and Entertainment

If nightclubs are your thing then head to Cancún where you’ll find everything from lively bars to exclusive clubs with big-name DJs spinning tunes into the early hours . In Playa there are still some great options offering trendy music venues alongside more traditional spots playing Mexican classics.

Or if you want something more low-key there are plenty of cocktail bars around town.

Shopping and Dining


From bustling markets packed with handmade souvenirs to large malls with designer stores, each city caters for different shopping needs . When it comes to food ,you will find an array of delicious cuisine ranging from Mexican staples like tacos and enchiladas ,to international favourites like sushi , pizza ,and burgers .

There are lots of local restaurants scattered around both cities serving up tasty meals at reasonable prices.

Natural Attractions and Excursions

Cancún and Playa del Carmen are surrounded by natural beauty, making them both ideal locations for outdoor activities. While Cancun offers a lively nightlife and is known for its large beachfront resorts, Playa del Carmen is more relaxed, with smaller boutique hotels and a number of family-friendly attractions.

There are plenty of options for water sports enthusiasts too; from catamaran cruises to snorkeling excursions and scuba diving trips.

Choosing Between Cancún and Playa del Carmen

Budget and Accommodation Options

The budget traveler may find better accommodation options in Cancún due to the sheer number of hotels available. But if you’re looking for something more luxurious, then Playa del Carmen has some great high-end resorts.

Both cities offer a variety of sleeping options so be sure to compare prices before booking.

Transportation and Accessibility§

In terms of accessibility, Cancun International Airport serves both cities, making it easier for travelers to get around. Public transport is readily available in both places, with buses running frequently all day long.

In Playa there are also taxis that can be hired for short trips or longer journeys while in Cancun they are more expensive but still affordable.

Personal Preferences and Travel Goals

Travelers should consider their own personal preferences when deciding on which city is right for them. If you’re looking for an exciting nightlife then Cancun might be the perfect destination, where you will find plenty of bars and clubs to explore.

On the other hand, if you’re after a more relaxed atmosphere then Playa del Carmen could be the best choice as it offers plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun as well as plenty of cultural attractions to visit.

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