Don’t fall for these tourist scams in Playa del Carmen❗️🇲🇽

Playa del Carmen is one of the most popular and touristy towns on Mexico’s Caribbean shoreline. If you enjoy a lively town, you will love it there. But don‘t fall for these common tourist scams!


I can sum up our stay in Playa del Carmen in three major points:


  • Aggravating taxi drivers (they honk and yell at you from all sides asking you if you need a “taxi, amigo!”)
  • Provoking sales people (especially on 5th Ave)
  • Falling for a scammer renting out his private apartment as a 4-star-hotel


Be aware of false friends 


We usually like peaceful places with lots of nature. So, consequently, the center of Playa del Carmen was a little too much for us. Often tourists report incidents with the local police who seem to be looking for trouble. So be careful when walking around Playa del Carmen, especially at night. As a tourist one is an easy target.


Taxis in Playa del Carmen 


Officially, taxi rates in PDC are set depending on the zone you are going to and coming from. Thus, taxi prices shouldn’t vary too much. Many taxi drivers have their own rules though, especially when it comes to tourists. 


Since other taxi services currently don’t exist in Playa del Carmen, the Taxi mafia is ruling in town. We’ve had the occasional good experience but generally we felt drivers were quite aggressive. We couldn’t walk for a minute without being asked if we wanted a “Taxi, amigo!”


Even when we were on our evening run, taxis would drive next to us asking if we wanted a taxi. Do we really look that exhausted when running!? 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏼🚕💨


5th Avenue and its sales people 


For us it was hard to enjoy walking along the busiest street in PDC – 5th Avenue. One shop after the other and its sellers who want to get you inside their stores. Some come up with creative lines to get your attention, but once you heard them all, the magic is gone. 


Know their tricks


Some of the tricks people use to make you turn around is whistle after you or yell that you dropped something. That way you instinctively reach for your wallet or phone and they might see where you keep your valuables. Knowing exactly where your phone or wallet is will help you not fall for those tricks.


Watch out for hotel scammers


During our three years traveling all over Latin America, we stayed in over 300 hotels. Playa del Carmen will always stay in my memory, though! One of the places we stayed at in PDC was an advertised 4-star-hotel with balcony, pool, included breakfast and other promised amenities. 


After looking for the hotel at the address from the advertisement, I started asking inside other hotels if they knew our place. None of them did and I started getting a nervous feeling in my stomach. 


All of a sudden a guy on the street called my name and asked us to come with him. We went inside an apartment building and he showed us his private apartment. Turns out he was advertising his own place online under false pretenses. There was no balcony, no pool and how on earth would we get our included breakfast!?


It was really hard to communicate with him and he was not very understanding about our concerns that this was not what had been advertised. In addition to that, he charged us a daily electricity fee of 5 USD and cleaning fee of 20 USD without ever cleaning the place. 


If you want to know more about our hotel scam experience, check out my attached videos. There I explain a bit more about it. 


In the end I published an honest review on, after which our host started bombarding me with text messages asking me to take it down. So overall, we were not super happy with our stay in Playa del Carmen and were happy to move on to a new adventure in Tulum.


Playa del Carmen can be a fun place but watch out!


We’ve met people who enjoy living in PDC a lot, so it’s definitely got its good sides. For us it was a bit too much as we prefer the quiet and peaceful life. It’s a great place for diving and if you enjoy a lively nightlife. Just be aware of the sneaky tricks some might use to steal your money, and make sure you agree on prices and conditions beforehand so you’re not in for a shock. 


What are your experiences in Mexico or other popular tourist places? 

Share your experiences in my new Facebook Group for Expats on Nomad Housing & Travel Tips!


PS: This blog is a sneak peek into my upcoming book about my three years of non-stop travel through Latin America. Know a publisher interested in such stories? Reach out here!


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P.S.: Watch the videos I sent to my family during our stay in Playa del Carmen:





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