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How to Spend 3 Days in Playa del Carmen

How to Spend 3 Days in Playa del Carmen

A full Playa del Carmen experience can be had in 72 hours if you plan an itinerary that combines the outdoor activities and cultural attractions of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Here are our top ideas for how to spend your time in this coastal destination about an hour south of Cancún.

 

Day 1: Explore Local Attractions and Activities

Start your trip at one of the three adventure, jungle, and eco-archaeological parks—Rio Secreto, Xplor, and Xcaret. All are located just 15 minutes south of central Playa del Carmen and offer a variety of family-friendly activities, including ziplining and swimming in underground rivers. Spend a few hours, or the whole day, at the one that best suits your group. 

If you’d rather get out in the Caribbean’s clear waters, hop on a half-day catamaran tour to go swimming and snorkeling. Look for sea turtles and tropical fish and admire the scenery as the boat glides along the coast. Cruises often include drinks and lunch on board. Then, begin your evening on a food tour to learn about Playa del Carmen’s culinary culture, or enjoy Vegas-style entertainment with a Riviera Maya theme at a Cirque du Soleil show, which offers dinner and champagne options.

 

Day 2: Discover More Adventures

Make the most of Playa del Carmen’s location between the sea, jungle, and ancient Maya sites on a day tour that matches the interests of your group. For a mix of adventure and history, take a combo tour to the ruins of Tulum with ziplining and swimming in underground caves. If you’d rather be on the water, book a catamaran cruise to Isla Mujeres, or visit Xel-Ha aquatic park for water activities. For a shorter excursion that doesn’t take all day but still provides a little adventure, opt for a half-day jungle buggy tour, where you’ll explore the lush landscape in an open-air 4x4, stopping to swim in an underground swimming hole known as a cenote. 

Back in Playa del Carmen, head out to sea on a sunset cruise before mingling with other partygoers at a few of the top nightlife venues with a nightclub pass.

 

Day 3: Marvel at Ancient Ruins

Take a day trip to see one of several ancient ruins of the Maya civilization, which dominated the Yucatán Peninsula before the Spanish conquerors arrived. The biggest and most popular site is Chichen Itza, located roughly 110 miles (180 kilometers) west of Playa del Carmen. Once one of the Maya’s biggest cities, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Great Ball Court and El Castillo, a step pyramid nearly 100 feet (30 meters) tall. To avoid the crowds and gain the most insight into the pre-Colombian culture, book an early access tour with an archaeologist guide. 

If you’ve already been to Chichen Itza or prefer less travel, try a day trip to Coba, another set of Maya ruins a bit closer to Playa del Carmen where you can see the tallest pyramid in the region.

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10 Tours and Activities

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Jungle Buggy Tour from Playa del Carmen Including Cenote Swim
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Jungle Buggy Tour from Playa del Carmen Including Cenote Swim

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Journey deep into the Riviera Maya on this guided jungle buggy tour from Playa del Carmen. Steer a 4x4 buggy for about 18 miles and admire the lush forest scenery during this thrilling drive. Make a stop at a ranch for a refreshing swim and snorkel at a cenote. Hotel transport included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$90.00
From
$90.00

Playa del Carmen Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, Ziplining and Lunch

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Playa del Carmen Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, Ziplining and Lunch

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Depart Playa del Carmen for a day of cultural experience and adrenaline-inducing activities. Begin with a visit to Tulum, an ancient Maya coastal city that's home to archaeological remains and sandy beaches. Then visit a modern-day Maya community before entering the jungle to explore two vast underground river systems. Snorkel their cavern waters and afterward, board a 4x4 Unimog for a thrilling ride toward a series of ziplining and rappelling adventures. Wind down with a buffet lunch of delicious Maya cuisine.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$109.47
$118.99
$9.52 savings
From
$109.47
$118.99
$9.52 savings

Chichén Itzá Early Access, Ek Balam & Cenote Small Group Tour

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Chichén Itzá Early Access, Ek Balam & Cenote Small Group Tour

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405
Visit Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Ek Balam ad swim in a cenote in one day. Experience one of the world’s wonders without the noise and hassle of crowds on this early access tour. Follow a certified archeological guide on an ancient adventure to sacred cenotes, colossal pyramids and a vast ball court. Visualize the prosperous Mayan empire as you gain insight into one of the ancient world’s most powerful civilizations with captivating commentary from your knowledgeable guide.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$49.00
$70.00
$21.00 savings
From
$49.00
$70.00
$21.00 savings

Xcaret Park Admission Ticket

Xcaret Park Admission Ticket

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Guarantee your entry to Playa del Carmen’s Xcaret eco-archeological park by booking your entrance ticket in advance. Combining nature with history, culture, and cuisine, Xcaret boasts more than 40 attractions that guarantee a fun-filled family day out. Witness an exhilarating equestrian show, marvel at nature in the Butterfly Pavillion and on Jaguar Island, and delve into Yucatan history at the Mexican Folk Art Museum. Upgrade to an Xcarat Plus ticket for free use of lockers and snorkel equipment, a buffet lunch, unlimited soft drinks, and a beer.
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  • 6 to 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$112.81
From
$112.81

Luxury Sunset Sailing Cruise in the Riviera Maya

Luxury Sunset Sailing Cruise in the Riviera Maya

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Set sail along the magnificent coastline of the Riviera Maya aboard a luxury catamaran and gaze at the soft hues of sunset. Relax with a cocktail from the open bar while you're served snacks by an expert crew and captain. Hotel transport is provided from most hotels for this excursion.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$89.00
From
$89.00

Xplor Park All-Inclusive Admission

Xplor Park All-Inclusive Admission

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Enjoy a day of Riviera Maya adventure at Xplor Park with all-inclusive access to underground river trips, amphibious vehicle trails, and zip lines. Paddle, swim, drive, and soar: all equipment is provided, along with dressing rooms and secure lockers. You’ll have the whole day to explore the park at your own pace, with a break to refuel with a lunch buffet, smoothies, and juice.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$133.33
From
$133.33

Walking Food Tour in Downtown Playa del Carmen

Walking Food Tour in Downtown Playa del Carmen

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Get beyond the tourist restaurants on a 3-hour culinary walking tour of Playa del Carmen, as you discover the city’s locally-owned cafes and street food stalls. Come hungry for tastings and drinks at five locations, and get an insider introduction to the Playa del Carmen food scene.
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  • 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$64.14
From
$64.14

Rio Secreto Plus: Admission Ticket in Playa del Carmen

Rio Secreto Plus: Admission Ticket in Playa del Carmen

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Explore Rio Secreto in Playa del Carmen, including additional access to new features with a Rio Secreto Plus admission ticket. Visit the new 'Dry Route', which includes a visit to the Salón de la Paz for a fantastic sound and light show and a 25-minute guided walk on the interpretive nature trails. Bike through the forest and go rappelling, then continue to Rio Secreto's natural underground rivers and impressive caves filled with unique rock formations. Fuel up with a buffet lunch and refreshing non-alcoholic beverages. Use of all equipment and transport from the welcome center are included.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$99.00
From
$99.00

VIP Nightclub Tour in Playa del Carmen

VIP Nightclub Tour in Playa del Carmen

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51
Dance the night away at three of Playa del Carmen’s swankiest bars and clubs on a VIP nightclub tour of the town. Enjoy an exclusive experience of Playa del Carmen’s famous nightlife as you sip unlimited drinks in bustling beach bars and cosmopolitan clubs with a lively guide. Slink past velvet ropes as you skip long lines, allowing more time for drinking and dancing to prominent Mexican DJs.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$99.99
From
$99.99

Cobá, Chichén Itzá, Cenote & Valladolid Small Group Tour with Buffet Lunch

Special Offer

Cobá, Chichén Itzá, Cenote & Valladolid Small Group Tour with Buffet Lunch

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65
Escape the tourist crowds and explore the atmospheric Coba ruins in peace during an early access Coba ruins full-day tour, discover the ancient Mayan city of Coba with an expert archeologist guide and gain in-depth knowledge of the site. Ascend to the summit of the Yucatan’s highest pyramid and enjoy a refreshing swim in a secretive underground cavern. If you want to visit two of the most iconic ruins in Quintana Roo, swim in a cenote and taste a typical Mexican buffet lunch, this is your tour!
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$56.00
$70.00
$14.00 savings
From
$56.00
$70.00
$14.00 savings