Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Riviera Maya Journal #12 - Shopping - Larry Widen

Although there are many areas in Riviera Maya to shop, the beach community of Playa del Carmen is probably the largest single concentration of boutiques, shops, stores, restaurants, nightclubs and other vendors. Homesick visitors will take comfort in knowing there's a McDonald's and a Johnny Rockets in Playa, but to tell the truth, I didn't see many Americans in either place. The majority of diners at both restaurants sounded European.

Playa's main drag is called 5th Avenue, and unless you're a marathon shopper, you won't be able to see it all in one visit. It seemed to me that many people came for an early supper and then spent the rest of the evening strolling up and down the streets. After a while, I started to recognize some of them, and each time they were carrying another bag! Surprisingly, many merchants along 5th Avenue maintained fixed prices in their stores. The time-honored Mexican tradition of haggling over the price of an item is less apparent in Playa, so unless you've got unlimited funds, you may want to visit the marketplaces in Cancun or Cozumel where bargaining is alive and well.

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