AOL PICK from our Editors
Shopping in the Hotel Zone consists of hotel boutiques and big malls. To be honest, it’s probably not very different from what you’re accustomed to back home (including many chains like Nine West and Nautica) except that the clothing shops specialize in resort wear. In fact, you might even forget you're in Mexico for a moment, especially considering just about all the clerks speak English. If that's your thing then go for it, but if you're looking for some cool Mexican stuff, you're not going to find it at The Gap or Hugo Boss. In El Centro, there are more souvenir shops, although, again, the best bet is the big Mercado 28. Typical souvenirs are rugs, blankets, ceramics, masks and wood carvings. Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, items are popular with tourists, so witty skeletons abound. You’ll find a lot of imitation “talavera” pottery, but the price is right, and it’s festive.
Neighborhood: El Centro
This is Cancun’s sprawling souvenir flea market, where the sales pitches are persistent and you'll only shake them loose by a steady stream of "no quiero." Americans with no traditional talent for bargaining can find it downright aggravating. Just assume the first price you’re offered is three to five times what it should be. It most likely is and don't even consider buying without haggling. It's all part of the fun anyway, so go with the flow. It’s a good spot for souvenirs, from silver jewelry to blankets and pottery.
Neighborhood: Hotel Zone
This glitzy lagoon-side center is cut by canals. Shops include all the typical stuff you'll find back home like Zara, Diesel, Guess and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as the ubiquitous Sergio Bustamante (upscale silver jewelry shops all over Mexico). Johnny Rockets and Hooters are good for the homesick, and Starbucks provides free Wi-Fi, for people who’re frustrated by the high Wi-Fi rates at the resorts. Even if you're not interested in shopping here, it's a cool place to wander around for a bit.
More Details on Plaza la Isla
Neighborhood: Hotel Zone
At Kukulcan Plaza, designer shops on “Luxury Avenue” include Carolina Herrera, Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna and Burberry. But there are many more shops selling more affordable beach wear. Ruth’s Chris Steak House is here for anyone missing back home (and Haagen Dazs and Baskin Robbins).
More Details on Kukulcan Plaza
Playa del Carmen
Neighborhood: Riviera Maya
Many people travel the hour south of Cancun to Playa del Carmen, where small arts and crafts shops and galleries abound. Prices are still resort-town-high, but they’re generally lower than Cancun. The main drag is called Fifth Avenue, and most of the shops are concentrated near the tourist area close to the beach.