How Much Does It Cost to Spend a Month in Playa del Carmen?

by Gigi Griffis

As you may know, Luna and I spent the last month of our lives in Playa del Carmen (known affectionately by some locals as Playa del Karma). We came just as the rainy season was beginning, which meant a few horribly hot days interspersed with wonderful, drenching rainstorms that cooled the air and changed the landscape.

As usual, I’ve tried to track my spending for you so that you can see just how easy it is to live around the world on a budget.

Also as usual, you’ll find detailed notes under the budget numbers below. Those notes should give you an idea of how I lived and why the budget numbers look the way they do.

Without further ado, then, my budget in Playa del Carmen from June 13 to July 12:

 Pesos  Dollars
 Small studio, 10+ mins to beach  9475.71  $736
 Taxis + transport  302  $23.47
 Groceries and supplies  2289.35  $178.36
 Eating/drinking out  3093  $240.97
 Laundry  70  $5.44
 Dog food, supplies, & vet bills  786  $61.09
 Activities (incl. massages and HOLDING A BABY MONKEY)  900  $70.12
 Gifts  311.61  $24.28
 ATM & exchange fees  138  $10.73

Total Pesos:  17,365.67   /    Total Dollars: $1,350.46

Notes on my Mexico spending:

The humidity of Mexico had an interesting effect on me. Anytime I drink an alcoholic beverage, for the most part, I end up with a splitting headache. What this means in terms of spending is that my eating and drinking out budget reflects very little drinking (instead, I was buying Gatorade, coffee, smoothies, and virgin daquiris). So if you are planning to party it up, do plan for a larger budget.

My little studio was not the cheapest option in town, so you could easily spend a little less on accommodations (and, frankly, probably find a nicer space). Also, my studio didn’t come equipped with certain essentials (a can opener and corkscrew, for instance), so my budget reflects some small spending on things that I normally wouldn’t have to buy.

Having someone else do my laundry here cost less than $2 per load, so I never did my own laundry.

As usual, I was working during my time here – so if you are spending all your time exploring, doing activities, swimming with dolphins, etc. etc., you will probably spend more than I did. Though if your favorite thing to do is lay on the beach or take long shoreline walks, your life down here will probably be as cheap as mine.

Looking for more cost breakdowns? Check out my full list of travel cost blog posts.

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Ali July 18, 2013 - 9:07 am

Playa del Carmen vs Sayulita? Which place did you like better and why? Trying to plan our winter escape, potentially to Mexico.

gigigriffis July 18, 2013 - 9:30 am

If I had to pick only one to visit, I would pick Sayulita. The coastline is a bit more rugged and full of coves, so it isn’t hard to find a secluded beach if you want to be alone with nature. The rugged coastline was also really beautiful to me – with the waves crashing against cliffs and boulders jutting out of the ocean.

I also liked the vibe in Sayulita. It’s a much smaller town than Playa and it’s full of long-stay travelers and expats. Most people come and stay awhile to practice yoga, learn to surf, write, etc. – so you get this really relaxed, settled community of people from all over the world. It’s also full of hippies and conspiracy theorists and free thinkers and music therapists – really quirky, interesting people.

Finally, Sayulita is where jungle meets ocean. It’s a little hilly and there are patches of jungle you can hike through walking distance from the beach. The downside to this is that there are more bugs and critters, but it is really beautiful and makes the landscape more interesting in my opinion.

That said, Playa del Carmen is interesting too – it’s just made for a different kind of visitor. It feels more transient and touristy. I liked the variety (so many places to choose from for dinner! So many ice cream shops!), but didn’t love the constant street vendor harassment. And the beach stretches in either direction, so if you love walking along the beach for hours, this is a great option (in Sayulita, the cliffs will stop you and you’ll have to circle around and into the jungle).

Ali July 18, 2013 - 12:40 pm

Thanks for the info! Doesn’t make it easier to decide where to go, but it’s great having more info about the places we’re looking at. Good thing we have lots of time to figure it out!

Maria July 21, 2013 - 1:43 pm

Love the cost details and your breakdown for Ali on Sayulita – great intel in this post – Thanks!

gigigriffis July 21, 2013 - 4:27 pm


damdjm July 29, 2013 - 12:58 pm

is it safe?

gigigriffis July 29, 2013 - 5:02 pm

I felt very safe while I was there and didn’t hear of any major crimes.

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Jamie December 28, 2013 - 4:45 pm

I have read your posts on Sayulita and was wondering if you would compare it to Tulum at all? I spend a very relaxing 3 weeks in Tulum last year and am now looking to head to Sayulita but don’t know anything about it. Do you recommend the Playa Escondida? any other travel advise for someone heading to Sayulita?

gigigriffis December 29, 2013 - 3:35 am

Hi Jamie,

I haven’t made it to Tulum myself, so I can’t really compare them, but Sayulita was wonderful – small, yet busy and vibrant and full of life. And, yes, I loved Playa Escondida! Though keep in mind that it’s about 20 – 30 minutes outside Sayulita on foot (10 minutes by taxi or car).

gigigriffis December 29, 2013 - 3:36 am

Also, here are some more tips (where to find the cheap ATM and the good tacos):

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