Shopping in Cancun: Guide to Cancun’s Shopping Malls & Markets

In addition to the crazy nightlife, pristine beaches and turquoise Caribbean water, Cancun also offers some great shopping too. Shopping in CancunWhether you want to shop in Cancun’s Hotel Zone or if you prefer the downtown markets, this guide will help you in your shopping journey.

In the hotel zone be prepared for higher prices and high-end stores. There are a few places to buy souvenirs in the hotel zone, however the prices are about double for the same items in the downtown markets.

Cancun Hotel Zone Shopping

  • Plaza KukulcanKukulcan Plaza at KM 13 This shopping plaza holds stores such as Hugo Boss, Harley Davidson, Señor Frogs Store, ENVY, & Oakley. On one end of the mall is ‘Luxury Avenue’, an ultra-high-end shopping plaza and contains Ultrafemme, Burberry, Coach, Fendi, Cartier & Louis Vuitton just to name a few. There are also several restaurants including Ruth´s Chris Steak House and Tequila Grill.
  • Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5. This is one of my favorites because the stores are a little more trendy and there is more to see and do here. Plaza La Isla Shopping CenterStores include Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, Bvlgari, Nine West, Ultrafemme, Deportes Martí, Sunglass Island, Guess, Diesel, Envy, Máximo Dutti, Liverpool, SOHO, United Colors of Benetton and Sr. Frog’s Boutique. Plaza La Isla also has some of the best restaurants in Cancun including The Elefanta, Thai Lounge, La Madonna, Italianni’s, Chili’s, Johnny Rockets, Hooters, & Planet Hollywood. Here you can also take in a movie or go through the Interactive Aquarium.
  • Forum by the Sea at KM 9 Plaza Forum by the Seais a large multilevel plaza with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment which transforms into the Party Center hub at night featuring CocoBongo and many other famous clubs. This plaza is more for restaurants than for shopping, featuring Cambalache, Carlos n’ Charlie’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Chili’s and more. Here you may see locals with animals like monkeys and bobcats. Please do not pay to have your picture taken with these wild animals. There is an ongoing campaign to stop the abuse of these animals and you can help by refusing to give the handlers your money.
  • Coral Negro Flea Market at KM 9.5. Coral Negro Flea MarketThere is store after store after store, mostly selling the same souvenir t-shirts, shot glasses, sunglasses, sand-in-a-bottle, starfish lamps and many other trinkets to take home with you. Be prepared to barter for the best price or buy two and save money. Some folks really enjoy this little dance to get a discount…try walking away from a salesperson and the price usually drops in half.

Cancun Downtown Shopping

We offer a Shopping tour to take you to any of the above plazas or any of the malls are markets in Downtown Cancun. Price is by the hour and it is very flexible.

  • Plaza Las Americas & Malecon Mall – Tulum Ave. Downtown Cancun. maleconThe original mall is Plaza Las Americas. In the past couple of years the Malecon was built on, making this new merged mall the BEST shopping in downtown Cancun. Plaza Las Americas has stores such as Liverpool, Sears, Sanborn’s, VIPS, YAK & Sports Book, Dorian’s, Chedraui Grocery Store, Zara, Bershka, Lob, Martí, Mixup, Mundo deportivo, Shasa, C&A, Versalles, Ultrafemme, Zingara, Sunglass Island, Furor, Hang Ten and more. Malecon is partially indoors and partially open air and contains clothing stores, jewelry shops, and shoe stores. There are also book stores, furniture stores, home furnishings stores, a music store, and large Mexican department stores. The open air section has a Starbucks, food kiosks, a carousel and other activities for children. Restaurants include California Pizza Kitchen, Chili’s, McDonalds (with a McCafe) and Hooters. On Sundays the mall is packed with locals.
  • Market 28. In my opinion this is the best place to do your souvenir shopping in Cancun. The prices are cheaper than the hotel zone for the EXACT same items. Handmade jewelry, t-shirts, beach bags, hammocks can all be bought at bargain prices.
    You can also find local vanilla and hot sauces at Market 28. The restaurants have a much more local flair and feature seafood and cold beer. On most days you’ll hear the xylophone players in the center of the market.
  • Market 23. Market 23This is much more for locals than for tourists visiting Cancun. Very little English is spoken at Market 23 and some days it smells quite funky. You’ll find vegetables, spices, trinkets, counterfeit or copied DVDs, and chicharon (deep fried pig skin). Market 23 is truly a Mexican market with incense & flowers, candles and religious dolls. The souvenirs at Market 23 are much more traditional than the mass-produced items at the tourist markets. Tip: It would be helpful to have a Spanish speaker with you to get the most out of the experience.

Flea Markets

If you REALLY want to get into downtown Cancun, check out the flea markets, called tiangues (pronounced tee-ON-gays). I know of two tiangues located on the street called Lopez Portillo, but I have heard of several others as well. At the flea markets you will find everything that is left in hotel rooms after tourists leave: suntan lotions, vanilla, hot sauce, cell phones & chargers, clothes & toiletries. Everything at the tiangues is VERY CHEAP. Look a little further into the markets and you’ll find girls painting flowers on customer’s toes, handmade curtains, clothes and so much more. You’ll need to be quite adventurous to visit one of the tiangues. It is one of my favorite things in Cancun.

Rainy Day Guide: 6 Great Activities to do in Cancun when it Rains

The most common concern that travelers have when planning their vacation to Cancun is regarding the weather. Will it rain? What is there to do on rainy days in Cancun?

If your vacation dates are between December and April, you won’t have much to worry about. This is not hurricane season and these are the driest months of the year. When it does rain, it is usually at night or for a brief afternoon shower. Rain will rarely interrupt plans during this time of year.

We start seeing more rainfall in May and more full days of rain instead of just a quick shower. Hurricane season (June to November) sees the highest amount of rainfall and tropical depressions can increase these amounts.

rainfall-cancunmap
Rainfall data courtesy of CancunMap.com

So…what is there to do in this sunshine-dependent vacation spot when it is raining? Here are some of my favorite things.

1. Visit a cenote.

cenote
Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan peninsula and there are many in the Mayan Riviera to see. They are similar to sink holes or caverns with fresh, cold water and stalactite and stalagmite formations. the weather really doesn’t affect you while you are swimming or exploring in a cenote, but when you exit you’ll be cold so be prepared with towels and dry clothes.

2. Snorkeling.

SNORKELING

Yes, snorkeling in the ocean. You are already wet, why not jump in the warm ocean? The visibility will be less then when the sun is shining, however on the plus side, there will be far fewer people. Of course this is not recommended if it is storming with lightning.

3. SubSee Submarines.

Subsee Cancun and CozumelThere is one in Cancun and one in Cozumel. These are great for the whole family to be able to see the ocean floor from the safety of the submarine. Again, visibility may be slightly diminished. Discounts on SubSee Cancun and SubSee Cozumel.

4. Museum.

Mayan-Museum30Cancun now has a Mayan Museum in the hotel zone. It is only about $5 per person and a great way to learn about the culture. Read more about the “Museo Maya” here.

5. Aquarium. Inside of Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5 in the hotel zone is the Interactive Aquarium. For only $10 USD you can tour the 13 aquarium tanks and see rays, pirahnas, moray eels, jellyfish, seahorses, scorpion fish and coral. It’s not a large aquarium but it is fun to see.

6. Shopping.  Cancun has several malls for you to get your shopping fix. In the hotel zone be prepared for higher prices and high-end stores. See more info about each mall here.

  • Kukulcan Plaza at KM 13 Higher-end stores like Hugo Boss, Harley Davidson & Oakley. On one end of the mall is Luxury Avenue and containsBurberry, Coach, Fendi, Cartier & Louis Vuitton.
  • Plaza La Isla Shopping Center at KM 12.5. This is one of my favorites because the stores are more trendy and there is more to see and do here. Stores include Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, Guess, Diesel, Envy. Here you can also take in a movie or go through the Interactive Aquarium (see #5 above).
  • Forum by the Sea at KM 9 is a large multilevel plaza with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment which transforms into the Party Center hub at night.
  • Plaza Las Americas & Malecon Americas Mall in downtown Cancun. This is a large mall filled with trendy and affordable stores. It is quite close to the hotel zone and very modern.

CARM offers a shopping trip you can buy by the hour here. You can see the full list of by tours offered by CARM Tours & Transfers here.

Tip: Avoid going further into downtown Cancun if it is a full day of rain. The flooding in downtown is extreme and the driving techniques are terrible.

Duty-free shopping at the Cancun Airport

When you leave Cancun Airport to head home after your vacation in Mexico, you may want to take a few things back with you. Almost everyone has a list of friends, co-workers, nieces and nephews for which to buy souvenirs. There are some good markets in Cancun, like Market 28, however it is handy to grab these items on your way out of Cancun at the Duty-Free shops at the Cancun Airport.

The shops are located in all the departure terminals. It is not possible to access these stores upon arrival. Duty-Free Shops are accessible on departures only. Some of the most popular shops are Sr. Frogs, Sunglass Island, Hard Rock Cafe, Oprendi & Ocean Blue. You can buy liquor, cigarettes, t-shirts, and souvenirs of all kinds.

Map of the Cancun Airport Stores: http://www.asur.com.mx/asur/ingles/aeropuertos/cancun/map.asp

Cancun Airport Departures Area

Cancun Airport Departures Area

There are also food court areas at both terminals, including a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rockets, Starbucks (of course), Margaritaville, Domino’s Pizza, Peking Xpress, Guacamole Grill (fast food), Burger King, Baskin Robbins, TGI Friday’s, drug store and convenience store.

Now, there are limits to what you can take back with you when you leave Cancun. Each person can bring back $800 USD worth of items purchased in Mexico, duty-free, including:

  • One liter (33.8 ounces) of alcohol (provided the resident is 21 years or over)
  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars that are not of Cuban origin (1 carton)

Items brought from the duty-free shop may [Read more…]