Last updated on October 9th, 2016

It was midnight and I was waiting in the Tulum ADO bus terminal while the town was being trenched with rain. Part one of my Central American trip came to an end in Mexico. Yes, Mexico is technically a part of North America but not for this travel blog post.

The taxi driver wanted 35 pesos for the five-minute drive from Mango Hostel to here. I was able to lower it to the normal price of 30 pesos. I already got ripped off paying 50 pesos on Thursday for the same drive in the opposite direction. Like any other country where the taxis don’t have meters, the drivers take advantage of travelers. This is just a small tourist trap and didn’t ruin my travels in Mexico.

I recommend to travel to Tulum instead of Playa del Carmen.

The Tulum ruins are better than Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza has twenty times has many tourists as Tulum. This is just my rough estimate. The Tulum ruins are a short taxi ride from the hostel. The entry fee is 64 pesos. I was able to arrive at the Tulum ruins in the morning and avoid most of the tourists. I worked on my travel photography in Tulum without much interference. Tulum is the only ruins on the coast. It’s the main reason I wanted to see it. It looks like fort guarding the shores of the Caribbean.

Prior to Tulum, I was in Playa del Carmen for four nights. 5th (Quinta) Avenue, Playa del Carmen’s main street, had herds of tourists crossing the Serengeti like wildebeests. The strip is Americanized: Starbucks, McDonald’s, Haagen Dazs and more stores are scattered across the pedestrian-only road. I’m a chocolate lover and couldn’t resist Haagen Dazs. I bought a chocolate fudge ice-cream on a peanuts and chocolate coated waffle cone: 97 pesos. Ouch. I paid 55 pesos for lunch 15 minutes earlier on 10th Avenue.

The local Mexicans in Playa del Carmen pester tourists for a sale. “Cigars, chicas, massages, blow,” they offer me as I walk along 5th Avenue.  I heard a chubby, middle-aged Mexican shout, “Hey Barbie, come here, work it, shake it,” to a blonde woman walking with her girlfriends. They ignored him and kept walking. When I try to go somewhere on 5th Avenue, I walk parallel along 10th Avenue to avoid the hustle, sometimes.

I preferred staying in Tulum over Playa del Carmen. Tulum is more authentic. I only saw local merchants in Tulum and the pitch-a-sale on the main Tulum Street is not aggressive. At the same time, it depends on what you’re looking for in a place.

I won’t be returning to Playa del Carmen or Tulum anytime soon. My travels in Latin American will take me elsewhere. If you only have a choice between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, travel to Tulum. If you want to party hard and bar hop like a gringo, head to Playa del Carmen.

Luckily, the rain didn’t delay the 12:45 am bus to Belize City.