What's better? Puerto Vallarta vs. Playa del Carmen in Mexico?

I’m going to travel to Mexico by the end of february and i would like to know which place do you recommend to stay at for a month or so. Which one would fit better for a digital nomad? Pros and Cons for each place are welcomed :smile:


Playa del Carmen is a bit more active and touristy than puerto vallarta, but way calmer than Cancun.

I think it might depend on what you are looking for.
You will find more expats and tourists in Playa (and everything that comes with that).
So if you want a bit of tranquility, Perhaps Puerto Vallarta might be a good option.

hello oskar. I own a coworking space in Playa del Carmen Mexico. I would be more than happy to help you out during your trip. If you happen to come to PDC I could show you around and point you to the right direction.

Sounds like you want to do the beach, but for anyone else looking for a different experience in Mexico, the south-central region of the country is amazing. San Cristóbal de las Casas is one of my favorite cities in that part of the world. It’s in the mountains (7,000 ft/2100 m elevation), mild days and cools nights, near beautiful natural scenery (waterfalls, canyons, mountains, etc.), incredibly cheap, clean, safe, amazing food — I loved it. Going back there this year sometime.

Oaxaca is also a fan favorite and just a bit north.

Have fun wherever you wind up!

I’ve been cycle touring around Mexico for about nine months and visited 13 states and the Federal District. I just got back from Quintana Roo and did not like it at all. The entire coast is very built up and extremely touristy. Everything is insanely expensive by Mexican standards and compared to every place I’ve been, the locals were much less friendly and more scammy. Even Tulum, which is much more local and chilled out is overflowing with gringo backpackers. The one benefit I found was being able to get great food you can’t find in much of Mexico (I love Mexican food, but it’s nice to have some variety). We ate bomb-ass Thai food in Tulum. Most of the beaches (supposed to be public in Mexico) have been closed off by giant resorts. We camped on one of the few remaining “locals” beaches and that was still very overpriced and filled with tourists. I don’t want to get down on QR too much because I know a lot of people live there are adore the place. There is a lot of beauty and I’m sure if you have your life set up there, it’s a great place. I just found it to be the least authentic and most expensive place I’ve been in Mexico by far. It’s just not my bag.

PV is also touristy, as are some of the spots around it, but there are tons of great places to get away from it all there. I found the locals to be much friendlier and I didn’t feel like I was constantly being pushed into the gringo holes. Another big sell for me is the amazing topography of the area. If you’re into hiking at all, PV is the way to go. The Yucatan Peninsula is mostly completely flat whereas you will be hard pressed to find much more than a village-worth of flat land around PV. The mountains plunge right into the sea.

One benefit of Playa del Carmen is that you are near the Cancun airport, which can take you all over the world at some of the best prices and is one of the few hubs south of the USA from which you can get direct flights to much of the Caribbean. PV is definitely a secondary or even tertiary international airport. You’ll also very close to Belize if you decide to stay much longer than intended and need to do a visa run, or just want to swing by another country.

PV has sunsets, Playa has sunrises.

PV has big waves and great surfing around, Playa has bathtub beaches and good snorkeling in the area.

Playa has cenotes and crazy ruins, PV has the mountains I was talking about.

BTW, try to avoid showing up on the beach around Semana Santa (the week of Easter). That’s when just about every Mexican heads to the beach to get hammered. It’s like the US spring break, but for the whole family. You will NOT be able to find a place to stay without paying through the nose and anywhere on the coast will be extremely packed and crazy noisy. If you luck out and get a rental that includes that week, head inland and AirBnB that shit for a handsome profit. Actually, Semana Santa is a week or two before or after the US spring break, so that whole month should be avoided, especially if you choose Playa.


All depends on what you are looking for… But that has been said.

I was outside of PV for most of 2014 in a sweet pueblo named Sayulita. About a 45 min drive from the PV airport and it is a little surf town of maybe 5,000 people.

Great restaurants, great people, super-sweet place. Can be tough finding a place since it is so small, but they are around.

I showed up the week before Semana Santa and LOVED IT! Ya, the town explodes, the beach and restaurants get crowded, the locals are BORRACHO but WTF… not my culture, not my tradition, definitely not my place to judge.

It was beautiful… Confusing for holy week, for sure… But that’s how they roll and I am a guest in their country. And I’m happy to be in MX this year for Semana Santa again. Cultura Fuerte!

I’m heading to PDC in a few weeks myself to check out that part of the country… Mexico is SOOOOOO diverse… I love it. There seems to be so many places to explore, some cheap, some expensive, some well known, some not known, some big, some small… And they give long duration visas! :wink:

Vaya con dios, amigo!

Yeah, Sayulita…a magical place, I almost didn’t leave…glad I wasn’t there for Semana Santa though…their independence day was crazy enough for me! IMHO, the best time to stay is during Dia de Muertos…the Day of the Dead festival.

Dia De Los Muertos was nice there… The stage in the plaza, the school kids doing their performances… But it wasn’t that ‘different’ if you will.

With that said, late Oct and early Nov is indeed a great time to be there… Before the snow birds show up.

Honestly, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe festival was truly beautiful and very different compared to anything I was used to…

I have heard of sayulita but i have decided to go to playa del carmen this time. I need more “infrastructure” this time :smile:. Maybe i can travel from cancun to PV…

FYI, we’ve got a coworking space in Sayulita now with fiber internet sayulitacowork.com


That’s nice but i was referring more to options to stay in. I have heard that sayulita is pretty small so there are not to many options for housing…
thanks for the tip though :smile:

That’s good to know because I had a terrible time with internet speed when I was there.

Hey! I’ll be heading to Oaxaca and San Cristobal this November. Any tips, recommendation ect … Super stoked on heading to this part of Mexico, IMO playa is overrated.