The Segmental Info System

Shopping in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Choose between luxury and local items in Cancun

Photo credit: © Lawrence Weslowski Jr |

Cancun is one of the world's premier tourist destinations and it isn't afraid to pull out all the stops when it comes to shopping.  Tourists have many options to choose from, with everything from high end products to handicrafts up for grabs.

The Goods

Because of the duty free shopping, Cancun is a great place for shoppers to pick up high end European products such as clothing, jewelry, watches, cosmetics, hand rolled cigars, and perfumes. 

...go from open air markets to high end malls...


Handmade items are another thing to seek out during your vacation in Cancun.  In Cancun, locals are known for making such items as beaded jewelry, leather crafts, hand woven clothing, wood crafts, pottery, and Mexican spices.  Because of the high volume of tourist traffic, these items do tend to be more expensive in Cancun than other Mexican cities.  Still, if you are not planning on leaving Cancun, they are worth the price because handmade crafts tend to be one of a kind.

One thing to keep in mind is that the duty free shops do not always offer the lowest prices.  Perfume, for example, is known to be cheaper in mall shops, and tequila prices are at their lowest in area super markets.

Where to Shop

 In Cancun there are three different shopping “zones” that travelers have to choose from: the hotel zone, the downtown area, and the open air markets.

Hotel Zone

Due to their close proximity to most vacationer's accommodations, the hotel zone malls are the most popular choice.  These malls are set up like the malls in the United States, and are filled with department stores, novelty shops, food courts, and movie theaters.  All of the hotel zone malls are located along Blvd. Kukulcán.

For the most luxurious and exclusive shopping along the Hotel Zone strip, visit Kukulcan Plaza.  The plaza is situated between Five Star Hotel and Grand Tourism Hotel near the end of Blvd. Kukulcán. Boutiques featuring high end goods from around the world have homes within the plaza, including clothing, jewelry, perfume, and other accessories.  There are over 250 shops in the building, and visitors who aren't looking to spend a pretty penny will also find shops featuring local goods.  Twelve restaurants exist within the confines, as does a bowling alley.

La Isla Shopping Village is located along Nichupte Lagoon, and known for it's open air structure that allows patrons to walk along the waterway as they travel from shop to shop.  There are 150 shops featuring products from around the world, 10 restaurants, a movie theater, and an aquarium. 

One of the most well established malls in Cancun's hotel zone is Plaza Caracol.  The mall opened in the early 80s, and has grown to have over 200 shops and 12 restaurants.  The mall has recently unveiled a new shopping concept, which focuses on the artists side of shopping. Still, Plaza Caracol has all of the same shops that one would expect to find in a mall.

Right in the center of the hotel zone is Plaza Flamingo, one of the areas smaller malls.  The 100+ shops here are all indoors, and feature jewelry, clothing, and beach supplies.  The 10+ restaurants are almost all recognizable by American visitors, because they are U.S. chains.

Though there are three stories at the Plaza Forum by the Sea, this mall is still one of the Hotel Zone's smallest.  Here there are about 70 shops and 8 restaurants.  The real draw to the facility is the nightclub Coco Bongo.

Situated directly in front of the convention center is Plaza La Fiesta.  This mall is one of the best to shop for souvenirs, because there are multiple leather working shops, silver shops, and shops designed specifically to sell souvenirs. 

Hotel Zone Malls in Cancun
Name Location Phone Number
Kukulcan Plaza & Luxury Avenue Blvd. Kukulcán Km. 13 998-193-0161
La Isla Shopping Village Blvd. Kukulcán Km. 12.5 998-83-50-23
Plaza Caracol Blvd. Kukulcán Km. 8.5 998-883-0905
Plaza Flamingo Blvd. Kukulcán Km.11.5 998-883-2855
Plaza Forum by the Sea Blvd. Kukulcán Km. 9 998-883-4426 
Plaza La Fiesta Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 9 998-883-2116

Downtown Malls

Downtown malls feature the same set-up as hotel zone malls, though they are located at a greater distance, which is slightly less accessible to vacationers without a vehicle.  Most of the local population of Cancun lives in the Downtown area, so you are likely to find more shopping centers that have appliance and hardware stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. 

Located along one of the busiest roads in the downtown area, La Gran Plaza is a two-story mall featuring your typical mall shops and department stores.  This facility also has a movie theater.

An outdoor shopping center on Ave. Andres, Paseao Cancun has clothing and accessory shops, beauty salons, pet stores, coffee shops, restaurants, a bowling alley, and a movie theater. 

Plaza 2000 is one of the downtown areas smaller malls, but a great place to go if you're looking for something out of the ordinary.  Most of the shops here feature local products that you are unlikely to find back home.

Plaza Hollywood Cancun is located near Sams Club and Walmart, and features many more facilities outside of your typical department stores, restaurants, and shops.  On property, patrons will find several banks, a gym, and the offices of several local businesses.

The largest shopping mall in the downtown area (which is also the most convenient to hotel zone guests) is Plaza Las Americas.  Department stores, smaller shops, book stores, perfumeries, and fast food restaurants are all located on property. 

Downtown Malls in Cancun
Name Location Phone Number
 La Gran Plaza Nichupte Ave. SM 51 998-848-0021
Paseo Cancun Ave. Andres, Sm 39  Quintana Roo 998-872-3735
Plaza 2000 Ave. Tulúm, 42 N/A
Plaza Bonita Cancun Ave. Xel-ha N/A
Plaza Hollywood Cancun Ave. Xcaret at Rubi Cancún 998-887-3187
Plaza Las Americas Ave. Tulum 260 998-887-3863

Open Air Markets

The third shopping zone is not necessarily located in a specific area.  These shopping centers are open air markets, where locals set up shop selling hand made products.   Open air markets are great places to get unique souvenirs at low rates.

The offerings at Coral Negro are indeed varied.  Here patrons can purchase handcrafted wares, get their hair braided, get inked or pierced, or peruse local artwork.  The market is located in the heart of the hotel zone, surrounded by some of the area's hottest night spots. 

If you'd like to try your hand at haggling a local vendor for their wares, head downtown to Ki Huic, where this is the norm.  This market is a favorite among tourists, and features colorful booths filled with handicrafts, handmade blankets, sombreros, and other stereo-typical souvenirs. 

Prepare to be stunned by the beautiful array of locally crafted products that are available at Mercado 28 (also known as Market 28 or Mercado Veintiocho).  Patrons can browse through booth after booth of ceramics, clothing, afghans, jewelry, and artwork. 

Open Air Markets in Cancun
Name Location Phone Number
 Coral Negro Blvd. Kukulcán Km. 9, Hotel Zone 998-287-3671
Ki Huic Ave. Tulum #17, Downtown 998-884-3347
Mercado 28 Sm. 28 Downtown N/A

Duties, Taxes, and Other Tips

Shopping in Cancun is duty free, which can amount to savings of between 30 and 40 percent when you compare prices to the United States.  Most shops in the city accept both cash (in the form of local currency, the Peso) and credit cards, though you will do better paying in cash.  Many shopkeepers are willing to haggle and offer discounts to those with cash on hand, while others will charge a fee when they have to swipe a credit card.  There are taxes associated with purchases in Cancun, and guests will most commonly come in contact with a 10 percent Value Added Tax (VAT).  This is quite simply, sales tax.

You can expect most shops to be open daily from 10 am to 8 or 10 pm, with shortened hours on Sundays.  Note that some of the locally owned small businesses close up shop for a few hours in the afternoon for the ubiquitous siesta.

Shopping in Cancun is a unique experience, and can be a lot of fun.  You won't want to leave the city without picking up a few souvenirs to take home, and you have plenty of options.  In just a matter of moments you can go from open air markets to high end malls, seeking out the best deals, and the most beautiful products.


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