Playa del Carmen is located about an hour south of Cancun in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, and it is one of the most traveled to destinations in the Riviera Maya. Playa del Carmen has its advantages when compared to Cancun one of which is that the prices you usually pay will be a lot smaller and so will the crowds. There is still a lot to do the smaller city that is Playa del Carmen and in fact some will say that it is better located in the middle of it all.
There are plenty of choices for nightlife in Playa del Carmen and though it is smaller than Cancun, more than likely you will not need much more. The nightlife area of the city is located a couple of blocks from the beach with some of the clubs giving you a view of the water. The best places for you to party are PlayaCrawl, Coco Bongo, and Party Playa, but if the nightclub is not your scene then you will find Karaoke spots, bars and many other places to have all the fun once the sun goes down.
In the same place where you will find the nightclubs you will also find great restaurants with menus from every corner in the world. This part of Playa del Carmen feels more like Miami Beach than it does anywhere in Mexico. The good news is that you can also find great spots to chow down some great Mexican food. You can find a few places for "Comida Corrida" which is the Mexican version of fast food, but do not think of a fast food place anywhere else. Comida corridor includes stew, main course and drink all with traditional dishes you could only find in Mexico. Mexican bakeries and regular fast food locations are available.
Shopping enthusiasts will feel right at home in Playa del Carmen. There are a lot of places where you can buy souvenirs right by the beach. Most of these shops will take pesos or dollars, but if you want the best prices make sure to pay in pesos as the conversion rate at the stores is not always in your favor. You can also buy souvenirs from street vendors who will usually give you the best overall prices, and you should not be afraid to try to bargain with them. If they see that you are not buying because of the price they will reduce it a bit.
The Beach in Playa del Carmen is very similar to those in Cancun but overall they tend to be less crowded. This Mexican beach vacation spot is well kept and if you go out early in the morning you will see the crews cleaning it every morning so that tourists can have the best experience when they visit. The sands are white and fine while the waters are crystal blue. If you visit from May to October the waters are sometimes lukewarm; which is something you can not say of beaches to the north.