Once a small fishing village, Cancun has blossomed into one of Mexico’s most popular holiday hotspots. With 13 miles of golden, sun-splashed beaches lapped by the clear Caribbean waters, amazing ancient Mayan ruins, and some of the best nightlife on the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun has all the right ingredients for the perfect holiday.
However, it’s got one added extra that really sets this resort apart from the others: Cancun has some of the best shopping in Mexico! Whether you want designer goods, local trinkets, pieces of art, or even handmade jewellery, shopping in Cancun is almost an attraction in itself, especially for anyone who enjoys a spot of serious retail therapy.
The famous 5th Avenue
A Cancun shopping trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its famous 5th Avenue. Flexing your bargain-hunting muscles here is a fully-immersive experience; as well as plazas and stores, you can expect to see street entertainers and hear live music, turning it into a proper day out for all the family. You’ll even find that there are things for younger visitors to see and do, such as a stop at the Parque Fundadores. Located between Juarez Avenue and Calle 1 Sur, this colourful and vibrant park has a dedicated play area for kids and beach access for the less able-bodied.
Shopping for gifts
Leave the beach for another day, because it’s the shops that are the real stars here. From Juarez Avenue to 10th Street, the focus is on gifts. Among the stores you’ll find handmade goods that make for ideal mementos of your time in Mexico or unique presents for the folks back home. Stroll towards 12th Street and you’ll find big-name brands housed under the sleek curves of the Calle Corazon Shopping Mall. In addition to a multitude of shops, spread over five floors, it also has plenty of dining options; perfect for a quick coffee or a leisurely meal between purchases.
Mainstream brands and… Michael Jackson
The Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall, which you’ll find on Constituyentes Avenue, is where 5th Avenue really shows its charm. The mall isn’t a big one, but it does hold some of the mainstream brands alongside smaller, quirkier boutiques. However, it’s the mall’s main plaza where the fun starts! This tends to be where most of the street entertainers showcase their talents and it’s not unusual to find a Michael Jackson impersonator or two, moonwalking in front of the shops.
The upper end of 5th Avenue
The final stretch of 5th Avenue runs between Constituyentes Avenue and 38th Street. This is where you’ll find the higher-end Cancun shopping, including Mexican designer clothing, chocolatiers, and home wear. As with the rest of 5th Avenue, there are plenty of places to eat and drink, although the restaurants around 38th Street are a little more upmarket and are ideal for a laid-back lunch or a special dinner. With plenty of cafés, this area is a superb spot for those who want to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by.
There’s more to shopping in Cancun than just 5th Avenue, although it’s one of the best retail areas in the city. If you’re looking for goods that you won’t find in chain stores, then take yourself and your Thomas Cook Cash Passport off to one of the many open-air markets, located in the vibrant downtown quarter.
The open-air markets are usually very busy and easy to find; just follow the smells of sizzling meats and frying tacos and you’ll quickly find yourself in the heart of the action. Markets are where you’ll find leather goods, pottery, local produce, silver jewellery and much more. Shopping in Cancun markets is very different to browsing the shops, so be prepared to get your haggling head on, as it can be the best way to bag a bargain! Cash is king in the market places, so use your Thomas Cook Cash Passport to withdraw some currency before you set off for a day’s shopping.
Look out for Mercado 28. This is Cancun’s biggest and most popular open-air market. Among the hand-made gifts and bottles of tequila, you’ll find everything from flowers and food to Mayan-influenced arts and crafts and colourful hammocks. Mexican silver is popular with visitors, usually in the form of finely-detailed, handmade jewellery. Mexico is a silver-rich country and their silversmiths are thought to rank among some of the world’s finest.
Enjoy a touch of the high life
To take a break from the Cancun shopping crowds and to enjoy a touch of the high life, the Kukulcan Plaza is the place to go. This is the city’s most prestigious and opulent shopping centre, packed with boutique stores, high-end retailers and even its own open-air market. However, rather than bursting with the usual high street suspects, the Kukulcan Plaza is where you’ll find top-quality Mexican brands, selling goods that you won’t find at home.
Look out for exquisite jewellery, outstanding wristwatches, and sharp suits. You’ll also find grocery stores selling a good selection of Mexican beers, wines and spirits at extremely competitive prices and, in some cases, cheaper than some of the tourist shops.
With plenty of malls, shops, stalls and markets, shopping in Cancun is almost an adventure in itself.
Is shopping a big part of your holidays? What do you most like to buy when you're away? Let me know in the comments below.