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Mikeoracle, Dan, JayR, lunatic, mgoldhammer18, Markus, mtag17, sam28, stooges44 (mini), Mootkim, @Yehuda, @besttaylor, CGR


General information:
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To get a grasp of where you are, Cancun is located on the edge of Mexico that wraps around the Gulf of Mexico and separates it from the Caribbean Sea. As you can see here, Cancun is fairly close to Cuba and really not that far from Florida.


                    The greater Cancun area includes the Zona Hotelera (translation not needed) in the north, which is a strip of land separated from the mainland by a lagoon and packed with hotel after hotel in a similar fashion to Miami Beach. In this thread, when people refer to Cancun, they are usually referring to this area. A ferry ride away is the island of Isla Mujeres. Below Cancun on the map, you'll see the airport in red. The area south of Cancun is known as Riviera Maya which contains many resort areas including Playa del Carmen, and within Playa is Mayakoba. A ferry ride away is the island of Cozumel.


Cancun hotels and Kosher restaurants map.

Getting there:
From NYC, award tickets have about $30 in taxes/fees on the outbound and $50 on the return. You can fly nonstop with: (cheapest way to book)

AA - Book with BA
B6 - Book with B6
DL - Book with DL
F9
UA

Airport Lounges
Mera Lounge - Accessible with Priority Pass except between 12:30 and 16:30 (not nice lounge).
Aeromexico Lounge

Airport security / food restrictions covered in the Kosher Food section below. Wifi at Cancun Airport Business Center - Network: businesst3 Password: businesst3.


Getting around:
Some people rent cars, others seem strongly averse to car rental due to many reports of being pulled over for speeding. Those reports often conclude with being able to give the cop ~$20 to avoid the ticket.

If you plan on only staying in Zona Hotelera, you don't need to rent a car. You can stay at the top of the strip (Hyatt Ziva, IC, Aloft) and be within walking distance to Chabad and the restaurants, or you can stay further down the strip and take the convenient bus up and down for MEX12 (currently about $0.65USD); drivers happily make change, at least from small peso bills. Reports that they will also take a $1 bill but won't give change. Taxis outside the strip to Walmart or Costco shouldn't be too expensive either. To get to/from the airport, you can book a private shuttle (see below). If you plan on going outside the Zone to activities with a tour, you can usually pay extra for transportation, but if you plan on going out on your own schedule, you'll want to rent a car.

If you plan on staying in Playa del Carmen, you'll likely want to rent a car, although it's possible to avoid it by taking the express nonstop ADO Bus which runs every 30 minutes (216 Pesos) or an airport shuttle (see below) there and staying at the Grand Hyatt which is within walking distance of Chabad and the restaurants or at the Fairmont/Andaz and having Chabad deliver food to you. Same advice for activities above applies here - go with a tour and pay for transportation or go out on your own and just rent a car.

If you plan on staying in Mayakoba, you will likely need to drive back and forth to Playa del Carmen for food/davening and taxis can get pricey so you may want to consider renting a car for the 15 minute drive each way. Most restaurants deliver to the hotels in Mayakoba for a small fee if you are just interested in staying in.

There are several companies that offer private shuttles to/from the airport and your hotel that have positive DDF reviews. Best to book in advance so you can pay with a credit card. The airport arrivals area is known to be packed with pushy taxi drivers dressed very formally to trick you into using them, but stay strong and go past them to find your ride at the pickup spot. (Prices to Zona Hotelera):

Canada Transfers: $55 RT (if you choose to pay in CAD, currently you'll only pay about $50).
USA Transfers: $55 RT for 3 people; $65 RT for 7 people.
Happy Shuttle: $53 RT. No DDF reviews, but Google reviews are positive.

Car rentals can be relatively cheap, and many hotels have free parking, but liability insurance is mandatory (you should be able to use for CC for collision insurance), and they won't allow you to use your car insurance from back home, so that can jack up the price. Make sure to have your reservation quote with you as some reported that the rental agents tried raising the price in person. And remember, keep to the speed limit.


Where to stay:
Cancun
Westin Lagunamar - Cat. 6 Marriott. (low season/high season) for a studio room. Studios can be booked with points online but one-bedroom suites require PUTPAC. Seems you can get 1BR suite for 1.5K more SPG per night. Some have been able to get complimentary upgrade from studio to 1BR without difficulty, but YMMV. There is no recorded history of anyone getting upgrade from 1BR to 2BR villa, as a 2BR is really a 1BR connected to a studio (essentially 2 paying rooms, so hotel won't do that). The 1BR suite is ~1,000 SF, so almost twice the size of the studio, and has expanded kitchen, with  full-size fridge, full-size cook-top, microwave and dishwasher (but no oven). The 1BR suites have W/D (not sure about the studios). shiframeir - Best value, huge resort with lots of heated pools during winter and big slide, lots to do and good kids club.
Hyatt Zilara - 25K Hyatt (all inclusive, adults only). Lots of rave reviews in the thread.
Hyatt Ziva - 25K Hyatt (all inclusive, family friendly, 1 tower is adults only). Beautiful resort hotel+spa, excellent service, great for adults and kids, right next to Ember Grill and 5 minute walk to Chabad Vico’s Grill Kosher and Dag Dag restaurant, close to Kosher Italian Gourmet. separate water playground by kids club zone, next to ferry to Isla Mujeres, has water sports and dolphins on premises.
Very accommodating to Jews, all inclusive means it's all free: Coffee shop on premises with kosher milk delicious latte and more. Plates of cut up fresh fruit whenever you're in the mood. Fruit smoothies, and of course all kinds of alcoholic beverages. They'll bake you fresh salmon vegetables in silver foil in front of you.
Ritz Carlton - Cat. 6 Marriott.
JW Marriott - Cat. 6 Marriott. Great service, beautiful hotel, pool and beach.
Marriott - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).
Intercontinental Presidente - 25-30K IHG. Derived from shiframeir - Great location for Shabbos, close to Chabad, nice big lobby to chill in the afternoon, lots of first floor rooms (no steps needed), decent pools (one adults only, one family, felt a little cool might not be heated), really great service.
Aloft - Cat. 3 Marriott. shiframeir - pretty lousy though very cheap and close to Chabad and Dag Dag, pool on roof is small and not heated, rooms are interesting but a bit dingy, bathroom uses glass sliding door without much sound protection :) zow - I'm not as negative about it as shiframeir. It is very cheap, but a great location. Not a luxurious place to hangout, but if you're going to be out and about, it's good value.[/i] Cheapest option for 1 night.
Westin - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).. Mixed reviews, general opinion is not as nice as Lagunamar, but not a bad option. (Old will rumor to be torn down soon...)
Canopy by Hilton - 60-70K Hilton.

Playa del Carmen
Grand Hyatt - 25K Hyatt.
Hilton All Inclusive - 60-70K Hilton.
The Fives (Curio Collection) - 25-35K Hilton. Very nice rooftop pool with great views of the city and the ocean.
Hotel La Semilla - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).
Thompson Main House - 12K Hyatt. Right on the corner of 5th and easy walking distance to all Kosher restaurants and Chabad's. Full access to facilities at nearby Beach House too.
Thompson Beach House - 20K Hyatt. On the beach is the draw here. I would personally stay in Main house and just walk over here 5 minutes to use the beach.

Mayakoba
Fairmont - Covered in Dan's TR (top of wiki).
Andaz - 25K Hyatt.
Rosewood - Non-points hotel considered to be the most luxurious in the area.
Banyan Tree - Non-points hotel with all rooms being private villas with private pool. Many travel agents can get you an upgrade. "Chef Chaya" special hotel.

Cozumel
InterContinental Presidente - 40K IHG.
Westin - 30-40K Marriott (Cat 5).

Kosher Food/Restaurants:
WARNING: Lots of food gets confiscated at airport security. Meat, random cheeses (some make it through, some don't) and un-packaged foods are not allowed. Snacks are okay. You will be asked to push a button, if the light turns red, they will go through all your bags for food; if it turns green, you can officially go free, but there are enough reports of being pulled to the side anyway and searched for food - hypothesized due to "looking Jewish", but plenty who look Jewish have reported getting green and going free as well.

Cancun
Chabad Kosher Cancun - fleishig takeout food with a very timely delivery option run by the Rabbi Mendel Druk and family. They also offer Shabbos meals on premises for $25 a meal ($15 kids) or delivered to your hotel. There is supposedly a sit-down restaurant coming soon. Reports are that the food is really good and restaurant quality and comes with very timely delivery. Detailed review here. There is an additional menu for Yeshiva week here.
Falafel stand - located right outside Chabad and under their supervision. 
Kosher Luxus/Red Heifer - fleishig, Israeli-style restaurant under the supervision of Rav Yosef Maleh and the only real eat-in restaurant with delivery also available and a nice outdoor eating area overlooking the lagoon. People seem to either love or hate this place, very mixed reviews. You can eat Shabbos meals here or get delivery to your hotel with a hot plate. Some reviews and pics on GKRF, suggest getting apps/drinks/desserts over steaks and to always call before going to see whats available/what they ran out of. Be sure to confirm that the meat is from Mexico City and not a local supplier. (Source that this is an issue?) As of Aug 2018 they don't take AMEX - Closed as of December 2020.
Garden Beach - milchig, breakfast section of Red Heifer open 8am-2pm. - Closed as of December 2020.
Dag Dag - homey, milchig and fish restaurant, covered in Dan's TR, zow - fish and chips were very good, as was the pizza, but also has mixed reviews in taste, long wait times and randomly being closed. The owner is a little eccentric, but nice, and if you order in advance, it's not too bad. Was/Is (?) under supervision of Rabbi Mendel Druk of Chabad of Cancun. Always call before arriving making sure they're open.
Ember Grill - Meat restaurant down the block from Hyatt Ziva and across from Red Heifer. Very quick service and pretty good food.
Vico’s Grill Kosher Cancún - Meat restaurant 8 minute walk from Chabad and Hyatt Ziva. Great service and amazing delicious food. Phone/WhatsApp +52 55 1566 4127
Kosher Italian Gourmet - Milchig takeout restaurant 12 minute walk from Chabad and Hyatt Ziva. Small area (4 tables) with Outdoor seating. Great service and amazing delicious food. Phone/WhatsApp +52 55 1566 4127. *Had a horrible experience with them over winter break. Was originally told an hour to an hour 30 min for delivery. Ordered lunch at 11:40am. I was told numerous times via whatsapp that the food was 2 min away. It wasn't. Was promised it's really coming this time. It wasn't. Waited almost 3 hours when the owner "delivered" the food at 2:30pm. He asked me how much they were supposed to charge. I said you tell me. He fiddled around for a few minutes to figure out the amount and I said let me just take the food to my family since they're starving while you figure out the amount and I'll call you with my CC number. He said no, then took the food out of my hands, threw it on the floor like a crazy animal, told me that he knows my name and room number and to remember that I'm in Mexico. I'm sure the pressure of all of the winter break orders got to him, but, behaving like a maniac by throwing food on the floor and threatening me isn't going to win anyone over. Beware.* ---Closed for renovation. No expected opening date available

There are several box stores / groceries with Kosher items:
Costco - cheese (large cream cheese box "Raskas Queso Crema" is Cholov Stam, Natural and Kosher is Cholov Yisroe), hummus, salmon spread, lox, PB and J, bread (Star K), milk (both shelf stable "La La" brand, as well as Kirkland brand - not sure which Hechscher) and mantequilla/butter (OU).
Sam's Club - breads ("New York Deli and Bagel") and other essentials.
Walmart - cereal, milk, eggs, avocados, drinks and many other things you need like pans and spatulas.
Chedraui Selecto - near Chabad, has frozen bagels, cereals, tuna, one Kosher meat product and many other products.
Minimart in Westin Lagunamar - bunch of imported Kosher items (La LA milk is under KA Kosher), but sometimes runs out. They have beer at about $1/bottle.
Erupea - has 1 or 2 Kosher wines.
Soriana - many Kosher items.
Random stores - many have OU snacks from America.

Playa
Chabad of Playa del Carmen - fleishig food delivery run by Rabbi Mendel Goldberg, a DDF member, that's really good, restaurant quality. Contact them for an updated menu with more choices than listed on website. They also host Shabbos meals for free, but ask for donations (they say it costs them $40/$20 adult/kid per meal).
Alternate Chabad of Playa - (AKA bootleg, yellow flag version...) is run by Rabbi Chaim Brod and has an in-house restaurant located at Avenida 20, entre Calle 6B y Calle 8. They have a Hebrew website.
Hotel 770 - fleishig restaurant, grocery and hotel under Rabbi Chaim Brod's supervision. Calle 10 Norte Bis. - Closed as of December 2020.
Menfis - Israeli restaurant, review, under Rabbi Chaim Brod's supervision. Calle 14 Norte, Entre 5a y 10. - Closed as of December 2020.
Mas Pan - dairy restaurant serving pizza, sandwiches and paninis, under ??? supervision.
Yummy Kosher - Calle 6 Norte S/N entre 5ta Avenida y calle 10, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico - Is this place closed?
Moshe Cube - Israeli/Sfardi food - highly recommend, accepted credit card which is very convenient. Avenida Constituyentes lote 01, mz 079
Platinum Grill - Israeli food - better than most Israeli places I've tried in NYC, "Mercado de la 10", calle 6 y Av 15, Centro 77710. It's located as part of a small strip mall/shopping center.
The Green Village Eco Boutique Hotel - Calle 20 #145, between Avenida 10 and Avenida 15, Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, 77720, Mexico.
Yala - Calle 10 Nte Mz 30, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico. - Closed as of December 2020.

Cozumel
Jerusalem - Nice fleshig place with good food and quick service, under Chabad of Cozumel - R. David Caplin and R. Shalom Peleg (yellow flag). Calle 10 North and Av. and General Rafeal, second floor.
Cafe Rimon - milchig restaurant also under Chabad of Cozumel (yellow flag). Calle 4 North and Av. and General Rafeal.
Chocolatte - milchig cafe under ???.
Falafel Sombrero - falafel place under Chabad of Cozumel (yellow flag).

Isla Mujeres
Cafe Maya - [Currently closed for renovations] milchig restaurant, under some Chabad (R Druk of Cancun vouches apparently), cash only, but bring pesos as it's much cheaper here than USD. Food is excellent and prices here are very reasonable, so long as you pay in pesos. Family of 5 can feast on paninis, pasta and pizza, with soft drinks/coffees, easily under $50USD. Pictures of store and food (scroll down). Directions: two blocks straight ahead (5 min walk) when you exit the ferry terminal (Calle Bravo?), then make a left when you hit the end (on Av Guerrero) go another block, and it's a few stores down the next block on the left side. Reviews on yelp, TripAdvisor.
Chabad downstairs - falafel and pizza
Chabad upstairs - meat restaurant

Hechsherim: (Beneath each logo is the site that recommends them.)
   
CRC                    CRC & KosherQuest
   
KosherQuest & Chabad of Cancun          KosherQuest

Chabad of Cancun             

KosherQuest & Chabad of Cancun

Via email to @Yehuda, Rabbi Eidlitz from KosherQuest recommended Rabbi Mendel Druk of Chabad of Cancun.

Shabbos and Minyanim:
Chabad - has Minyanim during busy seasons, but check with them to confirm (they are really great, give a nice donation!). They also offer meals, see Kosher section.
Kosher Luxus / Red Heifer - offers meals, see Kosher section, and may have Minyanim, check with them.
Westin Lagunamar - check with the Chabad Rabbi whether there has been a Minyan recently, but enough Jews have timeshares at Lagunamar and come for winter break that they seem to have a Minyan during winter break outside by the BBQs (Fuego) all the way on the south of the hotel (by the last pool to the right coming out of lobby towards fountains).


Activities:
Ferry to Isla Mujeres - small island off the coast near Cancun, rent a golf cart to go around the island - can get carts by walking left or right for a few minutes after you exit the port and get a decent rate; shiframeir got 2 fast carts for afternoon for $70 total (1 for $35) going left (right has mixed reviews on speed), get some Kosher food, visit Garaffon Reef Park, Turtle Farm, Playa Norte, Dolphin Discovery, Shark Beach.
Xplor - 5 activity course / theme park of swimming and kayaking in a cave, jeeping in the jungle, ziplining high in the air over trees, and ziplining on a hammock into water; highly recommend, night version is cheaper and offers ziplining through ring of fire. Can save money by booking online a couple of weeks in advance.
Xel Ha - theme park (for older kids and adults)
Xcaret - theme park, one reviewer spoke to people that went who said it was waste of time & very costly.
Boka del Puma - theme park, cheaper option to Xplor.
Selvatica - ziplining and biking, Alma's LDS tour includes this and Mayan ruins.
Emotions Jungle Night - another theme park.
Jungle Tour - motor boat tour through lagoon to an area where you snorkel, recommended.
Mayan Ruins - Chichen Itza - most famous, Tulum, Coba - only one you can still climb.
Cenotes - natural pools/caves to go swimming in; Ik Kil - near Chichen Itza, Sistema dos Ojos.
BOB - Breathing Observation Bubble, underwater scuba-like contraption, highly recommended.
Ferry to Cozumel - larger island off the coast of Playa del Carmen, with an Intercontinental and Kosher food.
La Isla Mall - has an aquarium, dolphin show and Haagen Dazs.
Mayakoba Lagoon - boat tour and biking, hotels in Mayakoba provide this.
Swim with Whale Sharks - June, July and August, one company with high review is Whale Shark Daddy.
Cancun Underwater Museum
Zoo Crococun
5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen - shopping street.
Wet and Wild
Scuba Diving - one company with a high review is Squalodivers.
Hummer Tours - fun way to see more of Mexico.
Isla Contoy - small island north of Isla Mujeres.
Secret Beach/Pool - found by Suave, location here.


Random:
Electricity - US plugs and voltage
« Last edited by cgr on January 29, 2024, 09:19:49 PM »

Author Topic: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread  (Read 1139988 times)

Offline memyselfandi

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3920 on: January 15, 2023, 02:17:16 AM »
Looking for ideas, upscale hotel, 5 days (not over Shabbos), area of kosher food

Anyone mind making itinerary :) ?

Offline Yoko

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3921 on: January 15, 2023, 04:24:38 PM »
FYI - I just got back from PDC. Give yourself time when going to the airport. What should have taken 35 minutes took us over 2 hours

Offline ChaimBer

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3922 on: January 15, 2023, 10:10:59 PM »
Can anyone shed some light about the current kosher status of coke (and all Coke products). Based on the CRC website it seems that it’s not kosher.

Is that current? Does it apply to everything? Cans, bottles as well as fountain?

Thanks!

Offline shopcomputer

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3923 on: January 16, 2023, 04:19:14 PM »
Can anyone shed some light about the current kosher status of coke (and all Coke products). Based on the CRC website it seems that it’s not kosher.

Is that current? Does it apply to everything? Cans, bottles as well as fountain?

Thanks!
https://www.kosher.com.mx/ has sprite listed as kosher

Offline holyland613

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3924 on: January 17, 2023, 03:55:25 PM »
Has anyone recently been to the Hyatt zilra? Share some thoughts?
Do they offer free breakfast?

Offline mochjas

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3925 on: January 17, 2023, 04:04:20 PM »
Do they offer free breakfast?
Its all inclusive... so yes

Offline Mschap

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3926 on: January 17, 2023, 04:17:47 PM »
https://www.kosher.com.mx/ has sprite listed as kosher

If you search coca cola the other coke products should come up as well

Offline CountValentine

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3927 on: January 17, 2023, 04:41:33 PM »
Has anyone recently been to the Hyatt zilra? Share some thoughts?
Daughter (mid - 20's) been to both Hyatt Ziva/Zilara and liked Zilara (adults only) better. Ziva is newer and more modern of the two.
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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3928 on: January 18, 2023, 11:58:41 AM »
What is the food situation in Cancun? I heard Red Heifer and dag dag are closed.
Is the ember good?

Offline Dan

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3929 on: January 18, 2023, 12:01:15 PM »
Is the ember good?
Reviews seem to say overpriced mediocre food.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline mmc99

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3930 on: January 18, 2023, 01:14:08 PM »
What is the food situation in Cancun? I heard Red Heifer and dag dag are closed.
Is the ember good?
Looking inside the restaurant it seemed OK ordering out I would say is definitely a no go

Offline Dan

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3931 on: January 18, 2023, 01:36:17 PM »
Reviews seem to say overpriced mediocre food.
@AJK?
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Offline AJK

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3932 on: January 18, 2023, 01:49:38 PM »
@AJK?

The ember in Cancun is different from the ember in Mayakoba... It's been at least a year or two since I've been in the former.

But that's how I'd describe the food in the latter.

That said, there is certainly something to be said about the convenience of having kosher food in Mayakoba  and not having to schlep to either Cancun or playa.
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Offline Dan

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3933 on: January 18, 2023, 01:54:59 PM »
The ember in Cancun is different from the ember in Mayakoba... It's been at least a year or two since I've been in the former.

But that's how I'd describe the food in the latter.

That said, there is certainly something to be said about the convenience of having kosher food in Mayakoba  and not having to schlep to either Cancun or playa.
Seems like Playa is really the place to get food though.
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Offline BrooklynCPA

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3934 on: January 18, 2023, 02:51:54 PM »
When staying at Grand Hyatt Playa is it better to take transfers from/to airport and walking to restaurants or to just rent a car? We will be spending most of our time at hotel and around Playa. Maybe one trip out of the area.

The popular rental car companies all seem to have horrible reviews. People have recommended YES car rental but their prices are a lot higher than other companies. Any recommendations?

Offline Dan

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3935 on: January 18, 2023, 02:55:00 PM »
When staying at Grand Hyatt Playa is it better to take transfers from/to airport and walking to restaurants or to just rent a car? We will be spending most of our time at hotel and around Playa. Maybe one trip out of the area.

The popular rental car companies all seem to have horrible reviews. People have recommended YES car rental but their prices are a lot higher than other companies. Any recommendations?
Don't rent a car.
Restaurants also deliver.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline BrooklynCPA

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3936 on: January 18, 2023, 03:18:44 PM »
Don't rent a car.
Restaurants also deliver.

The cost for a rental car is the same as a round trip transfer so I figured why not pay the same and have a car at our disposal.

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3937 on: January 18, 2023, 05:59:14 PM »
What is the food situation in Cancun? I heard Red Heifer and dag dag are closed.
Is the ember good?
was there yesterday. service was slow. spring rolls and shnitzel were pretty good ambience is great
« Last Edit: January 18, 2023, 06:14:30 PM by Luvtotravel »
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Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3938 on: January 18, 2023, 06:02:01 PM »
The cost for a rental car is the same as a round trip transfer so I figured why not pay the same and have a car at our disposal.
we rented a car and were ripped off when came to insurance. they wanted $24000 deposit for a $162 rental  :o :o. barring that they gave us the rental with only 1300 deposit for 487. with no time to argue we took it and wonder if we wouldnt have been better off with taxis
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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
« Reply #3939 on: January 18, 2023, 11:28:34 PM »
Are there any foods that are not allowed to be brought in even if packaged deli salmon meat etc..