A night to remember in Playa del Carmen's nightclubs and bars

Playa del Carmen, Cancun's younger hippy sister to the south has grown exponentially in the last 10 years, and in addition to the new hotels, beach clubs, cafes, shops and restaurants, new bars and nightclubs have opened as well. Many offer electronic, rock, pop and Latin music

Playa, as it is affectionately called by locals, is now home to large "antros" aka nightclubs with booming sound systems, sparking lights and an open bar like Coco Bongo, Mandala and Palazzo.

La Vaquita and Abolengo offer a vibrant atmosphere but are more bars than nightclubs.

Salsa lovers will enjoy La Bodeguita del Medio for dancing and Cuban food, while those looking for a party, club atmosphere during the day will like Coralina Daylight Club. Senor Frogs offers a lively bar/restaurant atmosphere during the day or at night. This is a great place to grab a beer before hopping on the ferry to Cozumel.

Those who enjoy live music will love Caiman Tugurio, Fah Bar, Kixten, Le Lotus Rouge or McCarthy's.


McCarthy's Irish Pub is a Mexican chain. This bar/restaurant serves up yummy wings, hamburgers, and live rock music every single night at 11 pm. They are located right on 5th Ave. at 22nd St. and offer daily specials, like wings and boneless chicken strips 4.90 pesos each from 1 pm to 1 am or 2x1 hamburgers and liter draft beers for 49 pesos. McCarthy's Irish Pub is open daily from 2 pm to 2 am and Happy Hour is every day from 4 pm to 9 pm when participating beers are 2 for 40 pesos. This is also a great place to watch the big game, fight, etc.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: McCarthy's Irish Pub offers yummy food, plenty of promotions and live rock.

Kristin's expert tip: The music is LOUD so if you want to have a conversation you might want to try another place.

Read more about McCarthy's Irish Pub Playa del Carmen →

Kitxen, located on 5th Ave. between Constituyentes and 20th, is the best place in Playa del Carmen to listen to live rock music every single night. The open-air bar, which does not serve any food, is owned by famous Mexican rock musician Saul Hernandez. The laid back crowd is a good mix here and includes both locals and tourists. Kitxen is open 7 days a week from 1 pm to 2 am. Happy Hour is 6 pm to 9 pm and live bands play daily. Kitxen may not be much to look at but in this authentic Mexican bar the music is loud, prices are good and the beer is cold.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: Kitxen is a good old-fashioned hole in the wall that features live rock music every single night.

Kristin's expert tip: Kitxen only accepts cash but there is a Scotiabank with an ATM a couple blocks away on 10th Av. and Constituyentes.

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Coralina Daylight Club is the perfect spot for those who would prefer to experience a nightlife-type party during the day. This cosmopolitan beach club located on Playa del Carmen's fantastic turquoise blue Caribbean Sea gets the party going very early and it keeps going all day. They feature DJs spinning the hottest music and dancers as well. There's even a stripper pole in the middle of the pool. Guests can enjoy food and drinks from the menu and bottle service. Loungers, umbrellas, tables and beach beds are available. Jet-setters and fashion-forward folks love Coralina.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: Coralina Daylight Club provides a nightclub experience on the beach during the day.

Kristin's expert tip: If you're looking for a quiet beach club experience, look elsewhere.

Read more about Coralina Daylight Club →


Senor Frogs is a popular bar-restaurant chain with locations all over Mexico, but Playa del Carmen's version is right on the water, with seating on the beach or indoors on the covered patio. The views can't be beaten. The fun staff provides a family atmosphere during the day and a party vibe at night means there's something for everyone here. The food is quite good and well-presented. Order guacamole and they will prepare it right at your table on the Guacamole Cart. Senor Frogs features live music most days, sometimes at night and sometimes during the day.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: You can't really take a vacation in Mexico without spending a little time at Senor Frogs.

Kristin's expert tip: Please note that you will be charged for any shots you accept from the shot girls.

Read more about Senor Frogs Playa del Carmen →

La Bodeguita del Medio was inspired by the original bar with the same name in Havana, Cuba. The decor is similar and you can dine on Cuban food (try the Plato Mixto Cubano) and sip delicious mojitos while you listen to live Cuban music. They serve other non-Cuban food as well. La Bodeguita del Medio is located in a shopping area on 5th Ave. between 34th and 36th Streets and is open every day from 1:00 pm to 2 am. Unfortunately, you won't find Cuban beer here, but you will find Mexican beer and find plenty of Havana Club rum. Prices are reasonable.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: El Bodeguita del Medio is a great place to have dinner and then stay for the dancing.

Kristin's expert tip: If the music is too loud sit out on the patio.

Read more about La Bodeguita del Medio →

Palazzo is the most glamorous of Playa's nightclubs with its dramatic staircase, chandelier and pretty pink and purple lights. Resident sexy dancers, a big stage and large video screens complete the scene. From time to time International DJs appear at Palazzo, and they regularly hold Mardi Gras, Lingerie and Azteca nights and other events like bikini contests and bachelorette parties. Palazzo is open Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 pm until 6 am and offers different options including bottle service, open bar and pay-as-you-go. Men in with tanks tops will not be allowed to enter but they are a little more lenient with women.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: Palazzo is the most glamorous, glittering nightclub in Playa del Carmen.

Kristin's expert tip: Dress to impress. No tanks tops, flip-flops or cut-offs are allowed here.

Read more about Palazzo Playa del Carmen →

Mandala is one of Playa del Carmen's most cosmopolitan nightclubs. People of all ages from all over the world go to Mandala for that "time of your life" night that you expect when you're on vacation, complete with pounding music and flowing drinks. Weekends are very busy so if you go during the week you'll have a better chance of getting a table. Bottle service, open bar and pay-as-you-go are all available. Mandala's party doesn't really get started until about 12 am and doesn't end until 5 or 6 am. For a different experience, head to the rooftop terrace where there is a bar, a dance floor and different music than they play downstairs.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: Mandala is a favorite of locals and tourists both in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Kristin's expert tip: Buying a bottle and tipping will get you the best service.

Read more about Mandala Playacar →

Abolengo calls itself a "bartina", and it certainly is not a nightclub but an open-air bar or cantina with high table seating in the center and lower seating on sofas around the parameter. This is a great place to start the evening, or even spend the evening if you prefer a bar-type atmosphere sans the techno music. What you'll hear here is pop, rock, dance, 80's, 90's and some bachata and reggaeton. There's no dance floor to speak of but that doesn't stop people from dancing. Abolengo serves bar food and exotic Mexican cocktails in liter mason jars and is frequented by the mid-'20s through 40's crowd.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: Abolengo is a fun, unique "bartina" that both tourists and locals enjoy.

Kristin's expert tip: Abolengo features live music on weekends starting at 10:30 pm.

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La Vaquita is one of those places where you can get up on the bar and dance. "Vaquita" means "little cow" in Spanish and there is a cow dancing around the club and one hanging from the ceiling. This open-air club has two levels, the dance floor is downstairs and there is seating on the balcony level where partygoers can watch all the fun from above. Open bar, buy-as-you-go and bottle service are available. La Vaquita holds many contests, including a wet t-shirt contest. Get there early and ask for seating by the street for double the people-watching fun. A variety of music is played and La Vaquita is open until 4 am.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: La Vaquita is the best of both worlds, a bar and a nightclub, plus there is a cow hanging from the ceiling.

Kristin's expert tip: Tuesday nights La Vaquita features a wet t-shirt contest and on Sunday they have a twerking contest

Read more about La Vaquita Playa →

Coco Bongo is the nightclub of nightclubs. The arena-like interior features different levels of seating. The best way to experience Coco Bongo is to purchase the Gold Member entrance, which includes round trip transportation from your hotel, no lines, cocktails, excellent seats and wait service. Why do you need an excellent seat? The show! Coco Bongos' show includes acrobats, artist impressions, dancing and more. In between shows, various genres of music, along with confetti, balloons and bursts of cold air keep the crowd hyped. There is not a dance floor to speak of, everyone just dances everywhere. Get your picture taken with Beetlejuice and The Mask (extra charge) as a keepsake.

Recommended for Playa del Carmen's Best Nightlife because: Coco Bongo is the quintessential Mexican vacation nightclub with its music, shows, confetti and surprises.

Kristin's expert tip: For the best experience be sure to purchase a package that includes a table.

Read more about Coco Bongo Playa del Carmen →


Meet Kristin Busse

After vacationing in Mexico many times, Kristin decided to move to Cancun "for a year". That was in 2001.

Kristin grew-up in Michigan and studied Communications at Michigan State University....  More About Kristin