Best Places to Shop in Cancun: From Open-Air Markets to Designer Boutiques



Over the years, Cancun has evolved from a town known for being a Spring Break mecca into a destination that appeals to all different types of travelers. This metamorphosis has brought an abundance of upscale malls and designer boutiques to Cancun. The flea markets, where tourists like to stock up on inexpensive souvenirs, are still very popular as well.

Marina Town Center, Kukulcan Plaza, Luxury Avenue and La Isla Shopping Village are the Hotel Zone's nicest and busiest malls.  Some great shops selling handicrafts and unique items made by Mexican artists can be found in Plaza Caracol, an older mall that can seems like a ghost town compared to it’s newer counterparts. Plaza Forum is located in the heart of Cancun's Party Zone. 

In addition to the malls in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, there's the old favorite Coral Negro Flea Market, where Mexican souvenirs abound.

Downtown Cancun is home to Malecon Americas and Plaza las Americas, modern shopping malls which are very popular with both locals and tourists. Cancun offers an outlet mall as well, Las Plazas Outlet. For handicraft souvenirs, sombreros, silver jewelry or tequila, Market 28 is Cancun's biggest and most popular open air market.

Of course there's always the old standby Walmart as well, which has good prices on souvenirs and all of the sunscreen, beach and pool equipment, snacks, beer and liquor that you'll need during your vacation.   

   



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Zona Hotelera
Forum Cancun

 

Home to Cancun's world famous Coco Bongo nightclub, and bar/restaurants like Hard Rock Café, Carlos 'n Charlie's, Chuchito Pérez, James and a Chili's, this oceanfront mall is always busy, especially after dark. Haagen Dazs is close to the main entrance and is a great location for people watching. There are also numerous retail shops selling mostly swimwear, sunglasses, jewelry and souvenirs. In the evenings there are often street performers on the main level of the mall which make for interesting photo opportunities, or take a picture with the huge Hard Rock Cafe guitar right out front.


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Las Plazas Outlet

 

Las Plazas Outlet is an open air discount mall located in downtown Cancun on Andres Quintana Roo Avenue. "Plaza Outlet" as locals refer to it, is home to a Cinemex movie theater, restaurants, a kids' area and lots of discount shops. Have breakfast at Toks, see a movie, then grab a coffee from Starbucks and go shopping. Be sure to try authenic Mexican ice cream from La Michoacana. The best way to get to Las Plazas Outlet is to take the R1 or R2 bus from the Hotel Zone to the first stop downtown, and then grab a cab for 35 pesos (about 2 usd).


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This popular flea market is located in downtown Cancun. It's actually called Mercado 28, but don't worry, bus and taxi drivers will understand you if you call it Market 28. It is large and maze-like, filled with vendors trying to get you to enter their stores. It can be a bit overwhelming if you aren't used to such aggressive salespeople, but there are some bargains and unique Mexican handicrafts, silver jewelry, t-shirts, pottery and traditional Mexican clothing to be found. In the center of the market, there is a "food court" with many restaurants that serve authentic Mexican food and seafood at economical prices.


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Hotel Zone
Luxury Avenue

 

Get out your credit cards. This upscale mall is attached to Plaza Kukulkan and like its counterpart in Los Cabos, is made up of exclusive high end shops such as Burberry, Coach, Tous, Mont Blanc, Swarovski, Cartier and Fendi. Take a break from shopping and have a cocktail or a tempting dessert at the bar. Complimentary child care is available for kids ages 3 to 11. The mall occasionally holds fashion and bridal shows and provides free valet parking to shoppers. There is also a tax free module where you can easily get a tax refund for all of your purchases over 1,200 mxn (about 62 usd). If Luxury Avenue is too rich for your blood try Kukulkan Plaza right next door.


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Zona Hotelera
Kukulcan Plaza

 

This quiet shopping mall is a lovely place to shop or dine. Plaza Kukulkan has clothing stores, jewelry stores and souvenir shops, as well as restaurants like Ruth's Chris Steak House, Tequila Grill, Taco Beef, Haagen-Dazs and Baskin Robbins. Harley-Davidson fans will enjoy shopping at the Harley-Davidson store. The plaza often holds special concerts and events, especially around the holidays, and every Saturday at 7 pm there is a really cool Mayan performance. Be sure to visit the Tequila Museum. More recent additions to the mall include a Forever 21 and Soriana supermarket. Luxury Avenue, located on the south end of the mall, boasts high-end boutiques like Coach, Burberry and Fendi.


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Located across the street from Plaza Forum in the Party Center, this colorful flea market offers everything from the obligatory souvenir Cancun t-shirts, brightly painted pottery, silver jewelry, and traditional Mexican clothing to tattoos (both real and temporary), body piercing and adult videos. You are expected to haggle with the vendors. If that isn't your style, stick with retail stores where there are fixed prices. Coral Negro can be a bit of an overload for the senses, but you're on vacation so relax and have fun with it.


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Marina Town Center is Cancun's newest shopping hub. It is located in the Hotel Zone very close to downtown in the area called Puerto Cancun. This open-air mall and marina is home to a Cinepolis movie theater, including an IMAX theater, a food court, a nail salon, a barber shop, a gym and of course shops and boutiques, including many that are new to Cancun like Best Buy, Zara Home and H&M. Pets are allowed but they must be registered in the administration office. Most stores are open from 11 am to 11 pm. It is easy to get to Marina Town Center from anywhere in the Hotel Zone. Just take the bus north (the ocean side of the street) and tell the driver you want to go to Marina Town Center which is the last stop before downtown.


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Plaza Las Americas
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse

 

Located in downtown Cancun on Tulum Avenue, Plaza Las Americas was once one of the only places for locals do their shopping. Clothing, sports, jewelry, shoe and department stores, a pet store, a nail salon, cafes and restaurants and even a supermarket can be found in Plaza Las Americas. The food court has been moved to Malecon Americas and new stores like Old Navy and H&M have appeared in its place. In the middle and at the end of every month, retailers set up tables outside their shops and fill them with sale merchandise. During the holidays musicians play on the weekends. The best way to get to Plaza Las Americas is to take the R1 or R2 bus to the first stop downtown and then walk or take a taxi to the mall.


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Malecon Americas
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse

 

Located in downtown Cancun, Malecon Americas is connected to another very popular mall, Plaza Las Americas. Malecon Americas is partially indoors and partially open air. This mall features clothing, shoe and jewelry shops, as well as bookstores, furniture stores, a Liverpool home furnishings store, a children's hair salon, a music store, Chapur (a large Mexican department store), and a brand new food court upstairs in the indoor portion. There is also a Sky Zone, an arcade, a beautiful new food court and numerous restaurants including Olive Garden, Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, Chili's, McDonalds (with a McCafe), Hooters and more. On weekends, especially on Sundays, the mall is packed with locals.


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La Isla Shopping Village
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse

 

Arguably Cancun's prettiest and best mall, La Isla Shopping Village is located at km 12.5 in the Hotel Zone and is home to the Interactive Aquarium, a movie theater, outstanding restaurants, coffee shops, a drug store, upscale boutiques and souvenir shops. This open air mall has a charming canal running through it. There are quite a few waterfront restaurants, which are wonderful places to sit and watch the sunset. Local children can usually be found playing in the fountain close to Hooters, where spouts of water shoot out of the ground. This fountain is a great place to take vacation pictures.


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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

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