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Playa del Carmen is the pulsating heart of the Riviera Maya, offering a unique combination of European glamor and Caribbean beach life. Don't confuse Playa with Playacar, a sprawling master development on the outskirts with none of Playa's mojo. The city has a pedestrian-friendly layout centered around 5th Avenue, which is full of designer retail shops, cafes, nightclubs, and worldly dining options (many European chefs come here to start out). In terms of real estate, boutique 4-story condos rule downtown while golf resorts abut the city to the north and south. The gorgeous beach is never more than a few blocks away. Playa’s cross-cultural swirl makes it easily the most vibrant and interesting city in the Riviera.

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