The Top Markets in Cancún You Should Know
Mercado 23 is home to some of the finest fresh produce to be found anywhere in Cancún | © Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 17+ / Alamy Stock Photo
The most popular resort in Mexico is also home to a thriving local market scene, each with its own selection of wares and a distinct identity to boot.
After too much time spent lazing around your resort in the Cancun sunshine, you might want to swap the beach for the shaded stalls and bargain buys of the local markets. From the organic health foods of the Green Market to the traditional handicrafts of the Mayan Market, Cancun’s many marketplaces have more to offer than tacky t-shirts and touristy souvenirs – although, indeed, you’ll find plenty of “I love Cancun” mugs around. These are the top markets in Cancun you should know.
If you need a break from the restaurants of the Hotel Zone or the all-inclusive food at your resort, take a trip to Cancun’s Green Market, where you’ll find an abundance of health food for sale. This independent food store offers organic Mexican produce, alongside all the smoothie mixes, ginger shots and gluten-free bread you’ll need during your holiday. Vegans will be impressed by the range of dairy-free and meat-free products available plus, if you’re feeling lazy, you can even order online for delivery.
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If you’re on a self-catering holiday then head to Gourmets Market, where you’ll find plenty of gourmet supermarket food to fill your shopping bags with. This high-end supermarket offers high-quality local produce, such as locally sourced fruit and vegetables alongside difficult-to-find imports from abroad. Pick up a few German wheat beers, a leg of Spanish serrano ham from the deli counter and some Swiss cheese from the dedicated aisle.
There are two Royal Market outlets to choose from in Cancun’s Hotel Zone – the first is next to Captain Cove’s Restaurant while the second is inside the Royal Resort. If you’re staying at the Royal Resort, order everything you need for breakfast, lunch and dinner to your room using the Online Kitchen Starter service – before you even arrive in Cancun. You can also rent motorized scooters to get around on, a set of golf clubs for your stay and you can have hampers, fruit baskets and flowers sent to hotel rooms.
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Hidden away in the middle of downtown Cancun, Market 23 is one of the most visited marketplaces in the city. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that Market 23 isn’t primarily a tourist market, but a local affair. Yes, you can still find all the classic Cancun souvenirs here (and at much lower prices than in resorts), but there’s also fruit and veg, hand-pressed tortillas, jars of fresh salsa and mole sauce for sale. Even if you’re not looking to buy much, take a stroll through the stalls and immerse yourself in a world far removed from the Hotel Zone.
Mayan Market is a boutique store in the Hotel Zone selling traditional Mayan handicrafts sourced from local artisans. You can purchase Mayan-inspired jewelry and clothing, alongside premium bottles of artisanal tequila from some of Mexico’s finest independent distilleries. The Mayan Market is appropriately located in front of Cancun’s Mayan Museum and Archaeological Site, bringing a much-needed cultural boost to the resorts of the Hotel Zone. Tour the ruins of San Miguelito, then take a look inside the Mayan Market for more authentic souvenirs.
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Brush up on your Spanish skills before you start shopping at Mercado 28, one of downtown Cancun’s largest markets. You’ll need to know your Spanish numbers and how to haggle when navigating this fast-paced destination where you’ll find all the souvenirs you could ever need at much lower prices than in the shops of the Hotel Zone. You can also book tours and excursions with some of the vendors too, all without the hefty booking charges laid on by resorts.
Mercado Coral Negro
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You need a cool head and a lot of patience if you want to shop at Mercado Coral Negro – but if you’re looking for T-shirts, bottles of tequila and any other classic Cancun souvenirs then this flea market has got you covered. Mercado Coral Negro occupies a great location in the Hotel Zone, which means you don’t need to head all the way downtown for souvenir shopping. Though be warned that vendors here have a reputation for aggressive bargaining; they always start with the highest prices, so shop around the stalls, get some competition going and don’t be afraid to walk away.
Mercado Ki Huic
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Set away from the Hotel Zone, just off the Tulum highway in the center of Cancun, Mercado Ki Huic is much smaller and far quieter than other downtown markets. This is one of the older markets in Cancun and, while it’s primarily full of touristy items such as sombreros, shirts and shot glasses, you’ll likely find lower prices than in the shopping malls if you’re ready to haggle with the vendors. Amongst the souvenirs, there’s bargain jewelry to be had too – but only if you know what to look out for.
Tianguis de la 94
This is one of those markets that is predominantly used by locals, as it’s well away from the tourist area of Cancun. Tianguis de la 94 is the place to buy and sell everything, from clothes and kitchenware to bicycles, plants, personal care products and so much more. Some locals sell the things they don’t need anymore, so it’s a paradise for those looking for vintage stuff and, as a plus, most of it is sold for cheap. The food is also delicious; try a delicious mondongo or huarache. The market is open Thursdays and Saturdays.
Manos Mágicas is found in the beautiful Jardín del Arte (Art Garden), where around 250 Mexican artisans sell their crafts and a variety of products including clothes, green cosmetics, handbags and more. In addition, there are workshops for children to learn the labor of the local artists, all framed by the shore of Nichupté lagoon. The beauty of the place and the opportunity to learn, buy local crafts and have fun make this market an ideal place for families to have quality time and delight in traditional food and snacks.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Monica Ramirez Lopez.
These recommendations were updated on July 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.