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Artisanal & Farmers "Mercados" of Cancun and Riviera Maya

Shopping in Cancun and the Riviera Maya is an adventure. If you're in the market for artistic Mexican handicrafts, onyx, colorful textiles and leather goods, you'll find a treasure trove of brilliant bargains around almost every corner.

Shopping in Cancun and the Riviera Maya is an adventure. If you're in the market for artistic Mexican handicrafts, onyx, colorful textiles and leather goods, you'll find a treasure trove of brilliant bargains around almost every corner. Fresh fruit, baked goods, "aguas frescas." (freshly squeezed juices) and a host of typical culinary treats can be found in local markets. You'll even find "designer" Tequila and recently rolled cigars to take home with you.

Open-Air Market in Cancun

 

 

Photo courtesy of Price Travel Pictures

Open-air markets are a favorite of Mexico, and Mercado Coral Negro is one of the most reputable. Shoppers can find anything ranging from jewelry to clothing, even great local eats. It is advisable to negotiate with vendors, as shoppers will often be able to find more affordable

 

prices for their goods. 

 

Address: Boulevard Kukulcan, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Canc?n, Q.R., Mexico 

Maya-Influenced Art

 

 

Photo courtesy of Dorfman Art Gallery

The Dorfman Art Gallery in Cancun is highly regarded among locals as one of the great art showcases in all of the city. Brothers Renato and Adan Dorfman have on display a multitude of Maya-influenced sculptures, paintings, and more. If you are looking to pick up a piece of authentic Mexican art, look no further. 

 

Addresss: KM 13 LOCAL 410-411-A, Boulevard Kukulcan, Zona Hotelera, Benito Ju?rez, 77500 Canc?n, Q.R., Mexico

 

Maya Chocolate at Ah Cacao

 

 

Photo courtesy of Ah Cacao

Ah Cacao's chocolate shop near the beach is packed with irresistible, traditional Maya candy. Their cocoa beans are grown in the hills of Tabasco and, in the Maya tradition, their chocolate is mixed in the Yucatan with butter and nuts. The chocolates come neatly tied with golden bows and labeled with a character from the Maya calendar?the perfect gift. At a mere 90 pesos, the resulting sweet confection will quickly find its way into your pocket. 

 

Address: 355 Boulevard, KukulkanCanc?n, Mexico

 

Tacos and Handicrafts at Mercado 28

 

Photo courtesy of Price Travel Pictures

Mercado 28, or Mercado Veintiocho, is a huge flea market in downtown Canc?n, where you'll encounter not only tasty tacos, but an assortment of tourist items mixed in alongside handmade goods of all shapes and sizes. 

 

Take a break from haggling with local shop owners and visit the many food stalls while you're there.

 

You'll find not only delicious food, but brilliant bargains along the way. Address: Av. Xel-ha Mz. 13, SM 28, 77501 Cancun, QROO, Mexico

 

The Art of Cigar Rolling

 

 

Photo courtesy of AFAR

As you stroll along 5th Avenue with dinner and drink specials thrown at you back and forth, you might glance over and see aged and leathered hands delicately rolling cigars, or cigarillos.

 

You walk into the shop enticed and curious. The ceiling is invisible due to the abundant amount of tobacco leaves hanging and drying for another day. You're pulled into the back room by a friendly staff member where she shows you the empty boxes, the labels they use on the boxes, and the bags filled with tobacco leaves that are the size of barrels, if not wider.

 

The Cigar Factory off of 5th Avenue is a tiny "how to" cigar shop with friendly and knowledgeable staff that are eager to show you around. Even if you're not a cigar smoker, the shop is a tiny cigar museum where you can see what it takes to make them.

 

All cigars are hand made on the premises and there are two tables where you can observe staff rolling, the tiny one outside, and the bigger one inside. The owner is an older gentleman that has a fantastic sense of humor and likes to give young 20 somethings deals on cigars for their Godfathers.

 

Tip: Cubans can be bought here but they're not made at the shop. I'm not familiar with what qualifies as "good quality" when speaking on terms of cigars, but either way, the shop is a fun little detour. 

 

Address: MZA 87 LTE 261, 1 Avenida Norte, Centro, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, M?xico

 

 

Hand-Blown Mexican Glass for a Song

 

Photo courtesy of AFAR

A dilapidated warehouse, cobalt blue on the outside, draws me in. It doesn't look promising, paint peeling and in need of repair, but I have learned never to judge a book by its cover here in Mexico.

 

I walk from bright sunlight into cool shade, and there they sit teeming. Rows and rows of shelves filled with glasses and vases, pitchers and bowls. All wearing swirls or stripes in ruby red, emerald green, and my favorite--cobalt blue. 

 

I spend at least an hour lovingly caressing the hand-blown glass, gazing into original creations as if each were a crystal ball. Finally, after touching nearly everything, I fill a cardboard box with 16 glasses, all in colors of the nearby Caribbean sea. Of course I can't resist a blue-rimmed pitcher just waiting for fresh-squeezed limonada to complete the set. Total coast? Less than 50 bucks. 

 

Bring pesos. They only accept cash. Don't worry about the cardboard box. The girls will supply it and gingerly wrap everything in newspaper for you.  

 

Address: calle 80 mz 20 smz 69 entre 50 poniente y carretera federal km292, Quintana Roo, Iztapalapa, Ciudad de M?xico, DF, Mexico

 

 

Local's Farmers Market

 

 

Photo courtesy of MROX

Mercado 23 is the local farmers market where you'll find organic produce, street food, and unique local products. The fruits and vegetables here are grown naturally, without GMOs, so while a bit smaller and imperfect they are the real deal. Like most farmers' markets it's best to get there early while the freshest items are still available. Even if you aren't in the market for food, it's a great place for other gifts and just to browse.

 

Address: 23, Canc?n, Mexico

 

 

Mexican Market and Mango Love

 

 

Photo courtesy of AFAR

The fragrance of mangoes drifts across the square and pulls me in. Big mangoes, little mangoes. Red, green and yellow mangoes. I follow my nose on my tiptoes like Bugs Bunny falling in love.

 

The market in Puerto Aventuras is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so I arrive early and politely push my way through the gathering crowd. I fill my basket with a recycled water bottle filled with Mayan honey, dried hibiscus flowers the color of a good Shiraz, spiny green guanabana that slices open to reveal white pulp reminiscent of a pineapple-strawberry smoothie, avocados--buttery and smooth, pungent ginger root, and of course mangoes.

 

I'm cooking mahi-mahi tonight topped with mango and avocado and drizzled with organic honey. I'm brewing Jamaica, a smooth tea made from the dried flowers. And to top it all off, I'm trying my hand at homemade guanabana-ginger ice cream. 

 

I've never made home made ice cream. But then I'd never shopped at a Mexican market where they take dollars and pesos and the cost of dinner (not including the fresh fish I bought from the fisherman of course) is a measly 78 pesos, which rounds out to about 5 dollars and 20 cents. All in all, its a good day to try something new! 

 

Address: Rivera Maya

 

 

Taste and Tour

Photo courtesy of Ian Collins

Crafting the perfect tequila in Mexico is both a tradition and art. Contrary to its perception in America, here it's a drink meant to be relished. A tour of the Museo Del Tequila is an experience for the senses that walks you through the subtleties in smell and taste of the beverage. Learn about the creation process, history, and legends surrounding the drink?as well as taste it! 

 

Address: Blvd Kukulcan Km 11.5, 77500 Canc?n, Q.R., Mexico

 

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