Tourist trap. Enough said. However, if you are looking for a place to buy hand-crafted goods, knick-knacks and tourist goodies for your friends and families, this is the only place in Cancun to consider. The prices are high if you pay face value, but if you know how to negotiate you can always walk away with a good deal.
Personally, I would recommend avoiding the restaurants in the area unless you are absolutely starving, simply because they charge triple or quadruple the rates you will find if you walk two streets over outside the perimeter of the market. Tourist trap, remember? These people make a living off of tourists who are worn out from their exploration of the market, too much so to walk down one of the side streets and find a little local tienda serving the same food for a fraction of the price.
However, while the food and the initial prices on items are high, you can find anything you want in Market 28. Silver, gold, jewelry, clothing, shoes, appliances, coffee mugs, sombreros, home furnishings...you name it, you can find it here. You can also buy a lot of "other" things here if you are the adventurous sort who enjoys extracurricular activities. And everything is open for negotiation; as they say in Mexico, "anything is possible", so if you have a quick wit about you and you speak a decent amount of Spanish you can walk away with a relatively good deal even by Cancun standards.
The venders will hound you from the moment you walk in, scenting fresh blood and praying that you are one of the easy ones that they reel in day in and day out, hook, line and sinker. Remember that every single one of these vendors is here to make a buck, and they regularly take advantage of tourists by over-charging, short-changing and generally "scamming" anyone who is ignorant enough to not catch on.
Be street-savvy and you will do just fine here, because once you see through their ruse you can find some pretty cool trinkets and hand-crafted goods at Market 28...but you have to able to negotiate and get an actual fair price for things.
It's near Centro, and once again any taxi driver will be able to take you there. Plus, may of the buses will clearly have "Market 28" painted on the sign so you can use the buses if you prefer. If you are on foot, you can walk there from Yaxchilan by heading down Sunyaxchen, which is the street running perpendicular to the Ramada Inn. Just follow the street down as it curves around and you will eventually see Market 28 off on the left-hand side, past the Ya-Esta comida. There are a lot of big signs, and you can't miss it as its one big clustered circle of street vendors.
For Cris and myself, we live just around the corner, and we are here several times a week, either walking through or picking up something from one of the local shops. If you are a "big fish" fresh off the boat, it will seem like an little overwhelmingly "touristified" area, but once you get past the façade it's actually just normal open market where everything is negotiable and there are a wide range of items to choose from.
It's one of the essential must-sees if you are visiting mainland Cancun, and even if the restaurants are high, the food is good, and even though it can be a little annoying having people try to sell you overpriced items at every single shop, it's worth it once you get down to business, and there are a lot of quality handcrafted goods to be found here.
For more information you can check out the Viajes Con Cristina episode for Market 28.
The author of this article, Tim Anderson, lives in Cancun. His book offers valuable insights not only for expats, but also for those of you that would like to vacation there...short stays or for a longer duration.
For more information about Tim Anderson and his travels, visit Marginal Boundaries
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