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Cancún Tourist Traps: 86 reviews and 35 photos
Chichen Itza - Bus Rest Stop Shop (2002)
If you take an organized bus day tour to Chichen Itza, Tulum, or Coba, your bus will make a stop at a tourist shop for folks to use the restrooms. Your tour guide may put a small sticker on your shirt with a number on it to "identify" the group. The sticker is actually so that the tour company you are with gets a commission on any souvenirs you buy while at this shop. The souvenir shop that the bus stops at is generally so far away from anything else that it adds undue driving time to your trip and doesn't allow for any comparison shopping (there are no other shops nearby). These shops are way overpriced because they know they have you "trapped".
The bus rest stop on the way to Chichen Itza is very far from Cancun (too far in my opinion), so make sure you use the bathroom before you get onboard and go easy on the coffee (even if it is early in the morning).
The rest stop shop depicted in this photo was a tiny one-room shack the first time I visited Chichen Itza. Only three years later, it has become a gigantic store. Extremely colourful, lots of selection, very expensive.
Unique Suggestions: As in my "Silver" Tourist Trap Tip, if you see something unique that you really can't live without, get it. You may not find the same item somewhere else and this may be your only chance.
There are millions of jewelry shops in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Playa Del Carmen. Silver jewelry is not at all cheap in Mexican tourist towns anymore. It is generally more expensive than in Canada or the USA, even after the best haggling. I think silver has become government regulated in Mexico because the tags are exactly the same at most of the shops. The prices have gone up dramatically since the mid 1990s. I see lots of people who have no idea what the items they're looking at are worth and they look very confused and distraught. The vendors will tell you "Mexican silver is better quality, more valuable, handmade, this is very good price." Don't believe it for a second! Before you travel, go to your local jewelry shops and/or look through catalogs to get a general idea of what silver necklaces, bracelets, and rings are actually worth. Also check the values of amber, turquoise, and moonstone settings (in that order). Write the average prices down so you have a point of reference.
Unique Suggestions: The items may still cost more than back home (even after haggling), but if you see something unique that you can't live without, get it, because you may never see the same piece again. Better to pay a little too much than regret forever that you didn't get something you liked.
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