updated 3/26/2007 1:25:12 PM ET 2007-03-26T17:25:12

Despite the surrounding natural splendor, shopping has become a favorite activity. Cancún is known throughout Mexico for its diverse shops and festive malls catering to a large number of international tourists. Visitors from the United States may find apparel more expensive in Cancún, but the selection is much broader than at other Mexican resorts. Numerous duty-free shops offer excellent value on European goods. The largest is UltraFemme, Avenida Tulum, Supermanzana 25 (tel. 998/884-1402 or 887-4559), specializing in imported cosmetics, perfumes, and fine jewelry and watches. The downtown Cancún location offers slightly lower prices than branches in Plaza Caracol, Kukulcan Plaza, Maya Fair Plaza, Flamingo Plaza, and the international airport.

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Handicrafts are more limited and more expensive in Cancún than in other regions of Mexico because they are not produced here. They are available, though; several open-air crafts markets are on Avenida Tulum in Cancún City and near the convention center in the Hotel Zone. One of the biggest is Coral Negro, Bulevar Kukulkán Km 9.5 (tel./fax 998/883-0758), open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. A small restaurant inside, Xtabentun, serves Yucatecan food and pizza slices, and metamorphoses into a dance club around 9 to 11pm.

Cancún's main venues are the malls -- not quite as grand as their U.S. counterparts, but close. All are air-conditioned, sleek, and sophisticated. Most are on Bulevar Kukulkán between Km 7 and Km 12. They offer everything from fine crystal and silver to designer clothing and decorative objects, along with numerous restaurants and clubs. Stores are generally open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Kukulcan Plaza (tel. 998/885-2200; www.kukulcanplaza.com) offers a large selection -- more than 300 -- of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. There's a branch of Banco Serfin; OK Maguey Cantina Grill; a theater with U.S. movies; an Internet access kiosk; Tikal, which sells Guatemalan textile clothing; several crafts stores; a liquor store; several bathing-suit specialty stores; record and tape outlets; a leather goods store (including shoes and sandals); and a store specializing in silver from Taxco. The Fashion Gallery features designer clothing. In the food court are a number of U.S. franchise restaurants, including Ruth's Chris Steak House, plus one featuring specialty coffee. There's also a large indoor parking garage. The mall is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., until 11 p.m. during high season. Assistance for those with disabilities is available upon request, and wheelchairs, strollers, and lockers are available at the information desk.

Planet Hollywood anchors the Plaza Flamingo (tel. 998/883-2945), which has branches of Bancrecer, Subway, and La Casa del Habano (Cuban cigars).

The long-standing Plaza Caracol (tel. 998/883-1038; www.caracolplaza.com) holds Cartier jewelry, Guess, Waterford Crystal, Señor Frog clothing, Samsonite luggage, and La Fisheria restaurant. It's just before you reach the convention center as you come from downtown Cancún.

Maya Fair Plaza/Centro Comercial Maya Fair, frequently called "Mayfair" (tel. 998/883-2801), is the oldest mall. The lively center holds open-air restaurants and bars, including the Outback Steakhouse and Sanborn's Café, and several stores sell silver, leather, and crafts. Slideshow: Cancún caliente

Because the entertainment-oriented Forum by the Sea, Bulevar Kukulkán Km 9 (tel. 998/883-4425), suffered extensive hurricane damage, it received a complete face-lift. Most people come here for the food and fun, choosing from Hard Rock Cafe, Coco Bongo, and Rainforest Cafe, plus an extensive food court. Shops include Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, Diesel, Swatch, and Harley Davidson. The mall is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight (bars remain open later).

The most intriguing mall is the La Isla Shopping Village, Bulevar Kukulkán Km 12.5 (tel. 998/883-5025; www.laislacancun.com.mx), an open-air festival mall that looks like a small village. Walkways lined with shops and restaurants cross little canals. It also has a "riverwalk" alongside the Nichupté lagoon, and an interactive aquarium and dolphin swim facility, as well as the Spacerocker and River Ride Tour -- great for kid-friendly fun. It suffered extensive hurricane damage, but was fully reopened in March 2006. Shops include Guess, Diesel, DKNY, Bulgari, and UltraFemme. Dining choices include Johnny Rockets, Come and Eat, Häagen-Dazs, and the beautiful Mexican restaurant La Casa de las Margaritas. You also can find a movie theater, a video arcade, and several nightclubs, including Glazz. It's across from the Sheraton, on the lagoon side of the street.

For more on what to see and do in Cancun, visit our complete guide online at http://www.frommers.com/destinations/cancun/.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.

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