"Puerto Vallarta diverse city" Puerto Vallarta by Grapik

Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide: 1,137 reviews and 1,983 photos

Tourist options are diverse

Tourist options are vast in PV. To the north, Nuevo Vallarta, and the all inclusive and high end hotel complexes offer to an escape from your daily grind. You won't get a flavor of the cities culture or meet as much of the polite Mexican manners. But, you will also miss the street vendors, street drunks (locals and tourists) and the spring break mentality of some areas. The Four Seasons is on this end.

Move to the heart of the city and along the Malecon and you will find a clean and entertaining beach front shopping area. This is not only for tourists, although they comprise much of the crowd. It is also a common place for Mexican families and couples. Hotels around this area range from hostels to all inclusive and nice hotels.

Move to the south end, called Zona Romantica, and you will find the gay area. It is also were many Americans live full time. In Mexico the homophobia is not as violent or public, so gay tourists can casually walk hand in hand without much worry. if you walk the Malecon, once you walk over bridge, you will be in the Malecon

Safety is like any city. Don't get so drunk that you're unable to get home. Don't bring strangers into your hotel room. The locals know each other. If you're making friends that are locals and want them to visit you, meet and know a lot of thier friends. Not just one or two, as they could be accomplices. Go on a couple trips with them and know them. Do not pick up strangers. (seems common sense?)

The water is fine. PV has a water purification plant. Like Cancun, even with city wide clean water, many hotels have thier own purification. Don't drink river water or water from the gutter. Now, that said. Be mindful of where you eat. Most street vendors are safe. But look for how they clean and keep meat. Most street vendors don't serve chicken, btw.

The beach restaraunts are scary. They use ice for keeping meats, often times. So, after a hot day, the food is often not kept in the best environment. Squeeze lime on everything or stick to the more mainline places. The citric acid is good to kill bacteria. I've gotten sick one time, after eating at a beach place. I eat everywhere. Street vendors are great for a fast snack.

There are awesome views from some places. Try searching for those and plan to spend $60 per person. You will leave full, happy, and had a nice dinner

Street smarts. Remember I said diverse? Like and large city, there are places you do not belong after dark. Oddly, if you get lost and find yourself in these neighborhoods, more often people will ask if you are lost and will try to get you a taxi or point you in the right direction. In Mexico the police are abundant and drive with thier overhead light on most of the time you can always ask them for help

That said, remember, Mexico is economically a struggling country. The police are not all high integrity people. Many are. Think of LAPD and understand, not all large organizations are 100% honest. The police will shake you down. Don't buy or consume drugs and you should be pretty safe. If you feel you're being shaken down, demand to go to the police station, if the price is getting too steep.

Violence in Puerto Vallarta is as common as any large city. I've never witnessed any violence. Jalisco has little cartel activity right now. So, relax on that topic. I've never been shaken down by the police and never had or seen violence around me here. Puerto Vallarta is a hub of tourist activity. If youde worried, come and stay close to your hotel. Once you feel comfortable, expand your adventure circle

Little Tips

Do you pesos exchange at the bank or a bank ATM.

TIP the people that bag your purchase at the store. That is thier income. 5 pesos or all your coins is fine, but just don't walk away with your change

Courtesy counts. If you don't speak the local language, don't worry. Many, if not most, know some English. If you're polite, they will work hard to help you

Do not go to the beach after 11pm. It is now against ordinance to be on the beach past 11 in PV

Take a day trip to Sayulita or Yelapa. Both tourist friendly and uber safe fun and still small. Sayulita is loosing it's charm slowly and becoming an American meca. But, it is still amazing and fun!

Don't flash your cash

Be polite and you will find a city that unfolds for you. Be a drunken gringo there to exploit the city and you will find your notch too. They accommodate everyone

For household supplies and groceries, go to Walmart if you're in the city. If you're further out, the town squares will have the best shopping.

The drinking age is 18. If you have kids, remember that if they are out alone after dark, they can drink at a younger age than the US

Don't drive unless you're going someplace you need a car. The buses are abundant and have destinations in English written on the front glass. A taxi will cost you about 80 pesos for nearly any trip.

Don't let a taxi driver change your choice of restaraunt. They work on commission, so keep your plan.

Don't TIP the taxi driver, unless they carry your bags to your door or something.

Agree on the taxi price BEFORE you close the door

Don't give money to beggars. Notice that at night, you will not see any homeless on the street. Family and neighborhoods care for each other in Mexico. It is different from the US. Don't give money to beggars, as it supports child exploration in the region

Oxxo usually has a good exchange rate, for purchases. Oxxo is like 7-11 or other convenience stores. They are all over, especially in tourist areas and near the beach

The beach vendors after have great deals. Remember to negotiate a price. Also, be warned that once you buy something, there will be a few other vendors waiting to show you thier goods soon. Just tell them no thank you. "No gracias". No need to be short with them.

If your going to watch the sunset at a bar or restaurant, arrive early to get a good seat

Have an awesome time!


Like all of Mexico, PV is heavily unfounded by the Catholoc culture. I was with a group of Mexican friends. As we drive by the church they made the sign of the cross, and at that same moment they saw a group of cute girls. Before finessing the cross they were also whistling and screaming to the girls. This helps demonstrate that the Catholic church is engrained into daily routines, sometimes unconscious. If you are uncomfortable with this, relax and appreciate the significance of it to this culture, not yours.

If you enjoy the canopy ride, very popular, don't drink before you go. Remember, alcohol might be fun for you, but is not safe for every experience. Tequila hour can wait

Don't carry hundreds of dollars or thousands of pesos. Just like in the US, large sums of money are relative, and carrying them brings risk. If you carry a lot, put some in the bottom of your shoe or another place that won't be found easily.

If you have sex, be safe. Mexico is not without STD's.

Antibiotics now require a prescription for a local doctor. Many other medications can be purchased without one

If you're in the gay area, don't be rude. It is seen as poor public conduct. If gay people cause you discomfort, there are many other areas of the city to enjoy

Relax. Smile. Enjoy. You're on vacation!!!! You will love it here!!!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Safe. Friendly. Beautiful. Easy day escursions. Tourist friendly
  • Cons:All the trappings of lots of tourists. Be mindful of scams
  • In a nutshell:An Accessible Introduction to the Best of Mexican Culture
  • Last visit to Puerto Vallarta: Feb 2011
  • Intro Updated Feb 11, 2011
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