Is Puerto Vallarta expensive? Here’s a detailed costs breakdown for travelers

Is Puerto Vallarta expensive? Discover how to maximize your experience in this vibrant Mexican destination while keeping expenses in check with savvy tips and breakdowns for cost-effective accommodations, dining, and activities.

Mexico is really cheap, and your $ 50-per-day budget will go a long way here! I traveled to Puerto Vallarta with a $26 budget per day, and it all worked out fine. You will be surprised how cheap Mexico is when you get here.

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Of course, as you know, travel expenses are different from living expenses. Before actually living in Puerto Vallarta, I traveled here extensively first to see if it was a place I would like to live in.

In this article, I will only write about the travel costs as you can see many different cost of living articles here on the blog (by Mexican area).

So, let’s get started. Let’s answer your burning question: is Puerto Vallarta expensive?

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Is Puerto Vallarta expensive to visit?

is puerto vallarta expensive

No, not at all! Even if tourism is slowly growing in Puerto Vallarta, prices are very reasonable, unlike Sayulita or San Pancho.

These two towns are less than an hour away from PV but are very overpriced. Digital nomads in Puerto Vallarta spend only about $900 USD monthly and live pretty well.

Take it from me—I live here! This post is applicable to travelers, but I also have lots of articles about Puerto Vallarta on a budget, depending on your type of traveler.

Is Puerto Vallarta cheaper than Cancun?

is puerto vallarta expensive

ABSOLUTELY! Puerto Vallarta is still the cheapest destination in Mexico, and it is not comparable to Cancun.

The funny thing is that all the resorts in Cancun are the same resort branches in Puerto Vallarta, but their prices are so different!

For example, the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta all-inclusive price for 2 people costs $400 USD per night while Hyatt Ziva Cancun costs $774. These prices are during the high season.

Of course, this all depends on the amenities, but I have been to both, and the offer is exactly the same. The price only differs because of the area.

Apart from all-inclusive resort prices, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun prices have a big gap in terms of street food, restaurant prices, and tour prices.

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Daily Puerto Vallarta Travel Budget (Sample)

Here’s a sample Puerto Vallarta travel budget per day. Please note that these costs are for one person only.

Note that this is also a mid-range budget sample so you can estimate if you can upgrade to a luxurious vacation in Puerto Vallarta (or downgrade to super low-cost).

ItemPrice in USD
Accommodation$75
Meals $55
Transportation (Uber)$50 (varies)
Activities and entertainment$90

These are only the major costs. Think about souvenirs ($20), beers ($3), and other entertainment options. Every traveler is different, but as a base cost, expect to pay the prices above.

Should I bring dollars or pesos to Puerto Vallarta?

Yes, you can bring US dollars to Puerto Vallarta, but the Mexican peso is still widely used. All the restaurant menus are in Mexican pesos.

Puerto Vallarta is still one of those areas in Mexico where the local culture is still present.

What I mean is it’s not like Cabo, where all the menus are in USD, and everyone operates in USD (even the Mexicans).

Also, note that the Mexican peso is at par with the dollar. On April 25th, it rose to almost 16.8 per USD from a five-month low of 17.2.

If you travel to Mexico frequently, you should also base your travel budget on Mexican pesos, as it changes quite often.

Is Puerto Vallarta cash only?

Yes and no. It really depends. Most restaurants accept credit cards but if you are going to taco stands or street food stalls, they only accept cash.

Tips for service are also more appreciated in cash, but you can add the tip when you pay with a credit card (in restaurants or big establishments).

Money exchange in Puerto Vallarta

You can definitely bring US dollars to Puerto Vallarta and get better conversion rates versus paying with your USD while traveling in PV.

All money exchange houses or what we call casa de cambio in Mexico have similar exchange rates. Below are some of the recommended money exchange places in Puerto Vallarta:

ATMs in Puerto Vallarta

The good news is Puerto Vallarta is a big city so major Mexican banks like Santander, BBVA, Banorte, etc are everywhere!

There is an ATM machine on every corner so you don’t have to worry about taking cash in Puerto Vallarta.

The small ATM machines at the Malecon of Puerto Vallarta are safe but if you’re not comfortable taking cash from them (it can also be sometimes faulty), I suggest going to the banks.

If you are staying in a resort, all of the PV resorts have their own ATM machines inside. You don’t have to go downtown!

Using credit/debit cards

Credit cards are widely used in Puerto Vallarta. All restaurants, souvenir shops, and even tour companies accept credit cards. Visa or Mastercard is preferred and only big resorts take Amex.

Tipping in Puerto Vallarta

Tipping is customary in Puerto Vallarta. Like the United States, Mexico is a tipping country. The minimum wage in Mexico is super low and all locals rely heavily on tips.

10% is the bare minimum but I always give up to 20% if the service is really good. Do not expect high-end service in Puerto Vallarta but still tip the minimum.

Most credit card machines start the tipping at 15%. It’s crazy that they don’t have the 10% option anymore, so you can’t really change the machine’s minimum tipping percentage.

Cheapest months to visit Puerto Vallarta

The cheapest months to visit Puerto Vallarta are typically during the low season, which runs from May to October.

During this period, prices for accommodations and activities tend to be lower due to reduced tourist traffic.

September and October often see the lowest prices as these are part of the rainy season in the region, which further decreases tourism demand.

But Puerto Vallarta is always hit by typhoons during September and October, so even if you pay a lower price, you’ll probably stay indoors because of the rain (and flood!).

During the high season (mid-October to mid-May), accommodations are expected to be higher than usual, especially during the winter season in the US.

I honestly feel like January and February, the coldest months in the US and Europe, are more expensive than the holiday season (Christmas).

Hotel prices in Puerto Vallarta

is puerto vallarta expensive

There are many accommodation types in Puerto Vallarta. However, searching on Google will only give you results on the all-inclusive stays since this area is well-known for that.

There is very little exposure for hostels and small guest houses here, but there are many! Budget travelers often get discouraged from visiting Puerto Vallarta because they feel it’s too expensive.

All accommodation types in Puerto Vallarta have the same range. All-inclusive resorts range from $100 USD per night for two people.

This does not include all the resort’s services and amenities, which you will have to pay for separately. But that’s not a bad price if you are looking for a fancy place to stay!

Hostels in Puerto Vallarta start from $12 USD for a bed in a dorm. Most of them offer free breakfast, so if you decide to stay in a hostel, leave one meal out.

Here’s a nightly price range during the high season. Note that these accommodations are in prime locations in Puerto Vallarta, with easy access to transportation. All prices are in USD.

Property NameAccommodation typePrice
Los Muertos Hostel6-bed dorm$21
El Sunset Hostel6-bed dorm$12
Oasis Hostel Puerto Vallarta6-bed dorm$17
Paramar BeachfrontBoutique hotel$177
San Tropico Petit HotelBoutique hotel$122
Hotel Mio Vallarta (Adults Only)Boutique Hotel$118

Also note that some accommodations may require a minimum 2-night stay during the low season. The weekends are also more expensive, especially in resorts in Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta is one of the top resort cities in Mexico, so you’re probably eyeing an all-inclusive stay.

Assuming you’d go for a weekend (from Friday to Monday), here are the nightly prices for 2 people:

Property NameAll-inclusive Price
Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort$379
Hilton Vallarta Riviera Resort$949
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta$604
Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta$400
Hacienda Buenaventura$199

How much does it cost to eat out in Puerto Vallarta?

is puerto vallarta expensive

The Malecon is the most popular restaurant area in PV, with hundreds of restaurants facing the ocean. Although these restaurants are not considered high-end, they are, in my opinion, in the middle-priced category.

A meal at a restaurant in the Malecon ranges from $8-$15USD, and these are big plates. At certain hours, there are also lots of 2-for-1 margarita promos for only $8 USD.

If you don’t have a sensitive stomach and are willing to explore Puerto Vallarta’s rich street food culture, a street taco is less than a dollar, and they’re all homemade by locals.

In the next section, I will recommend some tasty (and clean) taquerias in Puerto Vallarta, but of course, it is up to you to eat in food stalls. We all have a different reaction to food.

Puerto Vallarta also has big supermarkets where you can buy cheap products. The most popular Mexican supermarket chains are Walmart, Mega, Chedraui, and La Comer.

PV is also one of the few Mexican cities that has a Costco.

If you don’t travel for food and are on a strict budget, a $15 USD supermarket budget is enough for 2 people.

How much does a beer cost in Puerto Vallarta?

is puerto vallarta expensive

If you are buying a beer in a convenience store, a 6-pack is around $8 USD although there is a rising popularity of the 8-pack beers this year (a little bit less than $12 USD).

You can take beers to the beach with no issues but beware of drinking in public areas like streets or sitting by the boardwalk. This area is heavily patrolled by police.

As everywhere else, beers in Puerto Vallarta bars are priced higher, depending on the location. Beach bars can charge up to $4 USD for a beer can, which is already a lot by Mexican standards.

Transportation costs in Puerto Vallarta

Uber is widely used in Puerto Vallarta. You can get rides from point A to B for as less than $7 USD.

PV is also a walking town so if you are staying downtown, you can easily walk – it’s a great exercise! Mexico also uses InDrive app where you have to bid for the fair price.

I prefer this over Uber since they can also take you to nearby towns like Sayulita or San Pancho. This app works like magic, and there are always drivers available!

Foreigners who want to experience real Mexican transport also go for busses that will take you all over Riviera Nayarit.

If you’re going to Sayulita/San Pancho from Puerto Vallarta, the bus costs less than $5 USD, while taxis for the same route are $60 – $125 USD.

If you’re looking for a trusted local driver, Juan and I have been friends for a long time, and he was actually my first friend when I came to Puerto Vallarta in 2018.

His services are cheaper than anyone else, and he won’t rip you off as most taxi drivers do to white tourists.

Tour prices in Puerto Vallarta

is puerto vallarta expensive

While there are many things to do in Puerto Vallarta, most of these are costly if you’re looking at tour agencies.

PV is known for luxury tours, and travel agencies take advantage of this – PV tour prices are sometimes ridiculous!

My favorite PV activity is Many food tours under $80 USD. Of course, you can always say you can do it alone, but signing up for a food tour will make your experience different. You won’t be able to find these things on your own!

To have an idea about tour prices, below are some of the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta:

TourPriceDuration
Food tour with locals$793 hours
Los Arcos Snorkeling$993.5 hours
Jungle ATV Tour$1393 hours
Salsa dance classes$492 hours
Dolphins Encounter$1494 hours
Airport Transportationfrom $22varies by zone

Flight prices to Puerto Vallarta

There are many direct flights from the USA and Canada to Puerto Vallarta. With this, expect PV to have an American and Canadian tourist demographic.

While flight prices to Puerto Vallarta vary (as you are all flying from different destinations), below are estimated prices for a 2-way flight from major airports in the United States:

AirportPriceDuration
Denver International$1903h 35m
Los Angeles (LAX)$2232h 58m
Chicago (ORD)$5304h 35m
San Diego (SAN)$2682h 51m
Seattle (SEA)$3684h 44m
San Francisco (SFO)$2873h 43m

If you are coming from Canada, direct flights from Vancouver or Toronto to Puerto Vallarta start at $254 USD with a 5-hour flight duration. You can book this cheap flight through Flair Airlines.

If you are traveling from Europe or Australia, there are no direct flights to Puerto Vallarta. You have to fly through Mexico City first. But don’t worry, the layover is short!

How I traveled Puerto Vallarta on a budget

First, I stayed in a hostel for $15 USD per night. If your goal is to explore Puerto Vallarta, you probably wouldn’t get expensive accommodation. You will be out all the time.

I only paid $7 USD per night at El Sunset Hostel, a highly-rated hostel in Puerto Vallarta which has a 9.5-star rating on Hostelworld.

Hostels are a great way to meet people in Puerto Vallarta. They always cook together and go dancing parties together.

I always feel like staying in a hostel, especially if you are traveling alone, is the best way to access insider tips.

I ate street food but also did restaurant dining some days of my trip: less than $5 USD per meal

To be honest, I can be cheap with accommodations when I am traveling but never with food! I always allot most of my budget to food because it’s a very important aspect of my travel.

When I was backpacking South America on a budget, I was young and didn’t have a stable job so I was always cheap with food.

When I was more stable as a full-time travel blogger, I vowed to myself that I will not be cheap on food ever again!

But I am not like most Westerners who have a sensitive stomach. From moving around the globe for the last 12 years, my stomach has adjusted to changing diets all the time which helped me not to be sick on the road anymore.

I am actually not sure what makes Americans or Canadians sick with food but I am sure they always find restaurants in Mexico cheap (i.e. $12 USD per meal is super cheap to them).

Here’s some amazing food I ate in Puerto Vallarta. I only focused on the food that I need to learn about.

The good thing about eating street food is that you will get a chance to chat with the locals about the history of their food. That is if you can speak Spanish.

  • Birria (a typical dish from Jalisco): $45 MXN ($2.18 USD)
  • Street tacos (of course!): $25 MXN ($1.21 USD)
  • National beer (bars): $30 MXN ($1.46 USD). 6-pack beers in convenience stores are at $100 MXN ($5 USD)
  • Food tours: I also made sure to join food walking tours which also let you experience walking around town on top of eating the best food in PV.
  • Restaurants: I ate in restaurants 3x preferably dinners. PV has a great restaurant scene and you can always find a good place for $200 MXN ($10 USD) per meal.

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9 Comments

  1. I’ve only been to Puerta Vallarta once, during a Mexican Riviera cruise. I wondered how much it might cost to come for a week or so. It looked like there were some beautiful resorts near the shoreline with great views of the ocean. Good to know that even the resorts are cheaper there than in other Mexican cities. And it sounds like the price for an Airbnb is much better! The food we had there was great; I’ll just need to find the prices you mention here.

  2. Wow! Happy to know that it was not expensive. Appreciate this detailed post. It is very helpful for budget travelers like me. Will take your advice to visit sometime in June to October during the low season.

  3. Oh wow, this is so good to know! Mexico is so high on our bucket list and as a large family, it’s important to keep costs as low as possible. I can’t believe how cheap the Sheraton Sunday Brunch is. We’ve been to one in Asia and it was much more expensive. And that’s a fantastic price for all inclusive resorts. Doesn’t even compare to some places we’ve been! Going on the top of our Mexico bucket list now, thanks so much!

  4. It’s great to know that in Puerto Vallarta is possible to spend time and spending $50 per day. In times of high prices and inflation, this is precious information. I’m surprised by the differences in prices in hotel resorts between Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. They are huge! It’s great that you quote the food as well. It is much cheaper than in Canun or Tulum, for sure.

  5. Wow! Puerto Vallarta is such an unbelievable destination for just USD50 a day! I love the image of that yummy tacos. Yes, nothing like the taste of street food if you can stomach it. Great tips about the use of debit/credit cards, ATMs and tipping. Studio type airbnbs sound like good options and more practical. 🙂

  6. I was indeed surprised to find that you could visit Puerto Vallarta for as little as $50 per day. Although not at all surprised that it was much cheaper than Cancun. I might not be up for a hostel but it was good to know that the all inclusive resorts are reasonably priced. We have found Uber to be really cheap when we travel. But I would check out the InDrive app. Eating where the locals eat is always our preference. And a great way to save money. Some good tips to travel cheaper in Puerto Vallarta.

  7. Good to know that Puerto Vallarta is a cost-effective destination. Who doesn’t love to stretch their travel dollars? I love the challenge of seeing how your $50/per day budget can get you. Especially the food options – delicious, authentic, and cheap. That’s the winning combination.

  8. I love the idea of enjoying a budget-friendly vacation but with all the perks (like delicious food). Your tips on visiting Puerto Vallarta on $50/day shows it really can be done. Plus, the idea of all-you-can eat Sunday brunch at the Sheraton for $19 is brilliant! That said, you’ve pointed out some important considerations with regard to ATMs, US dollars, etc. This will all make planning a trip easier.

  9. Puerto Vallarta is definitely a good budget destination and you can splurge at certain venues or meals. Your daily budget is good for the low end with accommodations and street food and many outdoor activities are free if you research and plan on doing them yourself. It is a great place to just chill and live on a decent budget

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