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

Is Puerto Vallarta expensive? Is it possible to travel to Puerto Vallarta on a budget? I did it for $26 USD per day and here’s my experience in PV, one of my favorite destinations on the Pacific Coast of Mexico!

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.

puerto vallarta

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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’s 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?

is puerto vallarta expensive

No, not at all! Even if tourism is slowly growing in Puerto Vallarta, prices are still very reasonable, unlike Sayulita or San Pancho, two towns that are less than an hour away from PV but are very overpriced. Digital nomads in Puerto Vallarta only spend about $900 USD per month and are living pretty well.

Take it from me – I live here! This post is applicable for travelers but I also have lots of articles about Puerto Vallarta on a budget, depending on the type of traveler that you are.

💲 Can you use US dollars in Puerto Vallarta?

is puerto vallarta expensive

Yes, you can but the Mexican peso is still widely used. All the menus in the restaurants are still in Mexican pesos. Puerto Vallarta is still one of those areas in Mexico where they still have local culture.

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

I didn’t see a lot of USD cash machines in Puerto Vallarta, unlike Cabo and Sayulita where you can find USD ATM machines in every corner.

You can definitely use US dollars in Puerto Vallarta but expect the exchange to be lower. For example, if the current exchange rate for a USD in Mexican peso is $21 MXN, establishments in Puerto Vallarta will take it for $17 MXN or $18 MXN.

💰 Is Puerto Vallarta cheaper than Cancun?

is puerto vallarta expensive

ABSOLUTELY! Puerto Vallarta is still the cheapest destination in Mexico and it does not compare to how expensive Cancun is.

The funny thing is all the resorts you have in Cancun are the same resort branches that are in Puerto Vallarta but their prices are so different from each other!

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 resorts prices, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun prices have a big gap in terms of street food, restaurant prices, and tour prices.

☀️ When is the cheapest time to visit Puerto Vallarta?

is puerto vallarta expensive

Funnily, travel costs in Puerto Vallarta also vary by season. This is applicable in all of Mexico. The low season is from June to mid-October while the rest of the year is on high season.

During the high season (mid-October to mid-May), expect accommodations 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, when you search on Google, it 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 a lot! Oftentimes, budget travelers get discouraged from visiting Puerto Vallarta because they feel that 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 services and amenities of the resort. You will have to pay them separately. But that’s not a bad price at all if you are looking for a fancy place to stay!

Hostels in Puerto Vallarta start from $15 USD for a bed in a dorm. Most of them offer free breakfast so cross one meal out if you decide to stay in a hostel. Below are the hostels I recommend in PV:

  • Los Muertos Hostel: situated at the most famous beach in PV (Los Muertos), this hostel has a standard 8-bed dorm room from $10 USD per night
  • El Sunset Hostel: one of the most top-rated hostels for backpackers, a bed in a dorm room in this hostel starts at $7 USD.
  • Oasis Hostel Puerto Vallarta: a bed in a 6-bed dorm starts at $9 USD per night per person.

If you have a little extra budget, many boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta start at $45 USD. This may or may not include breakfast but they are usually included.

🌮 Food prices in Puerto Vallarta

puerto vallarta food tours

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 range from $6-$10 USD and these are big plates. There are also lots of 2 for 1 margarita promos at certain hours for only $5 USD.

Now if you don’t have a sensitive stomach and are willing to explore the rich street food culture of Puerto Vallarta, a street taco is less than a dollar and they’re all home-made by locals.

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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. Walmart, Mega, Chedraui, and La Comer are the most popular Mexican supermarket chains. We are also one of the few Mexican cities that has a Costco.

If you don’t travel for food and are on a strict budget, you can easily spend $7 USD for two pax for cooking a meal at your accommodation.

🚕 Transportation costs in Puerto Vallarta

puerto vallarta on a budget

Uber is widely used in Puerto Vallarta. You can get rides from point A to B for as less than $5 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 $3 USD while taxis for the same route are $45 – $75 USD.

If you’re looking for a trusted local driver, Juan and I have been friends for a long time and he’s 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 – tour prices in PV are sometimes super ridiculous!

There are many food tours that are under $50 USD and this is my favorite activity in PV. Of course, you can always say you can do it on your own 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:

ActivityPriceDuration
Food tour with locals$793 hours
Los Arcos Snorkeling$993.5 hours
Jungle ATV Tour$1393 hours
Dolphins Encounter$1494 hours
Salsa dance classes$492 hours
Airport Transportationfrom $22varies by zone
Marietas Islands Tour$1496 hours

✈️ 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 estimate 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

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!

puerto vallarta food tours

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.

💱 Money exchange in Puerto Vallarta

is puerto vallarta expensive

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

puerto vallarta on a budget

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!

💳 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 how they don’t have the 10% option anymore so you can’t really do anything about the machine’s minimum tipping percentage.

⁉️ FAQ: Puerto Vallarta Travel Costs

The cost to eat out in Puerto Vallarta varies but if you are not a picky eater, street food is as low as $2 USD. I still find mid-range dining affordable. For example, if you are eating at a beachfront restaurant with a view, you can still find cheap food starting at $8 USD.

For high end dining, expect to pay from $25 – $100 USD. Puerto Vallarta has a wide range of restaurants with varying prices but rest assured that all budgets will be catered to.

Compared to other popular destinations in Mexico, a vacation in Puerto Vallarta is still cheaper. You can find all-inclusive resorts here from $100 USD which is not common to find anymore in resort cities like Cancun or Cabo.

The same goes for other travel expenses in PV like food and activities. As of the writing of this article, Puerto Vallarta is still very affordable!

Beer costs in Puerto Vallarta vary. If you are buying it from a convenience store and taking it to the beach, a 6-pack is about $7 USD. As for bars and restaurants, beer costs tend to have different price tiers.

For example, if you are at a beachfront bar, expect to pay at least $3 USD for national beers (Corona, Pacifico, Victoria, etc). The price of the beer in Puerto Vallarta really depends on where you go.

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 credit card (in restaurants or big establishments).

Dollars or other currencies are not widely accepted in Puerto Vallarta. If they do, they will have a crazy low conversion rate so the best approach is to bring Mexican pesos and use your credit card in places that accept cards.

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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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