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Puerto Vallarta

Destinations > Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is where you’ll find the best of both worlds – the city and the beach. It has been 2020’s favorite destination because of its many beaches and affordability to travel. It is still not as touristy as other Mexican destinations and you will still get to see Mexican culture here despite the many expats who live here. Remote workers and retirees who visited during the pandemic ended up moving to Puerto Vallarta and found their new home.

Backed by the beautiful Bay of Banderas with rich jungles and mountains, Puerto Vallarta has been the top destination on the Mexican coast. It is also close to small Mexican beach towns like Sayulita and San Pancho. These two towns are just an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta and can be easily visited during the day.

✈️ Puerto Vallarta quick info

???????? State: Jalisco

???? Currency: The currency in Mexico is called the New Mexican peso (MXN).  $1 USD = $20 MXN. Mexico also uses the $ sign so don’t get confused. Most prices in PV are in Mexican peso.

???? Power plug: Mexico uses types A and B but in Sayulita, type A is more common. See all plug types here to know what to pack for Puerto Vallarta!

???? Visa: Mexico no longer gives 180-day tourists visas. It all depends on your itinerary and proof of accommodations/tours. Mexico will not stamp your passport but they will give you an entry card. Don’t lose it because it’s your only proof that you legally entered the country. You will need to present it when you leave.

???? Language: Everyone can speak English in Puerto Vallarta although some local street food stalls can only speak Spanish.

???? Culture: There is a big expat and digital nomad community in Puerto Vallarta. This is one of the best places to retire in Mexico so expect to see Americans and Canadians who live here. I personally think there are more foreigners from Canada who are living here than Americans.

???? Wifi: Puerto Vallarta wifi is pretty fair which makes it a digital nomad favorite. Many resorts have fiber optic wifi. You can also rent apartments with decent internet. Unlike Sayulita or San Pancho, Puerto Vallarta has better infrastructure so don’t worry about staying connected while in PV!

???? Trip Planning Tools

????️ Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

We only included the highlights here but you can see our article on things to do in Puerto Vallarta Mexico if you need more activities. Those activities are categorized depending on what kind of traveler you are such as families with kids, solo travelers, couples, etc. We promise you’ll love that list! Meanwhile, here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss:

puerto vallarta mexico

Puerto Vallarta Malecon (city walk)

The Malecon in Puerto Vallarta is where the center of tourism is. All the best bars and restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are here and you can visit it on a city walk.

Marietas Islands Tour

Visit the Marietas Islands

The Marietas Islands are located about an hour away from PV (by car) and 2h by boat. This is the highlight in Riviera Nayarit so don’t skip it!

puerto vallarta

Go parasailing at the Malecon

See Puerto Vallarta from above on a 10-minute parasailing ride. This is a great outdoor activity not just for adults but kids can join too!

puerto vallarta

Food and drinks crawl in Puerto Vallarta

Jalisco has many types of food that is very unique to the state, especially tacos de birria, a slow-cooked beef dish originating from Jalisco.

puerto vallarta

Visit Yelapa waterfalls

The waterfalls of Yelapa are located on a separate island. Get on a boat from Puerto Vallarta and spend a full day in Yelapa – you can even stay the night if you please.

puerto escondido

Spend the afternoon at a beach club

Hop on a boat and go to an exclusive beach club island that is about 25 minutes from PV. Snorkel, paddleboard, have lunch, and drink all afternoon!

Puerto Vallarta Attractions

things to do in puerto vallarta
Malecon
Botanical Garden
puerto vallarta
Yelapa
Majahuitas
how to get to puerto vallarta
Downtown Vallarta

Neighborhoods

Day trips from Puerto Vallarta

playa san pancho
San Pancho
nuevo vallarta
Nuevo Vallarta
rincon de guayabitos
Rincon de Guayabitos
sayulita beaches
Punta Mita

????️ Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta

Remember that when choosing a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, you need to greatly consider the neighborhoods first. The most popular neighborhood in Zona Romantica, an area well-known for its gay scene. It is not exclusive to gays though – many different types of travelers enjoy Zona Romantica because it’s super lively!

Right by the airport is Marina Vallarta with condo-type accommodations that are more popular on Airbnb Puerto Vallarta. Alternatively, many vacationers in Puerto Vallarta choose to stay in resorts that are all in the Zona Hotelera. It’s very easy to get around so you don’t have to worry about where you are staying.

The best platforms to use when booking a hotel/accommodation in Puerto Vallarta are Vrbo and Booking.com. For solo travelers, you can find budget accommodations on Hostelworld. Below are some of our favorite hotels in Puerto Vallarta.

things to do in puerto vallarta

Resorts

Puerto Vallarta is a resort city with many all-inclusive resorts that start at US$150 per night per person. The best resort areas are Marina Vallarta, downtown PV, and Zona Hotelera.

puerto vallarta

Hotels

Hotels in Puerto Vallarta are in the center and are usually the cheapest accommodation options in the city. You can get a decent room for two for as low as US$50 per night with breakfast.

puerto vallarta

Vacation homes

Airbnb and Vrbo are the most popular accommodation options for big groups, families, and digital nomads. A rental home in PV starts at US$250 per night for 4 people.

is puerto vallarta expensive

Hostels

Backpackers and budget travelers flock to Puerto Vallarta because it is still one of the cheapest Mexican cities. A bed in a dorm starts at US$12 per night and the hostels are in the center.

???? Puerto Vallarta restaurants

Like accommodations, Puerto Vallarta restaurants also vary by area. The easiest you will find is within the Malecon – just walk around and you’ll find places to eat. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best restaurants in town.

We have an intensive guide about food in Puerto Vallarta with restaurants divided into categories. Puerto Vallarta has a rich gastronomical culture. You will not only find Mexican restaurants here but also European and many other dishes from all over the globe. Below are our highly recommended restaurants in Puerto Vallarta:

puerto vallarta mexico
BONITO KITCHEN
Japanese
puerto vallarta restaurants
INDIAN GATE
Indian
puerto vallarta
BARCELONA TAPAS
Spanish
puerto vallarta mexico
FREDY’S TUCAN
Best breakfast
puerto vallarta
MARIA BAJA
Best seafood
puerto vallarta
JUAN TIBURON
Best Mexican

???? Puerto Vallarta bars

The nightlife in Puerto Vallarta happens mostly in Zona Romantica where the bars and clubs are open until 5:00 AM. Party places at the Malecon often end by midnight so many travelers who want to continue the party goes to this neighborhood.

Puerto Vallarta has everything: from classy cocktail bars to super-Mexican cantinas, you can check our PV nightlife guide for more but here are some of the spots you don’t want to miss.

puerto vallarta
EL COLIBRI
Best cocktail bar
puerto vallarta
LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
Cuban salsa club
puerto vallarta
BAR MORELOS
Mezcal Bar and Night Club
puerto vallarta
LA PLAYA
Best local bar
la vaquita
LA VAQUITA
Nightclub
puerto vallarta
APACHES
Martini Bar

???? Money and Costs

Travel Budget (est)

???? US dollars: Puerto Vallarta is still a cash society but many establishments, shops, and restaurants will accept USD at a lower rate.

If the current USD to Mexican peso exchange is 20 pesos per dollar, you can expect 17-19 pesos exchange from establishments.

???? ATMs: There are many ATMs in Puerto Vallarta. It is a big city so the big banks are here. The best Mexican banks to take cash out from are BBVA (Bancomer), Banorte, and Santander.

You will see many ATMs or small cash machines, especially at the Malecon. They are safe but if you are having doubts, you can just go to the major bank.

Some of these ATM machines are problematic (i.e. can eat your card, error in withdrawals, etc). All resorts also have ATMs within their property so you don’t have to worry about that.

???? Credit/debit cards: Credit cards are accepted everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. Visa and Mastercard are the major ones and very few establishments accept Amex.

If you are going to explore street food and Mexican restaurants, they only accept cash. It’s still better to bring cash when traveling Mexico.

???? Tipping: 10% is encouraged but if you liked the service, you can tip in Puerto Vallarta up to 20%.

⁉️ Puerto Vallarta FAQ

Puerto Vallarta is located in the state of Jalisco, bordering the state of Nayarit. It is often described as a resort city like Acapulco but they are very different.

Apart from the all-inclusive resorts, this Mexican city is known for its beaches, watersports, and restaurants. It’s an American and Canadian’s favorite travel destination in Mexico but it still has a very Mexican culture.

Puerto Vallarta is definitely for everyone but most tourists who come here are from the US and Canada. I’d like to be more specific on the visitor types so you can assess if Puerto Vallarta travel is for you:

???? Families traveling with kids: Puerto Vallarta has a very friendly layout for families traveling with kids. Although there are some resorts and accommodations that say “adults only,” there are many other accommodation options if you are traveling with kids. Your children won’t also get bored as there are many things to do for all ages!

???? Honeymooners and couples: The all-inclusive offers in Puerto Vallarta are super affordable. For as low as $150 USD per person per night, you can have a vacation in a great resort.

???? Backpackers and solo travelers: Even if Puerto Vallarta travel is known for the resorts, there are many affordable hostels in Puerto Vallarta for backpackers and solo travelers.

???? Groups of friends: The most popular visitors traveling Puerto Vallarta are groups of friends who are celebrating birthdays, bachelorette/bachelor parties, or even a family reunion.

???? Digital nomads: There are many digital nomads in Puerto Vallarta who are staying for 3-6 months. Wifi in Puerto Vallarta is fast and the apartment rentals are cheap.

Overall, I’d say Puerto Vallarta is still one of the cheapest digital nomad destinations in Mexico and it’s on top of the list. Apart from digital nomads, Puerto Vallarta is also popular to expats and retirees.

ABSOLUTELY! First, if you are staying in Zona Romantica, the most popular part of the city for tourists, you don’t need to hail an Uber. You can simply walk to and from your accommodations. The streets are well-lit and the city is always bustling so you’ll never find yourself walking alone on the streets of PV. The vibrant Puerto Vallarta nightlife also makes the area safe as there will always be people around you.

Taking Uber in Puerto Vallarta is also safe, not to mention, cheap! You can get an Uber ride for as low as $5 USD. Since Uber works well in PV, I never really tried the white taxis so I can’t speak for its safety. The crime rate in Puerto Vallarta is low (36/100) in comparison to Miami and Maui which are both 58/100. As usual, do not involve yourself in drug transactions to ensure your safety.

The cartels in Mexico will not do anything to interrupt tourism in Puerto Vallarta but if you will involve yourself in drugs, there goes the problem. I know we base the safety of a place on statistics but in this article, I will share with you realistic instances and experiences that I had while I was living in Puerto Vallarta.

Overall, I feel very safe in PV and I was never paranoid or worried about wandering by myself, especially at night.

Like most of Mexico, the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta and the Pacific Coast is from late October to early June. Spending summer in Mexico is not really everyone’s cup of tea and Puerto Vallarta is super humid – I doubt you will survive July to September here.

October to early June is also known as peak seasons where accommodations and tours are more expensive. If you don’t mind the extremely hot weather, you can visit during the summer and find super great Puerto Vallarta vacation deals!

YES, they do! I remember when I was living here, I barely spoke Spanish. First, my housemates were British and Canadian so when we go out to eat in restaurants, servers automatically speak English to us.

I usually insist on speaking Spanish to service people but they are so used to having English-speaking guests that they continue responding to me in English.

Even if you are walking at the Puerto Vallarta Malecon, everyone who offers tours will speak to you in English. Puerto Vallarta has been so popular with US tourists that the locals here mastered the English language.

Everyone you see on the street will speak English. Servers and hotel staff are also fluent in English. You won’t have to speak Spanish here but for me, that’s a downfall since I can’t practice my Spanish.

Yes, you can! Many restaurants and establishments in Puerto Vallarta use US dollars but I don’t really recommend this to readers. We have lower rates here!

For example, 1 USD = 20 MXN. When you pay USD in Puerto Vallarta, their rates range from 17 – 19 MXN. You might think that’s not a lot to lose but once it incurs, you will see the difference.

I really don’t have a hack about better currency exchange rates but I use an International bank account for travelers that works in every country in the world!

Their currency exchange is better and I always get the actual currency conversion when I use this ATM card. Alternatively, you can also exchange USD at Puerto Vallarta International Airport.

No, you cannot. Don’t even dare! My dog got sick when I was living in Puerto Vallarta. When I brought her to the vet, she told me that I have to change their drinking water to mineral water. If a dog can get sick from drinking tap water in Puerto Vallarta, imagine what that can do to you!

Restaurants usually have free “house water” but they are mineral water, I assure you. When in doubt, always order bottled water. You know yourself better than anyone!

Some foreigners also ask me what water they use when they wash vegetables in Mexico but I really can’t give any information about this because I wash my vegetables with tap water.

I use microdyn with the water and so far, I haven’t been sick. I can’t speak for the restaurants but I am sure they are doing the same. Microdyn is kind of a thing in Mexico – every household has it.

puerto vallarta
puerto vallarta

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