Puerto Vallarta - Boundless Roads

Is it safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta?

Isabella Biava JALISCO AND RIVIERA NAYARIT, TRAVEL HACKS

SAFETY IN PUERTO VALLARTA

Is it safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta? Is the first question we ask when you are planning a trip to any destination.

We are always worried about safety every time we travel outside our comfort zone, let alone when it’s Mexico, after all the news that we hear. I have stayed in Puerto Vallarta for a month walked around very often, explored the territory and mingled with locals and I have always felt very safe.

Then things happen, like anywhere in the world. You need to use some common sense and to know where you are going. Here some tips:

DRINKING WATER: Tap water is not drinkable, just like anywhere in Mexico although it seems that the majority of the hotels and restaurant in Puerto Vallarta have a purification system. However, if you want to be sure, you can pick a bottle from anywhere. Drink a lot of water, especially when you go on a tour or stay on the beach. It’s good to stay hydrated in such hot climate

COMMON SENSE: As I was mentioning here above, a little common sense is the basis of safety. Therefore just as you wouldn’t walk around “drunk and naked” at home, you shouldn’t do it in Puerto Vallarta either. Showing off money and expensive gadgets is also not a great idea. Leave your diamonds and pearls at home. Here you don’t need them, the sunshine and great relaxed vibes will make you even more beautiful anyway. Pay attention to your surroundings, pay your bill, leave your tip and smile. Don’t engage in useless discussions, be merry and enjoy your vacation.

DRIVING: If you have followed me for a while you should know by now that I always suggest to rent a car and drive around as it is the best way to know a place and its secret corners. The more difficult to reach them the better they are, usually. Here my tips about driving in Yucatan, which could be applicable here too in some aspects. A very important topic which I like to emphasize is NEVER EVER even think about driving and drinking or driving drunk. Just don’t do it. The consequences could be lethal. Besides the high fine, you will be taken to jail and left there for a while and the vehicle impounded. There are many checks stop, especially on the weekend but regardless, this is something you don’t want to do at home, let alone in a foreign country. Uber and Taxis are available 24/7 and they are cheaper than a car and a night in jail! or in the hospital.

Puerto Vallarta safe travel - Boundless Roads

Playa de muertos

MOSQUITOS – Like I have mentioned in my viral guide on safety in Mexico mosquitos are part of the environment and love us, humans, especially in rainy seasons (June to October). Zika and Dengue are a fact also and they have seen cases in Mexico.  There is no vaccine against those diseases, therefore, you need to protect yourself with repellent and long sleeves and trousers during the night.  If you are pregnant or planning to be, both you and your partner should avoid places with risks of contracting Zika virus as it can affect the health of the baby. Please consult your doctor before leaving. If there is no pregnancy involved Zika virus it’s innocuous.

THE SUN – We are in the tropics, the sun is hot and merciless, even behind the curtain of clouds. Therefore always, always wear sunscreen, especially if you are not used to it and your skin is sensitive. The sun is good for our health, so don’t be afraid to be exposed, just not all at once.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

A few practical tips will help you to go about the beautiful vibrant city and make the most of your stay.

LOCATION Puerto Vallarta, called PV by the locals, is a touristic city in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, located on the west coast in the middle of the huge bay of Banderas, actually one of the largest in the country which extends all the way to the state of Nayarit up north and the state of Jalisco in the south. The bay is surrounded by the beautiful lush vegetation of the Sierra Madre mountains which keeps Puerto Vallarta a little protected from the Hurricanes fury.

AREA: 1300 sq.km

POPULATION:325.000 inhabitants

CLIMATE: tropical humid. The average temperature is around 28 C (82F). Rainy season is from late June through October.

CURRENCY: The Mexican Peso is the local currency although US and CA dollars are accepted. It is always better to exchange to the banks where the exchange rate is always more convenient. Remember to carry your passport otherwise, you won’t get the service.

BUSSES: Urban busses run around the city quite efficiently. The fare is  8 pesos per person and per segment. There is no “transfer” ticket. Therefore every time you board a bus you have to pay the same amount, no matter the distance.

TAXIS: There are set rates according to the zones. Remember to agree on the price before boarding a taxi. You can also check the rates in the hotel lobby if you are staying in a hotel. There are fixed prices from the Airport and from the Marina. From Airport is about 340 pesos to the city center. (Uber is 140, so if you have data on your phone, it is definitely more convenient). A taxi from the center to the Airport or the “Central de autobuses” is instead 200 ( Uber 110).

Also remember that the city cab, yellow colored, charge by the ride and not by the passenger.

Remember to take the identification number of the taxi in case something happen or if you forget something in the cab.

TIME ZONE: Puerto Vallarta and the southern part of Nayarit are on a central time, whereas north of Guayabitos and San Blas are on a Mountain time. However be careful to check the time on your phone if you are in Sayulita or San Pancho because it could happen that they change automatically to the mountain time and if you have an appointment, like a tour,  you can miss it. 🙂

PHONE CALLS: Always check how much the hotel charges to make a call abroad from the room, because most of the time rates are very high, up to 7 USD per minute.

TIPPING CUSTOMS: Tipping is usually around 10 to 15%  in restaurants and bars and although it is not mandatory it’s always expected. It is also common practice to tip bellboys, taxis, waiters, maids but that depends always on service

BUSINESS HOURS: Some offices typically close from 2 to 4 and reopen till 7 or 8 pm. Banks normally open from 8 or 9 am to 4 pm. Some banks open or Saturday morning as well.

MONEY EXCHANGE: Banks always offer a better rate than any money exchange office but, oddly enough, if you change at the airport you can get an even better deal. Remember to bring your passport when you exchange at the bank.

Puerto Vallarta safe travel - Boundless Roads

A sunset view from the Malecon

PET-FRIENDLY SOCIETY: during my one month stay in Vallarta I have noticed a strong sensitivity towards pets, especially strained dogs and cats, which are a lot. There are a huge pet rescue community and a lot of pet rescue association, which I find amazing. If you want to adopt a dog or a cat and you live in the states or Canada, keep in mind that it is very easy to do it and there are associations that help you with the documents, very easy to do. If you cannot adopt but still want to help, there is often a need for a lift, meaning that adopted pets need to be taken to their new home and you might want to help take them on your way back home. You can contact a local animal shelter for more info: 2933690.

WHAT TO DO IN PUERTO VALLARTA: There is so much to do in Puerto Vallarta. I wrote an extensive article on what to do in this colorful city. Check it out here.

WHERE TO STAY IN PUERTO VALLARTA: the city offers a huge variety of hotels of all price range, services and in different locations. The zona romantica and Old Vallarta are my favorites since you are close to the “movida”, the best restaurants, the beaches and where everything happens. You are right in the beating heart of the colorful city. There are many boutique hotels here, which is what I always prefer. However, if you are more an “ALL-INCLUSIVE” type of person you can stay around the Marina, or the Nuevo Vallarta, where the majority of the big Hotel brands are located. I will give you a list of the best hotels to choose from, in another article.

VALLARTA PRIDE: Puerto Vallarta is known, among other reasons, for being one of the most gay-friendly cities in Mexico. It is actually the first destination for gay tourism in North America.  For the 6th year, this May 25th, 2018, they have celebrations all over the city center with parades, concerts, and shows. If you wish to participate in the next edition for the next years you can check out their facebook page for more information. The Vallarta Pride event, held every year in may brings more than 15.000 tourists to Puerto Vallarta, exclusively for the festival. “It has been created to celebrate the diverse and vibrant  LGBTQI community that lives and visits Puerto Vallarta and that over the years has influenced and integrated its culture, heritage, and history.” (source: PV mirror, city paper)

SOME USEFUL NUMBERS

HOSPITALS:

  • CMQ Premiere…………………………226.6500
  • AMERI-MED…………………………..226.2080
  • SAN JAVIER……………………………226.1010
  • MEDIASIST…………………………….223.0444
  • C.M.Q. ……………………………………223.0878
  • RED CROSS AMBULANCE……….2221533

AMBULANCIAS AURA…………….209.0622

EMERGENCY LINE…………………911

POLICE DEPARTMENT…………..178.8999 or 911

FIRE DEPARTMENT……………….178.8800/emergency: 222.1527

IMMIGRATION OFFICE………….224.7653

AMERICAN CONSULATE:

  • Guadalajara……………………..01 333 2682100
  • Emergency………………………01 555 080.2000
  • email: conagencypuertov@state.gov

CANADIAN CONSULATE…………293.0098/293.0099

  • After Hours: 01.800.706.2900

CONSUMER PROTECTION (Profeco) 225.0000/225.0018

GLOBAL AMBULANCE……………..209.1123

TOURISM PROTECTION…………..223.2500 ext.230 & 232

WAKE UP SERVICE…………………..031

AIRLINES:

  • AEROTRON…………………………..226.8440
  • AIR CANADA…………………………01800 719.2827
  • AIR TRANSAT……………………….01 800 900.1431
  • ALASKA………………………………..01 800 252.7522
  • AMERICAN……………………………01 800 904.6000
  • CONTINENTAL……………………..01 800 864.8331
  • DELTA…………………………………..01 800 266.0046
  • FRONTIER……………………………01 800 432.1359
  • INTERJET…………………………….01 800 011-2345
  • SUN COUNTRY…………………….01 800 924 -6184
  • UNITED………………………………. 01 800 864.8331
  • AEROMEXICO………………………01 800 021.4000
  • SOUTHWEST…………………………01 800 435 9792
  • WESTJET………………………………01 800 514 7288
  • VOLARIS……………………………….01 551 102 8000

(source:PV Mirror, city paper)

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About the Author

Isabella Biava

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Hi there! I am so thrilled you are here! I am Isabella, I own an Italian passport but spent the last 16 years living in many different countries among which Seychelles, Antigua, Jamaica, and Mexico, until I finally realized that settling in one place was not for me. It took a while, I know. 🙂 So, I dropped all the heavy stuff and walked away, again, with a suitcase (or two) full of dreams, swimsuits and hiking gear. I am now exploring Mexico before heading to Central and South America, expanding my boundaries and documenting my new life in this blog.