Puerto Vallarta (PV) is ideally positioned between lush hills to the West and pristine, turquoise waters to the East. Travelling and working abroad is exciting but it can also be daunting, especially if you’re somewhere outside of reliable comforts, like, language, transportation and food. Read ahead to find out how to travel local and travel cheap in PV.
So you’ve decided to go to Mexico. You’ve even decided to get away from the big, bad city and head West to the turquoise waters of the Pacific coastline. You will be happy to know that Puerto Vallarta hosts its own international airport, with regular daily flights from United States and Canada.
Arriving at the Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (Puerto Vallarta) is similar to landing in most non-capital airports. Leaving customs, you will be hit with a tsunami of salespeople selling travel plans, sim cards and taxi fares into town. Like me, if you just want to get to your AirBnB or hotel as fast as possible, follow these three simple steps:
1. Unless planned arrangements have been made, play deaf to anyone trying to sell you on a ride to downtown, including the ‘professionals’ behind the pop-up desks. They’re either A) overpriced and/or B) about to up-sell you to a tequila tour on a boat in the middle of the Pacific.
2. Once you are outside the airport, take a left and cross the highway overpass bridge. Look up ‘Puente Peatonal bridge, Puerto Vallarta airport’ in Google. You will find many people, tourists included, crossing the bridge. Keep reading to know why. Unless you already have a sim card, organising one at the airport is difficult. You may need to roam or ask the person at the information desk at the arrivals hall for directions.
3. At the immediate bottom of the bridge, you will find a cab-rank, similar to the rank at the airport, except with these cabbies, expect to pay 50% of the price to get to Downtown. The gentlemen running the system spoke perfectly good English and there were 3 or 4 drivers waiting for a customer.
- Puerto Vallarta has its own airport. Attempt to find a direct flight to PV before having to go through Mexico City
- Duck and weave through the barrage of salespeople at the airport and take the foot-bridge to the other side of the highway to get more affordable transportation
- Get a highway taxi and save 50% on travel costs to your destination in Puerto Vallarta
Downtown is where I stayed and it’s certainly the place to be if you want to experience Vallarta (as locals call it) at its picturesque best. For a truly local experience, the town is scattered with comfortable and convenient AirBnBs that will give you a real insight into a coastal Mexican way of life.
WiFi: Being a tourist town, PV is well connected to the rest of world. If for some unusual reason your accommodation does not support free WiFi, there are plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants AND co-working spaces in Dowtown to help you update your feed, re-post to Insta or send out that business proposal. If all else fails, you have TWO Starbucks cafes AND a McDonalds to tether from. I personally enjoyed the co-working spaces for fast internet, good working conditions and the overall convenience to where I was staying. Check out Vallarta Cowork for more info and to get a free day pass.
Sim Card (Chip): Unlike most countries, the administration of getting a local sim in Mexico is almost non-existent. Closely behind the frequency of ‘Tortas and Taquito’ stands, is ‘Oxxo’ – the 7-11 of Mexico. Almost on every street corner in Downtown you can purchase a sim of your choice. The rates vary depending on how much you want to recharge and how long you would like your credit to last. The recommendation made to me was Telcel and it’s worked a treat so far. By local accounts, the TelCel coverage is broad, so even if you decide to do a day-trip north to San Pancho (where connectivity can be bleak), it will come in handy.
Cost: $150 pesosRecharge: $50 pesos
Groceries: Breakfast, lunch or dinner, we know Mexican food is delicious. But sometimes all you want is cereal and a banana for breakfast, a fresh sandwich for lunch or meat-and-three-veggies for dinner. If you’re like me and you love making the most of a kitchen or kitchenette, you’ll be pleased to know Downtown hosts a range of grocery stores to help you find what you need. Your local Oxxo is convenient and will have you covered for immediate household needs but be prepared to dig a little deeper into your pockets or purses! On the other end of the spectrum (and a personal favourite of mine), cross over to the ‘Old City’ and go where the locals buy their fruits and veggies. Take the scenic route through Old Town (20-30 minute walk) until you reach Mercado Emiliano Zapata. Choose from a broad range of locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables; priced for locals. Plug it into Google for clear walking directions! Finally, for the full groceries experience, walk over to ‘Ley’, Mexico’s answer to ‘Coles’ or ‘Walmart’. You won’t miss it and if you do, locals will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. With no tourist price hikes and plenty of options including a bakery, fresh fruits and vegetables, Ley is the perfect choice if you’re looking to fill your pantry in Puerto Vallarta.
- Your accommodation will more often than not provide WiFi at a workable speed. If you’re on the road, there are a number of options (including Starbucks and co-working spaces!) that provide connectivity free of charge, just ask and you shall receive. Work or pleasure, you’ll be well connected in PV
- Need a local sim? Head to your nearest Oxxo! You won’t need any more than $200 pesos
- If you’re in for the long haul and want to cook up some nice dishes at home or want to buy some things for your AirBnB, you’ll find what you need at the Ley
The mission of the ‘ahimsa’ brand is to construct valuable and impactful experiences by focusing on our natural human senses – to feel, smell, taste, hear and see. An experience should be unique, leaving you mesmerised, but wanting more! Our experiences channel is a taste of what can be achieved at the local level, when you truly explore the places, people, traditions and cultures of a foreign land.
1. Puerto Vallarta is loud. Music. Colours. People. But it’s the softer side of the city that will get your heart racing. A cloud-less twilight over the Malecon will see the boulevard glow in orange, as the sun sets over a perfectly straight horizon. A handful of sail boats will drift from bay to bay, so keep your shutter working hard because there’s a good chance you’ll get an iconic shot of the suns ray piercing through the sails. With buzzing restaurants, locals putting on shows in an ad-hoc amphitheatre and Pelicans hunting for their last meal of the day, there’s plenty of activity in the foreground, making for sensational silhouette opportunities. Don’t fret if you miss out! The weather on the West coast stays incredible and consistent throughout the peak travel season.
2. To stand up to Tequila or Mezcal in Mexico is like rebelling to pizza and pasta in Italy. It’s in their blood, at their work, even on the way to the fruit market. But in the state of Jalisco, a special home brewed liquor is holding its own in the face of other Agave goliaths. Its name is Raicilla. Made from the same plant (Agave) as Tequila and Mezcal, Raicilla is bit of a cult hero in the Western parts of the country. Once upon a time only consumed by local farmers due to bans imposed by the federal government, the beverage is now a popular choice amongst locals and foreigners. Make sure you enquire about the Raicilla market before or during your visit! It’s super close to downtown and there are plenty of samples on offer, so don’t drive!
3. Earlier I spoke about the magnificent sunsets in PV. Like gravy is to chips, let the many rooftops of the seaside town be the gravy to your sunset chips! If you’ve listened to your adventurous heart and chosen to find your own place in Downtown, you should have no problems accessing the rooftop of your building. Organise some celebratory beverages (naturally, tequila was my poison of choice), cook up some tacos, Spotify some Luis Miguel and let your final nights in PV be as memorable, as they are Mexican.
- Sunset walks along the Malecon. Lots of trendy restaurants for couples, friends and family! Keep an eye out for special deals; staff are on the streets handing out vouchers and other discount coupons
- Raicilla market is not to be missed. A state brewed liquor, which is 100% agave! Lots of samples, so it may get a little wobbly
- Take advantage of the many rooftops and make it a night to remember. Sunset sessions, cerveza and tacos!