On this Puerto Vallarta
Tourism Info page:
Airport & Airport pickup | Buses - transportation | Consulates | Drugs | Important phone numbers | Money | Passport & Visa
Puerto Vallarta Safety | Taxis | Timeshare | Puerto Vallarta Forums | Water, food, health | Yearly Weather
Gay Vallarta Condos
- Condominiums LP
- Beach condos PB
- Vacation rentals ED
Gay Hotels Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta Villas
and Tourist Visa
On the plane, you will be issued a tourist card, FM-T, which is stamped by officials as you pass through customs inside the airport terminal. The airline will then collect the tourist card when you leave Mexico. An actual visa is not required unless you are staying in Mexico for over 180 days. Avoid carrying the tourist card or your passport with you while in town, but keep them in a secure place in your room or in the hotel. If your passport is lost or stolen, a copy of the tourist visa can help the consulate to process your replacement documents. It's probably a good idea to have a complete photocopy of your passport and your other important identification documents with you while traveling.
For U.S. citizens, proof of citizenship and photo identification are required for entry into Mexico. A U.S. passport is the simplest way, but other citizenship documents such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, a naturalization certificate or a certificate of citizenship are also acceptable. You should be prepared to present one of these documents as proof of citizenship along with some type of photo identification.
Canadian citizens will need to travel with their passport, or else with a Canadian birth certificate and a picture ID such as a drivers license. Other foreigners, if in doubt about the entry requirements, should check with a local Mexican embassy or consulate. For with the most recent United States State Department Consular Information Sheet for Mexico
The arrival area of the Puerto Vallarta airport has made some changes which can be confusing to the first time visitor. When you depart Customs with your luggage you will walk through an enclosed area - the people in this long hallway are salespeople for the many time-share resorts in the city - just smile, say no thanks, and keep walking. These folks will often promise anything from a free taxi ride or tour to actual cash (we locals call this area the 'shark tank'). All of this is part of promotion to buy a time-share condo and the sales presentation would take away several hours of your precious vacation time. Keep walking through the automatic double glass doors straight towards the airport doors which go outside and near these Exits are the taxi booths.
You should pay for your taxi directly at one of these specified taxi booths and not to any individual taxi driver - you have been advised! The vans from the airport carry up to eight persons and often make multiple stops, so it's best to take a taxi, unless your entire group rents a van. Vans and taxis will quite often now know the locations of the Puerto Vallarta gay hotels, bed and breakfasts and of PV's many condos and villas (not to mention the numerous Vallarta gay clubs & bars), but it's still a pretty good idea to have the address of your accommodations and a phone number handy with you. Also, taxi prices around town are fixed and set by zone; be sure to ask before you get in.
Travel Tip: Discovery Vallarta
and Diana DeCoste of Diana's Gay Tours now recommend a preferred VIP transportation
service for clients when arriving in Pto. Vallarta. A gay-friendly VIP
Representative will be waiting by the luggage claim and will also meet
you again once you pass customs to escort you to your driver. The price
is $20 USD per car for 1-2 people (depending on luggage). A van is available
for larger groups for $10 USD per person. Payment made directly to the
driver. Please visit Diana's Puerto
Vallarta VIP Transporation Service for complete details on this service.
The consular officials and their assistants can provide you with valuable travel information or assistance in case of an emergency, accident or death. You might want to visit the U.S. State Department's extensive Tips for Traveling Abroad and the even more useful State Department Consular Information Sheet for Mexico. And here for the most recent U. S. State Department travel alert for Mexico (February 2012).
Kelly Trainor, Consular Agent
Paradise Village Plaza
Paseo de los Cocoteros #1,
Second floor, Locale #4 Interior #17
Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit
Tel: 222-0069 or 223-0074 Fax: 223-0074
after hours Emergency: 01-333-268-2145
Embassy in Guadalajara: 01-333-268-2100
Lyne Benoit, Consular Agent
Obelisco Building, Local 100
1951 Blvd. Francisco Medina Ascencio
in the Las Glorias Hotel Zone
Tel: 293-0098 or 293-0099 Fax: 222-3517
Emergency phone: 01-800-706-2900
Puerto Vallarta Safety & Tourism - Is Puerto Vallarta safe for tourists? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is a relatively safe city, especially in the tourist areas such as the North Side-Marina hotel district areas, Downtown, and the wonderful South Side-Romantic Zone where most Puerto Vallarta gay bars and clubs, fine restaurants, and gay hotel-lodging are located. I would advise using the same security and safety precautions you would use in traveling as a tourist to any new city or foreign country: keep valuables and your passport in a hotel safe or stashed away in your condo or gay hotel room; don't wear expensive watches and jewelry; carry around only a fairly reasonable amount of cash, perhaps in a money belt; avoid making ATM withdrawals late at night; don't flaunt or display substantial amounts of cash or valuables - be modest; and exercise caution in any unfamiliar part of town. In a word: Stay alert when out and about. Travel tip: Be extra aware of your possessions (particularly your camera, wallet and cell phone etc.) at the Puerto Vallarta gay beach and bars, particularly if and when you invite someone back to your place. You've been advised.
The city puts considerable resources into keeping Puerto Vallarta safe, secure, well lit and clean for tourism. I've walked in many different parts of Puerto Vallarta at various times of the day and night over these 19+ years and largely felt safe. I don't think that tourist safety is a major negative issue in the town. Here's an interesting and reasonable perspective entitled Personal Safety in Puerto Vallarta by Linda Ellerbee. And it would never occur to me to ever use the adjective 'dangerous' as a word to describe Vallarta. Furthermore, the US State Department in its advisories about Mexico says, "There is no evidence that U.S. tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship."
How safe is it to travel to Puerto Vallarta? Thomas Dale & Associates, a global investigative and security firm, released in May 2011 a study commissioned by the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board which concluded that Puerto Vallarta "is one of the safest tourist destinations for international and national tourists." Overall the study found that visitors to this popular straight and gay travel destination felt safe and continue to visit Vallarta numerous times through their lives. As I would have expected from my personal experiences living half my adult life in the US and the other half here, the Puerto Vallarta Safety study said that "the number of negative events involving foreigners or non-foreigners is fractional" compared to the large expatriate resident community population size and the approximately 1.5 million American and Canadian visitors who come on holiday every year to Puerto Vallarta. So I believe you can pretty much rest assured that your vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico will be relaxing, enjoyable and safe.
Forums and Message Boards
There are several large Puerto Vallarta forums and message boards that I know of: there are local forums at Puerto Vallarta Mexico Bulletin Board Message Board, the All Vallarta Message Board for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Forums and another at the Puerto Vallarta Scene Forum which can be quite lively, and of course the large Puerto Vallarta Travel Forum on the heavily commercialized Trip Advisor. In addition to the above forums there is also the interesting Vallarta Blog - Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide well written by Douglas Cullen, who used to be one of the owners of the Coffee Cup Cafe, with good info and plenty of fine photos.
Spanish is the official language, but don't worry, English is widely spoken in Puerto Vallarta. If you do know some Spanish, so much the better! People in town will appreciate your efforts and it will make establishing friendships that much easier. If you'd like to learn some basic Spanish vocabulary about dining, directions and numbers before your visit to Mexico, you can visit the Travlang web site Foreign Languages for Travelers. Note: If you do want to learn some Spanish while you are here, you can get in touch with Leonardo Tejeda, who teaches beginners to advanced students. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 223-4784 or 044-322-294-2565 or with Melchor's Spanish school, contact Senor Melchor Cortes, from USA cellular: 011-52-322-118-0822 or local Tel: 224-8917
The water leaving the purification facilities of Puerto Vallarta has been certified for well over 10 years as among the best in all of Latin America. However, the city's piping is sometimes rather old, so it's best not to drink the tap water. Purified water is available in all hotels, bars and restaurants, which all use purified ice as well. Because you're in a tropical climate, it's advisable to drink at least 4-5 glasses of purified water a day to help prevent dehydration. Bottled water is sold in most stores. Some Puerto Vallarta condos, hotels and villas have filtration systems, so you might want to check.
Food service quality has greatly improved in town in recent years. You can be pretty confident that the food in Puerto Vallarta restaurants is washed in purified water and/or properly cooked. Follow some simple rules: choose cooked food, eat in restaurants that are popular and watch your alcohol and coffee intake. As an added precaution, you may want to avoid salads and peel all fruits and vegetables or at least wash them well - though I personally don't think that's necessary anymore (it was indeed good advice 15-20+ years ago). As the old saying used to go: boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it. Use the lemons served in restaurants as the juice has antibacterial properties.
It's possible you may eat or drink something that isn't quite right while on vacation. If you experience diarrhea, there are several ways to treat it. Avoid anything that will further irritate your stomach such as alcohol, sodas or coffee, and drink plenty of purified water to replace lost fluids. Pepto bismol is a time proven relief for diarrhea.
Most pharmacists can recommend the
proper medicines, which are generally inexpensive and effective. You don't
need a prescription in Mexico for many drugs (except now for antibiotics
and of course, controlled/narcotic substances) and a trip to the pharmacy
will usually suffice for most traveler's complaints. There are many good
doctors in Puerto Vallarta. Discovery Vallarta recommends Dr. Maria Guadalupe
(Lupita) Lewgot, Tel. 223-0444 and her office is at the Medasist Hospital
located at 358 Manuel Dieguez street on the South Side in Puerto Vallarta.
See below or go for further updated travel information on PV hospitals,
medical services and other Puerto
Vallarta emergency numbers here.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico enjoys well over 280-310 days of sunshine per year and basically has two seasons. From November until May is the dry season, when rain is rare, the sky relatively cloudless and the nights mild. The daytime temperature ranges from 78-85 degrees Fahrenheit and can drop down to 55-60 degrees at night during the "high season" winter months of January and Febraury. The temperate sub-tropical climate, comparable to that in Hawaii, is one reason people flock to Vallarta. You may want to bring long pants and a light sweater for the cool winter evenings. Go to the new Puerto Vallarta weather page for more complete info including an updated climate chart, and here for some further gay travel tips and advice.
The rain normally starts right on the money in mid-June and increases in frequency and duration until there are often daily downpours July through September, usually in the late afternoon or at night. The rains continue into October, really tapering off around the middle of the month. It is hot and muggy. The summer daytime temperature is 88-93 degrees every day and 75-78 or warmer at night. There is little underground drainage, so streets become streams during the tropical summer rains, which are quite intense at times. Total rainfall in Puerto Vallarta amounts to a fairly substantial 45-60 inches a year.
Because of the favorable topography
of Banderas Bay, which is shaped like a gigantic horseshoe opening to the
Pacific Ocean on the west, Puerto Vallarta is generally protected from
hurricanes in the late summer and early autumn (early July-mid October)
that pass up the coast and either swing out to sea or continue on up toward
Baja California. Only once in the last 40+ years or more did Puerto Vallarta
suffer serious damages in certain parts of town, in the neighborhood of
$100 million, when Hurricane
Kenna (go to link for photos and info) passed by on the morning of
October 25, 2002.
You many want to carry a supply of American Express or VISA traveler's checks with you to Mexico. They are usually accepted at banks, stores and hotels, though I believe that most Casas de Cambio/Money Exchange places will no longer accept travelers checks (due to more stringent regulations attempting to control money laundering), especially ones from Canada. If you lose or misplace your checks, contact the carrier after referring to the Handy phone numbers section below.
Money and Money Exchange
The currency in Mexico is the peso. The bills come in 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 peso notes and they are quite colorful, attractive and of different sizes. Coins are in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos and 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. 100 centavos equals 1 peso. All items sold in Mexico are priced in pesos. The current international exchange rate is quite variable these days, around 13.0-13.5 pesos per dollar and fluctuates daily. Go here for the Universal Currency Converter and the current rate. For the very best exchange rate use your ATM card at any of the many conveniently located banks or ATMs in town and pay for your purchases with a credit card.
Banks have an exchange window usually open Mon through Fri, 9am-1:30pm where you can buy pesos with dollars or traveler's checks. Many of the Money Exchange or Casa de Cambio places on the streets of Puerto Vallarta offer slightly less for your dollar than the banks but are open into the evening hours until 9-10pm and are quite convenient and widely used. They accept cash but apparently no longer or rarely accept traveler's checks. The stores, bars and restaurants will often exchange money but at a fairly lower rate, so I would advise against doing it that way. Hotels give the least favorable/worst exchange rates. Travel tips: Be sure to count your pesos whenever changing money. Exchange rates are usually clearly posted, but if they are not be certain to ask beforehand.
The main Puerto Vallarta Post Office (Servicio Postal Mexicano) is located downtown on 1014 Colombia street between Argentina and Venezuela streets near Hidalgo Park (Parque Hidalgo). A letter or post card to the US or Canada costs approximately 10.50 pesos and may take up to several weeks to arrive as all international mail goes first to Mexico City. If you buy anything bulky or valuable, ask at the store about shipping as they usually ship more direct via FedEx or DHL, though this can be costly. Post Office hours, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm and Sat, 9am-1pm. Tel: 222-6308.
There are somewhere around a 1,000 taxis in the city of Puerto Vallarta. They are a relatively cheap and convenient mode of transportation and getting around town, especially after 11:30pm or so when the buses stop running. Most tourists take taxis as a simple matter of convenience and 'saving time'. Ask the driver how much your trip is before you get in, because some taxi drivers will try to overcharge tourists. Be advised that there are restaurants that will pay taxi drivers a commission for bringing clients. If your driver wants you to try a restaurant other than the one you have selected, it may be self-serving advice. Locals and ex-patriates have found over the years that most drivers are friendly, honest and knowledgeable about the city and know at least a bit of English. Many drivers now know the names and locations of the Puerto Vallarta gay bars, the gay hotels, guesthouses and the Blue Chairs gay beach on Los Muertos, but it's still a good idea to carry your accommodation's name and address along with you. Puerto Vallarta is divided into taxi zones, prices are fixed by the local union, and fares go anywhere from 30-40 pesos within a particular zone up to 80-120 pesos (from the Marina to the South Side-Olas Altas area, for example). Coming in from the airport is the most expensive as it is the federal zone, at around 240 pesos; but the return trip to the airport is about half that at most. Many hotels will post the current taxi fares, so do ask.
Puerto Vallarta buses are cheap, costing 6.5 pesos or about 50 US cents to get just about anywhere in the city. The buses are sometimes rather run-down, but you never have to wait long before the next one comes along! Stops are marked by a blue "parada" sign which has a bus outlined on it. You may find yourself being entertained by locals who hop on the bus to do a clown act, play guitar, or perhaps two 12 year old boys singing about their lost loves, all for a few pesos tip (giving you a chance to practice your generosity).
To get to the gay bars from the hotels on the north end of Puerto Vallarta, be sure to take buses marked "Centro" or "Olas Altas". The bus will pass by several of the gay bars such as Anthropology and Paco's Ranch before turning around at Lazaro Cardenas Park on the South Side or heading back through the tunnel. Most buses run regularly from approximately 6am to 11:45pm. To go to Conchas Chinas, Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan or any of the South Shore accommodations along the way, buses leave from Basilio Badillo street at Constitucion street on the South Side, 7am-10pm and cost around 7 pesos.
Motor vehicles generally have the right of way in Mexico, not pedestrians. I don't want to sound like your mother, but buses in Puerto Vallarta are noted for traveling at excess velocity, so extra care should be used crossing the streets here.
Buses to locations located north around Banderas Bay such as Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, Punta de Mita and Sayulita leave from the ATM terminal which is located at 1410 Brazil street near the sports stadium. These Autostransportes Medina de Puerto Vallarta buses stop across from the Sheraton Hotel, Coppel, and in front of Walmart on their way north out of town.
Inter-city buses leave from the main Puerto Vallarta Bus Terminal or station (known as the Central Caminonera) which is located just north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. Buses leave to Guadalajara about every half hour and to other major cities every hour or two during the day and there are at least 4-5 main carriers. Mexico's long distance bus system is top notch and probably envied by much of the world. Regular services link all major cities day and night. Networks of shorter routes reach almost every corner of the Republic. A bus from Mexico city to Acapulco costs less than the toll charges for a private car. The National Chamber for Passenger and Tourist Buses estimated that the 40,000 buses owned by its members have about 3.5 billion passenger movements each year.
Drug offenses are risky business in Mexico. Mexico's drugs laws are sometimes more reactionary and ridiculous than those of the States, though the Southern states and Texas probably take the cake. Under Napoleanic law, you're guilty until proven innocent. If you must, be extremely discrete; if you're caught, you may be deported, have a prison term or have to pay a fine. Police occasionally stop and frisk locals and tourists, checking for drugs. For gay guys this might likely occur at night in the area near the gay bars CC Slaughters and Paco's Ranch. From what I have heard and read, penalties now tend to be rather lax in Puerto Vallarta, a good thing. If you are stopped and feel that you have been mistreated in any way, please call your consulate to report the incident and lodge an official report/protest. Travel warning: Police have been known to extort money if they find something on you, so beware. Get the patrulla/patrol car number on the side if you have a run-in with the cops. My impression though is that with the relatively new nationwide 2009 drug decriminalization laws for small amounts of drugs for personal use, the local police in Puerto Vallarta don't spend much time or energy worrying about small time use.
Most Mexicans eat their main meal sometime between 1pm-4pm, so some shops and government offices are closed (usually from 2pm-4pm). This is a sensible custom in a tropical country and gives the body and mind a chance to rest during the hottest hours of the day. The stores that observe this custom are open afterwards until around 8pm or 10pm. Puerto Vallarta bars and restaurants stay open during these siesta hours.
The sale of timeshares has unfortunately become a big business in Puerto Vallarta. On nearly all the streets of the city frequented by tourists there are timeshare stations or offices. The salesperson or "OPC" will invite you to a free breakfast and promise gifts or discounts on a cruise, tour or jeep rental in exchange for your time at a "presentation" at the hotel or resort. Salespeople at this "presentation" will sometimes use high pressure or misleading tactics to induce you to buy their product. Unless you are really interested in buying timeshare in Vallarta, it is advisable that you pass these people by and continue on your merry way
friends in Lo de Marcos; friendship fountain dolphins Puerto Vallarta downtown; Puerto Vallarta surfing
Getting a bite to eat the New Malecon; Puerto Vallarta tourist activities whale watching;
Puerto Vallarta gay bar No Borders
PV tourism and the sunset cruise on Banderas Bay; Puerto Vallarta carnival parade festivities
Garbo a gay-friendly martini bar - photos thanks to German & Javier
Olas Altas street - art work by Lorenzo "Twig" Menne
Two photos of the lovely sunsets over Puerto Vallarta & Banderas Bay
Vallarta Emergency/Important Phone Numbers and Info
(further Puerto Vallarta phone numbers)
|Consulates in Puerto Vallarta
American consulate - Tel: 222-0069, 223-0074
after hours: 01-333-268-2145
Canadian - Tel: 293-0098, 293-0099
after hours: 01-800-706-2900
British Embassy - Mexico City - 5-207-2449
Important Phone Numbers
Medical - Hospitals and Clinics
Pharmacy (all open 24 hours)
Department Stores/Tiendas Departamentales
|Help with Dialing
Local area code for Vallarta is 322, followed by the 7 digit local number
To call Puerto Vallarta from the US or Canada 011 + 52 + 322 + local number
To call direct to the US or Canada dial 001 + area code + local number
To call direct within Mexico dial 01 + area code + local number
To call International, Operator Assisted, dial 090
To call direct International dial 00 + country code + area code + phone number
Gay Puerto Vallarta Reservation
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