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|I note here some tips
and advice for the gay and lesbian traveler to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Some of these topics are covered in much greater detail on other pages,
such as the Tourist Facts & Info and Services
pages, so I rather simply summarize here or else refer you to them.
Auto Rentals - Go to this page for some choices
Business Hours - Most stores in town are open from 9am-10am until 8pm-10pm, but some of them do close for an hour or two between 2pm-4pm for lunch. Some public offices work continuously from 9am-5pm and close after that. The stores at the local shopping malls such as at Plaza Caracol, Plaza Marina and the new upscale Galerias Vallarta generally stay open continuously from 9am-10pm.
Consulates - Trouble in paradise? American Consulate: Kelly Trainor, Consular Agent. Vallarta Plaza Building, 160 Zaragoza, 2am floor. Tel: 222-0069; fax: 223-0074. Office hours, 10am-2pm. Canadian Consulate: Lyne Benoit, Consular Agent. Obelisco Building, Local 100, 1951 Blvd. Francisco Medina Ascencio in the Las Glorias Hotel Zone. Tel: 222-5398; fax: 222-3517; emergency: 01-800-706-2900. Office hours, 9am-3pm.
Electricity - 110 volts, 60 cycles, same as in the U.S. and Canada, although many places will not have three prong electrical outlets. So bring along an adapter if you need one for your appliances.
Family Life - Mexican life centers around the family. You'll find Mexicans more devoted to their families than people are in America. Parents and elders are treated with respect and children are generally well loved and cared for. Many Mexican men will not be out to their families, as this is a catholic and rather conservative country. Children will often live with their parents until they marry or leave the hometown to live in a larger city.
Forums and Message Boards
Further Interest - For ideas on where to go and what to do and see, check out the gay calendar of annual events, the more Attractions page with its many fun activities, cruises and excursions, and this Yahoo travel page of Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I would recommend considering such things as: the gay cruise; the Marietas Islands or a whale watching tour with Oscar Frey; a getaway to Yelapa or Sayulita village; a Mexican Folklore and Tequila Tour; going sightseeing downtown taking in the Cathedral and the malecon with its public art, many statues, lovely ambience and nearby restaurants, galleries and stores.
Geography - Located along Mexico's Pacific coast, about halfway between the US border and Guatemala, Puerto Vallarta is a few short hours by plane from West Coast cities and the Southwestern states. Here for a map of Mexico
Going Out - Do be generous if you go out with a Mexican national or have a date. It's commonly expected that the person of higher social wealth will pick up the tab and show generosity in other ways. Generally speaking that would be you, dude. So don't expect to go out Dutch unless it's already established or the other guy is of a equal or higher economic status, meaning Mexican upper middle class or above.
The Malecon - The malecon is the seawall walkway or promenade that stretches the length of downtown Vallarta from the New Malecon which begins at the pedestrian bridge over the Cuale River on the South Side all the way to the Hotel Rosita on the north end. Near the south end of the main stretch of the downtown malecon is the large outdoor amphitheater and Los Arcos, the Arches, where many open air activities occur, such as cultural events, live music, folklore dancing, and the ever popular clown (payaso) shows. There are a good number of unique and lovely statues and art work on the mile and a half long walkway and the Extension, which now goes all the way to and over the Cuale River into the South Side or Romantic Zone where most of the gay night clubs, restaurants, lodging and stores are located. The malecon is popular from sunset up until around 11pm-midnight. Half the town dresses up and turns out for a stroll on weekends, especially Sunday evenings. The newly renovated Puerto Vallarta malecon can also be a good location to make friends, so check it out.
Money, Banks, ATMs - The national currency is the peso. Dollars are readily exchanged at the banks, hotels and any casa de cambio or money exchange house. Most businesses will accept dollars. The current exchange rate fluctuates around 12.5-13.0 pesos per US dollar at the banks and this rate changes daily. Use your ATM card to get a good rate.
Passport and Tourist Visa - Questions about your visa or passport?
Phone - Ask at your hotel room or condo building before making any long distance calls, as the calls can be rather expensive, perhaps even up to several dollars per minute.
Population - Estimates vary but most sources I have read say that Vallarta has somewhere around 200-300,000 residents. Wikipedia puts the city population in 2005 as 178,000 inhabitants, while 220,000 people live in the greater Vallarta municipality, which I assume includes such population centers as Pitillal, Aramara, Las Juntas, Coapinoli, and Bobadilla.
Taxis and Buses - Hop in a cab and go! Taxi cabs are generally cheap and readily available here, and will cost around 40-80 pesos ($3-$7 US) to go to most places in town. Buses run all over town every few minutes until near midnight and currently (2012) cost 6.5 pesos, about 50 US cents. Here for further facts
Time Zone - Puerto Vallarta is in the Central Time Zone, same local time as Winnipeg, Houston and Chicago. We are one hour behind Boston, Miami and New Tork City (Eastern Time), one hour ahead of Albuquerque and Denver (Mountain Time) and two hours ahead of California, Oregon and British Columbia (Pacific Time).
Tipping - Tipping is the same as in the US and Canada, 12-20% for good to excellent service at restaurants. I encourage tipping for the maid at your hotel or condo, or for the staff if you are staying in a villa.
Weather - Pretty
much considered a tropical paradise, the area has moderate temperatures
throughout much of the year (seven out of 12 months). The average high
temperatures in Puerto Vallarta are 80-85 degrees in the winter and 85-92
degrees in summer. November through May is the dry season, with very little
rain. For more extensive information on visit climate
& weather that includes a chart of monthly high and low temperatures,
precipitation and number of rain days, as well as advice on what to wear
during the year and the scoop on the hurrican season.
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