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puerto vallarta quetions and answers

Puerto Vallarta FAQ

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1- What can I use as proof of citizenship to enter Mexico?

PassportIn general to enter Mexico you need to obtain a Tourist Card (FMM). To get your Tourist Card you will need to prove citizenship, and now passports are the only accepted form of ID for travel by air (read more details in the passports section). A photo ID is very helpful when in town, so you don't need to move around with your valuable passport. A passport can serve as proof of citizenship and photo ID. Airlines will furnish the Tourist Card. Be sure to save the FMM, as you must present this document when leaving Mexico. Things have changed lately so be sure to consult the latest rules regarding foreign travel and documentation, more information.

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2- What is that green/white receipt I kept when entering Mexico?

FMMThe green and white (FMM) piece of paper you are given when you enter the country is your Tourist Card, and it's very important that you don't lose it.

You can get another, but the process is a pain, and you'll spend too much of your vacation in government offices and line-ups. Keep it in a safe place until you leave, along with your passport and other documentation, preferably a hotel security box.

If you can't find it on the way out you might be fined (more details in the passport & visas section).

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3- I was wondering what the customs at the airport in Puerto Vallarta are like when arriving (will I be searched?).

airportUpon arrival at the International Puerto Vallarta airport you are asked to push a button that will determined if you're luggage will be searched or not, if you get a green light you go and if you get a red light you are searched, this system is totally random.

Please check at the Mexican consulate in your city for necessary documents to come to Mexico. Read about duty free quotas in our customs section.

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4- What is the airport departure tax?

The international airport departure tax is more or less $20 US Dollars and is generally included in your airline ticket price. Check with your local airline or travel agent for updated information.

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5- Will I be able to use my credit cards? Can I get cash from the banks with my credit cards?

credit cards vallartaYes, to both questions. All major credit cards (except Discover) are widely accepted. If you are to eat in a restaurant, it is best to ask before ordering, not every business in town accepts credit cards, just as back home.

All of the banks will give cash advances, most have ATM machines at their locations, for after hours cash. If you lose a credit card call one of the numbers listed in Banks and currency section.

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6- What is Puerto Vallarta's time zone?

time in vallartaPuerto Vallarta is located in Central Standard Time year round.

Use this map to figure the time difference Timezone Map or use our what is the current time in Puerto Vallarta section.

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7- Currency and money matters...

Money-pesosThe peso is Mexico's official currency, but almost all purchases in town can be paid in US dollars.

Dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Puerto Vallarta, however large bills (Franklins, etc.) can be difficult to break and can cause you hassles. We recommend you bring plenty of $1's, $5's, and $10's.

If you go on an adventure way out of the main tourist areas, it will be best that you bring enough pesos along.

Before traveling to Puerto Vallarta it's a good idea that you exchange 30 -40 dollars so you have change for the taxi, tips, etc., upon arrival, though all will accept dollars too, but the rate they'll give will not be the best.

Read more and get the exchange rates on our Puerto Vallarta Mexico Currency section.

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8- What about tipping and taxes?

10 pesosYour waiter will only bring you your check when you request it. Tips range from 10% to 20% of the total bill. A 15% IVA (VAT) tax is applied to all products and services. Take care, some restaurants include a service fee in the bill, this is not legal and you can dispute it.

Read many comments and ideas regarding tipping on the Vallarta Forum.

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9- What will the weather be like in Puerto Vallarta?

weawther in vallartaNobody can predict the weather. We have an Average Temperature Chart on our Puerto Vallarta Weather section page.

You can use online services to get an idea and if you want confirmation, you can call your hotel a few days before your arrival to make sure.

Finally but most importantly, visit our real-time webcam and get a view of the weather conditions this very moment, sure beats guessing and calling around! :-)

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Beach10 - I'm trying to get a good idea of the weather conditions. We'd like to avoid the hurricane season.

There is no hurricane season in the Puerto Vallarta area. The best time to come is winter, from October to May.

During the summer, from June to September, we have our rainy season, but you still get lots of sunny days, lots of people still come down and have a great time, plus you get much better prices in the low season.

Tropical rains are also fun, sometimes we have a beautiful day and then it starts raining hard for a couple of hours, mostly it rains at night for a few hours.

Visit our real-time Puerto Vallarta webcam and get a view of the weather conditions this very moment.

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11- Can I buy Cuban cigars? Can I take them back with me?

Yes you can buy them, and yes, they are expensive. No, you cannot take them back to the U.S., but if you are returning to Canada it is OK. Be careful of counterfeits. More info.

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12- Postal services, stamps and snail mail?

Stamps can usually be purchased at the same time as postcards. They are also available from the post-office (Oficina de Correos). Open Monday to Friday: 8am - 3pm, Sat: 9am - 1pm. A stamp for a postcard is currently $11.50 pesos, an takes approximately 2 weeks to arrive to its destination (sometimes more...).

The most recent governments have been investing a bit more in the postal service so it is improving, but it still is very slow and the service is patchy. Where is the post office? Look it up in the Government Office section or check at Correos de México.

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13- Where and how can I make International phone calls?

International telephone calls from Mexico can be very expensive, it is better to use your own national phone credit card service (ask for Ladatel phone cards, they come in different denominations, 30 - 50 and 100 pesos) or simply call collect.

Best option to date: use Skype.

We advise not to use the telephones on the street offering international dial ups. You may be charged a connection fee if you use your phone card from your hotel room. To dial direct to the United States or Canada you dial 001, the area code, then the local number.

Long distance calls to other parts of the world are preceded by 00 and then the country code, city code and the corresponding telephone number.

Important Phone Numbers

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14- What is IVA?

I.V.A. (Impuesto al valor agregado), is Mexico's value added tax (VAT), it is 16% in the state of Jalisco and you will notice it added on all your bills, many items that you wish you purchase will have a notice "IVA incluido" (tax included) or "+ I.V.A."(tax not included in the total price).

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15- Can I drink the water?

For over 15 years Puerto Vallarta's water has been certified for human consumption - one of the few places in Mexico to receive this honor, but that doesn't mean you should necessarily drink it. It means it's safe when it leaves the water treaetment plant, but after going through the water pipes, what comes out the other end may not be!

Stick to purified water, which is now served in all restaurants, hotels, and bars throughout Vallarta, but it doesn't hurt to ask. In most hotels you'll receive a couple of complimentary water bottles, either in the bathroom or in the refrigerator.

In most hotels and restaurants, you will get purified water when opening the tap, if in doubt - ask: (Agua purificada?). Buy bottled water; why not be completely safe?

Read our forum topic on Puerto Vallarta Water

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16- Will my cellphone work in Mexico?

There is local cellular service. Very few cellular services will allow you to roam in Mexico. Most cellphones from USA and Canada can be reprogrammed for local use in Mexico, unless they are SIM-locked. Visit a TELCEL or IUSACELL office to find out and check out the rates. When you dial cellphones in Vallarta, add the prefix 322 and then the 7 digits of the number. If you are calling a land line, skip the 322.
(Main local cellphone companies: Telcel - Iusacell - Movistar).

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17- Can I use my laptop computer to get my e-mail and have Internet access?

You can bring your laptop computer, iPhone, iPad and similar electronic devices, Puerto Vallarta now offers a growing number of free hotspots, the Malecon itself offers free WI-FI too and so do most hotels. We've made a list of public Wi-Fi locations in town that you'll find useful too. If you are going to stay at a hotel, make sure they offer WI-FI connections, most are free, but some offer it with a surcharge fee. There are quite a few Cyber Cafes in PV if you don't want to bring along your equipment. Bringing a laptop computer into Mexico is a legal and accepted practice, no hassles with Aduana (Customs).

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18- Can we get married in Puerto Vallarta?

Most definitely, this is on of the most romantic spots on Earth and many people get married here. It will be almost impossible unless you hire someone who, speaks the language, understands the legal requirements and procedures.

You do not want to spend all of your time in PV running around, tied up in the bureaucracy (that can be an art here in Mexico), getting all of the necessary documents and permits.

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19- Is it safe to walk around the town at night? Is Puerto Vallarta safe?

Yes, definitely. You will feel much safer in most parts of Puerto Vallarta than in the United States or Canada. There is very little crime here, and what does exist is usually petty compared to the U.S. Based on 2011 data from the Tourism Board, Puerto Vallarta was visited by 3.5 million tourists. Read more on safety and violence.

The tourist police here are friendly and very helpful.

Use your common sense, and be careful. Leave your fancy jewelry at home, etc. After dark, stay on the main streets, do not wander on the beaches unless you are in well lit areas or close or together with other tourists.

Never flash large amounts of money, etc, the common sense stuff :-)

Lately there's been a lot of talk about the drug "war" in Mexico, we find it important to emphasize that the issue is fundamentally linked to USA-Mexico border towns and is an issue far from important in Puerto Vallarta and surroundings.

Please read more on the subject from those that actually live in Puerto Vallarta and know the day to day realities on the Vallarta Forum.

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20- Can you tell me what the taxi rates are, what are the rates?

Just what should your fare cost you? Good question, and one even locals are not sure of, until we ask. In most cases the driver will give you the correct fare. However ask before getting in the cab and not at the end of the trip when it's a little more difficult to negotiate.

You may also want to ask the people at your hotel what it should cost to go to your destination; they should be well aware of the rates. Normally your hotel concierge or the front desk will know the rates, sometimes you'll find them written somewhere near the door too. Most taxis should have a taximeter so guessing should not be necessary. Read more about moving around in town.

Reserve your taxi in Puerto Vallarta.

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21- What about local - national buses?

Traveling by bus in Mexico is inexpensive, educational and fun. To go anywhere in town costs 6.5 pesos ($0.50 dollars US). The bus terminal is on Olas Altas at Plaza Lázaro Cárdenas, near Los Muertos Beach.

Buses leave from around the square to go north to downtown the Hotel Zone, Marina Vallarta and the airport, and south to Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlán. Stops are marked by a dark blue sign with a bus outlined in white. Parada means Stop.

Buses here are privately owned, and some look a bit funky. But they do get you where you want to go and you are woven into the Mexican fabric as you journey. Don't be surprised if an entertainer leaps on board to belt out a song about lost love and overdue rent. Mexicans tend to tip a few pesos whether the entertainment is Vegas calibre or not. And, if you're really lucky, you can do some gum, chocolate or garlic shopping on route. Read more in our Taxi-Public Transport section.

Interstate Buses or longer distances check our updated Bus Section for more info.

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22- What is the distance by car to...?

Check our distance table to find out how far it is by land to some important destinations in Mexico and USA.

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23- How will I know if I am getting a good deal on merchandise?

This is one question that nobody but you can answer. A good rule of thumb is, with street or beach vendors, always get at least a 30% discount, sometimes more. In most stores the prices are fixed, just as they are at home.

If you are making large purchases or if there are several people in your party that are buying something, you can always ask for a discount. If you’re happy with the quality and price of of an item, then you are getting a good deal. Pretty simple really.

Check out the Puerto Vallarta shopping section.

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24- Mexican pottery, is it any good, where can I get some good quality handcrafts?

Because Mexico has so much to offer in the way of variety, quality and good prices, shopping has become one of the highlights of a visit to Puerto Vallarta. Read more in our Handcrafts in Puerto Vallarta section.

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25- What about hospitals and doctors?

Hospital in VallartaReview our detailed Puerto Vallarta Hospitals section and the Puerto Vallarta Health section too.

There are some very competent doctors in town. Many speak English. Check with your hotel for the name of an English-speaking doctor, write the phone number down and carry it with you.

If there is any doubt in your mind about a doctor, procedure or medication, check with your doctor at home, if possible. Medical service here is just as sophisticated as in the U.S. or Canada.

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26- Are beaches private or public? Are the beaches safe?

Vallarta BeachFirst question: All beaches in Mexico (yes, this includes Puerto Vallarta's beaches) are public property, and are open for everyone. Even the beaches in front of the hotels. While most hotels usually don't have a problem with visitors walking through their grounds to get to the beach, it's a good idea to be more careful about crossing over private property to get to some of the other beaches around the bay.

Second question: Generally, yes. As anywhere there are a few places to beware of. Remember, there are few lifeguards here. During the summer there can be large swells, even in this protected bay. Be careful and buddy up, swim with a friend. Always tell other people where you are going to swim and your expected return time!

More beach info here>>

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27- Is Playa Los Muertos (other Vallarta beaches) fit to swim in?

The beaches are clean in P.V. the local authorities and some local associations make sure to keep them clean, water is just perfect for swimming and you will enjoy sun tanning. If you by chance see foam on the water, this is a natural process and not a pollution problem.

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28- I was wondering if there are any nude beaches in PV?

No, there are no nude beaches. Don't think about starting one either... :-) Please remember you are in a catholic country and nudity and semi-nudity in public are not only frowned upon but it is also illegal. Please respect the local customs, and avoid problems with the local authorities.

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29- We are very interested in extreme sports, in particular bungee jumping is there anything like that?

From what we know the bungee jump location south of Vallarta, on the way to Mismaloya, is open. It is a beautiful jump, into the emerald waters, scary, very scary, yes, but if you're to do it, what better place...

Read this on mountain biking, Sky diving, scuba diving and other activities and sports.

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30- When does the ferry leave for Cabo San Lucas?

There used to be a ferry service from Vallarta to the Baja but it has been discontinued. There is a ferry that goes from Mazatlán to La Paz visit their website.

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31- Any Golf course information?

Visit our Puerto Vallarta Golf section. Reserve tee times on our tour section

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32- I'll be staying in Nuevo Vallarta how much does it cost to get into Puerto Vallarta from there? Does it take long?

Nuevo Vallarta area is far from downtown P.V., you have taxis and public transportation available right in front of the hotels. The ride by bus is about 45 minutes and buses run every 30 minutes or so, a oneway ticket is around two dollars. Taxis take a little less time, around 20 minutes, and are about 20 US dollars one way.

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33- I want to bring my children with me, but safety is always my top concern. Is there anything for kids to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta is very safe, you won't have problems bringing your children. Mexican people adore children and they will go out of their way to make you feel welcome (for example, in restaurants).

Beaches are safe and endlessly entertainment for kids. There's now a zoo too and lots of boat excursions that are safe for kids, also we have many tours kids like and you can swim with dolphins in the Nuevo Vallarta area, you'll also find a few water parks for some aquatic fun, you can find out about the prices and booking information in your hotels travel agency.

We are sure you will love it and enjoy it. Check out the "What to do section" on this site. Check our forum dor a few more ideas of what to do with your kids in Puerto Vallarta.

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34- Any information about the Bay area?

Puerto Vallarta is at the center of one of the world's largest bays - the "Bahía de Banderas", or "Bay of Flags". The giant horseshoe shaped Bay has over 40 miles of coast along its circumference and measures about 20 miles from land's center to the open ocean and about 25 miles across, with depths of up to 2 miles.

The depth and calmness of the Bay afford the perfect location for some of the best snorkeling and fishing in the world. In addition, from December to April of each year, the bay is full of dolphins, sea turtles, giant manta rays with "wingspans" ranging from 16 to 30 feet, and gray and humpback whales who come to visit the Bay during the winter months. Member of The most beautiful bays in the World Club.

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35- Are there any campgrounds in the Puerto Vallarta area?

Contact out tour representatives, reservations@puertovallarta.net

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36- How can I get to Puerto Vallarta by sea?

Arriving by sea, Princess Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line Ltd, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Holland American line among others, all serve Puerto Vallarta from various destinations. Check out our Cruise ship and cruise line section.

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37- Are there dress codes, and how late will I be staying out?

The dress code is casual, some clubs do not accept sandals, tang tops or shorts, but in general is casual. You can stay up as late as 6:00 AM in some bars at the malecon and most of the discos. More info on What to wear in the Weather section.

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38- Common mispellings of Puerto Vallarta

Though many people are finally learning how to write Puerto Vallarta correctly some of the most common errors writing our destination name are: puerta vallarta, puerto vallarta, puerto viarta, puerto vallerta, puerto villarta, porta vallarta, purto vallarta, porto vallarta, port a viarta and many other ingenious variations and permutations.

We recommend you use "puerto vallarta" (between quotes) when searching online, this will give you much better search results. If you use another variation, send it to us and we'll include it on the list :-)

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39- TOURIST INFORMATION

Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board & CVB
Local 18 Planta Baja
Zona Comercial Continental Plaza
Puerto Vallarta, Jal.;
C.P. 48310
Telephone: +52 (322) 2241175 Fax: +52 (322) 2240915
http://www.visitpuertovallarta.com

To order brochures or receive additional information please call: 1-800-44-MEXICO

Any question not answered here, do not doubt in asking us directly at:
webmasterpv@puertovallarta.net

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40- Are there any Non Profit Organizations in Puerto Vallarta?

There are plenty, you can check our list of Non Profit Organizations in Puerto Vallarta.

More useful information:

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Useful information:

General PV Information

Top 10 things to do

List of great beaches

Endless things to dos

Shop till you drop



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