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Visiting Puerto Vallarta

Updated on July 16, 2011
This is the port.
This is the port.

Our family loves traveling to Puerto Vallarta! It offers the best of Mexico without the worries. Unlike the more popular tourist locations, Puerto Vallarta still offers the tranquility and security of a small town environment. The people are pleasant and respectful. The area's most important resource is the tourism which is responsible for the largest part of their economy. There is plenty to see and do in this beautiful location.

The Airport:
Being the most important resource means that they have their attention on you from the minute you land. As you exit the airport, you pass a corridor filled with resort employees charged with inviting you to visit their resort. For this, they are able to discount events and cab fares. If you are interested in a timeshare tour, you will have plenty of opportunities to visit one.
The airport has offered the best money exchange rate the last couple of times that we went. It would be a good idea to exchange some of your money there. Resorts and Drugstores can exchange money for you later. Keep an eye on the rates, some locations offer better rates than other.

Where to stay:
If you plan on visiting, you will have the choice to stay in one of two areas: Puerto Vallarta or Nuevo Vallarta. Nuevo Vallarta offers newly constructed resorts and less traveled shopping markets. Puerto Vallarta, being already well established has more locals, older resorts, and a bit more convenience. For example, other than the beach and a few stores in walking distance, Nuevo Vallarta requires the use of transportation, cabs, or a car rental where most resorts in Puerto Vallarta are in walking distance to some shops or convenience stores. Puerto Vallarta is currently a $4 cab ride away from the Port, where most of the excursions you will be enjoying begin, and a $6 cab ride away from El Malecon. El Malecon is their boarwalk, which is currently under construction. As beautiful as it was before, a sporting event coming in September 2011 has inspired them to increase its beauty.

El Malecon is surrounded by El Centro (The Center). El Centro is their town and offers many shops, markets, restaurants, and more. It is very easy to spend the entire day there. Restaurants on the boardwalk (El Malecon) offer amazing views of the ocean. In the markets, everything is negotiable! Here is a great TIP, do not shop when the cruise liners are in port. Besides avoiding the masses, you will be more successful in your negotiations when the cruisers have left. Your resorts concierge will be able to tell you what days they expect cruisers in town. Another TIP: Try not to need to exchange money here. Most locations we saw offered significantly less for their exchange.

Staying at a resort here will bring you the opportunity to go 'all inclusive', so should you do it or shouldn't you. That is going to depend on you. I have to say that I would probably do more of the all inclusive if I stayed in Nuevo Vallarta because you have less opportunities wander into a local dive to try authentic foods without a cab ride. If you like your drinks by the pool or on the beach, then the all inclusive is definitely for you. Most resorts offer 3 or more all inclusive day packages.

What about the Water:
While most of Puerto Vallarta is on a water system, they will always give you bottled water at resorts and restaurants. It is recommended that you stick to that. You will not have to worry about the ice in your soda glasses or the water used to cook or bathe in. The resorts and the major restaurants are all on the water system. As for those small dives I mentioned earlier, stick to bottled drinks, just in case. What about other dangers? Honestly, I didn't worry about dangers while there. I didn't go looking for it either. Having a young child means that we were not out in bars in dark alley ways, so I can't tell you much about that.

Enjoy your trip!

Look out for the hub on what to do in Puerto Vallarta!

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