Travel Tips for the Best Way to See and Explore Puerto Vallarta, México
1. A Word of Warning: The city of Puerto Vallarta has invested a good deal of capital in revamping their water treatment system to combat the stigma associated with drinking the water in Mexico. The water is likely safe at reputable resorts or restaurants; however, on our last day in paradise, Kathryn did succumb to a nasty episode of “Montezuma’s Revenge.” So, when in doubt, be careful with the fresh fruits and veggies, or food from street vendors, ask for bottle water (not exactly eco-friendly, but some things aren’t worth throwing up over), and refrain from using ice, if possible.
2. Learn The Language: If you aren’t already familiar with Spanish, at least learn a few important phrases before arriving in the country. Although Puerto Vallarta is an incredibly tourist-centric destination, and many of the people in the service industry do speak English, interacting with locals or vendors at the markets can be difficult without some knowledge of rudimentary phrases.
In addition to Buenos días, gracias, de nada, etc. it will be helpful to memorize a few important phrases:
- ?Cuánto Cuesta? = How much?
- ?Dónde está? = Where is…?
- ?Qué hora es? = What time is it?
- ?Tiene? = Do you have…?
- Quiero… / Me Gustaría… = I want… / I would like…
- La cuenta, por favor = The check, please.
3. Take the Bus! The bus is super fun, and only $.46USD per trip as opposed to the $6.67USD it will cost to take a cab each way. It’s a straight shot from the top of the hill to the bottom, just be sure to hang on tight and find your seat fast (sometimes the bus drivers don’t even stop the bus all the way to let you on. What fun!). You never know who will be on the bus during the short trip into town – from bachelorette parties to farmers with baskets of chicks to guitar players covering Justin Bieber in Spanish. And if that doesn’t make the trip worth it, the amazing views along the way will.
4. Take the Path Less Traveled: Despite our previous warning against fruits and vegetables, we recommend trying out restaurants, bars, and shops that are not the touristy gringo hot spots. Stroll through the winding side streets and alleys and you’re bound to find delicious bakeries, colorful shops, and kind-hearted people.
Our top things to check out:
– The Church of Our Lady Guadalupe; Cathedral Puerto Vallarta
– Old Town Farmers Market-Tianguis Cultural – in the Lazaro Cárdenas Park every Saturday from 9:30am-2pm; find everything you never knew you needed – amazing street food of every kind (from Mexican to Italian to Thai), baked goods, handmade tortillas, jewelry, art, agua frescas, live music, fresh flowers, local coffee, essential oils, vanilla, clothes…seriously, anything and everything.
– Joe Jacks – a gringo hot spot but worth it, order one (or all) of the many flavors of mojito
– La Casa de las Omelets – yes, The Omelette House. Although we didn’t try the food, it’s a great place to stop after visiting the cathedral since it’s right next to it. The real reason to go is for the 2 for one beer/margaritas special and great patio over looking the town square.
– Tony’s Hideaway – off the beaten path, will require a cab but totally worth it. Their menu is always fresh, and shown to you on a platter rather than a menu card. Some of the best food and views in town, and Tony himself is still there after 27 years.
– Casa Kimberly or La Cappella – if you can score reservations to the La Cappella brunch, definitely go. It’s pricier than most other places in PV but it’s for good reason. If you can’t get in there, a next best option is at the Iguana Restaurant at their sister hotel, Casa Kimberly. It’s the place where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton stayed during the filming of Night of the Iguana. Spectacular food and view of the whole city.
– Venus Moon Southside Spa – private or couples rooftop massages, so relaxing and affordable for an amazing 90 min massage
– Huaracheria Fabiola – the best handmade huaraches in town. Buy them smaller than you think because the leather stretches over time.