Are you trying to figure out where to go on vacation? You want to go somewhere warm and see a beach, explore a city, and experience a different culture, right? If so, you have come to the right place. We’re talking about a beach, affordably priced souvenirs, good food, and time to enjoy yourself.
Today’s travel guide is making a stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Have you been? I just went for the first time and that’s why I’m bringing you this travel guide. It’s not Cancun or Cabo but I’m sure it could compare for some people.
Puerto Vallarta is like two different places in one. You have the resort area where it’s pretty calm and quiet; you’re more than likely in an area with people that aren’t from Mexico but different parts of the world. The resort plays up to those that want a vacation where they can relax and lay by the pool all day. You don’t have to leave the area and you’re not going to want to — plus the resort area is a good 30+ minute drive from the city.
The other side of Puerto Vallarta is the city. It’s busy and loud. Similar to cities everywhere. You see so much and can walk for ten minutes and cover a lot of distance. The mall and movie theater are in the city along with department stores and the pharmacy plus fast food restaurants. There are dance clubs and everyone is offering you tequila as you are making your way down the street. Everyone seems so alive and ready for an adventure. You’re exploring and seeing sights that you would have never imagined — at least, I didn’t. I was just expecting a beach but I saw so much more.
Where to Go
Downtown. My boyfriend and I stayed downtown for the first two nights of our vacation. I recommend it to anyone. The area is busy and bustling with people. It’s colorful and full of life. You get the best bang for your buck when it comes to souvenirs in this area. The cinema is inside of the mall and they have pretty recent movies playing. We took some time out of our day and went to the cinema which was nice to get out of the heat and cool down for a bit. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Galleria which had H&M and Forever 21 so I can’t tell you how great that was but I suggest taking the time to go and check it out. Explore the Malecon. My boyfriend and I spent most of our time exploring this walkway because it led us to new discoveries each day. You will see restaurants, shops, and bars along the walkway plus different shows that the locals put on. We didn’t do it but Las Marietas was on our list, we just couldn’t find the time for the tour. Someone, please experience it for me.
Where to Eat
You will not run out of places to eat in Puerto Vallarta. I will admit that we ate at the resort for the rest of our trip after checking in but we did eat in the city. Our first night, we had Pizza Hut. I can not deny that we turned to Pizza on our first night and we ordered a lot because Pizza Hut is pretty cheap in Mexico. It was worth it, too. There were quite a few fast food restaurants like KFC and Burger King but we didn’t venture to any of those after Pizza Hut. Pepe’s Tacos is a must. The happiness that my boyfriend experienced from these tacos should say it all. It was cheap and way better than most of the resort food. Cesare is a good breakfast spot — we enjoyed some of the best french toast that I have ever had. We were only downtown for two days so the other four days, we had food from the resort. It ranged from the different restaurants that the Vidanta had to offer. I will recommend La Cantina at the Vidanta. They had the best nachos and the chips + salsas were amazing. I went overboard on the chips and salsas. There was a variety of food for us from jerk chicken to sushi to tacos, we had a lot and I loved it.
Places to Stay
I would recommend the downtown area to everyone. Yes, resorts are nice but if you want to be where it’s colorful and fun, downtown is the area I would recommend for you. We stayed in an AirBnB and it was great. The AirBnB was actually vacation rentals ran by a woman and her staff was so friendly. Look into AirBnB before you decide to go with a resort, it’ll more than likely be cheaper in the long run. Our resort stay was not bad at all — in fact, it was a beautiful resort. The Grand Bliss at Vidanta. Loved the area but since they offer a residence, they would call our room every morning at 8:30 AM even though we told them that we slept in. That drove me insane especially since the hostess did not give up. That would be the one reason why I would not return and the reason why I suggest looking into an AirBnB.
Where to Shop
Your options aren’t limited but if you’re looking for Forever 21 or Lacoste then you’re going to be limited. If you’re souvenir shopping, you can find something as you’re walking through the downtown area. Most of the shops offer the same things but their prices vary. I ended up buying souvenirs from vendors on the beach. You can find something anywhere. I would suggest buying your souvenirs in the city if you’re staying at a resort because there is a very big difference in the pricing. If you need something to wear or run out of clothes, the mall is close to the airport and the Galleria is down the street from the mall. You can probably find any and everything if you wander around for a big. My boyfriend bought a Nike hat from a vendor on the street while I admired the shoes that some stores had. You should just shop around for the best deals and remember to bargain — I’m not good at it but my man is.
Things to Do
There are actually a lot of things that are offered. You can take a tequila tour and see how tequila is made while getting a tour of the city. There are also food tours which are pretty self-explanatory. A lot is offered to tourists. You can ride ATVS and go white-water rafting. There is zip lining plus and excursions that are offered to you as you walk down the street. Snorkeling and whale watching are a thing. There is no limit on the things that you can do in Puerto Vallarta. I recommend that you look into some of the activities that are offered so you have some background on what’s going to happen and the price. People will bargain with you because they want you to parasail or ride a jet ski. Research, research so you can plan.
Just so you know…
Don’t stop when you arrive at the airport. As soon as you get your bag and try to exit, you will be approached by different resorts. Bid them a good day and keep going. They will try to trap you into their ’75 minute’ presentation which is actually hours long and they offer all these gifts which my boyfriend and I never received. Just walk away if you don’t want to waste one of your days. Taxis and buses are cheap. You do not need to rent a car. Our taxis usually came up to around $3 USD. It wasn’t bad at all. Also, shop around for the best currency exchange. My boyfriend and I found out that the exchanges all offer a different pesos currency. We were exchanging 16 pesos = $1 and found out that someone else was exchanging 17.9 pesos for $1. Shop around and get the best rate.
Overall, Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful city. I would recommend it for anyone who wants go somewhere that not too many people are venturing off to. Everyone has been to Cancun or Cabo but I had yet to meet anyone going to Puerto Vallarta. It’s a beautiful city with many things to do. I wish I had more time while I was there to explore and take some of the tours. Most people that I talked to went for two weeks! That’s a long time for me but if you have the time, I say take it.
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? What did you do while you were there?