Why go to Puerto Vallarta?
This artsy Mexican port is full of vendors who are happy to haggle if you ask for a lower price
Many shops sell similar items, and vendors can be pushy if you don't seem interested in their wares
Venture farther afield for local flavor; Yelapa is a favorite destination
Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port Facilities?
Ships dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, about 3 miles north of downtown. The terminal has ATMs, shops, a currency exchange and kiosks for tours.
There are several restaurants and bodegas near where the ships dock for those who want a final margarita before setting sail. You'll also find a small craft market to pick up those last-minute souvenirs. Hotels with bars and restaurants overlook the marina and the water, offering lovely spots to sit and watch the sunset (if your ship leaves after dark) or the sailboats coming back to the marina. Depending on which dock your ship uses, the Plaza Iguana Marina Resort, Flamingo Vallarta, or Vista Club Playa de Oro are all within reasonable walking distance.
For those who just can't get enough of U.S.-style shopping, there are both a Walmart and a Sam's Club directly across the main boulevard from the ship docking areas, about a 10-minute walk away. (Try Wal-Mart for Mexican snacks and drinks -- seriously.) Tequilas and Kahlua are definitely better priced there than in the duty-free liquor stores in town or near the ships.
Good to Know?
As you walk through the streets, some vendors may offer you free tequila tastings if you come inside. Be warned that unless it's an official liquor store, you might be subject to an annoying timeshare presentation in exchange for a few sips. Not worth it.
And it gets hot and humid in Puerto Vallarta, especially in the summer, so dress accordingly for your day in town.
By Foot: The central areas of downtown Puerto Vallarta are a few miles away, so a taxi, bus or rideshare is recommended unless you are exploring close to the cruise terminal. There is a lot of traffic in this area, so if you're looking to walk around, we recommend finding a transfer closer to El Centro or the malecon, and strolling from there.
By Taxi: Taxis are plentiful and line up around the docks as passengers begin coming ashore. They are regulated, but have no meters, and the prices aren't posted. Negotiate before you get in; a trip to town in a taxi from the Marina Vallarta area should cost no more than 80 to 100 pesos (about $7) The yellow taxis, located outside of the port gates, are less expensive than those of the drivers walking around inside; the latter drive Federal Zone cabs, which cost more.
By Bus: Buses in Puerto Vallarta are great fun and very reasonably priced at 7.50 pesos (less than a dollar) for a trip. They can be found on the main road into the city (Avenue Francisco Medina Ascencio) and make several stops along the Hotel Zone before arriving in the center of Puerto Vallarta.
By Car: Rental cars are plentiful and quite reasonable, especially the ubiquitous VW Beetles. Be sure to check before you make a rental arrangement whether your insurance will cover you while driving in Mexico; many companies do not. An easy alternative is Uber -- the rideshare service is available throughout Puerto Vallarta.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The peso is the currency used in Mexico. Almost all shops, vendors and taxis take U.S. dollars, but that can raise the cost of your purchase. It's important to note that the symbol for pesos is the same as the symbol for dollars ($), so pay close attention to how items are priced. ATMs are available everywhere.