Transport Tips: Getting Around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Find out how to get around on the cheap with our tips on transport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Photo © Getty Images/Elenathewise

It's easy to get around Puerto Vallarta using public transport, taxis or by hiring a car, although the latter can be expensive.

Puerto Vallarta Buses

Buses iPuerto Vallarta are frequently used by locals and travelers. Bus fleets here are eclectic, and many feature unique personal touches ranging from religious iconography to blaring cumbia or norteño music. They are a safe and cheap way to get around. No matter where you’re waiting, a bus servicing any given route should come by at least every 15 minutes, and at less than US 0.50 for a ride, the price can’t be beaten. Don’t be surprised if a musical performer boards your bus and begins serenading passengers down the aisle. Tip a few pesos if you feel inclined.

To identify the right bus for you, study the words on its windshield as it approaches your stop. The system is pretty self-explanatory: “CENTRO” will take you to the center of town, “AEROPUERTO” will take you to the airport. Avoid any bus labeled “TUNEL” – these take a back route around the center of town, skipping safe areas to drop locals off at their homes on the outskirts of the city.

Here are a few extra tips:

  • Always enter through the front door and exit through the back door. This is a non-negotiable setup, even when the bus is crowded.
  • Pay in small bills or exact change when possible. Don’t expect change for anything larger than 100 pesos.
  • Be ready for the bus to start moving before the driver has paid your change. They tend to take off pretty quickly – so hold on tight before you end up on a stranger’s lap.
  • Buses will only stop if there are passengers to pick up, or if someone on the bus presses a timbre (small buzzers located near the back door and throughout the bus). If you’re far away from a timbre as you approach your destination, strategically move towards one.
  • Most bus services wind down around 10pm. After this time, rely on taxis.

Puerto Vallarta Taxis

Though significantly more expensive than buses, taxis in Puerto Vallarta are faster, more convenient, and still relatively cheap. But, taxis here aren't metered.  Always agree on a fare before hopping in. To avoid getting ripped off, ask hostel staff about a fair price to your next destination.

In Mexico, tipping taxi drivers is not expected, but drivers will of course appreciate tips, but this is not the norm in Puerto Vallarta.

Almost all taxi drivers speak basic English, but don’t assume this will always be the case.

Avoid taking a taxi drivers' recommendations. Many local businesses offer kickbacks to taxi drivers for bringing customers to their establishments. A driver may try to convince you that the place you want to go is closed, but he’ll take you to a better place. If you know this isn't true, hop out and find another driver.

Puerto Vallarta Airport Taxis

When it comes to finding a taxi at the airport, you have two options: buy a ticket from one of the taxi stands located near the final exit. One of these tickets will get you a ride in a specially-licensed airport taxi, immediately available directly outside. Though these taxis cost double the standard Puerto Vallarta taxi rates, they are the only taxis allowed to pick riders up directly from the airport.

The other option for visitors traveling light is to exit the airport and cross the pedestrian bridge over the highway in front of you. On the other side of the street you’ll be able to take a standard yellow Puerto Vallarta taxi, earning you a significantly lower fare.

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