|Currency: Mexican Peso written as $1 MN (moneda nacional)
Electric: 110/120 (same as Canada & USA )
LOCAL CUSTOMS & LAWS:
- Tourist Card – when you arrive in Mexico you will require an Immigration document called a “Tourist card”. You don’t need to carry this document with you, but you will need to present when departing the country.
- Legal drinking age – is 18 years. It is illegal to drink in public. Drug laws are harsh.
- Siesta time – 2-4pm, many businesses close during this time.
- Tipping – is similar to Canada & the U.S. 15% – 20% in restaurants & bars.
- Restaurants – you may wonder why it takes so long for someone to bring you the bill. In Mexico it is considered rude to bring the bill until you request it. To local culture it infers that the client is being asked to leave. So when you are ready to leave, you should ask for the bill.
- Exchange rates – usually best in the banks, slightly less in the Money Exchanges (Casas de Cambio) & businesses. Credit cards also offer a good exchange rate.
- Travelers Cheques – you will need picture ID to exchange
- Bank Machines / Automatic Teller Machines – are bilingual & easy to use, you can access money directly from your account or specified credit card. They usually give an exchange rate as good or better then the banks. Normal service charge is $1 – $2 depending on your bank and accessible 24 hrs/day.
- Coins – there are 100c (centavos) in one ($1) peso. Since some coins have such a low value you may not get exact change in some stores. They do not accept foreign coins
- Bank hours: average is 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Saturdays 10am – 2 pm .
Puerto Vallarta ‘s water purification system has been certified safe by International standards since 1992. However we still recommend you use only purified bottled water (Agua Purificada) for drinking and making ice unless there is a purification system in the building you are staying in.
Ice Cubes – in restaurants & bars are made from purified water.
Fruits & Vegetables – any fruits or vegetables not being cooked or peeled should be treated with MICRODYN (a bacteria killing treatment).
- Wash the fruit or vegetables
- Soak for 20 minutes in a non-metal container in tap water with 1-4 drops of Microdyn for every litre of water
- Rinse with purified water.
You can purchase international long distance calling cards in most convenience stores (SIX) and pharmacies (CMQ and Farmacia Guadalajara, both open 24 hours).
You can also make international calls from most Internet cafes such as PVcafe.com, located at Olas Altas and Basilio Badillo, where they charge about $6 pesos per minute to call the US .
Taxis -Local Taxis do not have meters; instead they have set rates per each zone. Within the downtown area the rate is usually about $2 USD or $20 pesos. All taxis carry official rate sheets, when in doubt ask to see it. Taxi drivers are notorious for not having change; when possible try to be prepared with exact change or small bills.
Several Taxi stands have telephones to order taxis for pick up:
Bus -The green and blue bus from town to Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan (last cove on the bay accessible by car) runs every 10 mins. The bus stop in town originates at the corner of Constitución and Basilio Badillo, cost $4.50 pesos. Boca de Tomatlan is the end of the line, the bus turns around and heads back to Puerto Vallarta . From Boca de Tomatlan you can pay for a water taxi to take you to any of the beaches on the south shore only accessible by boat: Las Animas, Quimixto and Yelapa.
Car Rental – you must be over 21 years of age and have a credit card to rent a car. Rate start at about $50 USD / day.
Airport Taxis – the Airport Taxi’s are a separate system from the local Yellow Taxis and are only allowed to pick up passengers from the airport or Marina which are Federal Zones.
The mail service in Mexico tends to be rather slow. It will take aprox 2 weeks for mail to reach the U.S. or Canada . The post office is located downtown on Mina Street just off the Malecon. Hours are 9am – 7 pm Monday – Friday & 9am – 12 noon on Saturdays.
Stamps to the U.S. & Canada are about 45c USD. You can also buy stamps in many of the shops & there are mail boxes conveniently located around town.
EMAIL & INTERNET
There are numerous Internet Cafes in Puerto Vallarta . They are convenient and inexpensive. You can send and receive email messages for about $1 – $2 USD per hour. If you have a laptop and access to a telephone line you can have local service set up, cost is about $23 USD per month. Call PVNET at 223-1127 to confirm details. To program your laptop for this service, you will have to go to their offices on the north side of town in the hotel zone, across the street from the Sheraton Hotel, Taxi drivers know the location.
There are many large supermarkets in the Vallarta area:
Gutierrez Rizo: (called “El Rizo” by the locals) Constitution and Aquiles Serdan at the River Cuale. Open 8am – 11pm daily. Wide selection of food and produce in addition to hardware, pharmacy & liquor items. There is also an import section if you are looking for a special product not made in Mexico.
Agro Gourmet – Open Monday- Saturday, 9:30 am – 6pm . Basillio Badillo #22
North Vallarta/Hotel Zone
MEGA Commercial Mexicana
Sam’s Club: you can get a free day pass to shop if you are from out of town, known for their selection of USDA beef. You will need to show ID to prove your out of town address.
The fine art of Bargaining is only for beach & street vendors or in the flea Markets. The recommended system is to start at about 60% of the asking price and go from there. Boutiques & stores frown on bargaining, but will often accept diplomatic requests for discounts (especially for cash purchases).
The Cathedral in the center of town is a Catholic Church “Our Lady of Guadalupe”. Services are:
Monday – Friday: 7:30 am , 12 noon , 7pm & 8pm
Saturday: 7:30 am , 12 noon , 7:30pm & 8:30pm
Sunday: 6:30am, 8am , 10am , 12 noon , 6:30pm , 7:30pm & 8:30pm
Dress appropriately. There is also a Baptist Church , Kingdom Hall & other denominations..
The airlines request that you be at the airport 2 hrs ahead of
Departure time for international flights & 1 hour for national flights.
- Most airlines have the departure tax prepaid
- You will need to present your tourist card when you depart
- Customs declarations; U.S. citizens $350 USD each time you leave the country for over 7 days, Canadian citizens $500 Canadian each time you leave the country for over 7 days.
- Liquor: 1.5 liters of Alcohol & 200 cigarettes per adult
- It is illegal to take back any plants, produce or products made from an endangered species (Iguana, Sea turtle, Boa, Python, Anaconda snakes & Armadillos)