ARRIVAL INTO PUERTO VALLARTA AIRPORT:
The Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (Airport Code PVR) is four miles north of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Over 450 flights per week bring travelers here from all over the world.
Upon disembarkation from your flight you will be ushered to immigration. Once you give the immigration agent your tourist information card, distributed during your flight and filled out by you prior to landing, you will receive a tourist visa. THIS VISA HAS TO BE RETURNED upon departure from the country so keep it in a safe place along with your passport and other documentation.
Customs is located in the baggage claim area. After you retrieve your baggage, you will proceed to the custom check out counters where a button is pressed. If a green light is given, clearance is automatic, if red, your baggage will be checked.
Next is the “Gauntlet”. A long hallway lined with counters and very official looking people. They have only one purpose. Selling TIMESHARE. If you are interested great, if not just politely decline their advances and carry on.
Beyond the customs area is the main lobby where you can find ground transportation and other services such as some shops, ATM machines and currency exchanges. The upper level is the departure area, which requires a boarding pass to enter. Duty free shops, restaurants and flight gates are located there.
Please note that upon departure from Puerto Vallarta all luggage is hand searched. This includes checked bags so be sure to allow ample time at the airport for this check-in procedure.
Rental car rates are high in Mexico due to insurance requirements so when checking rates be sure to ask if they include insurance and taxes.
As well as the international car rental companies, Gecko Rent a Car is a new car rental service in the town of Bucerias run by Canadian Denis Beauvais and his wife Kaisa. Gecko will meet or beat the prices of the local major rental agencies. Their rates are year round and include collision insurance and pick up and delivery. Upon your arrival in Puerto Vallarta, Gecko will arrange to pick you up at the airport as well as provide complimentary drop off at the airport at the end of your stay/rental car return.
The peso is Mexico’s official currency, but almost all purchases can be paid in US dollars. Dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Puerto Vallarta, however large bills can be difficult to break. It’s a good idea to bring along plenty of $1’s, $5’s, and $10’s. If you go on an adventure out of the main tourist areas it can be helpful to have some pesos available. Before traveling to Puerto Vallarta we’d recommend you exchange $30 – $40 dollars so you have change for taxi, tips, etc., upon arrival.
Cash and Travelers’ Cheques:
Travelers Checks are getting difficult to cash and carrying large quantities of cash is not recommended. Banks and ATMs are abundant and safe.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express:
When you use any credit card internationally you are charged a one percent fee by the Visa/MasterCard clearinghouse, no matter what country you are in. Most people are unaware of this fee. It is imposed at the currency exchange level as part of the transaction. But in addition to the clearinghouse fee, some issuers have begun to charge an additional 2 to 5 percent fee for international credit card transactions.
There is a 5% or 6% credit card fee when you use your credit card in Mexico. Most retailers or hotels add this into the final price so you never notice it.
American Express charges a 2 percent fee for international transactions with its card. Before you rely on plastic as your major means of money while on vacation, check with your credit card company about their international policies. In the end, you may be paying 10% more than if you would have paid with cash.
As in other parts of the world, restaurants and gas stations have been known to take your card in the back and make blank carbon copies. Make sure your card does not leave your sight.
BEACH HEALTH TIPS:
The sun can be very intense in Mexico. It is best that you use sunscreen before you even venture into the sun. A bad burn can ruin a vacation. A hat and sunglasses are also a must for the seasoned sun bather. It is a good idea to take an older tee shirt with you–a great protector from the sun. If you do stain it with sunscreen, wash it in bleach when you get home and the stains should be removed.
Sunscreen is a wonderful thing, it protects our bodies but it harms the lounges and furniture, so please sit on a towel if you use sunscreen.
If you do become ill with Montezuma’s revenge the very best remedy is the following recipe:
Squeeze the juice of 2 fresh limes into a glass, add a good size pinch of salt and down like a shot. Symptoms will ease in about an hour. If it hasn’t stopped in 2 hours repeat the treatment and you should feel much better by the next day. Lime will kill bacteria and microbes in your system. It is also served with most meals, use liberally.
If it becomes necessary we have a Doctor on call at all times.
Always wash your hands before you eat. As with the rest of the world, a lot of germs travel on money. If you have been shopping or handling money, use the rest room to wash your hands before you eat.
You can also purchase a packet of chlorinated towelettes that you can use to wash your hands when water is not available.
Have someone watch your bag with camera and money when you are at the beach or out dancing in a bar. If you aren’t watching you never know when it will walk away, same as in any other country. Take enough money for the day and leave all other money at your villa. The complex is very secure, but again, use your common sense!