Arriving in Puerto Vallarta by Air
Before arriving at Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport – PVR, have your Tourist Card (FMM) ready, you will fill this out on the plane, be sure to fill out the bottom half, you will be keeping this until you leave. You can now complete this online before you even get on the plane (many airlines do not have the forms, or run out of them) INM https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html. Also don’t forget to sign it!
At Immigration (Migración) you will show your passport and receive the stamped bottom portion of your Tourist Card (FMM), don’t loose this, it will cost you if you don’t have it to hand over when you leave. Together with your Customs Declaration form, you will be presenting these documents at the airport. Our airport now has a Web Site. most of which works.
After Immigration you will go and claim your luggage, carts are free, proceeding to the Red and Green light system of Customs. This is where you try your luck, every family gets to push a button and see whether they get a Green Light = Proceed without Inspection, or the Red Light = Get Inspected, (note: stay together, only one person per family has to do this, if they are in a group). If you get a Red the Customs Inspection is usually cursory.
If you got a luggage cart, either before or after the green/red light, after the next stage, see below, you’ll find porters to help you. These guys do not get paid, they rely on tips, and will help you get through the next challenge.
CAUTION. The next test is, by far, the worst. After exiting the automatic sliding doors after Customs you enter two, obviously secure parts of the airport, with counters around the sides, uniformed attendants and other ‘official’ looking people sporting badges with their picture. They will immediately try to usher you towards the counters on some pretext.
This is all TIMESHARE.
Now, if you want to waste 20 minutes there, arranging a timeshare viewing (never less than 4 hours of High Pressure Sales), for a free breakfast and a discount on some tours, go ahead and let them lead you away. If, on the other hand, this doesn’t sit well with you, put your head down and get out of there, through the automatic sliding doors to your left. They are not allowed to physically contact you and there are lines on the floor that they are not allowed to cross.
Having made your escape, you will find there are 6 ATMs in the airport, but one maybe in Departures. This will save you a lot on the cost of your taxi, by paying in Pesos. In general using your ATM card and withdrawing the maximum that you can, will spread what your bank charges for an International Withdrawal. Note: Tell your bank that you will be using the card in Mexico or they may flag it and your card will stop working. The local ATMs are now charging on withdrawals (progress?) but it’s a very small amount and adjusts the exchange rate you get, but they will give you the best rate of exchange and are also very convenient. Avoid the Foreign Exchange cubical, they have the worse rate in town.
Out of Customs, through the timeshare trap, got your pesos, you’ll see 3 or more taxi ticket booths, rates are posted and one maybe a little less. Ignore the crowds of people yelling ‘Taxi’ and go straight to the booth, buy your tickets, the price is pretty well set and about double the city (yellow) taxi, but it’s a Federal Zone, requires expensive Federal Plates and they have to come back empty, since they can not pick up in town. There’s a guide to prices on the Transport page.
Crossing the road to get a yellow city taxi will save you about – 2/3 of the price, but maybe no AC..
Get to your accommodation and start enjoying your stay.
Arriving by Cruise Ship
You’ll be arriving at the Marine Terminal which is an other Federal Zone, so the same Federal Plated taxis will be there, save some money and exit the Marine Terminal, walk out towards the main road and catch a yellow city cab. Don’t let the yellow city taxis tell you a price per person, that’s illegal, but they know the Federal plated taxi charge more. Maybe at the Pemex – gas station or walk down to the Soriana and get some pesos, then catch a taxi, see Map.
Or, exit the Marine Terminal turn left, to the highway, left again at the light and there’s a bus stop, any bus with ‘Centro’ in the windshield (usually a sign at the bottom) will take to downtown for 7.5 pesos each.
I would not recommend booking your city tours via the cruise ship, these tours will take you to the establishments (stores and restaurants) that have paid a hefty fee to the cruise line, this fee is passed on to you as higher prices, some restaurants even have a separate menu for cruise ship customers. Many cruise lines try and frighten their passengers into taking the ship sponsored tours, claiming that the passengers will get sick or cheated otherwise.
Only passengers who have bought tours through the ship, will be allowed to disembark first, the other passengers have to wait about an hour before they can leave. Keep in mind that most cruise ships keep to a ‘ship time’ which is one hour earlier than ‘local time’, so if the ship docks at 7am, it’s could actually be 8am Superior Tours can pick you up at the dock for an all day City Tour, but with a minimum of 6 passengers at US$40.00, US$240.0 total, and they provide many types other private tours in a very nice air-conditioned 14 passenger van, or larger, at very competitive prices.
The same goes for other tours, such as the very popular Canopy Tour Los Veranos. River Canopy is also very good and you can book for the later tours, pickup close to the Marine Terminal. If you book online for these tours and others, you’ll save yourself a lot of money.
If you want to go on the Canopy Tour, don’t try and book for the 9am or 10am trips, they will be full of the passengers who bought the tour through the cruise ship – at very inflated prices , better to take the 11am, 12 noon or even later ones. The Canopy Tours tours take about 4 hours and you’d still have plenty of time to get back to the ship. Many other tours available through this site, See Here