Is Puerto Vallarta safe?
Read below to find out more about the city, including safety tips and facts for your visit, transport around the city and the best time to visit.
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican town in the region of Jalisco.
It has incredible beaches on the Pacific coastline, with a lot of tourists traveling here for its resorts.
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Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?
Puerto Vallarta has all the appeal of tourist-centric Mexican towns such as Cancun, but with a large urban area with a lot of history.
This is where thousands of tourists flock in the summer to soak up some rays and have a relaxing time.
Puerto Vallarta prides itself on its immaculate Mexican cuisine and annual Day of the Dead celebrations which are some of Mexico’s best.
Close your eyes for a minute and visualize the landscape of the area.
Imagine an urban tinge to the rolling hills set behind the glorious coastline. This, is best described as the reason thousands visit here.
However, most travelers are worried about their vicinity to the dangerous areas of Mexico.
If you compare Puerto Vallarta vs Cancun you’ll notice that many people choose Cancun because of this reasoning.
Since Mexico itself is still ruled in a few areas by the cartels, there are parts of Mexico that the US and UK governments advise not to travel to.
Where is Puerto Vallarta?
Puerto Vallarta is located within the Mexican state of Jalisco.
The city is situated roughly halfway down the country, it sits along the eastern coast. Just above the town is the state of Nayarit.
If you go further south you’ll enter the state of Colima.
Puerto Vallarta is well known for its picture-perfect beaches and sunsets, which are some of the best in the country.
It’s around 160Km away from Guadalajara, the closest major city. Mexico City on the other hand is a good 880km from Puerto Vallarta.
Is it Safe to Travel to Puerto Vallarta?
It’s incredibly safe to travel to Puerto Vallarta since thousands of tourists visit every year.
It has a reputation for being the ideal holiday spot for the LGBT community.
One thing many travel professionals in the industry have had to deal with in recent years is the huge influx of fake news or misleading statistics regarding safety in Mexico.
This includes sensational headlines or crime reports that don’t provide the full context of the situation.
The irony of this is that most visitors to this region describe the area as safer than most American cities.
The most dangerous risks when traveling to Puerto Vallarta would be a simple petty crime that’s found in most countries.
It’s a touristy location to travel to, so the emphasis on safety and the upkeep on security is already better than most of Mexico.
Safety Facts about Jalisco
Let’s now look at some safety facts about Mexico and the Jalisco region:
- According to the UK Government, major tourist destinations: Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta have mostly not seen the levels of drug-related violence and crime experienced elsewhere in Mexico.
- Also according to the UK Government, over 576,971 British nationals visited Mexico in 2017 with most visits being trouble-free.
- The intentional homicide rate of Jalisco is 14th on the list of Mexican states.
- Jalisco is the fourth most densely populated state in Mexico, with approximately 8,000,000 inhabitants.
- The largest urban area in Jalisco is Guadalajara, which has the largest crime rate in the region.
- Regions such as the Tequila region and the coastline towns attract tens of millions of visitors a year. See these things to do in Tequlia for more cool ideas.
As you can imagine places like Puerto Vallarta are visited by thousands of new people every month. So there are many unexpecting tourists.
Traveling Alone to Puerto Vallarta?
Puerto Vallarta is perfectly safe to travel alone. Use your common sense when taking excursions outside of resort hotel areas.
Don’t expect complete safety during the late hours, and stick to the confines of the bayside.
💡Smart Travel Tip
It helps to know some Spanish conversation basics since Mexicans appreciate English speakers who learn it as a second language.
It is not a requirement for traveling here but, booking excursions, hotels, and bus rides will be a lot easier if you did speak Spanish.
Backpacking Puerto Vallarta Safety
Backpacking across Mexico can be tricky since most of the bordering regions with other countries have a difficult reputation.
However, Jalisco is very safe compared with the rest of Mexico.
Mexico is an amazing country to navigate, but you definitely need to look up which regions should be avoided when backpacking.
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
If it is your first time in Puerto Vallarta, you will find that the Zona Romántica is one of the most popular areas to stay in Puerto Vallarta.
Here you’ll find the best beaches that include Playa Los Muertos, as well as lots of hostels and good bars and restaurants nearby.
The other popular area is further north in the Zona Hotelera, where all of the all-inclusive hotels are located, which is also pretty safe.
Another underrated area is the residential area of El Remance, which whilst further inland, is safer and has a more authentic Mexican vibe.
Especially when compared with the more touristy areas noted above.
Puerto Vallarta Nightlife
Whilst not as crazy as say Cancun or Tijuana, Puerto Vallarta still holds its own when it comes to its nightlife.
In fact, Puerto Vallarta is pretty popular for all tastes. La Vaquita and Atrio are two good nightclubs that are popular with the younger crowd.
Along the malecón you’ll find a host of bars with different vibes and music genres playing, with something going on most days of the week.
My best recommendations are: El Colibrí and Bar Morelos Mezcaleria.
The hotel zone has some lively parties going on too, although some of these are only exclusive for guests so you’ll need to do some research.
Travel Safety in Puerto Vallarta
I would suggest that any backpackers that find themselves in Puerto Vallarta wanting to travel north or south, find a coach service like Ado.
That way you can arrive to Mexico City and travel around from that starting point. This region of Mexico is quite safe, but it still smarts if you exercise the right precautions like in other places in Mexico.
Just because Puerto Vallarta’s beaches are popular with happy tourists all year round, don’t take the area lightly. Tourists are targeted in all locations around the globe, so keep on the lookout for petty crime.
Vallarta is extremely welcoming, but for almost too many people. This is one of the reasons why it’s worth comparing Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo San Lucas for those looking for a more chilled experience.
Puerto Vallarta Travel Safety Tips
The homelessness rate in Puerto Vallarta is quite high, based on the number of Mexican citizens flocking here looking for work.
⤵️ Here are some useful tips to help you on your trip:
- Make sure to use trusted and accredited hotels or hostels. Then once you’ve booked your room, book taxis or buses through the hotel.
- Keep dummy wallets for pickpockets and keep your money hidden away. Bras, money belts or secret bag compartments will do.
- There is still a risk of contracting Zika virus. Visit Travel health Pro For more information on this.
- Make sure to take sunscreen. The ocean breeze may fool you, but this is a part of Mexico that still has a dry heat.
- Don’t accept offers of drugs. Not only is it illegal, but it’s dangerous. You’re funding the cartels which means they’ll keep taking over parts of Mexico. Don’t leave any valuables unattended while you swim. Run-and-grab thefts by people lurking in the woods are a common occurrence.
- If you are a person that suffers from typical culture shock symptoms see our tips on adapting to new surroundings on this blog.
- Don’t go where there are few other people in the vicinity; this includes camping in secluded places. A simple rule: if there are families around, you’re probably safe.
- If you want to take expensive equipment such as cameras or smartphones, keep them hidden, locked away and on your person. A PacSafe backpack works best for this.
- Be wary of attempts at credit-card fraud. Either use cards for emergencies only or take cash out at trusted atm’s either in shopping centers. Ask where you’re staying for the nearest safe atm.
When it comes to credit card scams. One method is when the cashier swipes your card twice (once for the transaction and once for nefarious purposes). Try to carry only small amounts out of cash with you.
Puerto Vallarta Transportation
Puerto Vallarta is serviced by three municipal bus unions that provide coverage for most of the greater Puerto Vallarta area (e.g. Ixtapa, Mismaloya, Pitillal).
Most residents commute and travel around by municipal bus. Owning a car in this area isn’t rare, but cars are hardly used for commuting.
For some visitors this means that when renting a car here it can be a very liberating experience.
They are typically used for family outings and shopping trips. This is mainly because parking in Puerto Vallarta is scarce.
Best time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
There is both a clear dry and wet season in Puerto Vallarta. The wet season runs from late June until October.
Average temperatures range from 82-83°F, with highs of 90°F (August is the hottest month) and lows of 76°F. Rainfall is heavy, with between 9-10 inches falling each month.
The dry season runs from October until May. Average temperatures here range from 71-82°F, with highs of 89°F and lows of 62°F (January is the coolest month to visit).
Rainfall this time of year is almost absent compared to the wet season, with between 0.1–1 inches falling throughout each month.
Got Travel Insurance for Puerto Vallarta?
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Puerto Vallarta Safety FAQs
See these frequently asked questions about safety in Puerto Vallarta:
Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?
Puerto Vallarta, along with the rest of Jalisco, is an amazing destination.
The birthplace of tequila, with stunning ocean views and cultural events taking place all the time.
It would be a shame to miss out on such a great holiday opportunity if you’re put off by the misleading headlines produced by the media.
Millions of tourists, a portion of whom are LGBT, love Puerto Vallarta and would gladly visit again.
If you are still completely undecided on whether to visit or not, why not read about even more safe places to visit in Mexico that you might like?
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