How Safe Is Puerto Vallarta for Travel?

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Safety Index:
70

Nestled along Mexico’s Pacific Coast in the Jalisco State, Puerto Vallarta is renowned for its stunning beaches, exceptional nightlife scene, and enthralling water sports.

The cobblestone center of the city is home to a range of bars and restaurants, boutique shops, and the ornate Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church.

El Malecon is a coastal promenade that also boasts a high number of nightclubs, lounges, and bars, but also contemporary sculptures for visitors to enjoy outdoor art.

Although Puerto Vallarta experiences millions of visitors each year, many continue to be hesitant due to potential safety risks.

However, Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest cities in Mexico regarding the crime rate.

While petty theft does occur, violent crime is almost non-existent, unless you go looking for it.

The streets are protected by the Mexican National Guard 24/7/365, who roam the streets on foot.

Before visiting, it is important to understand the warnings and dangers of the area, the safest places to visit, the places to avoid, safety tips, and other useful information.

Keep reading to learn more!

Warnings & Dangers in Puerto Vallarta

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

As a picturesque vacation spot with countless tourists visiting throughout the year, there are elevated levels of security scattered around the town. That means you have plenty of opportunities to relax at this destination but never take your guard down as that is always asking for trouble. While the overall safety risk is low, take all precautionary measures to minimize the possibility of an issue.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

While Puerto Vallarta is a walkable destination, if you choose to ride on public transportation, be incredibly vigilant and cautious since this is one of the main places pickpockets operate. When in need of a taxi, always call an Uber or dependable taxi driver that the hotel has called for you instead of hailing random cars in the street. Remember, most taxis in Mexico don’t have a meter so they can charge whatever they want unless they are a reputable company. The transport and taxis risk is medium.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Bag snatching and pickpockets are very common issues in Puerto Vallarta, especially in crowded and public places like airports and bus and train stations. Always keep your purse in front of your body and wallets in the front pocket. If you have any valuables, keep them in a security deposit box within your hotel. The pickpockets' risk is therefore medium.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

The natural disasters risk is medium for tourists because hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, and fire do happen randomly. Your risk of encountering a fire in a major hotel is low, but it happens. Hurricanes and flooding can also be avoided by going before or after a hurricane and the rainy season.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

While pickpockets and bag snatching are a problem, the mugging and kidnapping risk is low. While they have occurred before, it is incredibly rare for this to happen because of the high levels of security. To be extra careful, always avoid deserted and empty areas and streets.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

While there haven’t been terrorist attacks in the Puerto Vallarta area for decades, they should never be ruled out. The risk is low but always remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings. Also, always mark the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate on Google Maps in case an issue arises.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : HIGH

Unfortunately, the risk of getting scammed is high in Puerto Vallarta as you will encounter individuals trying to trick scam you into paying them. Since this is a major tourist destination, the probability of this occurring is higher than in a sleepy fishing village. While visiting, just be vigilant, decline drinks at nightspots sent over by strangers, negotiate everything in advance, and double-check all information provided.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Countless women have traveled to Puerto Vallarta without any issues. While the women travelers' risk is low, solo women may experience being cat-called on the street with offensive comments or whistling being directed at them. Fortunately, that is the extent of the harassment but if this occurs, ignore the attention, and move away from the catcallers.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : HIGH

Like in all other Mexican cities and towns, the risk of getting sick from tap water is high. Mexico doesn’t have the same health and safety checks, and infrastructure as the United States so the tap water is consequently polluted. Therefore, in the hot summer months, always remain hydrated by drinking bottled water, not tap water. You can purchase gallon jugs or large packs of single bottled waters at the local market for cheap.

Safest Places to Visit in Puerto Vallarta

There are many safe places to visit in Puerto Vallarta, including:

Downtown

Downtown is close to the Romantic Zone and very safe, even at night, if you use common sense.

There are several hotels and many restaurants in this location, plus a variety of local attractions.

Marina Vallarta

The Marina area attracts many tourists because it is located only five minutes from the airport and a 15-minute drive from downtown.

If you wish to book cruises or boats for excursions, this is the place to do it.

Many hotels are within a master-planned community.

Nuevo Vallarta

Although this is not within the city limits, Nuevo Vallarta is close enough to be within the tourist zone.

This location is a hotel zone with top luxury hotels, delicious food, restaurants, and beaches, all of which are incredibly safe.

The Hotel Zone

The Hotel Zone is where you will find the most all-inclusive resorts and hotels.

It’s much more touristy than other areas and you will find reputable taxis around the clock.

It’s considered an expensive and upscale area, which means it’s highly safe for tourists.

There are many white-sand beaches, and the Gallerias Vallarta Shopping Mall will have whatever you need for your trip.

The Romantic Zone

The Romantic Zone boasts energy and culture, with so much to do in the area.

Uber and taxis are readily available around-the-clock.

Places to Avoid in Puerto Vallarta

While the city is safe throughout the day and mostly at night, there are a few places to void.

Don’t walk the Colonias East of the Libramento at night alone.

Luckily, there really is no reason to be there as a tourist.

Also, if you get turned around, never walk along the highway, especially at night, call a taxi instead.

In general, remain within the touristy areas to avoid any confrontations or issues at night.

While Puerto Vallarta is heavily secured by the national guard in tourist areas, their reach doesn’t extend into the suburban and poor neighborhoods.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Puerto Vallarta

Be Careful of Overfriendly Individuals

If someone approaches you from behind and attempts to be overly friendly, offering to show you around town or buy you lunch, respectfully decline.

While being robbed at gunpoint is a rare occurrence, they could try to pickpocket or scam you another way.

Blend in as Much as Possible

Since you are a tourist, you will look like a tourist to locals.

However, don’t be overly obnoxious by flashing money or expensive items.

If you are noticed wearing any valuables, you could become the victim of a crime.

Mexico is a poor country where citizens are trying to put food on the table, so flashing expensive items around town makes you a target.

Convert all Currency Upon Arrival

The second you arrive in Mexico, convert your currency, but not at the airport.

The Casa de Cambio or a bank will give you the best currency exchange rates.

Although the U.S. dollar is widely accepted, it will save you many headaches when purchasing local food and souvenirs when having Pesos.

Don’t Stay at a Hostel

Although hostels may be appealing because they are inexpensive, they do not have good security.

Hotels will be more expensive, but they’ll give you peace of mind that you and your belongings are safe.

Also, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, sleeping in a dorm with ten strangers is not a promising idea anywhere.

Drive During the Day

If you choose to rent a car, which is an advisable means of transportation, only drive during the day.

This is especially important when driving on the highway between towns and cities.

At night, you could be the victim of a highway or backroad robbery, so it is best to take this precaution.

Get Good Health Insurance

Before arrival, always sign up for excellent health insurance.

If you are currently in Mexico, you can also purchase health insurance through the government.

Healthcare in Mexico is incredibly expensive, so you don’t want high bills if you get sick.

Never Leave Belongings Unattended

Even if you are taking a few minutes to go to the restaurant, never leave your belongings unattended.

This is relevant to bars, restaurants, shops, markets, or the beach.

Never Take Valuables to the Beach

If you are alone, don’t take any valuables to the beach.

Store them safely inside your hotel room.

If you have an expensive camera and want to take a dip in the water but nobody to look after it, you can’t leave it on the beach while you are splashing around.

Spread Your Money Out

Never put all your money, credit cards, and debit cards in a single place.

This means, don’t carry everything at once outside of your hotel room.

Instead, store most of your money and cards in the hotel room safe and only take what you need for the day.

By separating your money and cards, in case you are the victim of a pickpocketer, you have backup options.

Take All Pandemic Precautions

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to rage throughout the world, take all necessary precautions and look for changing requirements leading up to and while on your trip.

Wear a mask and follow all social distancing protocols.

So... How Safe Is Puerto Vallarta Really?

Generally, Puerto Vallarta is a safe city, but never think it is a crime-free zone and let your guard down, it still has many dangers.

To ensure your safety, tourists are advised to remain in populated and touristy areas and avoid poor neighborhoods.

If for some reason you need to go to an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood, visit during the day.

With, the locals of Puerto Vallarta being heavily reliant on income from the touristic economy, so many have become antagonistic against those criminals who jeopardize this way of life.

Also, since the touristy areas are heavily secured, an added layer of safety is provided for visitors.

Although Puerto Vallarta isn’t known for its violent crime, you must be aware that there have been reports of vicious beatings at Mexican resorts by solo travelers so always be vigilant and keep your wits.

You have several lodging areas: the city proper, the coast on the outskirts of the city, and an all-inclusive resort.

All three are safe locations except wandering around the city at night is not advisable.

How Does Puerto Vallarta Compare?

CitySafety Index
Puerto Vallarta70
Playa del Carmen69
Cabo San Lucas68
Acapulco63
Cancun71
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43

Useful Information

  • Visas - For U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico, visas are not required if staying for under 180-days. However, upon arrival, always ensure your passport is stamped by Mexican customs officials to show proof of arrival in case you have any official issues. Also, since every visitor is provided a traveler’s permit to roam around the country, you may be required to complete an online FMM form before arrival or at the airport.
  • Currency - The national currency of the country is the Mexican Peso, which provides a beneficial exchange rate to American visitors. Despite this being the currency, the U.S. dollar is also widely accepted because of the strength of the currency compared to the Peso. While ATMs are widely available in Puerto Vallarta, it is always advisable to withdraw money from official government buildings like banks or at the airport, as opposed to a random ATM on a shady backstreet.
  • Weather - Puerto Vallarta boasts a tropical climate with beautiful weather and two seasons: a wet period from June to October and a dry period from November to May. During the dry season, you can expect slightly cooler temperatures than the wet season but that certainly doesn’t mean you should pack a winter jacket!
  • Airports - The closest airport servicing the city is Licenciado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport, which is in Puerto Vallarta. You have several options to get from the airport to the city. While there are many ways to get from the airport to downtown, the best option is a reputable taxi or Uber which takes around 11 minutes and costs between $19 and $24.
  • Travel Insurance - Given that travel is incredibly uncertain now due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, travel insurance is necessary for visitors of Puerto Vallarta. Having this insurance will protect your belongings, family, and overall trip if there is an issue before or during your visit. Travel insurance is also highly recommended when renting an automobile, even if for a single day.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Puerto Vallarta Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 22° C
Feb 22° C
Mar 22° C
Apr 24° C
May 26° C
Jun 27° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 27° C
Sep 27° C
Oct 27° C
Nov 25° C
Dec 22° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
292930323333333332323129
Low
°C
141414161821212121211815
High
°F
848486909191919190908884
Low
°F
575757616470707070706459

Where to Next?

13 Reviews on Puerto Vallarta

  1. Love Puerto Vallarta

    Been coming to Puerto Vallarta for 35 years. Best in the West!

    1. Driving

      Do you drive down? If I drive with my RV is there RV parks?

      1. l’ve driven from the Arizona border with my Calif. plated car. ln certain cities, l could count on being stopped by the local police for phony problems. l have never been stopped since l bought my Jalisco platted car. l would never drive an RV down…..too may problems and the RV would say “Gringo with money here.” l’d investigate the price of having it shipped down. About 5 yrs. ago l was quoted $500 to ship my car from Calif. to PV. Yes, there is one RV park here.

  2. PVR

    Excellent well developed.
    Enjoyable board walking specially early morning hours when not crowded. Watching Brown Pelicans diving for fish is natures best

  3. C
    Cynthia says:

    I always feel safe walking around PV. We stay a month at a time in the romantic zone, never ever a problem. I even feel safe at night without my husband.

  4. S
    Stephen says:

    Safer here than where you live

    I’ve been coming here for 30 years. I’ve been horseback riding in the mountains and have walked the back streets at night. I’ve never had a problem. That said, there are pickpockets about. One of our group was pickpocketed from her purse several years ago while downtown. They got what they thought was a wallet but was actually a birth control vinyl case. Apropos when you think about it.

    In short, I feel safer here than in most cities in the United States. People are friendly and family-oriented. If you come, get out of the city and see the countryside. Remember Xtapa is a 20min bus ride away (silver) and the fishing is fantastic.

  5. Paradise on Earth

    I have vacationed in Puerto Vallarta so many times, I’ve lost count. It is my favourite place on earth, & yes it’s safe to say it’s “paradise”. I have had the privilege of meeting so many lovely people. My bestie & I have mostly stayed in the hotel zone, but for the past 2 yrs we’ve stayed right down on the Malecon. There were two occasions that I stayed in Puerto Vallarta for
    a week by myself. I must say, I was very comfortable, & had no worries at all, but during the times alone, I did not venture out at night. Preferrably, I’d rather vacation with a friend.There are so many restaurants from which to choose, & they’ve all provided delicious meals, AND the prices can’t be beat!
    I’m hoping this whole Covid-19 fiasco clears soon or it becomes safe for us to travel to P.V. for Christmas/New Year vacation. I can’t recommend PV highly enough. As mentioned, it’s ‘paradise’.

  6. B
    Bev Fulmore says:

    In February, 2020, I was hit by a taxi on the sidewalk on calle Allende. I felt a crunch on my head and that is all I remember. The driver, according to witnesses, got out and looked at me and then took off. I had moved to PV permanently and walked every day. The police filed a report and said they sent a letter to the taxi driver to come in. A worthless attorney wasted my money saying the license number was no longer in the system. The DA has not followed through, no surprises there. PA is lawless and dangerous

  7. We’re can i get a rental car at Puerto Vallarta

    1. i’ve heard horror stories about folks that rented vehicles here and got dinged for every miniscule scratch. Parking, other than a few garages is difficult. Much easier to just grab a taxi. The average fare is $3-5 USD. l am in a wheelchair and have never had a problem using the taxis here. In fact, l once lost my keys in a taxi and they were returned a few days later. My friend, who lost his cell in an uber, never got it back.

  8. My favorite vacation spot

    I love PV!!! I find the people friendly and honest. One caution, beware of the Time Share hawkers. I left my cell in a taxi, and it was returned, I left my cell in an uber it was returned. I have never felt threatened in PV I have been going every year for 30 years!

  9. Fantastic Place to Vacation

    Felt 100 times safer in PV than several cities in US. Have had incredible times and memories from visiting PV. Beautiful people, beautiful geography, and love the old town cobblestone streets, sights and sounds! Of course traveling anywhere has risks, but PV is safest area I have experienced when vacationing.

Rated 4.08 / 5 based on 13 user reviews.

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