Puerto Vallarta Mexico Low Cost of Living
Puerto Vallarta Mexico Retire Cheap in Paradise
*Best Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone Free Walking Tour and Map
*Best Day Tours
*Best (and) Cheap Hotels
*Best Flights, Buses, Trains
Best Travel or Retire Cheap to Paradise Locations in the World
Puerto Vallarta Mexico Retire Cheap in Paradise
- Prehistoric archeological evidence suggests continuous human habitation in this area since about 600 BC by the ancestors of the Aztatlan culture, which dominated in Jalisco from 900 to 1200 AD.
- Conquistador documents dated 1524, describe a battle between Spanish colonizers in this area and 10,000 indigenous people carrying colorful Banderas (flags).
- There are sailing logs dating back to the 17th century of smuggling and piracy operations in this area, but only 800 people lived here 200 years later in 1885.
- In 1918, the village was officially named Puerto Vallarta after the Jalisco State Governor Ignacio Vallarta.
- In the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta started to attract Americans, mostly disgruntled writers and artists who objected to the conservative politics (McCarthyism) in the USA.
- In 1964, John Huston filmed “The Night of the Iguana” in Mismaloya. Media coverage of an affair between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor put Puerto Vallarta on the tourist map for Americans.
- In 1970, US President Nixon came to Puerto Vallarta to negotiate a treaty with Mexican President Ordaz.
- In 1982, tourism to Puerto Vallarta escalated from a Peso devaluation that made Mexico a bargain for travelers with foreign currency.
- Competition from other Mexico tourist destinations such as Ixtapa and Cancun took some of Puerto Vallarta’s tourism in the 80s. But foreign interest in Puerto Vallarta returned in 1993 when Mexican land ownership law allowed foreign retirees and snowbirds to buy condos in old town Puerto Vallarta.
Best Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone Free Walking Tour and Map
If you are a more sophisticated traveler or considering Puerto Vallarta for a second home or a retirement destination, you will likely to be interested in what international tourists call the romantic section of Puerto Vallarta. The romantic area is the charming authentic area of Puerto Vallarta. Even if you are just here as a tourist to drink and have fun, you should spend at least a day in the romantic area of Puerto Vallarta, so you will understand what Mexico is really about. If I am right, I think you’ll want to spend your entire time in the romantic zone of Puerto Vallarta.
Here is a free Google Map of our Best Romantic Puerto Vallarta Walking Tour and Map:
Click ==>>this link<<== on your smartphone to get started on your free Google Maps walking map of the Romantic Zone in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Here is the first stop:
Malecon (Waterfront Walk): It is a beautiful walk along Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon. If you love bronze sculptures, make sure to watch my below video of the below Free Puerto Vallarta Waterfront Sculpture Tour (link below). The sculpture tour explains who each artist is and what each particular sculpture means, from my perspective. You can also just enjoy the walk without knowing the background on these sculptures. Begin Escultura Los Milenios and head south until you see the dancing dolphins sculpture. Then head away from the beach towards the church steeple. Click ==>this link<== if you would like to be guided by my free Google Maps on your smartphone.
Plaza de Armas: This is the main square in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. Both the Pacific Ocean and the crowned tower of Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church is visible from this plaza. Plus there is a beautiful Gazebo in the center you will need to take a selfie with to prove you were in Puerto Vallarta. Like all towns in former Spanish colonies, you need to visit the main square and Church.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Church): This Church was over 50 years in the making when it was finally completed in 1952. But its famous crown was not added until 15 years later in 1965. Because it took so long to build the construction was influenced by many schools of architecture, such as neoclassical, baroque, and renaissance. The cultural heart of Puerto Vallarta centers around this church and it serves as ground zero for the “Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival,” December 1-12th each year, which is attended by thousands of people.
Casa Kimberley: Casa Kimberly in Gringo Gulch became famous when American film stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had an extra marital affair during the filming of Night of the Iguana.
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Gringo Gulch: This is the area that many American writers and artists lived to escape from the conservative McCarthyism era in 1950s US politics. Make sure to cross the Gringo Gulch Bridge and look at the beautiful homes along the river. Gringo Gulch is also where Casa Kimberley is located which became famous when American film stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor lived together during the filming of Night of the Iguana.
Cuale River Island: This is just a charming little tree-shaded island that you have to see that also happens to have a flea market if you need to buy souvenirs to take home with you. Make sure to walk all the way east (away from the ocean) to get deep into Gringo Gulch, and then walk all the way west back to the Pacific Ocean.
Playa Los Muertos Pier This pier is the last stop on the Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone Free Walking Tour. This tour will give you a really great idea of why Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to live or retire cheap in paradise. If you are hungry when your tour ends, click this link and walk a few blocks more to our favorite restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, called Salud Super Foods.
If you book my recommended flights, tours or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. If you would like to learn how to make money online, or how to live internationally possibly with less money than you spend at home, please subscribe to Vagabond Buddha or get a free copy of my Ebook.
Best Day Tours and Map of Puerto Vallarta
Viator Tours has a bunch of great deals on day tours in and around Puerto Vallarta. Just click ==>this link<== to see what is available. When we were here they had tours starting from $42 for Sunset Ocean Cruise, ATV Adventures, Islands Snorkeling Tours, VIP Club Tours, City Highlight Tours, Zipline Jungle Tours, Food Tours, Tequila Tasting Tours, Beach Tours, and Archaeological Tours.
Self-Guided (Cheap Bastard) Tours
If you have more time than money, or are just cheap like me, here are a few free self-guided day tours around Puerto Vallarta.
Free Marina Vallarta Walking Tour From Puerto Vallarta: Walk around this beautiful marina and check out the boats, cafes, shops, and restaurants. The above video will teach you how to get from Puerto Vallarta Central to Marina Vallarta for 7 Pesos ($0.60 USD) each way per person.
Puerta Vallarta Malecon Free Bronze Sculpture Walking Tour (Map): There is a series of mostly bronze sculptures that grace your walk along Malecon Puerto Vallarta. I have created a video with a short description of each in the following order. These appear on the walk in the following order starting in the north and walking south along Malecon Puerto Vallarta. These are my personal interpretations after viewing these works. I have not asked the artists what they think their piece means. If you enjoyed the above video, then click ==>this link<== to get started on the below free walking tour.
The Millennia Statue: The Millennia is by Mathis Lidice, 2001. The base of the bronze sculpture is the ocean from which life evolved. As you move up the DNA spiral, the symbolism evokes an evolution in consciousness from control by violence to liberated principles of intellectualism and science. Near the top of the DNA spiral, the symbolism represents the possibility that feminine energy has to transform human civilization with love. The woman at the top is being pulled into the future by a dove.
Origin and Destination is by Pedro Tello, 2011. The organic airplane represents man’s observational inferences drawn from nature to promote the technological arts. A bird with a whale tail represents how humans observed liquid and gas dynamics to provide buoyancy and control during flight. The broken boat represents unintended consequences of technology in our environment, whether polluted seas, air, or water or displacement of all of the other living things. The height of the obelisk represents man’s elevation of religion beyond common sense or reason relative to other human endeavor. The music symbol represents the purest forms of human expression where self expresssion is parallel with consciousness. The reptile over grated drainage represents how humans impede natural environment flow without regard to other living creatures.
Nostalgia: Nostalgia by Ramiz Barquet (1984). This piece symbolises how a man’s love is realized much later in life than the woman’s love. She looks upon the horizon when he finally awakens. She is tired now that his eyes are finally open.
El Sutil Comepiedras (The Subtle Rock Eater), by Jonás Gutiérrez. This piece symbolizes the immaturity of the modern economic system. This man focuses on accomplishing things which add no enduring value to himself or to those he loves. He is eating rocks to get ‘ahead’ in life when he could focus and improve the lives of everyone around him.
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El Unicornio de la Buena Fortuna (The Fortunate Unicorn), by Aníbal Riebeling (2011). This piece symbolizes the awakening Buddha experienced. Buddha saw that his true nature was consciousness itself. His mind had formed a conceptualized view of self that wasn’t his true identity. The synthetic shell on the outside of the true nature of the unicorn represents the unicorns conceptualized view of self. A living awareness of a conceptualized self that is believed to exist was all the Buddha needed to be free from suffering. If this artist didn’t stumble into this symbol of enlightenment she may have access to the freedom from suffering.
Triton and Mermaid (1990) by Carlos Espino. This piece symbolizes human projection in relationships. The man knows not himself but lives in an idolized vision of self. He knows not the woman he loves, but projects an idolized version of her. No truth can be known while man and woman live in idolized projections. There is no love without truth, and there is no truth without awareness of self or the other.
The Roundabout of the Sea (1996) by Alejandro Colunga. These pieces have a whimsical nature to them that project a joy of life. They touch your funny bone which is fine and complete itself. There also seems to be a deep disconnection here. There is a not so subtle message here that the artist believes, consciously or unconsciously, that humans are chasing technology and that there is no meaning or purpose in modern times for people, animals, or the environment. Man is a cockroach of sorts.
Searching for Reason, by Sergio Bustamante: The parent seems unable to cope with an unknown future rapidly approaching. Their piece captures the universal fear parents have about their competence to lead into an unknown future accelerating into uncertainty. The children are embracing the future without fear. They know only the present and see no merit in their parents fear. They watch the accelerating chaos in amazement. There is no time to look back or embrace unbridled fear.
Caballito de Mar (Little Seahorse) by Rafael Zamarripa: This is just a boy riding a seahorse.
Dancing Dolphins Fountain by James Bottoms of Santa Barbara California (1987)
Guided Tours: Check Viator Tours to see what tours they have available at your next travel location.
Best Nightlife Walking Tour: Map of Puerto Vallarta (Bar Hopping)
Here is a free Google Map of Puerto Vallarta showing our best nightlife and bar hopping tour. Just click the link below on your smartphone and start our tour. Just skip the ones below that don’t sound like your scene. Click ==>this link<== to start your Puerto Vallarta Nightlife Walking Tour (Bar Hopping):
Best Jazz Club: The Jazz Foundation: Do you like Jazz? Check this place out.
Best Country Western: The Redneck Sombrero: Do you like Country Western music? Check this place out. They have decent happy hour prices here too.
Best Sports Bars: Paradise Sports Bar: Are you into sports bars?
Best Pool Party: Mantamar Beach Club: Are you looking for a good pool party?
Best Pool (Billiards) Hall in Puerto Vallarta: Billarama Pacífico
Best Live Rock: Roxy Rock House:
Best Old School Dance Music: Andale: It is really fun dance music from 1995 to 2015. Just drink the beer though. The 3 and 4 shot drink ‘bargains’ seemed watered down.
Best Gay Bar: La Noche
Best 20-30s Something Pick-Up Joint, Best Electronic-Techno-House Songs that all sound the same, Best Bottle Service VIP-Cover-Charge: These three night clubs are right next door to each other. They are not my scene, so I am making fun of them. But you will have a blast if they are your scene: Mandala, The Zoo, La Vaquita
Best Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
#1 Rated Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta: Salud Super Foods: We both love super healthy foods so we had to go eat here. It is rare to see a healthy food restaurant get the #1 online restaurant ratings. I had a Pachamama (vegetarian) burger and it was the best veggie burger I have ever had, anywhere in the world. That is after more than 3 decades as a vegetarian. Qiang totally loved her Thai-Chicken Super Bowl. The bill was $11.50 (230 Pesos). Crazy cheap for the highest rated restaurant in the city. We are going back tomorrow.
Best Family Style Italian Restaurant: L´Angolo di Napoli: I am a big fan of finding family owned smaller Italian restaurants with great food and prices. If they are focused on the food and service and know how to make great Italian food, I don’t mind sitting on plastic chairs. This is one of those places. For the two of us with dinner, a shared salad, and drinks, the bill was 500 Pesos ($25 USD).
Planeta Vegetariano: They have a great breakfast buffet. They also have a great lunch buffet. For breakfast, they have vegetarian versions of a few traditional Mexican dishes, along with fruits, juices, coffee, pancakes, granola, tortillas, and much more. It is all you can eat for about 80 Pesos per person ($4 USD).
Best Portobello Burger: La Cervecería Unión: I had a delicious portobello burger here. Qiang Hui had an oyster starter and octopus tacos. It faces the water on the Malecon and had reasonable prices for the location.
Best Oysters Served on the Beach: Ostiones Puerto Vallarta “Cachorras”: Below the Malecon on the beach, toes in the sand, Qiang Hui found a family selling fresh oysters on the beach everyday from 10am to 2pm. They are 120 Pesos for 12 oysters. They have salsas they make in front of you there and a long table where their customers eat. They crack the oysters for you. Qiang went back twice.
Best Street Food on Malecon at Night: Every evening there are stalls selling all sorts of food and drink on the Malecon just south of the Dancing Dolphins Water Fountain. The food stalls start at about 100 feet south of the dolphins. The second stall going south has sausages that Qiang Hui loved. She went here twice. They cost 35 Pesos ($1.60 USD).
Vagabond Buddha’s Kitchen: I love to cook. Plus I am a vegetarian. We bought groceries here and cooked at least one meal at home per day. Our Airbnb apartment was $25 USD per night and it had a functional kitchen with full size refrigerator. The link to our Airbnb apartment is below.
Best (and) Cheap Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
I recommend staying in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. That is where you can immerse yourself in Mexican culture and life. If you stay in an all inclusive hotel or in a huge hotel in the Gringo areas, you won’t really get to taste the true flavors of Mexico. Try to stay in the area I have marked in red in the below Google map of Puerto Vallarta:
The following are a few great places that you should consider depending on your budget. They go from most to least expensive, and then I show you where we stayed.
Casa Kimberly: (5500 Pesos, $265 USD) This is arguably the most romantic place in Puerto Vallarta. This is the boutique hotel where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love during the filming of Night of the Iguana in Puerto Vallarta. Check out the pictures, reviews, and prices. It was $265 USD per night on the day we searched.
La Palapa 306: (1800 Pesos, $90 USD) In case you want to be on the beach with a view, this one is a good choice. Check out the pictures, reviews. This was $90 USD on the date we searched. This is an apartment with a full kitchen and sleeps up to 4 people.
Garlands Del Rio: (900 Pesos, $45 USD) This one is full of personality right across from Gringo Gulch. Check out the reviews, the pictures, and the price. Hard to get more romantic than this especially at $45 USD per night on the day we searched.
Alexandros Hostel: (600 Pesos, $30 USD) This is a bed in a hostel dorm for $30 USD per night on the day we searched. This is right in the Romantic zone walking distance from everything. Check out the reviews and pictures. It was $30 per night on the day we searched.
Airbnb Apartment: Here is where we stayed for a week at about $25 USD per night. It is a 2 bedroom 1 bath, furnished apartment with functional kitchen. It has a big patio and views of the Pacific Ocean. It is about 6 blocks from the sand right in the Romantic Zone. The pictures are exactly what this place looks like. I would stay here again without hesitation. It is a steep cobblestone street that cars can’t drive up, so think about that before booking. (If you are new to Airbnb, use this code http://www.airbnb.com/c/dbell50 for a big discount).
I started living internationally over 11 years ago. If you would like to learn how to make money online, or how to live internationally possibly with less money than you spend at home, please subscribe to Vagabond Buddha or get a free copy of my Ebook.
Best Flights, Buses, Trains
We have been traveling around Mexico for over a month now. We are looking for the best retire or live cheap in paradise destination. We started in Mexico City, and have visited San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Chapala, and Ajijic before coming to Puerto Vallarta.
I have been exploring the world since 2007, 64 countries so far.
We took the bus Vallarta Plus Bus from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta. Right-click in the Chrome browser to translate into English. It takes about 4.5 hours to get to Puerto Vallarta and costs 550 Pesos or $28 USD per person. We checked three large bags for no extra fees.
You can fly into Puerto Vallarta International Airport (Puerto Vallarta) (Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport). There are a few taxi drivers that really try to take advantage of tourists in Puerto Vallarta. I heard a taxi driver quote $25 USD to a tourist for a destination that should cost $4 USD. So use Uber to get to your accommodations so you don’t have to negotiate directly with drivers.
International Flights: Skyscanner always seems to find the cheapest flight no matter where I am flying in the world. I find that Tuesday or Wednesday departures are typically the cheapest day of the week. When you land in Mexico, get a Mexican SIM card for your smartphone. One of my friends roamed while in Mexico and paid $700 USD for 7 days. Get your phone unlocked if you are from the USA so your phone can accept the chip.
National Flights: If you are flying to Puerto Vallarta from somewhere in Mexico, get your ticket on Skyscanner. They find the cheapest airfares. But check bus prices also if you are within 6 hours of driving of Puerto Vallarta. The bus can be both faster and cheaper in some cases. Plus, you can see rural Mexico when you travel by bus. Check buses prices at ETN or Primera.
Buses: Both ETN and Primera have buses throughout Mexico to Puerto Vallarta. You can visit the English ETN website or right click any web page from a Google Chrome browser, to translate any website into English. I check bus prices and flights (Skyscanner) before making a decision.
Uber: I use Uber when I am in Mexico. I like the International record of who picked me up and who dropped me, and where. Plus, I know the license plate number when they arrive. Plus, I don’t have to negotiate price or destination in Spanish.
Train: There is just one passenger train still running in Mexico and it does not go to Puerto Vallarta.
If you book my recommended flights, tours or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. If you would like to live cheap or retire early in paradise, learn how to make money online, or how to live internationally possibly with less money than you spend at home, please subscribe to Vagabond Buddha or get a free copy of my Ebook.
Thank you for stopping by Vagabond Buddha, Dan
The world is your home. What time will you be present for dinner? Dan