Do you need a car in Puerto Vallarta? That’s very debatable, and the opinions on this issue are as varied as the assorted experiences.
We’ve known many expats who’ve driven their US and Canadian cars to Puerto Vallarta and gone through the arduous process of getting them “Mexicanized.” We’ve done this ourselves with three separate vehicles over the years. If you love your car that much, then do it, but we have learned to purchase autos locally. If you’re only here for six months and plan to cross the border again to the north in 180 days, you can ignore the above.
A huge difference for us was the arrival of Uber in Puerto Vallarta, however we try to use all modes of transportation equally; bus, taxi and Uber. Buses are cheap and they go just about everywhere within Puerto Vallarta proper. Buses also go to places outside the city limits that we’re still in the process of discovering.
Some taxis and Ubers won’t allow dogs in their cars. We can’t blame them in certain cases. We have a friend who was very upset when a taxi wouldn’t allow her to bring an injured, bleeding animal in the back seat, demanding a ride to a veterinarian clinic. We came to her rescue at the time and supplied old sheets, which we always have in the vehicle to save the upholstery. Most taxis and Ubers in Puerto Vallarta have no problem letting pets ride along. We’ve advised friends coming from the beach to be respectful and not hail a taxi when you are covered in sand and dripping wet. Use common sense.
Buses don’t have chicken crates and pigs on rope-leashes as they did years ago. No holes in the floorboards to see the road passing beneath your feet. Some buses even have AC these days! Entertainment is available, as well, especially on long routes, south to Boca de Tomatlan, for example, or north to the Marina. Minstrels of all ages with instruments as diverse as guitars or two sticks beat together will board, sing and play, then walk down the aisle with an open palm. We recommend a small offering, in hopes they will proceed to the next bus down the line.
Uber has been a life-saver for many who reside away from bus lines or without close access to taxis. Uber can find you regardless of where you call from and they’ll drop you at your desired destination. With the simple installation on your phone and attachment to a payment source (we use PayPal), you have a great alternative. We have found Uber cars to be clean, modern, and more often than not driven by English speaking Mexicans.
Costs for these methods are low. If you want to go carless in Puerto Vallarta, it’s inexpensive and easy-peasy. You also support the local economy.