Most travelers, moneyed or budget, come into Mexico via Cancun, Mexico City, or Puerto Vallarta. For the first and third options, you probably won’t want to stick around there too long if you’re traveling on the cheap. There are greener pastures—or perhaps I should say brighter beaches—bus distance away.
The Puerto Vallarta bus station is kind of isolated and rinky-dink though. Plus the buses to places an hour or more away don’t leave all that often, some just once a day. It’s close to the airport, so it makes sense to go straight there as it’ll cost you less than 100 pesos in a taxi or if you’re not loaded down you can catch a local street bus. But there’s not much to do around there, so here’s a lowdown from spending hours there on this current trip.
First, when you come out of the airport, you can ignore the gauntlet, go left, and head over the pedestrian overpass to the other side of the street. Have a bite to eat at Tacon Marlin right at the bottom. Great seafood tacos and burritos. I had the big smoked marlin burrito, some veggies, and a soda for $6.
Then get a taxi right out front as they’re pointed in the right direction there—to the bus station. If you’re hard core you could walk it with a backpack in probably 45 minutes or less, but it’s a dusty busy road. If so, turn right at the big Corona factory.
Here’s what you need to know when you get there:
1) The Super Voy convenience store inside has a left luggage center. They charge by the hour but it’s reasonable. Less painful than paying to go to the bathroom, which is 4 pesos.
2) Once you’ve got your bus ticket, you can check your e-mail at an internet cafe a few blocks away. Leave the station going right, then take a right again on the main street. Keep walking until you see it on the right. Less than a buck an hour there.
3) For parents, there’s a playground a block or two after that if you keep going. It’s in pretty good shape by Mexican standards and the kids will love it because it’s not so antiseptic safe as the ones at home. All metal and things go fast!
4) If you have your own laptop or tablet, you can log on with it at the internet cafe, or instead go to Fat Tony’s and have some pizza. They’ve got free Wi-fi. Right out of the bus station, left one block, on the right. Open every day but Tuesday and this is the only place to get a beer besides the convenience store.
5) There are lots of cheap eats around from street carts once the sun goes down. Slim pickings before that.
6) The Oxxo convenience store lights up the street and is the usual collection of unhealthy food and sugary drinks. They’ll recharge your Mexican prepaid phone though if you have one (so will Super Voy in the station) and it’s good for snacks on the way. There’s also a pharmacy next door.
7) ETN and Primera Plus give you a drink and snack when boarding, but neither has a lounge at this station. You need to be on Futura or Pacifico for that and buy an upper-class ticket. Electrical outlets are really hard to find though, so use one at the internet cafe or restaurant if you need to recharge before the ride.