How to Kill Time at the Puerto Vallarta Bus Station

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.

Adios amigo!

  1. Troy

    Really enjoyed your article and find the information very valuable – Thanks!

  2. Cheryl

    What a shame that you don’t like DF. Actually, when all is considered, it’s proabably one of the cheapest capital cities to visit since most of the million museums are free on Sundays! And most of the other 10% of the museums are free on Tuesdays. ALL the parks are free. Street food is relatively cheap (though if you get food poisoning, that might cost ya a bit). And if you couch surf, well, then it’s the cheapest option available.

    • tim

      Cheryl, are you talking to me? I never said I don’t like D.F. I’ve been there several times and have written a lot of articles about it, including one that won a big travel writing award.

      I said if you arrive in Cancun or P.V., you’ll probably not be sticking around…

  3. fricho

    That Burrito does not look so good! Not sure I would try it :)

  4. Greta Jenkins

    How did the kids do in Mexico with street food? Safe?

    • tim

      My daughter has been eating Mexican street food since she was three, with no problems. The usual advice applies: busy places with hot food.

  5. bill

    Hey, Excellent ~Tim nailed it. I have a p[lace down in PV and my friends are alwys asking for these inside observations and tips. The people there are very helpful and having these tips make it all the easier. The food looked good to me.

  6. Phil D

    Great guide, although you might want to tall the parents using the ‘traditional’ metal swingpark where the nearest ER is !

    • tim

      Nah, it’s good for them to get some scrapes and bruises now and then. We’ve made their world so safe and sanitized that they never learn by trial and error anymore.

  7. Robert

    The Oxxo store a block from the bus station is stocked like a 7-11 in the US with great snacks, sandwiches, soda, etc.
    The Puerto Vallarta bus station is modern and clean, with frequent buses north, south and east.
    Avoid expensive taxi at the airport, cross over the road, and catch a local bus for about US 60 cents (in pesos). You want a bus going to Central Camionera or Central Autobus (autoBOOS) Terminal.
    It is too far to walk from the airport to the bus station.
    Robert Berryhill, author of Bus Across Mexico

    • tim

      Well I beg to differ on the “modern and clean” part, but otherwise spot on.

  8. Robert Berryhill

    Just a few comments on original post.
    “. . . buses to places an hour or more away don’t leave all that often, some just once a day.”

    This is not correct. My database of 39,814 Mexico bus schedules, largest on the web, shows Puerto Vallarta offers:

    – 69 buses a day to Mexico City
    – 38 buses a day to Guadalajara
    – 19 buses a day to Manzanillo
    – 15 buses a day to Barra de Navidad
    – 13 buses a day to Tepic which a major hub for frequent buses going to Tijuana, etc.

    The Puerto Vallarta bus station is small, but it is not rinky dink. It is a modern bus station that is kept spotless.

    I don’t agree with the comment about Puerto Vallarta: “. . . you probably won’t want to stick around there too long if you’re traveling on the cheap”

    Puerto Vallarta is not Cancun. It is a small beach town with plenty of inexpensive hotels and restaurants. After Puerto Vallarta I went to Cancun and wished I were back in Puerto Vallarta.

    Robert Berryhill, author of Bus Across Mexico, the nuts and bolts guide to Mexico bus travel.

    • Tim Leffel

      I was in Barra de Navidad and needed to return to P.V. There were three buses to choose from. One in the middle of the night.

      You are sitting at home looking at a database. I was looking at the schedules posted in the P.V. bus station—for real buses you can buy a ticket on. The number of actual trips is a fraction of what you have listed above. There’s not nearly enough demand for that many buses to anywhere. That’s just reality.

  9. Concetta Peluso

    Great information ! Do you happen to know what time the bus leaves PV for Barra de Navidad after 4 pm — thanks

  10. JRinPV

    Maybe only 3 1st class busses a day to Barra, but there are about 17 2nd class busses. It’s not a Corona ‘factory’ just a warehouse. :)
    Concetta: 1st class at 11:30pm, from my web site

    First class service to Manzanillo:
    The Flecha Amarilla – Primera Plus Line has a First Class bus at 07:45. Web Site.
    The Chiuatlan – Pacific Line runs two Primera Plus Class busses per day, one at 16:00 (4:00 pm) and at 23:30 (11:30 pm).
    Lots more second class service:
    Flecha Amarilla – Servicios Coordinatos run Second class busses at 7:00, 16:00, 19:45 22:30 23:30 and 01:30
    Cihuatlan,Pacific Line run second class buses at 05:00, 06:00, 07:30, 08:30 09:30, 11:30 12:30, 14:30, 15:30, 17:30 and 19:30
    These are all bus station times. Web Site.
    Futura – also has some busses, see Web Site.

    • Tim Leffel

      Almost none of those stop in Barra. I know, I was physically at both stations, not looking it up remotely on the internet. I asked real people who work there at the various counters, both stations. Also asked at the hotel to be sure, they gave the same answers.

  11. David Gallagher

    Thanks, Tim. You nailed it. (I’ started going to PV in the 60’s and with the ensuing growth started going to Barra. In fact, I’m there now.)
    Your information is absolutely correct.

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