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Is Puerto Vallarta Safe in 2023? Safety Tips for Travelers!

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Is Puerto Vallarta Safe in 2023? Safety Tips for Travelers!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, offers dazzling beaches, electric nightlife, and entrancing sunsets. But is it safe compared to the rest of Mexico? Here's everything I've dug up you should know before booking a trip there.
Grace Reveley
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Grace is a freelance travel and snowboard writer who is on a mission to travel to as many countries as possible. She is currently traveling Europe in her self-converted campervan. She loves snowboarding so is always chasing the winters, spending half the year in the mountains and the other half, by the sea.

Read more about this author

You've probably heard about how great Puerto Vallarta is.

Aside from being on Mexico's pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is known around the world as one of the best destinations in Mexico. Packed full of friendly locals, international digital nomads, and diverse travelers, Puerto Vallarta is definitely a place I'd visit over and over again.

Whether you're traveling to Puerto Vallarta for its restaurants, heart-racing water sports, or thriving nightlife, there's nothing short of things to do while you're there

Puerto Vallarta is a great, safe area for travelers. With tons of activities and great transport links, it's the perfect destination for first-time backpackers.

However, if you're here, you've must've heard about all the stories, media protrayals, and recent news revolving Mexico being a dangerous place to visit.

Is that really true, and even if so, does that also apply to Puerto Vallarta?

We'll answer the big question of whether "Puerto Vallarta is safe for travelers to visit", but before you jet off to the tropical paradise, there are a few things you need to be mindful of while you're there.

Explore what to avoid, where to stay, and the hazards to travelers before you hop on a plane!

puerto vallarta mexico
Image courtesy of Chris McQueen from Unsplash

Is Puerto Vallarta safe?

Located in the large bay called the Bay of Banderas in the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta is a hub for backpackers and tourists.

With over 5 million visitors in 2019, this area of Mexico attracts people from all over the world.

But with the millions of visitors each year, tourists are still hesitant to visit this beautiful area of Mexico. Many people want to know if Puerto Vallarta is safe before they travel.

The good news is, it is safe! It's actually one of the safest areas in Mexico. In general, exercise normal caution and follow basic local safety guidelines when you're there.

As always, you'll want to plan ahead with Pilot so you're always prepared should any deviations happen to your scheduled itinerary.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe in 2023?

Short answer is Yes!

Puerto Vallarta is consistently one of the safest place for travelers to visit in Mexico.

According to Numbeo, Puerto Vallarta's crime index is 35.6 and safety index is 64.40 (index is ranked from 0 to 100, with safety index higher the better and crime index lower the better).

One of only few issues that's ranked higher than usual is problems attributing to corruption and bribery and crimes increasing. I'd say these two issues aren't a significant concern for short-term traveler's visiting the destination.

Best time to visit Puerto Vallarta?

In general, Puerto Vallarta has amicable weather year-round. If you have to pick a time, the summer period is the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta because the weather's warm and predictable.

The best months to visit Puerto Vallarta is between the month of April and June when the weather's the most pleasent, meaning it's not too hot or cold.

Some people visit Puerto Vallarta during December to March to participate in whale watching as its the season.

Crimes & Safety Tips in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta's crime rate is very low for tourists. Most trips to this beautiful area of Mexico are incident-free. Travelers return home with huge smiles, plenty of memories, and a belly full of tacos.

One of the reasons why the crime rate is so low is because of the Mexican National Guards. They patrol the streets 24/7, 365 days a year! Not only does it make you feel safe, but their patrolling also keeps the crime rate very low.

However, there are a few things that do affect tourists in Puerto Vallarta, even with the low crime rate.

Here are a few potential issues to be aware of:


Pickpocketing isn't very common in Puerto Vallarta compared to other places in Mexico. But it does still happen.

Pickpocketers tend to target tourist hotspots: on the beach, at the airport, and bus stations.

Make sure you always keep an eye on your belongings. Another great way of stopping pickpockets and bag snatchers is having a secure bag with lockable zips and chest straps.

For precautions, i'd recommend getting a cross-shoulder bag instead of the typical shoulder bags so they're slightly harder to grab. You can also opt for a money belt worn inside of your clothes positioned in front of your belly. They're harder to reach, but also harder to steal from.

If by unfortunate circumstance you were pickpockets, you should have a game plan on how to deal with the process. If you have your phone with you, make sure to call or use your bank's app to lock your debit and credit cards.

Next, if your passport or relevant credentials are lost, I'd contact the embassy of your country to sort out a replacement right away. Credentials, especially passports, are the hardest to replace, so I recommend doing this as soon as possible.

For Americans, there is a Consular Agency right in the city of Puerto Vallarta.

Non-Registered Taxis

If you can avoid using non-registered taxis, then do!

Make sure you either catch an uber or an official taxi to travel around the local area. This will reduce your chance of paying high prices for short journeys.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have a ride when you arrive at the airport for pickup. You'll avoid harrassment from different non-registered taxis asking you if you need their services.

Public Transportation

I'd also generally avoid riding the public transportation, if at all. While that's not much of a concern at Puerto Vallerta, that's just something I do at most places.

Putting my own personal preference aside, public transportation is safe in the city! Busses in Puerto Vallarta run on loops from 5AM to 11PM, with most if not all bus terminals at Plaza Lazaro Cardenas.

Water taxis are also super convenient to take if you're headed to somewhere along the coastlines. These water taxis start at the Playa de Los Muertos pier and make stops at Yelapa, Playa de las Animas, and Quimixto.

Make sure to be aware and cautious of your surroundings when taking public transportation. Bus fares are one-way tickets, so make sure you have the right tickets as they often do random inspections onboard.

Natural Disasters

Like Cancun, Tulum, and other areas in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta can be prone to natural disasters.

Hurricanes and flooding are likely to happen between June and October. However, this type of weather is rare if you travel outside of these times. Puerto Vallarta is also often shielded by the Sierra Madre mountains so storms often has less of a punch if they ever do land in Puerto Vallarta.

puerto vallarta boardwalk
Image courtesy of Nicole Herrero from Unsplash

Tap Water

If you're traveling to Puerto Vallarta, make sure you avoid drinking tap water. It can make you ill while traveling.

A simple solution is to buy bottled water from your hotel or local supermarket. If you're staying at a hotel, they'll most likely provide these free of charge. If you're trying to travel more sustainably, why not buy a water filter and a water bottle to store and purify your water as you travel?


Like in any other popular tourist destination, some people will try to sell you fake attraction tickets. And unfortunately, this often happens to tourists.

Ensure you're always buying tickets from reputable sellers or purchasing local tours in advance. If you're buying locally, check if the vendors have brochures and posters of the activity you want to buy. This is a great sign that they're legit.


In terms of violent crimes, there's very few incidences and definitely not something traveler's need to worry about. They're usually incidences that do not concern travelers as long as you're respectful and mindful of others.

Cartel violence is often mentioned in the headlines, but in reality, cartel events rarely occur in Puerto Vallarta. That's why many international visitors prefer this Mexican destination over others!

Petty theft other than pickpocketing are generally common, especially in touristy areas. This is because there's high police presence during the day and night, and they're generally very easy to spot.

For precautions, I'd recommend avoid walking alone at night, especially if you're a women or drunk. Plan your outings in advance so you know your way back.

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for the LGBTQ+ Community?

Puerto Vallarta has been recognized as a safe community for LGBTQ+ travelers.

With a welcoming and accepting approach to travelers, this tiny part of Mexico has won many awards within the LGBTQ+ community for being a safe and vibrant place to vacation.

You'll find that in Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone), there's tons of LGBTQ+ clubs and bars, along with tons of museums, gallaries, and boutique stores. It's truly a safe place for the LGBTQ community to walk around and have fun!

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

The simple answer is yes. This tourist hotspot welcomes many different types of travelers with open arms. There are many travelers on solo adventures visiting Puerto Vallarta, which makes it a great place to meet people.

Thanks to Mexican National Guards patrolling the streets, many female solo travelers explore this area at night safely. However, make sure you avoid leaving the tourist areas and stick to well-lit streets!

Even though traveling in Puerto Vallarta is safe, make sure you don't forget to use common sense. Avoid putting yourself in harm's way, and make sure you buddy up with other solo travelers you can trust.

women in puerto vallarta
Image courtesy of Alonso Reyes from Unsplash

Safe Places to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

This city has great accommodation options. From buzzing hostels to relaxing all-inclusive resorts, there's a place with your name on it.

But some areas are safer than others:

  • Downtown: The best area to stay on a budget.
  • Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone/Old Town): The best area to stay for first-time visitors.
  • Zona Hotelera: The best area to stay for all-inclusive vacations
  • Conchas Chinas: The best area to stay for groups of friends

What Should you Avoid in Puerto Vallarta?

Avoid Swimming in No-Swim Zone Areas

The currents and tides in this city can be very strong. Luckily the lifeguards mark out the safe spaces to swim. So keep an eye out for their flags on the beach.

If you stick to these safe marked areas, you're sure to cool down peacefully from the hot Mexican sun.

Avoid Mosquitos

These little insects will be a real pain in the butt if you don't use good mosquito spray! Make sure you spray yourself before leaving for a night out to avoid getting bitten!

Avoid Exchanging Currency in Puerto Vallarta

If you want to avoid hefty charges, make sure you do all your currency exchange before you fly.

For some banks, you're able to order Mexican Pesos and have them delivered to you before you go on your trip.

I'd generally also avoid buying currency at the international airport, as they charge crazy expensive conversion or processing rates. Oh, avoid atms if possible, as they also charge high processing rates.

Mexican Peso Currency

Avoid Drugs

This one is simple, avoid them! You can endanger yourself, your mates, and the locals.

Also, more often than not people forget about their drugs and unknowingly bring them back home. While it seems like a far fetched story, it's happened way too often in the past.

Make sure to check your belongings and not have anyone touch or pack it for you when you're traveling!

Avoid Temporary Tattoos on the Beach

You may be tempted to get a cool temporary tattoo when you're relaxing down at the beach. As tempting as they look, make sure you avoid them!

Lots of tourists have had severe reactions to tattoos that resulted in hospitalizations. Now, that's not a good way to end your vacation.

So, is Puerto Vallarta Worth it?

Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest cities in Mexico. With its low crime rate and friendly locals, millions of travelers visit this gorgeous city without any issues.

That being said, don't let all your common sense fly out of the window. Make sure you save this blog for later so you can refresh your memory before you travel!

By staying in safe tourist areas, avoiding scams, and staying clear of drugs, you can have a trip packed full of fun activities and new friends! You could be tasting the wolds best tequila, snorkeling with amazing marine life, and partying the night away. Sounds good, right?

So get those bags packed, book a plane ticket and head off to the beautiful area of Puerto Vallarta with confidence.

puerto vallarta beach
Image courtesy of Tyson Downs from Unsplash

Safest Neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta

While Puerto Vallarta is already by itself the safest city in Mexico, there are certain hotspots around town that you should definitely visit.

Romantic Zone

Also known as Zona Romántica, this neighborhood is filled with colorful and contemporary museums, art gallaries, restaurants, and streets filled with small cool shops to buy souvenirs in.

If treasure hunting is something you'll be interested in, check out the flea market! It's full of Mexican textiles, clothings, dinnerware, and more!

If you're headed there, make sure you're aware of your surroundings and keep your bags close to you.

Hotel Zone

In the Hotel Zone, you'll find all of the all-inclusive resorts, luxury hotels, as well as shopping centers and condo buildings the expat community likes living in.

If you're living in this zone and you want to explore outside of your resort, check out La Isla Mall! It's full of designer shops, cinema, and general stores to shop at.

Marina Vallarta

Marina Vallarta, being super close the airport, is actually one of the first neighborhoods that was established as an alternative to popular tourist destinations like Cancun. Here, you'll find yourself in a high-end comunity, filled with luxury yachts and boats at the piers.

Nuevo Vallarta

Nuevo Vallarta is also where a lot of the all-inclusive resorts are, with prominent features like golf courses, marinas, and the white sandy beaches.

Some people actually prefer Nuevo Vallarta over Puerto Vallarta as the latter is becoming more and more popular and crowded with tourists.

While not technically part of Puerto Vallarta, it's also an incredibly safe neighborhood with tons of private beaches sitting on the Banderas Bay.

Beaches of Nuevo Vallarta
Photo by Ty Downs on Unsplash

Fiesta, Siesta, Tequila, Repeat!

Now that you know Puerto Vallarta is safe for every type of traveler, it's time to plan your trip. But where to start? That's where Pilot comes in.

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Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!

Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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Grace Reveley
linkedin logolink to website iconInstagram logo

Grace is a freelance travel and snowboard writer who is on a mission to travel to as many countries as possible. She is currently traveling Europe in her self-converted campervan. She loves snowboarding so is always chasing the winters, spending half the year in the mountains and the other half, by the sea.

Read more about this author
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