Puerto Vallarta airport
The Puerto Vallarta Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PRV) is a small two runway airport with no terminals. Upon arrival you will be dumped out on to the tarmac and then have to walk to the airport concourse. Once on the tarmac there will be airport personal there to direct you to the proper doors for entry. Inside you will will first be met by Airport staff who will inspect, in detail, your Tourist Permit. If you are missing any detail, they will have you complete it on the spot. There is nothing to write on, making this pretty awkward, so we recommend you take care when filling them out on the plane.
After your your Tourist Permit is inspected, you will continue forward where you will run into lines queueing you into Customs. Here you’ll need to produce your passport and Mexican Tourist Permit and then proceed.
After Customs, it’s on to the Mexican version of the TSA. Here you put your luggage and bags onto a conveyor belt for scanning. After you grab your bags off the conveyor belt you will be met with a security officer, a large metal button and a stop light. Your job is to push the big button, which is attached to that stop light. Once you do that, the stoplight will turn either green or red. If it turns green, you’re “good to go” and you just carry on. Should it turn red, you will be pulled aside and searched. If it does, don’t worry – it’s completely random and just the luck of the draw.
After you pass through security you’ll walk into a wide area where there is a currency exchange broker. This is NOT the place to exchange your money. The exchange rates here are much lower here than virtually anywhere else in town. Unless you plan to take the city bus, we recommend you exchange your money elsewhere. If you are planning to take the city bus, only exchange a couple of dollars here; the city bus costs about 65 Pesos, and it will take you into the all three of districts in town and out.
The next and last trek through the airport is the most startling to first time visitors. You’ll be tunneled through a hefty line of timeshare hawkers. We recommend keeping your head straight, your step steady and try not to acknowledge them. We’ll cover the timeshare peddlers in another episode; you will run into them at virtually EVERY TURN, especially in the high season and often when you least expect it.
After the time share hawks, you finally are out in the main lobby, you can see daylight through the glass doors, and you’re in Puerto Vallarta! But you’re still not done with the timeshare hustlers. Those people who walk up to you and ask if you are looking for a taxis … guess what? They are not gringo loving locals, they are timeshare hawkers. You’ll need no assistance to catch a cab, they are all lined up right outside those glass doors.
The local Taxis have to pay a premium for airport access, and they pass that cost on to you. Should you stay in town, this ride from the airport will be your most expensive taxi ride of your entire trip. Also you should know that there are no taxi’s that are radio dispatched and none have a taxi meter. You pay by the district of your destination, so before entering any cab you need to tell the cabbie where you are going and you will need to ask what the cost will be. Not doing so may be a big mistake. Although the taxis are not radio dispatched, they seem like they are everywhere and it’s very easy to navigate the town via Taxi.