Safety in Puerto Vallarta
In 2006 President Felipe Calderon took office and made cleaning up corruption in the police force a priority for his administration. He raised the salaries of all law enforcement officers and completed a national police corruption investigation that resulted in the firing of over 1,000 officers. Police corruption in other areas of Mexico remains an issue, but in the two decades we’ve been vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, we’ve never ever had one run in with the police. The city managers are well aware of the importance of tourism to the economy and they seem to go out of their way to make sure we feel safe and secure during our vacations.
The idea of Mexican highway Banditos running foreigners off the road at gun point is not based in reality. The root of the fear comes from the 1948 movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, set in 1925 when “Banditos” were prevalent throughout all of North America. Although the bad rap lingers, the fact is that the main roads and highways of Mexico are not much different than in United States and Canada. That said, you should use common sense, be aware of your surroundings and don’t drive at night.
The water in Puerto Vallarta: Is the water safe to drink in Puerto Vallarta
Typically the worst thing to come from drinking “iffy” tap water is common diarrhea (also known as “Montezuma’s Revenge”). Should you suffer from it, buy some Pepto-Bismol and make sure to drink lots of bottled water. And of course, see a doctor if it continues.
The Sun in Puerto Vallarta
Breaking News: Gringos burn in the sun! Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful beach town and chances are you’re there to enjoy it, which means you’ll be in the sun.
Many of us travel to Puerto Vallarta to escape our winters, just when our bodies are least prepared for all of the sun. Sunscreen can be found at most convenience stores, and there are several drugstores around town that will usually have a larger selection.
Drug Cartel Violence in Puerto Vallarta
To understand the Mexican drug war we need to understand a bit about Mexican society and its politics. For decades, Mexico was run by one political party: the PRI. That changed in 2006 with the election of President Felipe Calderon from the opposing PAN party.
Widespread political graft and corruption is no secret to Mexican society. Motivated in part by low pay, government and law enforcement officials have long supplemented their wages with a wide range of graft, and for decades the drug cartels enjoyed the cover of a dependable political system ripe with graft from which to thrive, and thrive they did.
In 2007 when political power shifted parties it completely disrupted the previously well greased networks and violence quickly skyrocketed out of control. This prompted the new President into an all out war against the growingly violent drug cartels.
We think the most important thing for a tourist to understand is that, for the most part, this is a fight between rival cartels for the control over shipping lanes known as a “Plazas”. Although the police and military are occasionally targeted, it is rare and when it does happen it is often attributed to officials who were assumed to be aligned with a rival cartel. In addition, journalists who “report too much information” have also been targeted.
Mexico is a huge country and the vast majority of the violence is taking place on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexican border, but it certainly is not limited to the border regions. 2011 brought an onslaught of new regional violence to both the Northeastern Mexican Gulf Coast and the Northwestern Gulf of California. While there has been no targeting of tourists to date, tourist areas have seen some drug cartel violence, especially in the formerly popular resort cities of Acapulco and Mazatlán.
Puerto Vallarta has not completely escaped drug cartel violence, but it has for the most part remained a relative sanctuary from the violence that is spreading across the rest of Mexico. Compared to worldwide cities of the same size, Puerto Vallarta violent crime rate remains extremely low. Puerto Vallarta maintains a small town ambiance and the underlying feeling of safety that comes along with it.
Staying Healthy in Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Naturally, staying physically healthy on your vacation is high priority! Two things you should know are:
1) Your health insurance (without a supplement plan) will usually not cover you in Mexico, and neither will Medicare or Medicaid.
2) There are modern public and private hospitals with Emergency rooms. The private hospitals are better funded, better equipped, and less crowded than their public counterparts, yet still cost less than their U.S. equivalent; public hospitals are sometimes cheaper than your co-pay back home! Payments at either must be paid in advance of treatment.
The Timeshare Hawks of Puerto Vallarta
One thing that could taint your Puerto Vallarta vacation is the onslaught of timeshare hawkers. They are completely unavoidable, from your few first steps into the airport all the way into your hotel’s lobby.
When dealing with them, the best thing to do is ignore them or politely say that you’re not interested with a polite “no gracias”. Should they persist, then being firm with them is perfectly in order, as some can be quite persistent.
Sometimes a friendly stranger that starts up a conversation with you may be softening you up for a Time Share pitch, unfortunately. This happens a lot during the busy season (winter), but there are a few signs that your new friend is actually a timeshare hawker. For example, if a stranger asks if you and your partner are married, how much you make or how old you are, you may be a potential customer! Time share businesses usually have some potential customer requirements, such as married couples, household income of $40,000 or above, and at least 21 years old.
Emergency Services in Puerto Vallarta
The police and important phone numbers:
In Puerto Vallarta, the emergency phone number: 060. However, for non-emergencies, the phone number for the police is 221-2588 or 233-2500.
The fire department can be reached at 293-1712.
In case of any medical emergency, you can contact the intensive care ambulance at 225-0386 or 222-1533. Puerto Vallarta’s air ambulance can be contacted through 221-2200 or 221-2201. The air ambulance also has a toll free number in Mexico, 01-800-930-2600.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your travel and stay in Puerto Vallarta, you can go to the Puerto Vallarta Tourist Office, found in downtown Puerto Vallarta, at the Presidencia Municipal building. Their telephone number is 222-0242.
San Javier Hospital
Red Cross Ambulance Service
Motor Vehicle Department
225-0000 / 225-0018
Immigration Office (airport)
01(800)90-392 ext 230 / 232
222-0069 / 223-0074
01 (333) 826-5553
222-5398 / 223-0858
01 (800) 706-2900
APA – Animal Protection Ass’n – Dr. Tlacaelel
City Hall Pick-up of wounded animals, cell: (Dr. Armando Rubio)
044 322 330 36091
Friends of the Animals
Ministerio Publico #4
200 Guerrero #104 Downtown