The peso is Mexico's
official currency, but almost all purchases can be paid in US dollars.
Dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Puerto Vallarta, however large
bills can be difficult to break. It's a good idea to bring along plenty of
$1's, $5's, and $10's. If you go on an adventure out of the main tourist
areas it can be helpful to have some pesos
available. Before traveling to Puerto Vallarta we'd recommend you exchange
$100 dollars so you have change for taxi, tips, etc., upon
Cash and Travellers' Cheques:
It is best to exchange your money into pesos upon
arrival at your final destination. At the airport to your sharp left
are two CAMBIO (money exchanges). The rate here is usually one of the
best (as well as the easiest to find). There is a good money exchange at
the Marina Plaza, just past the airport--same mall in which MacDonald's is
located. There are money exchanges on the main street in Puerto
Vallarta and the rate seems to be quite good at each one, but seems to get
better the further you go into downtown. Please use only AMERICAN
EXPRESS travellers' cheques as others are not recognized in the area.
To exchange the rest of your travelers cheques or
cash look for the CAMBIO's either at the airport (best rate), Bucerias,
downtown Puerto Vallarta, or at the supermarkets. As the exchange rates
change frequently ask your neighbours in the complex where they are
getting the best rates.
Using your Bank Card at any BANAMEX machine will also give you a good
exchange rate. You will not find a bank machine in La Cruz yet, but there
is one in Bucerias on the main highway, near the "China Palace" store, and
there is a new Bital (bank) in Bucerias, (across the highway from the
Banamex) and many in Puerto Vallarta. Don't rely solely on your bank card
for money as the telephone/bank lines are sometimes down or busy between
Mexico and US/Canada.
Visa, MasterCard and
When you use any credit card internationally
you are charged a 1 percent fee by the Visa/MasterCard clearinghouse, no
matter what country you are in. Most people
are unaware of this fee. It is imposed at the currency exchange level as
part of the transaction. But in addition to the clearinghouse fee, some
issuers have begun to charge an additional 2 to 5 percent fee for
international credit card transactions.
There is a 5% or 6% credit card fee when you use
your credit card in Mexico. Most retailers or hotels add this into the final
price so you never notice it.
American Express charges a 2 percent fee for international
transactions with its card. Before you rely on plastic as your major means of
money while on vacation, check with your credit card company about their
international policies. In the end, you may be
paying 10% more than if you would have paid with cash.
As in other parts of the world, restaurants and gas
stations have been known to take your card in the back and make blank carbon
copies. Make sure your card does not leave your sight.
BEACH HEALTH TIPS:
The sun can be very intense in Mexico. It is best
that you use sunscreen before you even venture into the sun. A bad burn
can ruin a vacation. A hat and sunglasses are also a must for the seasoned
sun bather. It is a good idea to take an older tee shirt with you--a great
protector from the sun. If you do stain it with sunscreen, wash it
in bleach when you get home and the stains should be removed.
Sunscreen is a wonderful thing, it protects our
bodies but it harms the lounges and furniture, so please sit on a towel if
you use sunscreen.
If you do become ill with Montezuma's revenge the
very best remedy is the following recipe:
Squeeze the juice of 2 fresh limes into a glass, add
a good size pinch of salt and down like a shot. Symptoms will ease in
about an hour. If it hasn't stopped in 2 hours repeat the treatment
should feel much better by the next day. Lime will kill bacteria and
microbes in your system. It is also served with most meals, use liberally.
Always wash your hands before you eat.
As with the rest of the world, a lot of
germs travel on money. If you have been shopping or handling money,
use the rest room to wash your hands before you eat. You can also
purchase a packet of chlorinated towellettes that you can use to wash your
hands when water is not available.
Have someone watch your bag with camera and money when you are at the
beach or out dancing in a bar. If you aren't watching you never know when it will walk away, same
as in any other country. Take enough money for the day and leave all
other money at the house. The complex is very secure, but be sure to
lock the house doors when you go out.