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Destination similar to Puerto Vallarta

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Hi,

I travelled in march 2014 to Puerto Vallarta and stayed directly in the old town part of the city... It was a great vacation for me because the city was directly on the sea which I love, but I could wander around with tons of restaurants, shopping, malecon, sightseeing, etc. I also went by bus to the more modern section around the Vallarta shopping mall and Walmart section... And I even did a few easy cheap day trips by bus to Sayulita and Boca de Tomatlan which I both enjoyed... I always felt safe.

I'm trying to find a destination similar to Puerto Vallarta but not necessarily in Mexico... I know that there's Playa del Carmen which from what I read is more "Americanised" and feels less Mexican than Puerto Vallarta, but still offers interesting walks, beach/sea feel, restaurants, and interesting excursions such as the Mayan ruins... One day I will definitely go, but I'm trying to find another new country than Mexico for this time...

I know that places in the USA on the east coast such as in Florida can offer such experiences, but coming from Canada what I liked about Puerto Vallarta is that it was still a little bit exotic with the different architecture of the houses, cobbled streets, you feel that you are somewhere different than Canada/USA...

What destinations that you've been give a similar experience to Puerto Vallarta and are also beautiful and picturesque, and can also offer a few easy day trips? The 2 that are coming to my mind are Cartagena and Havana... Havana intimidates me because I read that there's a lot of poverty and people bother you a lot, but not sure what to think... Cartagena seems very interesting inside the Walled City but I wonder if it's big enough to warrant a 1 week stay with some easy day trips, also if it's too expensive to eat there... What other suggestions? There's also Panama City but feels maybe less interesting, but maybe I'm underrating it...

P.S: Swimming and beaches are not necessarily must-haves, but if the destination is sea front it feels more like a "vacation" in my opinion... lol Anyways I loved my trip to Puerto Vallarta and I'm trying to have a somewhat similar relaxing but exciting exotic vacation spot somewhere in central or south America, or the Caribbean...

How would the destinations that I mentioned (Cartagena, Havana, Panama City) as well as easy day trips from there compare to the Puerto Vallarta area, and what other suggestions do you have? Thanks!!!!

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