Puerto Vallarta Shopping

It's hard to decide which is more satisfying: shopping in Puerto Vallarta, or feasting at its glorious restaurants. There are enough of both to keep a bon vivant busy for weeks. But while gourmands return home with enlarged waistlines, gluttonous shoppers need an extra suitcase for the material booty they bring home.

Puerto Vallarta's highest concentration of shops and restaurants shares

the same prime real estate: El Centro. But as construction of hotels, time-shares, condos, and private mansions marches implacably north up the bay, new specialty stores and gourmet groceries follow the gravy train. To the south, the Costalegre is made up primarily of modest seaside towns and self-contained luxury resorts, and shopping opportunities are rare.

More than a half-dozen malls line "the airport road," Boulevard Francisco M. Ascencio, which connects downtown with the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta. There you'll find folk art, resort clothing, and home furnishing stores amid supermarkets, and in some cases bars and banks. Galerías Vallarta is the largest of these shopping malls and by far the most sophisticated. Here you will find some of the most exclusive boutiques in town, an ultra-modern gym, stylish beauty salon, a casino, a food court, and a movie theater complex.

A 15% value-added tax (locally called IVA, officially the impuesto al valor agregado) is levied on most larger purchases. (Note that it's often included in the price, and it's usually disregarded entirely by market vendors.) As a foreign visitor, you can reclaim this 15% by filling out paperwork at a kiosk in the Puerto Vallarta airport and other major airports around the country. That said, most visitors find the system tedious and unrewarding and avoid it altogether. You must make purchases at approved stores and businesses, and your merchandise must total $115 or more. Even if you plan to pay with cash or a debit card, you must present a credit card at the time of purchase and obtain a receipt and an official refund form from the merchant. Tax paid on meals and lodgings won't be refunded.

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Puerto Vallarta Shopping

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  • Fodor's Choice

ARTE 550

  • Art Galleries

Wonderful ceramic pieces and sculptures are found at this shop a few blocks in from the malecón. Co-owner/artist Patricia Gawle digs...

Alas de Aguila

  • Crafts

In addition to pewter there's a wide selection of Talavera-style objects—from soap holders and liquid-soap dispensers to pitchers,...

Alfarería Tlaquepaque

  • Ceramics/Glassware

This is a large store with a ton of red-clay items traditional to the area—in fact, their predecessors were crafted before the 1st...

Art Gallery Millan

  • Art Galleries

A breath of fresh air in the gallery scene, Millan has cheeky oils by Eduardo Eguía, sculpture by Benito Arciniegas, and affordable,...

Caballito de Mar

  • Jewelry/Accessories

Lynn Auch and Carol Simonton own and operate this small store. At the heart of the collection of vintage and antique silver jewelry are...

Curvas Peligrosas

  • Clothing

Here it's all about beachwear, particularly nice bathing suits. The emphasis is on plus sizes, but you can find some items that are as...


  • Clothing

The large and somewhat unusual selection here includes pashminas, purses, and shawls as well as lots of muslin clothing. You'll find...

Galería Indígena

  • Crafts

The assortment of handicrafts here is huge: Huichol yarn paintings and beaded bowls and statuettes, real Talavera ceramics from Puebla,...

Galería Pacífico

  • Art Galleries

Open since 1987, Pacífico features the sculpture of Ramiz Barquet, who created the bronze Nostalgia piece on the malecón. Brewster...

Galería de Ollas

  • Ceramics/Glassware

The 300 or so potters from the village of Juan Mata Ortiz add their touches to the intensely—sometimes hypnotically—geometric designs...