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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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,...

Galería Indígena

  • Crafts

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

Galería Tanana

  • Crafts

The beauty of its glistening glass-bead (Czech) jewelry in iridescent and earth colors may leave you weak at the knees. Sometimes a Huichol...


  • Crafts

Near the north end of Banderas Bay, Hikuri is run by a British couple who pay asking prices to their Huichol suppliers and employ indigenous...

Jan Marie's Boutique

  • Crafts

The gift items here include small housewares and tin frames sporting Botero-style fat ladies. The classy selection of Talavera pottery...

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Farmers' Market

  • Crafts

This is arguably the best farmers' market in the whole Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit region. It offers a balanced combination of good...

La Hamaca

  • Crafts

The inventory of folk art and utilitarian handicrafts is large, and each piece is unique. Scoop up masks and pottery from Michoacán,...

Lucy's CuCú Cabana

  • Crafts

At this very small shop you can buy inexpensive, one-of-a-kind folk art from Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, and elsewhere. Note that Lucy...

Mercado Isla Río Cuale

  • Crafts

Small shops and outdoor stands sell an interesting mix of wares at this informal and fun market that divides El Centro from Colonia E.

Mercado de Artesanías

  • Crafts

Flowers, piñatas, produce, and plastics share space in indoor and outdoor stands with souvenirs and lesser-quality crafts. Upstairs,...


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