Puerto Vallarta

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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  • 1. Cassandra Shaw Jewelry

    Zona Romántica | Jewelry & Watches

    It's hard to ignore the huge, chunky rings, bracelets, and necklaces here. In the back of the shop are more delicate items of pure silver set...Read More

  • 2. Galería Tanana

    Riviera Nayarit | 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...Read More

  • 3. Gallería Dante

    Zona Romántica | Art Galleries

    Classical, contemporary, and abstract works are displayed and sold in this 6,000-square-foot gallery—PV's largest—and sculpture garden. Check...Read More

  • 4. La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Farmers' Market


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

  • 5. Peyote People

    El Centro | Crafts

    Here the Huichol are treated as a people, not a product. At their downtown Vallarta shop, the owners— a Mexican-Canadian couple—are happy to...Read More

  • 6. Xocodiva

    Zona Romántica | Food/Candy

    Exquisite truffles and molded chocolates are all stylishly arranged on immaculate glass shelves at this classic Canadian chocolatier. The chocolate...Read More

  • 7. A Page in the Sun

    Zona Romántica | Books/Stationery

    Folks read books they've bought or traded at this outdoor café by the Hotel Eloisa, and there are almost always people playing chess. The large...Read More

  • 8. Alas de Aguila

    El Centro | Crafts

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

  • 9. Alfarería Tlaquepaque

    El Centro | 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 century AD...Read More

  • 10. Art Gallery Millan

    El Centro | Art Galleries

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

  • 11. ARTE 550

    El Centro | 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 her own...Read More

  • 12. Banannie Jewelry

    Riviera Nayarit | Jewelry & Watches

    With more than 17 years in Sayulita, Annie Banannie has become one of the most beloved residents in town. She's the shop owner, manager, and...Read More

  • 13. Caballito de Mar

    El Centro | Jewelry & Watches

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

  • 14. Curvas Peligrosas

    El Centro | 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 small...Read More

  • 15. D'Paola

    El Centro | Clothing

    The large and somewhat unusual selection here includes pashminas, purses, and shawls as well as lots of muslin clothing. You'll find 32 different...Read More

  • 16. D'Paola


    ...Read More

  • 17. Etnica Boutique

    Zona Romántica | Clothing

    This shop has a well-edited collection of cotton and linen dresses, shawls, purses, hats, sandals, and jewelry. A few items from Indonesia are...Read More

  • 18. Galeria Cerroblanco

    Zona Romántica | Art Galleries

    This contemporary gallery features fine pieces of jewelry, clothing, painting, and sculpture. Every artwork is from a renowned artist, such...Read More

  • 19. Galería de Ollas

    El Centro | Ceramics/Glassware

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

  • 20. Galería Em

    Marina Vallarta | Art Galleries

    This shop sells art glass, stained glass, and glass sculpture and also has a small selection of eccentric jewelry made by local artists. The...Read More

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