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. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Huarachería Fabiola

    Zona Romántica | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Longtime visitors to Puerto Vallarta will remember this shop. Buy huaraches off the rack or order custom sandals for men or women. Most styles...Read More

  • 8. La Bohemia

    Zona Romántica | Clothing

    Some of the elegant clothing sold here was designed by the equally elegant owner, Toody. You'll find unique jewelry, accessories, and the San...Read More

  • 9. Lucy's CuCú Cabana

    Zona Romántica | 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 closes...Read More

  • 10. Mundo de Azulejos

    Zona Romántica | Ceramics/Glassware

    Buy machine- or handmade tiles starting at about 13 pesos ($1) each at this large shop. You can get mosaic tile scenes (or order your own design...Read More

  • 11. Mundo de Cristal

    Zona Romántica | Crafts

    Come for the glassware from Jalisco and Guanajuato states, in sets or individual pieces. Also available are Talavera place settings and platters...Read More

  • 12. Mundo de Pewter

    Zona Romántica | Crafts

    Relatives of the owners of Mundo de Cristal and Mundo de Azulejos own this shop. Attractive, lead-free items in modern and traditional designs...Read More

  • 13. Myskova Beachwear Boutique

    Zona Romántica | Clothing

    This boutique has its own extensive line of sexy bikinis, plus cover-ups, yoga pants, and some items for children (sunglasses, bathing suits...Read More

  • 14. Myskova Beachwear Boutique Malecón

    El Centro | Clothing

    ...Read More

  • 15. Ponciana

    Zona Romántica | Household Items/Furniture

    You can find things here that you won't find at other stores, like porcelain replicas of antique dolls or an old reliquary transformed into...Read More

  • 16. Rebeca's

    Zona Romántica | Clothing

    You can browse through the large selection of beachwear here daily until late. Look for shorts, pseudo-Speedos, and swimming trunks for men...Read More

  • 17. Serafina

    Zona Romántica | Clothing

    This is the place to go for over-the-top ethnic clothing; stamped leather purses from Guadalajara; belt buckles from San Miguel; and clunky...Read More

  • 18. Sirenas

    Zona Romántica | Clothing

    Affiliated with Serafina and geared to women with eclectic tastes, this shop sells chic, unusual, and exuberant fantasy jewelry made by creative...Read More

  • 19. Talavera Etc.

    Zona Romántica | Ceramics/Glassware

    Here you can buy reproductions of tiles from Puebla churches and small gift items or choose made-to-order pieces from the catalog. Note that...Read More

  • 20. Gutiérrez Rizo

    Col. E. Zapata | Convenience/General Stores

    The most convenient market to the Romantic Zone has an ample liquor section, American-brand cereals, canned food, condiments, and ground-to...Read More

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