13 Free Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta - (2023)

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As a touristy city, you might think that everything in Puerto Vallarta comes with a price tag attached to it. But that’s not true at all! There are many free things to do in Puerto Vallarta, from gorgeous coastal hikes to guided city walks.

Mexico is already an affordable country to visit, but you can save even more money when you take advantage of these free activities in Puerto Vallarta.

If you’re looking to save some cash on your next trip to Puerto Vallarta, check out these fun and affordable things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta for free

Stroll the Malecon

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This is a Puerto Vallarta activity that never gets old. The Malecon (oceanfront promenade) is the stretch of boardwalk which runs for about 1 mile along the water. It’s always busy and entertaining for people watching.

Along the Malecon, you’ll pass by shops, art installations, statues, street performances, restaurants, beaches, and more.

On the boardwalk’s north end, you can catch the free Voladores de Papantla show.

Every half-hour, they perform a pre-Hispanic ritual that involves four men attached by ropes swinging upside down from a 20m pole. It’s impressive to watch! While the show is free to watch, they do welcome tips.

On the other end (south), you can often catch free concerts and performances at theLos Arcosamphitheater.

If you get hungry (or thirsty) while walking along the Malecon, stop at one of the many food vendors selling tacos and margaritas for $1.

Tip: If you plan to do a lot of walking around Puerto Vallarta, the best time to visit is during the winter or shoulder seasons. Otherwise, the heat will be too unbearable!

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Hike the Cerro de la Cruz Lookout

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If you’re looking to get some exercise while in Puerto Vallarta, take a walk up the Cerro De La Cruz lookout for what is easily one of the city’s best views. It’s completely free to visit – you just pay in sweat.

To get there, walk from the Malecon uphill along Calle Abasolo. You’ll reach a series of stairs which you climb up to the top, where there’s an observation deck with stunning panoramic views of downtown Vallarta and the surrounding Banderas Bay.

Tip: Go at sunrise or sunset for an even more incredible view. It’s also much cooler at these times – if you go during the day, you’ll be drenched in sweat.

Watch the sunset

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Mother nature puts on one of the best shows in Puerto Vallarta every night, and it’s completely free to watch!

The sunsets on the Pacific Coast of Mexico are fantastic, and Puerto Vallarta is no exception.

There are many places to watch the sunset in Puerto Vallarta.

Head to any of the beaches to see the sunset over the pacific ocean. Playa Los Muertos is always buzzing with life, and you can enjoy a delicious cocktail while watching the sun go down. For something quieter, head further south down the coast towards Conchas Chinas.

While the beaches are great for sun set, there’s also something special about taking it from higher above and seeing the entire city.

The Cerro de la Cruz Lookout mentioned above is a great choice, as are any of the many rooftop restaurants. I love the sunsets from Barcelona Tapas while enjoying a glass of red wine!

13 Free Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta - (4)

Take a coastal hike

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One of my favorite free Puerto Vallarta activities is hiking along the gorgeous coastline. There are several secluded (and not-so-secluded beaches) that you can hike to from Boca Del Tomaltan.

To get to Boca Del Tomaltan, you can get a bus from Zona Romantica at the corner of Constitución and Basilio Badillo for $1 or take an Uber. It shouldn’t be more than $5. From Boca, there’s a trailhead that takes you to Colomitos Beach and then continues to Las Animas and Quimixto.

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Pack a picnic and chill out at Colomitos for the day – it’s free but offers a million-dollar view.

If you want more of a party atmosphere, continue for another hour to Las Animas, where you’ll find restaurants and beach bars.

If you have a lot of energy, you can even continue the trail to Quimixto, which has a nice waterfall you can swim in. If you don’t feel like hiking back, you can get a water taxi for 100 pesos (5 USD).

Hit the beach

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That’s probably one of the main reasons you came to Mexico anyway! While the beaches within the city limits aren’t spectacular, they still provide a place to tan, swim in the ocean, and catch up on your favorite book (or margarita). And they are 100% free to visit!

If you’re looking for finer sand and clearer water, head north or south of the city. You can get the bus to Sayulita or San Pancho for 2.50 USD, both of which offer nicer beaches and fabulous surf.a

Alternatively, you can hike to Colomitos or Las Animas, which are by far the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta.

Art walk

Every Wednesday evening from 6–10 pm, there’s a free art walk you can take part in Centro Puerto Vallarta.

There you can find beautiful artwork by influential national and international artists, remarkable paintings, exceptional sculptures, fine ceramics, and jewelry.

It’s free to attend and makes for a great date night in Puerto Vallarta! This year’s event runs from October 26th to June 28th, 2023.

Take photos of the street art murals

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Puerto Vallarta is home to some fantastic street art, which you can easily see while walking around on your own.

Over the last few years, dozens of colorful murals have been painted throughout Centro and Zona Romantica. Spend a few hours admiring the work and snapping some Insta-worthy pics!

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Watch the fireworks

Every night you can see a show of fireworks over the ocean that comes from the Pirate Ship. While the ship is not free to get on, the fireworks they put off every night are free to watch.

The fireworks don’t happen at the same time every night but usually, go off between 9:30–10:30 pm. The fireworks happen over the water, so stop anywhere on the Malecon to admire them or from one of Puerto Vallarta’s many rooftop bars.

Explore the markets

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One place you’ll want to check out while visiting Puerto Vallarta is Isla Rio Cuale, a traffic-free sand island between Centro and Zone Romantica where you can find shaded trees, riverside restaurants, cafes, and a flea market selling everything you could ever want.

The market is on every day from day to night and is a great place to buy souvenirs. It’s free to look at, and you can negotiate great deals here.

Another market worth checking out in Puerto Vallarta is the Old Town Farmer’s Market which happens every Saturday at Lázaro Cárdenas Park. There you can find local produce, handicrafts, and delicious snacks.

Free walking tour Puerto Vallarta

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If you want to learn a bit more about the city of Puerto Vallarta, including its culture and history, then join a free walking tour with a knowledgeable guide!

Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, you can join a 2-hour walking tour sponsored by the Municipal Tourism Office and led by a certified guide.

The tour takes you on a lively stroll through the streets of Puerto Vallarta’s historic downtown, covering information about Vallarta’s architecture, culture, history, famous people so much more.

The meeting point for the walking tour is downtown (Centro) at the Municipal Tourism Office in the Old City Hall building, across the street from the north side of the Main Square and a half-block west of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

There’s also a free Malecon Sculpture Walking Tour in downtown Puerto Vallarta every Tuesday morning from mid-November through mid-April, run by a gallery owner.

The tour begins promptly at 9:30 am at the north end of the Malecon in front of the Millennium sculpture, next to the Hotel Rosita.

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Look for humpback whales from the shore

If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta during whale watching season (it usually begins in December and ends by March), don’t miss the chance to see a humpback whale!

There are many whale watching tours to take you to see these magnificent giants up close, but you can also spot them from the shore

Head to any beach or rooftop restaurant and keep your eyes peeled for breaches and tail flips. They are quite the performers!

Take a walk through the neighborhoods

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As Puerto Vallarta continues to grow in popularity, so do the neighborhoods. Take some time to explore each one as they each have their own personality and unique charm.

Zona Romantica, also known as Old Town, is the official gaybourhood and heart of the LGBTQ+ scene in Puerto Vallarta. It’s always a party here, and you can find countless fun bars to dance the night away.

The Romantic Zona is also a great place to explore during the day, with many cute boutique shops and cafes. I’m a big fan of A Page In The Sun, which has extensive bookshelves of books you can read in a comfortable atmosphere.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely want to check out Versalles. This neighborhood is quickly growing as one of the most liveable for digital nomads, and it seems a new restaurant is popping up each week. You can get everything from the Caribbean to Greek here!

Practice your salsa

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If you’re traveling through Latin America, you may want to learn salsa because you’ll find this fun dance everywhere you go. A great place to learn and practice is La Bodeguita del Media, a colorful Cuban-style car in the city center.

They offer free salsa classes at 7 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is a fun way to meet people and burn off some of those vacation calories.

Then, once you feel confident, you can come back any night to practice your moves! There are always people there looking for dance partners.

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FAQs

How much cash do you need in Puerto Vallarta? ›

How much money will you need for your trip to Puerto Vallarta? You should plan to spend around M$1,527 ($76) per day on your vacation in Puerto Vallarta, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.

What is the nicest part of Puerto Vallarta? ›

The nicest part of Puerto Vallarta is Zona Romantic, or the Romantic Zone, where many of the best restaurants, boutiques, and attractions are located. With that said, Puerto Vallarta has many nice parts, with other nice areas including Conchas Chinas, Centro Puerto Vallarta, and Marina Vallarta.

What else is there to do in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta Highlights

Walk from Los Muertos beach to Conchas Chinas, the beautiful deserted beach north of Puerto Vallarta. It's an easy short walk through small bays and boulders. Enjoy the local street food. Join one of the snorkeling tours mentioned below.

Do you tip waiters in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Almost all servers make minimum wage in Mexico (about $5 USD per day…that's right…. not per hour, per day), so you do right by these people and tip your server in Puerto Vallarta. For breakfast and lunch, or in a super casual place, 15% of the total bill is about right. For dinner and fine dining, 20%.

Can you brush your teeth with the water in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Puerto Vallarta's tap water has been declared potable for over 15 years and while you can use it to brush your teeth and for cooking, we do recommend that you drink bottled water.

What is the best month to go to Puerto Vallarta? ›

The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is between April and June when the weather is pleasant and the room rates are affordable. During these months, rain is scarce and there are fewer tourists compared to the winter high season. If you're interested in whale watching, however, visit from December to March.

What is Puerto Vallarta most known for? ›

Known for its spectacular beaches, marine life, water sports, and local resorts, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.

Can you walk along the beach in Puerto Vallarta? ›

One of the most sought-after areas of Banderas Bay is located on the southern edge of Old Town Vallarta. You can walk all the way to Los Muertos and Old Town Vallarta along the beach. There is a a well-marked path that takes you up and over a cliff.

How much money should I bring for a week in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Travelers can expect to pay roughly $1,500 for a weeklong vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Families should bump that price to around $4,800, including lodging, meals, and activities. You can find a whole range of different accommodation prices in Puerto Vallarta, from about $10 per night to $300 per night.

What kind of food is Puerto Vallarta known for? ›

Since Mexico is famous for its miles of coastline, it's no surprise that traditional Mexican food in Puerto Vallarta commonly features fish, octopus, and shrimp. One of the best fresh seafood dishes to try on your beach vacation is pescado zarandeado.

Is it better to use pesos or dollars in Puerto Vallarta? ›

While many establishments in the Puerto Vallarta area accept American or Canadian dollars, there's no denying that tourists can receive the best exchange rate by converting their money to pesos.

Can you drink tap water in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Not only has Puerto Vallarta's water been rated as perfectly safe for human consumption with a certificate of purity for 17 consecutive years, it is one of only two vacation destinations in the country to achieve this important distinction.

What is the number 1 dish in Mexico? ›

Tacos. Recognized as the most popular Mexican dish worldwide, the taco has become an art. Some say is the “art of eating with tortilla” and, of course, Mexicans would never deny a taco to anybody.

How much is a loaf of bread in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Cost of Living in Puerto Vallarta
RestaurantsEdit
Water (12 oz small bottle)14.42MXN
MarketsEdit
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)77.66MXN
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)29.26MXN
62 more rows

Is $5 a good tip in Mexico? ›

It's up to you how much you tip, but the recommended amount in Mexico is between 10% – 20% (15% is a good standard in tourist areas) of the bill or ticket price.

Is 20 pesos a good tip for room service? ›

Depending on the hotel class and quality of service received, you should tip the housekeeping staff from 20 to 50 pesos per night. If your room is particularly messy, tip more. It's best to tip on a daily basis and not on the last day of your stay, since it may not be the same person who cleans your room every day.

Is 20 pesos a good tip? ›

Restaurants: For good service, a 10% tip is standard. For really good service, anything between 15% and 20% is acceptable. Street food: Again, tipping is not required or expected, but it is appreciated (saying “keep the change” is sufficient). Taxis: If the driver helps with bags, 10–20 pesos is a good tip.

Can I use my cell phone in Puerto Vallarta? ›

If you want to use your phone (or an additional one that you carry with you, unlocked) with local service, you can get a SIM card with an approximate cost of $200 pesos and hire a monthly plan with the Mexican cell company that suits you best.

Can I wear shorts in Puerto Vallarta? ›

As I mentioned, Puerto Vallarta is casual, so anything goes. If you prefer, you can get away with shorts and a t-shirt at most places.

Can I drink ice in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Most all restaurants and bars use purified ice. The water in PV is also of high quality so many visitors drink it with no problem.

What is the coldest month in Puerto Vallarta? ›

The cool season lasts for 3.8 months, from December 12 to April 4, with an average daily high temperature below 82°F. The coldest month of the year in Puerto Vallarta is January, with an average low of 62°F and high of 81°F.

What time is golden hour in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Position of the sun in the sky on November 11, 2022
Time:Duration:
Sunrise07:08
Golden Hour07:08 - 07:3829 min.
Zenith12:44
Golden Hour17:51 - 18:2129 min.
7 more rows

Does it get cold at night in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Winter temperatures at Puerto Vallarta are quite comfortable with daily highs averaging 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 °C) and lows of 55 °F (13 °C). Summers are several degrees higher, as days typically heat up to 86 °F (30 °C) and nights cool off to 69 °F (21 °C).

Should I take cash to Puerto Vallarta? ›

Credit cards are accepted in Puerto Vallarta and at major hotels and restaurants in outlying areas. Smaller, less expensive restaurants and shops tend to take only cash. In general, credit cards aren't accepted in small towns and villages, except in some hotels. The most widely accepted cards are MasterCard and Visa.

How do you get to the hidden beach in Puerto Vallarta? ›

The easiest and best way to get to Hidden Beach is by boat. The boat ride from Puerto Vallarta is roughly an hour and there are several tour companies that offer full-day excursions; easily found with a bit of research beforehand.

Is Cancun or Puerto Vallarta better? ›

If you want flawless beach photos for Instagram, then Cancun is the place to be. The beaches around Puerto Vallarta are smaller and some are rockier. But there are excellent beaches in PV: Los Muertos and Playa Camarones are the most popular.

Is the water warm enough to swim in Puerto Vallarta? ›

The warmest water temperature is in August with an average around 86.5°F / 30.3°C. The coldest month is February with an average water temperature of 75°F / 23.9°C.

When can you see sea turtles in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Sea Turtle Season in Puerto Vallarta

Every year, from August to December, thousands of animal enthusiasts and curious travelers come to the shores of Puerto Vallarta to bear witness to and participate in the San Pancho turtle release.

Can you walk around with alcohol in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Aside from the fact it is illegal to walk down the street with an open container, beer is sold and consumed on the streets of Puerto Vallarta with little notice. Avoid being visibly intoxicated and you can enjoy your chilled cerveza at leisure.

How much should you tip at an all inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta? ›

At Hotels and All-Inclusive Resorts

For carrying your luggage to your hotel room, give bellhops 20 to 50 pesos (about US$1–$2) per bag, depending on how big your suitcases are and how far they had to be schlepped. Leave the same amount—20 to 50 pesos (about US$1–$2)—each day in your room for the housekeeping staff.

How much is a beer in a bar in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Prices in restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.
Meal in a cheap restaurant125 MXN (50-300)
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)40 MXN (20-50)
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)73 MXN (40-100)
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle)22 MXN (13-40)
Water (0.33 liter bottle)13 MXN (10.00-20)
5 more rows

What should I wear on vacation in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Puerto Vallarta is warm and humid, so come prepared—pack T-shirts and plenty of tank tops to stay comfortable on outdoor adventures on land and during shopping and strolls. Pack a few nicer shirts for dinner, and more casual shirts than you think you'll need so you can change if you get sweaty.

Are there Jaguars in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Over 350 species of birds call the jungle home, as well as countless other species of animals including iguanas, monkeys, jaguar, armadillos, ocelots and more.

Is English widely spoken in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Spanish is the primary language spoken, but many people – especially those who work in the tourist zone – speak English. It may be both helpful and respectful to know some basic Spanish vocabulary, such as "hello" (hola), "goodbye" (adíos), "please" (por favor) and "thank you" (gracias).

What is the vibe of Puerto Vallarta? ›

"Vallarta" or P.V.

On the Pacific coast of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta combines gorgeous weather with lively nightlife, amazing food, chill beach spots, and a friendly, inclusive social scene. Explore our guides and maps of neighborhoods and cultural zones that many Puerto Vallarta special.

Is $100 worth a lot in Mexico? ›

With today's exchange rates, $100 USD is about $1,900 – $2,000 MXN. Compared to wages, $1,900 MXN is about weeks' worth of salary for most manual labor jobs outside the major cities of Mexico.

How many pesos is $50 US dollars? ›

975.12500 MXN

Do taxis take US dollars in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Puerto Vallarta taxi tips

Taxis in Puerto Vallarta don't have the machines to accept credit card payments, so be sure to carry change in Mexican Pesos with you. You can pay for your ride in USD, but this usually results in overcharging as they choose the exchange rate they wish to use.

Are there lots of mosquitoes in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Mosquitoes are a common culprit for bug bites in and around Puerto Vallarta, especially in the warmer, more humid months of the summer season.

Can I drink coffee in Puerto Vallarta? ›

There are numerous coffee houses and cafés in Puerto Vallarta where you can start your morning off with delicious coffee or tea. We have provided the top five best PV cafés that you should go to when you are visiting Puerto Vallarta.

Can you swim in ocean at Puerto Vallarta? ›

Puerto Vallarta is located on beautiful Banderas Bay where the waters are calmer than the Pacific Ocean. The bay and beaches are perfect for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. Summers have less wave action and the water is clearer.

What food is rarely eaten in Mexico? ›

6 "Mexican" Dishes No One Eats in Mexico
  • Nachos.
  • Fajitas with sour cream on the tortilla.
  • bowl of chili con carne.
  • smothered burrito.
  • queso with chips.
  • chimichanga.
22 Aug 2022

What drink is Mexico famous for? ›

Tequila. Of all the popular shots in Mexico, tequila is the most famous, and it's found behind bars all over the world. Made from fermented blue agave plants, the process of distilling tequila is strictly regulated, and only a few places in the country can produce it.

What 3 food items are originally from Mexico? ›

The three staples in the cuisine of Mexico are dishes of corn, beans and chillies (hot peppers), all present before the Spanish arrived. Corn is consumed in all possible forms, but most importantly as a tortilla (a thin, round pancake made from corn dough).

Is tipping customary in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Wait staff at restaurants, bars and other establishments in Puerto Vallarta typically provide world-class service, and should be always recognized for their efforts with a small gratuity.

Do you tip in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Almost all servers make minimum wage in Mexico (about $5 USD per day…that's right…. not per hour, per day), so you do right by these people and tip your server in Puerto Vallarta. For breakfast and lunch, or in a super casual place, 15% of the total bill is about right. For dinner and fine dining, 20%.

How much money should I take for a week in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Price Breakdown. Travelers can expect to pay roughly $1,500 for a weeklong vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Families should bump that price to around $4,800, including lodging, meals, and activities. You can find a whole range of different accommodation prices in Puerto Vallarta, from about $10 per night to $300 per night.

How much cash do you need per day in Mexico? ›

So, how much spending money should I bring to Mexico? On a mid-range budget, you should expect to spend $110 USD ($2200 MXN) per person daily. This accounts for 3 meals a day, transportation fare, and one activity per day(tours, attractions,etc.). Add $10 USD ($200 MXN) if planning to drink alcohol.

Should I bring dollars or pesos to Puerto Vallarta? ›

If you are coming to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we highly suggest you exchange your US dollars for pesos. Although most places around town do indeed accept US dollars, the exchange rate is much less favorable at these places than at a bank.

Is it better to bring pesos or USD to Puerto Vallarta? ›

It is recommended that all travelers bring Mexican pesos as well as their credit and/or debit cards to minimize any inconvenience the exchange cap at banks may cause.” Although dollars are widely accepted in resort areas, we recommend using pesos during your stay.

Is 100 dollars a lot in Mexico? ›

When it comes to the value of the US dollar in Mexico, travelers will still be happy to know that it goes quite a long way. During their visit, they can expect $100 to stretch in any direction - whether it be toward food, dining out, car rentals, excursions, or even car rentals.

How much is a Coke in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Cost of Living in Puerto Vallarta
RestaurantsEdit
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)17.75MXN
Water (12 oz small bottle)14.42MXN
MarketsEdit
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)77.64MXN
62 more rows

Is it better to use credit card or cash in Mexico? ›

Outside of a few purchases like transportation fare or local shops, a credit card will be your best bet for everyday purchases. A card that waives foreign transaction fees like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card can help you save on extraneous fees.

Is 20 dollars a big tip in Mexico? ›

Restaurants: For good service, a 10% tip is standard. For really good service, anything between 15% and 20% is acceptable. Street food: Again, tipping is not required or expected, but it is appreciated (saying “keep the change” is sufficient). Taxis: If the driver helps with bags, 10–20 pesos is a good tip.

Will my phone work in Mexico? ›

Yes, American phones will work in Mexico as long as you have international coverage included in your cell phone plan.

How much do you tip a maid in Puerto Vallarta? ›

Likewise the housekeeping staff should be tipped 2 to 3 dollars (40 to 60 pesos) daily. It is a good idea to make sure you tip housekeeping staff daily rather than at the end of your stay as you may not have the same housekeeper each day!

What do you wear to PVR? ›

Puerto Vallarta is warm and humid, so come prepared—pack T-shirts and plenty of tank tops to stay comfortable on outdoor adventures on land and during shopping and strolls. Pack a few nicer shirts for dinner, and more casual shirts than you think you'll need so you can change if you get sweaty.

Is $1 US tip good in Mexico? ›

A charge labeled “propina” on your bill is a gratuity that the restaurant includes automatically with each bill. It is not necessary to tip an additional amount. A minimum of $1-$2 U.S. (20-40 pesos) per round of drinks is customary, or if you're running a tab, leave 15-20% of the total as a tip.

Is 5 USD a good tip in Mexico? ›

Sit Down Restaurant

We would always suggest tipping a minimum of 10% at restaurants in Mexico. Check the bill and see if a service charge for gratuity was included. Several higher-end restaurants will include this on the bill. If you are ever uncertain about a charge on a bill, just ask the waiter or cashier.

Is 50 pesos a good tip in Mexico? ›

The Bellhop: 25 – 50 pesos is a standard tip for helping you to your room and with your luggage. The Concierge: Tipping 50 to 150 pesos for helpful recommendations is always appreciated. Housekeeping: A tip of 25 to 50 pesos a day for keeping your room tidy is appropriate.

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