There are three types of taxis in Puerto Vallarta. The first type is a regular taxi cab (Yellow with a white roof). These taxis start at $50 MXN and can hold up to four passengers.
The second type is a taxi van or large SUV. These vans can hold up to eight passengers but usually cost twice as much as a regular taxi cab. When you’re traveling in a large group, remember that it can sometimes be faster (pretty much always be faster) to take two separate cabs than it can be to wait for a large van.
The third type is the Federal or “Federales” Taxi. Federal taxis are the only ones allowed to take people from the airport. You will notice that there are no yellow taxis in the arrival zone. The federal taxis (typically all white) have set fees for each zone. A set fee to Old Town would be about $300 MX. After getting through customs you need to purchase a ticket from a taxi booth and step outside, where you will be escorted to your taxi.
Airport taxi rates and Nuevo Vallarta taxis may be slightly higher due to taxes and fees that the authorities charge. Next to UBER Taxis are the second easiest way to get around town. Taxis are not metered in Puerto Vallarta, instead, they charge by zone. I overheard someone suggesting that all the fares are negotiable - not really. Cab drivers use the zone system for pricing, they can be unscrupulous and overcharge you (often called stupid Gringo Tax) and then negotiate down, but that's hardly a true negotiation. Using the Puerto Vallarta taxi zone map above, click on a taxi zone or location for more information. The best idea (aside from UBER) is to verify with your driver the exact location and rate. Taxis can take you as far south as Boca de Tomatlán and as far north as Sayulita.
From the Airport: You can save a few pesos and not use the Federal (all white) taxis. You have to leave the airport property, cross over a pedestrian bridge to take a local taxi (yellow with white roof). It’s not that much of a hike but depends on the amount of luggage that you are dragging with you and how freaking hot it is. The cost would be approximately 2/3 of the zone rate.
When you are coming back to the airport after your trip, you can only take a local taxi (federal taxis are not allowed to take people to the airport). From Old Town, the return to airport fare will be $180 MX. Again, it's best to confirm the fare with the driver before you get in.
Some sample rates: Airport to Hotel Zone $100 MXN; WallMart to Malecon $70 MXN; Hotel Zone to Old Town $80 MXN; Old Town to Airport $120 MXN.
Taxi drivers prefer to be paid in Mexican Pesos. Try to avoid paying in large bills or paying with other currencies if possible – if a taxi driver doesn’t have change, he will expect to be paid even if it means you unintentionally give him a very large tip! This is one of the reasons UBER exists. You would think that if you only have ONE JOB – you might want to be prepared with some change for the whole day?
Tipping is not required, but if a taxi driver goes above and beyond, such as carrying your groceries to your door, then it is recommended.
*Taxi rates, locations, and the taxi zones map are subject to change without notice.