What is the age of sexual consent in Mexico and how do I verify it?
The age of sexual consent in Mexico is 18. The common sense way is to see his or her voter registration card or credencial para votar issued by the Instututo Federal Electoral because they must be 18 to get one.
Does Puerto Vallarta have a gay beach?
The gay life is centered in the Romantic Zone, the "Zona Romantica" During the day the LGBT are in front of the hotel Blue Chairs and Mantamar Beach Club. At night, the gay life is centered at the corner of Lazaro Cardenas/Insurgentes Street. See the map here.
· Can I get married in Mexico?
Yes it is now legal to have a gay marriage in Jalisco. However, foreigners must have your birth certificate apostilled (certified) and take marriage counseling courses. That is a complex issue so please consult a qualfied wedding planner for details.
· Is Vallarta a safe place to be gay?
Sure it is. Vallarta may well be the gay capital of Mexico! The local government is accepting of gay tourists, and businesses all over the city are more than eager to welcome you! Puerto Vallarta is very accepting of gay tourists. Holding hands is fine, and a peck on the cheek or a nice kiss is not uncommon. The beach and streets, however, are not places for sex. Basically, don’t do anything in public that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.
· Traveling with Pets? Puerto Vallarta has very pet friendly with many hotels, condos and bed and breakfast places pet friendly. Please review the current information to enter/exit Mexico with your pet. The website is here
· What is this FMM thing? What if I lose it?
The FMM is your Tourist Card. You filled it out on the plane before you landed in Vallarta, and you have kept it safe and secure because you knew that you would need it when you leave Mexico. Losing your FMM is a fairly serious matter, but if that does happen, plan on going to Immigration for a replacement at least two days before your scheduled departure. You’ll need your incoming airline flight information, and boarding pass. You won't go to jail, but you definitely won't be allowed to leave Mexico without getting your FMM in order, so be sure you take care of it in advance. Or better yet, just don’t lose it.
· What if I lose my passport?
Try not to let this happen. You will need to call the police to report a lost or stolen passport, and also your country’s nearest consulate. Canada and the United States both have consulates here in Vallarta. Other nations may have consulates in Guadalajara or an embassy in Mexico City. To avoid this potential disaster, most hotels have safes either in their rooms or at the front desk.
· What do I need to come to Mexico?
Make sure your passport is current, and that it will be valid during your stay in Mexico. That’s all you need to visit paradise!
Are Prescription Medications allowed in Mexico?
It is illegal to bring into Mexico some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited. Consult the following websites for lists of controlled substances in Mexico: http://www.cofepris.gob.mx/AS/Paginas/EstupefacientesPsicotropicosYSustancias-Quimicas.aspx (check the “Lista Amarilla,” “Lista Verde,” and “Lista Roja) and http://www.aduanas-mexico.com.mx/cgi-bin/ctarnet/notas_ex/listas_cap29.html .
Individuals are advised to carry a copy of the prescription or doctor’s letter but it is still possible that you may be subject to arrest for arriving to Mexico with substances in these lists. Even medicines that are considered “over the counter” in the United States may be a controlled substance in Mexico and you can be arrested for bringing them into the country even with a prescription (for example, Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in Sudafed, is considered a controlled substance).
· What happens at Customs?
You will get off the plane and line up at customs. Have your passport ready and present your completed FMM (Tourist Card) to the customs officer. She or he will usually stamp it for 180 days. They may ask a few questions, but if your paperwork is in order, you're off to the baggage claim where your luggage is x-rayed. Once you have your bags, you head for "the light". Go ahead and punch the button. Green means go; red means you get searched. It's completely random, and nothing to be worried about. Be sensible and don't bring anything in your bags that could get you in trouble: no illegal drugs (and it might be a good idea to have prescriptions for any legal medications you are bringing) or firearms of any kind.
· What do I need to return home?
Just your FMM (Tourist Card) and your passport. There is a departure tax but almost all airlines include it in the price of your ticket, so you won’t need come up with any cash at the airport when you leave Mexico.
· What can I take back home?
That depends where you're from. Different countries have different allowances based on the number of days you have been away. Information for US travelers is here, and information for Canadian travelers is here. Do not take CUBAN cigars back home to the US, as they are illegal there. Also, many medications are much cheaper - and do not require prescriptions - in Mexico. Check on regulations restricting their importation before you return.
· What the heck is this Departure Tax?
There is an International Airport Departure tax in Mexico. It currently is in the neighborhood of US$24 and you most likely paid it when you bought your airline ticket. You probably don't need to worry about it, but if you have questions, contact the airline or your travel agent.
Your safety while in Mexico
· How close are these drug wars?
Although there are some issues in border towns, this issue does not affect Vallarta at all. FACT: Denver, Colorado is closer to the US/Mexico border than Vallarta is!
· What happens if I am robbed or arrested?
You probably have a better chance of being hit by lightning than being robbed or arrested – though it depends on how you behave. Just use common sense, and you should be fine. Puerto Vallarta is not a 'Gay Disneyland' where anything goes 24/7. Please use discretion and show respect for local customs and mores just as you would at home. In the unlikely event that you experience problems with either the police or taxi drivers, please file an online report (you do NOT need to give your name) with TAXISAFE. You should also notify the Consulate.
· Are marijuana and cocaine legal in Mexico?
Not "legal", but very small amounts for "personal use" have apparently been decriminalized to some extent. Doesn't mean you won't have problems if stopped by police, so our best advice is the same as Nancy Reagan's: "JUST SAY NO" while in Puerto Vallarta. Making a mistake can bring extreme penalties, and under Napoleonic Code you are guilty until proven innocent.
Do's and Dont's
· Public Displays of Affection
While Mexico is very conservative and Catholic, Mexicans are very accepting of gay tourists. Holding hands is fine, and a light kiss is not uncommon, but playing tonsil-hockey with Pedro on the corner isn't kosher. The beach and streets are not places for sex. Basically, do not do anything in public that you would not want your grandmother to see.
· So you've met your Latin Lover...
Be careful. First, make sure he's 18. That's the legal age here in Mexico, and he'll have his IFE federal voter card to prove it. No need to check the age, because he won't HAVE one unless he is 18. Make sure the photo matches his face! No ID? Then for your own safety just say 'adios' to the young fella.
· What is the legal age in Mexico for consenting to sex?
The legal age of majority in Mexico is 18. Anyone who is 18 will have a federal-issued voter’s card. INSIST on seeing it if you are taking him home or going to his place. The legal consequences of sleeping with a minor are not anything you want to be a part of. This is what an IFE voter card looks like:
· Can I drink on the beach or street?
Legally speaking, no. Realistically speaking, yes. You are not going to be arrested or fined for simply drinking a beer on the street or at the beach. Puerto Vallarta is a resort community and some regulations tend to be a bit more 'relaxed' for tourists. You should not drink beer out of a glass bottle while on the street, though. Simply request a plastic 'to go' cup from your bartender or waiter, and you're off and running with your beer or margarita! Open liquor here is generally not a big issue as long as you are polite and well-behaved.
· How much money should I bring?
Many places, including banks, will not accept US$100 bills here (and you'll need your passport to do it), so if you do intend on bringing cash, fifty dollar bills should be the largest you should bring. US dollars are widely accepted, but you will not get a great exchange rate at restaurants or bars or retail stores. Bringing your debit or credit card and taking money out of the bank machine will get you a better exchange rate than at the banks or money exchanges.
As for an exact amount, that's totally up to you and really depends on what you intend to do while you're here. Dinner for two can cost as little as four dollars, or as much as one hundred dollars... it depends on what your plans are. It's your vacation, so live it up a bit! We would not recommend coming here with less than US$100 per person per day.
· Credit/Debit card, or Traveler's Checks?
Traveler's Checks might be accepted at banks, but their more of a hassle than using bank cards. There are bank machines all over the place, and you'll get a better exchange rate than you will be cashing US dollar Traveler's Checks. Use bank machines located in banks, not the little, privately-run ones in convenience stores (which can have high "convenience" fees). VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted, American Express less widely and just leave your Discover card at home.
· How much should I tip?
While it is not necessary to tip taxi drivers here unless they are helping you with bags or luggage, waiters, bartenders, and other service workers should be tipped as you would at home: 15 to 20 per cent. Please keep in mind that that the average wage in Mexico is about 5 dollars per day, so every peso counts. Don't be stingy... these are great folks who are working very hard for you and really depend on your generosity to make ends meet. And remember: a coin with $1 on it isn't one dollar, it is the equivalent of about 7 American cents!
· What is IVA?
IVA (Impuesto al Valor Agregado [Value-Added Tax]) is a federal sales tax in Mexico. Currently 16%, this tax is usually included in prices at stores and restaurants. Hotels typically add this tax, and an additional 2% municipal room tax, onto your room price. You can get back some of the tax you paid while visiting if you visit the TAX BACK or YVESAM booths at the airport (check their websites first so you'll know what paperwork to bring).
Are Prescription medications ok?
Not all are. It is illegal to bring into Mexico some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited. Consult the following websites for lists of controlled substances in Mexico: http://www.cofepris.gob.mx/AS/Paginas/EstupefacientesPsicotropicosYSustancias-Quimicas.aspx (check the “Lista Amarilla,” “Lista Verde,” and “Lista Roja) and http://www.aduanas-mexico.com.mx/cgi-bin/ctarnet/notas_ex/listas_cap29.html
· What happens if I need a doctor?
Then go see a doctor! Your hotel concierge should be able to help. US or Canadian insurance isn’t going to cover you here, but an initial doctor’s visit is usually only about 400 pesos (less than forty dollars), so it’s not going to break the bank. We do advise getting travel insurance with medical coverage before your flight to Mexico.
· Can I get Viagra® without a prescription?
Yes, it’s true. Many medications can be purchased here without a prescription, and they are much cheaper than you would pay at home. However, you should check what sort of quantities you can take back home with you, and it might be advisable to bring any prescriptions you already have to the pharmacy.
· I've heard Medical Tourism is big in Mexico.
Medical facilities – several major hospitals here – are state-of-the-art and many doctors and dentists have been trained in the United States. Medical service here is quite advanced and much, much cheaper than service north of the border. Procedures like teeth whitening, Botox, cosmetic and plastic surgery are very commonly done in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico now. Each year, more and more tourists are coming here for elective procedures at affordable prices and spending their recovery time on vacation.
The gay life is centered in the Romantic Zone, the "Zona Romantica" During the day the LGBT are in front of the hotel Blue Chairs and Mantamar Beach Club. At night, the gay life is centered at the corner of Lazaro Cardenas/Insurgentes Street. See the map here.
For more than 25 years, Mexico has been top-ranked as one of the hottest destinations for LGBT travelers, with Puerto Vallarta leading the trend. Condé Nast magazine calls Vallarta “the friendliest city in the world” and it’s that warm and open atmosphere that makes the city one of the most desirable resort destinations in the world.
Located on the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Vallarta is the premiere gay beach destination, listed as the number one–and only–gay beach destination in Latin America by Travel and Leisure Magazine. And with more than 300 days of sunshine per year and only a 5°C fluctuation in average temperature between summer and winter, Vallarta offers gay and lesbian visitors from all over the world a uniquely safe, friendly and welcoming environment as well as a huge array of adventure tours and activities, haute cuisine, high-end shopping and a wild nightlife scene.
Puerto Vallarta - Activities
Whether you’re looking for a hot party scene, extreme adventures or a relaxing tropical get-away, Puerto Vallarta offers it all. World class restaurants, wild clubs and sophisticated lounges, tours and adventure activities, live theater and music, galleries, spas, shopping…the list is literally endless. Here’s just a sample of some upcoming Events.
Getting around town
· Is Vallarta safe?
You’ll feel completely safe here. Statistically, Puerto Vallarta is safer here than many US or Canadian cities. There is very little crime here and the tourist police are friendly and helpful. Use your common sense, and be careful – just as you would anywhere else. Don't parade around with fancy jewelry, don't flash big wads of cash around, stay on main streets after dark, walk with a friend or two. Thomas Dale Associates in El Segundo, California was contracted in February 2012 to do a Tourist Risk Assessment of Puerto Vallarta.
· How do I get from the airport to Old Town?
There are white airport taxis, but you will pay more than if you cross the street (there is a pedestrian bridge which crosses over the highway from the airport) and take a yellow local taxi. The rate from the airport to Old Town should not be more than about 120 pesos, so don't pay more than you should. There are no meters; rates are determined by zones. You can also take local buses which are quite fun and only cost 6.50 pesos (about 50 cents).
· Buses, Taxis & Car Rentals See our map with main bus routes.
Many car rental services are available (with offices in the airport or across the street from PVR) and buses and taxis abound. Before you take a taxi there are a always note the taxi number (generally printed on the exterior of the back seat doors) and the "sitio" number - contained within a circle on the driver's door. This will help you in the very rare chance that you encounter problems or leave something in the cab. TAXISAFE is a great resource that can take your report if you experience any problems with police or taxis.
Traveling by bus in Mexico is very inexpensive, educational and fun. You can travel pretty much anywhere on the bus for 6½ pesos – about 50 cents. Trips are one-way, and there are no transfers. Buses go to the Hotel Zone, Marina Vallarta, the airport, south to Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlán.
Puerto Vallarta – Myths & Realities
There are a lot of myths about Mexico, some perpetuated by foreign media and some just plain old urban legends. Let’s dispel a few of them:
Myth #1: It is far too dangerous to travel to Mexico right now. I'll be killed! Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2009 that Mexican tourist destinations are actuallysaferthan many in the United States.
Myth #2: The summer weather is unbearably hot in Puerto Vallarta. I'll melt! In fact, Puerto Vallarta's climate is milder than several US cities in the summer months! Believe it or not, Sacramento, California (north-east of San Francisco) is hotter on average than Puerto Vallarta during the month of July. Tourism is steadily increasing here in the summer months as people discover the pleasant reality.
Myth #3: The police will rob me and lock me up. I'm too pretty for prison! While the latter is probably true, the former is highly unlikely. There are very rare stories of people being allegedly harassed by police, but in most cases the "innocent" tourist was either drunk, purchasing drugs or behaving in some other inappropriate manner. Use common sense, and you have nothing to worry about.
Myth #4: Mexico is a Third World Country. I won't get Manhunt on internet! Oh, are you in for a surprise! Mexico's economy is changing rapidly. The country has the world's 12th largest economy, recently surpassing Canada (now #15) in Gross Domestic Product. The middle class is growing in size each year, and the modern conveniences and infrastructure you expect are abundant.
Myth #5: Mexico is a conservative, Catholic country. I'll be crucified! Puerto Vallarta is the second most popular gay travel destination in the world, and the city is extremely welcoming of its gay and lesbian visitors. Successful businesses here don't bite the hand that feeds them. There are dozens of gay-owned bars, shops and restaurants willing to welcome you with a warm smile and open arms.
General Cultural Differences
· Dining at restaurants
A waiter will not ask if you want your check, and will not bring your check until you ask for it. When you are finished, simply say "la cuenta, por favor" and it will be brought to you. Dining out in Mexico is a big event for locals, and it would be considered very rude to either rush a guest or bring their check before it is requested. So don't get angry and say "I've been sitting here for 20 minutes waiting for the check". All you have to do is ask!
· Speedos are for the beach
Mexicans consider it inappropriate to wear swimsuits on the street and other public places. Your 'banana hammock' can be modeled poolside or at the beach, but not in the lineup at the bank! Remember that you are a guest in a foreign country, so please respect local customs and standards.
• Regular Contributors
Owner, Editor, Photographer and Co-Founder
A native of Seneca South Carolina, Tim Wilson obtained a finance degree from Clemson University and spent 25 years in banking, real estate, finance and marketing. He retired to Puerto Vallarta in 2008 and co-founded GAYPV magazine in 2010. He is a member of North America Travel Journalists Association and writes articles for national and international media outlets about Puerto Vallarta, Mexico's Number 1 Gay destination. He was a founding member of Puerto Vallarta Gay Pride event and serves on the marketing steering committee.
Staff Photographer, GAYPV.COM
Nick keeps you informed and entertained by submitting articles and photography of special events in the Puerto Vallarta area and other events throughout Mexico. Originally from Palm Springs California, where he was a Broker and co-owner of California Properties, Nick was a Producer/Director for the Miss America Pageant systems (Miss Texas Telecast for 9 years) and Miss USA/Universe (Miss Texas USA Telecast for 17 years). During that time he won an Emmy® Award as Producer/Director for Best Live Telecast of a Special Event and was nominated 3 other years.
Gary W. Lichtenstein, LCSW
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Gary has been a permanent resident of Puerto Vallarta for the past 12 years. He is a licensed and Board-Certified Psychotherapist, and attended Graduate School at the University of Illinois and was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. His therapy practice included gay and sexual identity issues. Gary was Coordinator of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Critical Incident Response Team in Alaska and he has been a contributor and Editor of the Hawthorne Press Psychological Journal with extensive travel experience, including Russia, Europe and Mexico. He has been involved in Concert Promotion and Production as Director of National Student Productions. Gary is an avid baseball fan and is currently the Director of Baseball Operations for the Summer Collegiate Anchorage Bucs Baseball Club. Gary has been professionally and personally a long supporter of gay rights issues and a lifetime friend of the gay community.
A native of Washington, D.C., Ms. Selph began her professional life as a journalist both in the States and abroad. Tired of the long hours and meager pay, she opened a retail travel agency and shared her love of foreign lands with her customers. When the Internet destroyed travel agencies, she turned to real estate finding homes for her clients, as well as, renovating and selling her own properties. "I moved to Puerto Vallarta because of the society’s openness, the wonderful
Mexican people, and the weather," she said. "I've been an adjunct member of the gay community for nearly forty years. In the straight world, wives don’t like divorcees grazing with their husbands. I was a pariah, but my gay friends didn’t care." Ms. Selph has returned to writing and is now working on two novels and freelances for GAY PV magazine and the GAYPV.COM website. Now retired, she continues to travel, play bridge, and is learning to sail and speak Spanish.
After launching the premiere edition in October 2011, GAYPV, representing the Gay Point of View, quickly became Puerto Vallarta’s favorite gay magazine and ultimate LGBT lifestyle and travel directory.
It is the only gay publication / directory / magazine in Vallarta to have an official relationship with the Puerto Vallarta Convention and Visitors Bureau in promoting LGBT tourism to Puerto Vallarta.
The free publication is available at more than one hundred locations and has the largest individual print run with the widest local and international distribution of any gay publication in Mexico. And now GayPV is bringing that same concept to a national level throughout the country using our same principles:
· To educate prospective travelers about Mexico in general and Puerto Vallarta in particular.
· To encourage gay and lesbian tourism to Puerto Vallarta and other parts of Mexico by increasing distribution into Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, major Mexican airports and LGBT travel agents and community centers throughout Canada and the U.S.
· To promote diversity and understanding by establishing partnerships with other businesses and organizations who desire to work with the LGBT community.
· To strive for equality in advertising by allowing advertisers to self-identify as gay, straight-friendly or gay-friendly and not deny anyone the opportunity to market their products or services to the LGBT community.
· To provide readers with interesting articles, interviews and colorful features in a compact and friendly bilingual magazine format.
· To support the LGBT community in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico through media sponsorships and by sharing a percentage of revenue with local worthwhile non-profit organizations.
GAYPV neither represents nor endorses the accuracy or reliability of any advertisement in this publication, or the quality of any products, information, or materials displayed, purchased, or obtained by you as a result of any advertisements.
The appearance of subjects in photographs or editorial matter in GAYPV is not to be construed as indicative of the sexual orientation or personal practice of any individual. No implication with respect to sexual orientation or sexual preference is intended, and none should be inferred by appearing in these photographs or in any editorial.
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This website provides information of a general nature and subject opinions of various contributors and is designed for information and entertainment purposes only. All content of contributors represent the viewpoint of the contributor only, and should not be interpreted as statement of fact.