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It was Low Season and this was one of the best rates that I could find … in High Season, it would have been very hard to find something in Puerto Vallarta within our GRANDPAcking budget.
Note to self: I may have to get off of the ‘beaten path’ in Mexico if I am going to find some GRANDPAcking spots …
That said, US$29 / night was higher than any price that I had paid for a room anywhere in South East Asia … I was expecting the a price of accommodation in Mexico to be higher … but, I also wanted to ‘spoil’ myself a little bit after a long international flight.
The hotel and room were nice … and to a higher standard than I was used to in S.E.Asia … the only disappointment was:
- It was Low Season, so it rained hard every day (mostly in the late afternoons, evenings, and / or at night)
- The hotel internet did not work or, when it did, was so slow it was unusable
- The in-room TV had no channels
So, in the evenings when I was stuck inside and it was raining, there was nothing to do in my room … except put some music on and relax.
I had decided that, if I was going to stay in Latin America for the next 2-3 years, I needed to learn some Spanish.
I decided to book into a 2 week Spanish Immersion course.
My online investigations indicated that such courses on the coast and in the main tourist areas were more expensive than inland. In Puerto Vallarta I would have to pay about US$1,000 for a 40 hour private tutor (10 days at 4 hours per day) with Homestay.
In Guadalajara, I could get the same for US$500. In Guatamala, I could get the same for US$250. I wasn’t going to be in Guatamala for several more months … so, Guadalajara it was.
Tlaquepaque was the area of Guadalajara that was recommended the most … it is an old-world town with a nice Colonial Spanish central square.
I didn’t take the cheapest option. The cheapest option had a school in central Tlaquepaque but the Homestay was 35 minutes away by public transport out in the suburbs.
I took the meddle-priced option for US$650 (including classes and Homestay). This was with Culturlingua who had a Homestay just a 10 minutes walk from the school and the central square.
HOTEL TO BUS TERMINAL:
There are several luxury bus companies that service the Puerto Vallarta (PV) to Guadalajara route. The main ones are:
- Primera Plus
- Pacifico Select
- Vallarta Plus
The first 3 leave from the main, Centro Autobus Terminal next to the airport. Vallarta Plus has its own terminal that is near the main bus terminal.
Each has a bus leaving from PV about every 1 – 1.5 hours from early morning to late in the day. The normal travel time is about 6 hours.
All of these companies allow you to book your ticket online and most offer a 10% discount if you do so. However, it seems that they only accept payment by Mexican and USA credit cards. I had an NZ credit card and the online site declined payment … I would have to buy and pay for my ticket at their terminal.
When you make reservations, be sure to arrive at the correct Guadalajara bus terminal. The PV-Guadalajara buses typically make their first stop at the Zapopan terminal, which is on the northwest outskirts of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. The second stop is usually the main terminal in the southeast part of the city, near Tonala. Getting off at the wrong terminal won’t be a disaster, but you’ll probably have to pay a bigger taxi fare to get to where you’re going.
I needed to get to Tlaquepaque (south east Guadalajara), so I chose to use Vallarta Plus (who stop there). The online price for a ticket was MXP450.
I was up and checked out of my hotel by 5:45am. I walked up to a parked taxi and asked for a price. He quoted MXP100. It had cost me MXP226 to take a taxi from the airport to my hotel when I first arrived … so, MXP100 to go back again sounded like a reasonable price.
LUXURY VALLARTA PLUS BUS TO GUADALAJARA:
I was at the Vallarta Plus terminal by 6:10am. Their next bus was leaving at 6:45am. They had other buses leaving at 7:45am, 8:45am, 9:45am, 11:00am …
They provide free water and coffee in their terminal whilst you wait.
The bus left promptly at 6:45am.
The bus was a 32-seater. Less than half the seats were occupied.
The seats were very comfortable. The bus had free, fast Wifi. The aircon was set to a comfortable level. Each seat had its own TV screen. Each TV screen had a USB socket for charging your smartphone / tablet. It was like being in Business Class on an airplane.
TLAQUPAQUE BUS TERMINAL TO MY HOMESTAY:
The bus terminal was pleasantly free of taxi touts.
One of the two taxi drivers offered me a price of MXP70 to my Homestay.
I knew that it was only a 10 minute drive away so I negotiated him down to MXP50.
I was welcomed into a nice middle class family home and taken to a back courtyard.
There, they had 4 rooms built for their guests.
My room was a reasonable size, tidy, and clean.
Tlaquepaque didn’t disappoint either.
The central square was next to an old church. It was a ‘classic’ Colonial town layout.
The trip from PV to Tlaquepaque is an easy and comfortable one … if you catch one of these luxury buses. At a cost of MXP499 (US$29) for a 5-6 hour journey, it is worth it.
Door-to-door it took me 6.5 hours.
My total cost was MXP649. But, for 2 GRANDPAckers budget MXP1,150.
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