Numerous US airlines service Mazatlan through Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Tucson and Seattle. You can also connect through Mexico City, Guadalajara, La Paz and San Jose del Cabo, Tijuana and Puerto Vallarta. Some carriers have very restrictive luggage policies (Example: Continental will not allow bags over 50lbs on their smaller aircraft from Houston). There are no visa requirements for entry into Mexico but you will need a passport. Upon clearing immigration you will receive a bottom stub from your immigration form. Retain it until you check in at the airline ticket counter for your return. Don’t be surprised when they X-ray your bags upon entry. And enjoy the round of “Customs Roulette” to determine if your bags will be searched.
Mazatlan has two distinct centers: To the north is the tourist zone, the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), and the other is El Centro (the old downtown). The two are linked by Avenue Del Mar (Malecón/ the Strip) a 17 mile scenic beachfront avenue that curves along the waterfront. The roads are confusing because none of the streets run parallel. Walkers should be aware that drivers aren't very pedestrian-cautious and the curbs in Old Mazatlan are quite high. It’s an older city, built to cater to foot traffic, not cars.
Driving is not for the faint of heart and you should be wary of unpredictable actions by other drivers. Nevertheless, it’s a big city and rental cars are suggested. All major rental agencies have representatives at the airport and in town but best rates are secured by contracting for the car on-line BEFORE arriving in Mazatlan. CAUTION: Print out your rental contract, including rates, before arriving in Mazatlan. The local agents will not honor a lower rate UNLESS you produce a written copy. (I have no idea why.)
Taxis are available as are a unique form of souped-up golf carts…. Pulmonias. These open-air golf cart VW’s, with no doors and no seatbelts, take 4 passengers, are unique to Mazatlán, and are actually a good and fun way to see the sights. Pulmonia means pneumonia in Spanish, a reference to the vehicle's breeziness, and this is what you could get after riding around in one when its cold. You should be able to negotiate a 2 hour Pulmonia tour of the Malecón/ Gold Zone/Old Mazatlan area for approximately for $40.
The current exchange rate of 12.79 Pesos to the dollar is very favorable. The best exchange rates are achieved via the many ATM machines at the banks up and down Camarón Sabalo (Santander, Banamex, Bancomer). The dollar is also accepted by virtually all vendors and all but the smallest accept US credit cards. However, credit card fraud is a big problem. We recommend you never let your credit card out of site. Further, US companies are wary of multiple international charges and will generally suspend card privileges after 2-3 hits unless you call the credit card company prior to departing to advise them of your travel plans. YOU MUST CALL THE CREDIT CARD COMPANIES FROM THE US BEFORE DEPARTING CONUS.
http://www.maztravel.com/sitemap.html (The Bible. Excellent travel tips, practical information and even links to current real estate listings. Bookmark this link immediately.)
http://www.pacificpearl.com/ (Weekly English language summary of Mazatlan activities)
(On-line 450+ page book on the Mexican Pacific Coast)
http://www.advantagemexico.com/mazatlan/map.html (More maps and practical information about Mazatlan)