Gringos Guide To Driving Mexico, Central America & Costa Rica
The Gulf Route - An Alternative Route Through Mexico
Advice,  Mexico

The Gulf Route Through Mexico

Brownsville & Valle Hermosa

The roads on the gulf route are not nearly as bad as they used to be. The scenery is varied and beautiful. Depending on what time you cross the border into Mexico through Brownsville, you may choose to either stay in Valle Hermosa (Beautiful Valley) or continue on toward Tampico.

Should you choose to drive all the way through to Tampico, cross the border very early as this is a long journey. To make things comfortable, get through the border town area as quickly as possible heading to Valle Hermosa. Please keep in mind that this border area is by far the “roughest” area that you will experience. You will definitely feel like you have entered into a third-world country here and you will want to keep your windows and doors locked if possible.

There are many hotels in Valle Hermosa ranging in price—find one with secure parking. You are likely to be stopped at least 3 times after Valle Hermosa by either the military or police.

Driving From Brownsville to Tampico

The drive on into Tampico is rather desolate offering beautiful vistas. Please be advised that as of this writing, I would suggest that you not stop or pull over for any car behind you unless you have the experience and know-how to identify that the vehicle asking you to pull over is definitely a government vehicle. There are some vehicles, that have been made to look “government”. Be sure, be safe. Again, this is a desolate area. Keep your gas tank relatively full. I never allow the tank to drop below 1/4.

Driving From Tampico to Veracruz

From Tampico the next stop is Veracruz. Again, get an early start as this is a bit of a haul as well. If you start early both from Valle Hermosa and from Tampico, you will have a few hours of daylight left in Veracruz and in Tampico to enjoy the beautiful beaches and weather.

From Veracruz, yet another early start. From there you will drive away from the coast headed Southwest toward Tierra Blanca. However, quite a ways before you get there, you will turn back southeast toward Cosamaloapan, then Acayucan. Pay attention to the beautiful cultural change that you begin to see through here. The area is definitely more agricultural, but I always find the people to be warm, friendly, and cooperative.

Driving From Acayucan to Arriago and to Guatemala Border

I am not sure that this isn’t my favorite area of Mexico. Spending the night in Acayucan, you can then make for Matias Romero and then east to Arriaga. Plan on a night in Arriaga. A few words about this town: this little farm town might possibly be the purest flashback to an earlier time in the United States that I have ever seen. The town has a permanent carnival set up in its center with little rides and booths. Children run the streets freely and safely at 10 PM. The people are over-anxious to lend you a hand in any endeavor you wish and it truly brings to mind how life should be.

The hotels are low priced and the food I definitely above average. If you happen to buy a hot dog from the hot dog vendor near the center of town, don’t plan on eating it without making a mess. By the time he is done loading it up, it won’t even come close to fitting in your mouth.

From Arriaga, making it to the Guatemalan is a short skip and a hop and it is here that you rejoin the great original route offered by Gringo Travel Guide pacific Route.


  • Rica

    Anyone want to ride with me and split gas $ ???????

  • Rob Everett

    I’d consider it…if there’s room for a few boxes as I will be living in Costa Rica for the foreseeable future. Just some extra clothes mainly.

  • Nicks1

    When was this piece written? Have things changed? BTW, the comment about third world country and keep the doors and windows locked is exactly how we used to feel thirty yeras ago when we crossed into USA from Canada at the Detroit Windsor bridge.

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