Gringos Guide To Driving Mexico, Central America & Costa Rica
  • Departing Mexico
    Mexico

    Departing Mexico

    Tell the border official that you will be returning to Mexico before your entry permit expires. Check your Mexican Entry Permit before leaving the country; most are valid for six months.  Aduana Checking out of Mexico is easy. Present your paperwork to the guard at the guard station immediately before the border. You won’t miss the border; there is an iron gate blocking your entry into Guatemala. There are no signs; hence, look for the gate. This is a very informal border crossing compared to the others and is worth the extra couple of hours drive.  When I arrived at the border, I was the only car crossing, with no…

  • Puerto Escondido - Tapachula (Route 2)
    Mexico

    Puerto Escondido – Tapachula (Route 2)

    DRIVING TIME: 10 hoursKILOMETERS: 700MILES: 434HWY: CA 200 It’s 10 hours from PE to Tapachula; it’s a long hall. I recommend splitting this day and stopping in Salina Cruz or one of the smaller villages halfway into the trip. Once you get to Tapachula, the border crossing is about 25 minutes away. From Puerto Escondido toward Tehuantepec on CA 200. You want to head for Salina Cruz and then for Juchitan and Arriaga.  Stay on CA 200 and head for Tapachula and the border. You can enter the border at Talisman or Cuidad Hidalgo. The drive along Highway 200 to Tapachula is picturesque—it’s a beautiful scenic country, and an excellent…

  • San Cristobal de Las Casas - Cuauhtémoc (Route 1 Cont.)
    Mexico

    San Cristobal de Las Casas – Cuauhtémoc (Route 1 Cont.)

    DRIVING TIME: 2.5 hoursKILOMETERS: 170MILES: 106HWY: CA 190 Leaving San Cristobal de Las Casas, follow the signs for Comitan out of the city and on to Cuauhtémoc. Cuauhtémoc is located on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. Fill your tanks at any gas station you come across. When you see the iron gate across the road, you are at the Mexican and Guatemalan border. Learned Lessons Those taking their vehicles out of Mexico and not returning to North America may not exit Mexico at Cuauhtémoc. You are required to process your vehicle paperwork at either CD Hidalgo or Talisman. However, those that are returning with their vehicles to North America…

  • San Cristobal de Las Casas – Cuauhtémoc (Route 1 Cont.)
    Mexico

    Puerto Escondido – San Cristobal de Las Casas (Route 1)

    DRIVING TIME: 8 hoursKILOMETERS: 647MILES: 402HWY: CA 200 & CA 195 You got two options at this juncture—go into the mountains and spend some time in San Cristobal de Las Casas or drive south along the coast through Salina Cruz. For the coastal route, jump to the section Puerto Escondido to Tapachula. After leaving Puerto Escondido, the roads are bad, in fact, from Puerto Escondido to San Cristobal de Las Casas, they are extremely bad. This is a confusing drive, so follow these directions and your maps carefully. You want to head for Salina Cruz and then for La Ventosa. At Salina Cruz, the road changes to CA 185 for…

  • Acapulco - Pinotepa Nacional - Puerto Escondido
    Mexico

    Acapulco – Pinotepa Nacional – Puerto Escondido

    DRIVING TIME: 8 hoursKILOMETERS: 389MILES: 242HWY: CA 200 Okay, you’re on your way to Pinotepa Nacional. When you first leave Acapulco, the sensation is one of confusion as to whether you have chosen the correct road because there are no signs, and you will pass through several small towns. Yet if you turned off the main highway and followed the Pinotepa N. sign, you have nothing to fear except for the fact that the roads are wicked for several hours after Acapulco, but after Pinotepa, they improve greatly. This is a straightforward drive, about 8 hours with lots of potholes.  Hotel & Eats In Pinotepa Nacional, there is the Motel…

  • Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo - Acapulco
    Mexico

    Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo – Acapulco

    DRIVING TIME: 4 hoursKILOMETERS: 290MILES: 180HWY: CA 200 Leaving Zihuatanejo, proceed up the hill out of town onto the main throughway. Follow the signs to Acapulco; you’re still on CA 200. Going into Acapulco is a nightmare. The roads are horrible, the traffic is horrendous, and literally, thousands of people are crammed into this coastal town. Nevertheless, there are many things to do and an endless amount of sun, fun, and adventure. Getting out of Acapulco is an art in itself. Pay close attention to these directions, or you will get lost. Head south and up the hill; if you are near the beach, you must drive up the hill…

  • Puerto Vallarta - Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo
    Mexico

    Puerto Vallarta – Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo

    DRIVING TIME: 12 hoursKILOMETERS: 651MILES: 405HWY: CA 200 This portion of the trip is the most beautiful, the most dangerous, and entails the longest and most demanding driving of the entire trip. Dangerous because you are traveling through the mountains of Michoacan, and the roads wind, twist and turn for the majority of the trip. You can expect your average speed to be between 40 and 50 miles per hour for the entire journey. There are animals, potholes, and speed bumps galore. Nevertheless, you will see some of the most awe-inspiring coastlines of the entire voyage. The beaches are radiant, powerful, and peaceful. The surfing along this stretch is magnificent.…

  • Mazatlán - Puerto Vallarta
    Mexico

    Mazatlán – Puerto Vallarta

    DRIVING TIME: 8 hoursKILOMETERS: 462MILES: 287HWY: CA 15 & CA 200 Please do not take the coastal road to Puerto Vallarta; it is the worst road of the entire trip. There is a fork in the road about halfway between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Stay on the road to Tepic and proceed to Puerto Vallarta via this route. I asked one of the highway police which was the shorter route at the fork in the road, and the officer said that the coastal route was shorter. He failed to mention that there are about one hundred speed bumps and potholes. The coastal route is about 100k shorter; however, the roads…

  • Obregon - Mazatlan
    Mexico

    Obregon – Mazatlan

    DRIVING TIME: 8 hoursKILOMETERS: 668MILES: 415HWY: 15 I had some bad vibes on this road. I stopped at what appeared to be a federal inspection station (some of the upper states have inspection roadblocks when entering or leaving the state—I didn’t run across any in the lower states after Puerto Vallarta). Two men looking somewhat official came to my passenger-side door and opened it. After some introductions, one of the two men opened the glove compartment and started rummaging around. By this time, I realized that this so-called official was not so official; thus, I ended the conversation. However, this individual had already taken my flashlight and thanked me for…

  • Guaymas - Obregon
    Mexico

    Guaymas – Obregon

    DRIVING TIME: 1.40 hoursKILOMETERS: 125MILES: 78HWY: 15 This stretch of highway extends into the mountains utilizing a road in good condition. The driving is straightforward without too much confusion. Once you leave, Guaymas follow the signs for Obregon and Navojoa. While I was driving along this section, I was exhausted, and I pulled off to the side of the road, in the middle of a mud pit, for some shuteye. I slept for about three hours, after which I was awoken by the federal highway police. They said something indecipherable over the intercom and sounded their siren until I popped my head out of the window of my truck. I…