Driving in Puerto Vallarta can be a challenge but we find it easier than driving north of the border, for a number of reasons. Mirrors are your best friend on any road but in Puerto Vallarta, it’s good to know what’s behind you. Being polite does not put you at any advantage. Eye contact works best when changing lanes and merging.
Our first piece of advice while driving in Puerto Vallarta and anywhere in Mexico is: Don’t Drive at Night. Within city limits is okay, where streets are well lit but out on the open road, along the beach highways and in the mountains, it is not recommended. We’ve heard many reasons for this but really? Banditos is the last one on the list. They are more mythical than anything else. Topes will be what robs you, the ubiquitous Mexican speed bumps. They are not always well marked and have potential of major harm if you hit them at any velocity. You’ll encounter either a series or perhaps one large tope and they are truly meant to slow you down. If you’re driving a rental automobile, upon your return they’ll usually inspect the underside with a mirror. In rural areas, you’ll also encounter dips in the road, vados, where water crosses a road. They are the counter opposite of topes. Trolls live there, not banditos.
Be extremely cautious of animals of all shapes, sizes and species (chickens, dogs and cats; cows, horses and burros). You can see them in daylight hours, but at night… you won’t normally sight them until they have made contact with the front of your vehicle.
You’ll soon grow familiar with the omnipresent PEMEX stations, which are plentiful and convenient, even in remote areas. We do not recommend setting out on a trip of any length without a fill-up. Many PEMEX stations are closed, under construction or haven’t opened yet. The price of fuel is the same at every station so don’t drive around looking for a better price. Fuel costs in 2016 will be in flux, depending on the international market. Gas might be found cheaper in border towns but will be the same everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. We always tip the gas station attendants, 10% is the norm.
If you are pulled over by authorities in Puerto Vallarta, make sure you have all documents; registration, driver’s license, insurance and TIP (Temporary Import Permit if your car is foreign plated.) Be polite, apologetic and SMILE. Do NOT offer a bribe. The mordida, as it is known, once the easiest way to avoid a ticket, could be the surest introduction to a Mexican jail. And don’t drink and drive. Checkpoints are often set up to nab offenders and you’ll be arrested if you can’t pass the test.
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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