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Tips for Expats Driving in Playa del Carmen

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Playa del Carmen.
|-Tips for Expats Driving in Playa del Carmen

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Playa del Carmen can be a unique experience. The driving culture is different from many western countries. Traffic rules are often not strictly enforced, and local drivers can be aggressive. It’s important to be alert and cautious while driving. Always expect the unexpected.

2. Car Recommendation

Most expats recommend a compact or mid-size car for driving in Playa del Carmen. These cars are easier to maneuver in the city’s narrow streets and can handle the occasional rough road. SUVs are also popular for those who plan to explore the surrounding areas with rough terrains.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Playa del Carmen can be challenging, especially during peak tourist season. Most streets have parallel parking, and there are also paid parking lots. Parking fees are generally affordable, but it can add up if you park in the city center frequently.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Mexico with an international driver’s license for up to 30 days. After that, you will need to obtain a Mexican driver’s license. It’s also important to note that you must have valid car insurance that covers driving in Mexico.

5. Obtaining a Mexican Driver’s License

To get a Mexican driver’s license, you will need to go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (Secretaría de Movilidad) with your passport, visa, proof of address, and a valid driver’s license from your home country. You will also need to pass a written test in Spanish. It’s recommended to study the Mexican driving laws and signs before taking the test.

6. Road Conditions

While main roads and highways in Playa del Carmen are generally in good condition, some side streets can be rough and potholed. Be cautious when driving, especially after rain, as roads can become slippery and potholes can be filled with water.

7. Be Aware of Speed Bumps

Speed bumps, known as “topes”, are common in Mexico and can be quite high. They are not always clearly marked, so keep an eye out for them to avoid damaging your car.

8. Watch Out for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Pedestrians and cyclists are common in Playa del Carmen, and they don’t always follow traffic rules. Always be aware of your surroundings and drive defensively.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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