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Driving in Puerto Vallarta

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Puerto Vallarta.
|-Driving in Puerto Vallarta

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Puerto Vallarta, can be a unique experience. The driving culture is different from many western countries. Drivers can be aggressive, and traffic rules are not always strictly adhered to. It’s important to be alert and cautious while driving. Always expect the unexpected.

2. Type of Car to Use

It’s recommended to use a car that’s not too large, as some streets in Puerto Vallarta can be narrow. A compact car or a small SUV would be ideal. Also, consider a car with good ground clearance as some roads can be bumpy or have potholes.

3. Parking in Puerto Vallarta

Finding parking in Puerto Vallarta can be challenging, especially in the downtown area. However, there are several paid parking lots available. The cost of parking is not too expensive, but it can add up if you’re parking daily. It’s advisable to find accommodation with parking included if you plan to have a car.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Mexico using an international driver’s license. However, this is only valid for a temporary period, usually up to 6 months. After this period, you will need to obtain a Mexican driver’s license.

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 Transporte). You will need to provide proof of residency, a valid passport, and a valid driver’s license from your home country. You will also need to pass a written test, which is usually in Spanish.

6. Be Aware of Topes

Topes, or speed bumps, are common in Puerto Vallarta and can be quite high. They are not always clearly marked, so be cautious when driving, especially at night.

7. Be Prepared for Random Checkpoints

Police checkpoints are common in Puerto Vallarta. Always carry your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance. Be polite and cooperative if you’re stopped.

8. Avoid Driving at Night

It’s generally safer to avoid driving at night in Puerto Vallarta, especially in rural areas. Street lighting can be poor, and animals or pedestrians can be on the road.

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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