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Driving in Zihuatanejo

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

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Zihuatanejo, like many parts of Mexico, can be a unique experience. The driving culture is different from many Western countries. Traffic rules are often loosely followed, and the driving style can be aggressive. It’s important to be alert and cautious, especially at intersections and roundabouts where right-of-way rules may not be strictly adhered to.

2. Car Recommendation

It’s recommended to have a car that’s sturdy and reliable. Many expats prefer SUVs or pickup trucks, especially if you plan to explore the surrounding areas where roads can be rough. However, smaller cars are easier to maneuver and park in the city.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Zihuatanejo can be challenging, especially during peak tourist season. However, it’s not typically expensive. Many businesses have their own parking lots, and there are also public parking lots and street parking available. Always remember to lock your car and not leave valuables visible inside.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Mexico with an international driver’s license for up to 180 days. After that, 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 y Vialidad). You will need to bring your passport, visa, proof of address, and your current driver’s license. You will also need to pass a written test, which is usually in Spanish.

6. Be Prepared for Checkpoints

It’s not uncommon to encounter police or military checkpoints while driving in Mexico. Remain calm, cooperate with the officers, and have your documents ready to show. This includes your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance.

7. Car Insurance

It’s highly recommended to have car insurance while driving in Mexico. While it’s not mandatory for locals, it is for foreigners. Make sure your policy covers you in Mexico as some U.S. or Canadian policies may not.

8. Road Conditions

Road conditions in Zihuatanejo can vary. While main roads and highways are generally in good condition, secondary and rural roads can be poorly maintained. Be prepared for potholes and speed bumps, known as “topes”, which are not always clearly marked.

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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