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The Top 8 Best Road Trip Destinations in Mexico

If you’re an expat who’s moved to Mexico and you’re looking for the best road trip destinations here, you’ve come to the right place! From beaches to waterfalls, a road trip in Mexico has something for both expats and locals.

In today’s blog post, we will be going over the top 8 best road trip routes in Mexico for expats, along with other information such as gas or car models and driving regulations.

The Top Road Trip Destinations for Expats

Riviera Nayarit


When visiting Mexico, tourists and expats frequently choose to stay in the 230-mile Riviera Nayarit, which is renowned for its stunning beaches. Those who surf, snorkel, or just hang out at the beach will be able to relax and enjoy the panoramic view.

Among the beaches scattered throughout the Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta stands out as the most visited beach. This is because the Puerto Vallarta beach is a great place to relax for a day or two after grueling hours of driving.

On the other hand, thanks to its great waves, Sayulita Beach is also perfect for surfers.



A unique road trip destination in Mexico, the state of Chiapas is one that expats will definitely adore. This is because Chiapas is home to waterfalls, lakes, caves, and mountains, as well as archaeological sites, food, and colonial cities.

Chiapas is rich in both indigenous and Spanish influences, making it a diverse and vibrant state with a history dating back to the Mayan civilization.

Thanks to its cultural influences and plenty of opportunities for nature exploration, Chiapas is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in favor of true Mexican culture.

Yucatan Peninsula

And we see Mayan culture again on the Yucatan Peninsula, featuring various Mayan archaeological sites in the region. The most famous of which are Chichen Itza and Uxmal. In the present day, the Yucatan Peninsula is still home to native Mayans and Mayan descendants alike.

The Yucatan Peninsula is home to multiple tropical rainforests and jungles, with the area between Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize being the largest tropical forest area in Central America. The Yucatan Peninsula is also known for its expensive resorts, guaranteed to attract expats.


With its diversity, amazing landscapes, and cultural traditions, a road trip to the state of Jalisco is one that expats will definitely remember. This state introduced the world to familiar Mexican trademarks such as mariachis, tequila, the Ballet Folklorico, the Mexican Hat Dance, charros, and sombreros.

Jalisco is also home to the second largest city in Mexico, Guadalajara, and one of the most beloved beaches, Puerto Vallarta.


There is plenty to enjoy in the state of Oaxaca, such as exploring the exceptional coastline, experiencing the vast selection of cuisine choices, or touring some of Mexico’s best mountain towns.

Oaxaca also features vibrant textiles, crafted by skilled artisans using ancient techniques passed down through generations. Thanks to its vast selection of cuisine choices, Oaxaca’s cuisine is considered to be one of the most diverse and delicious in Mexico.


A Mexican border city in Southern California, Tijuana’s gastronomic, cultural, and artistic impact made it one of the best cities to visit for families, couples, or friends.

For those looking to spice things up with the hustle and bustle of the city, Tijuana is for you. From the blend of Mexican and American influences like no other to the lively streets as well as the nightlife, Tijuana is one road trip destination you don’t want to miss.

San Cristóbal de las Casas

A highland town in the state of Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas is known for its excellently preserved colonial architecture. These include the centuries-old yellow San Cristóbal Cathedral on the Parque Central.

San Cristóbal is also home to the biggest freshwater lake in the archipelago, the El Junco Lagoon.

San Miguel de Allende

A colonial-era city in the central highlands of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene, and cultural festivals.

We previously mentioned cuisine with Oaxaca, and San Miguel de Allende is once again known for its delicious cuisine.

Its culinary selection puts heavy emphasis on traditional Mexican dishes and local ingredients. This city is also home to various bars, cafes, and restaurants serving drinks and cocktails.

Buying Gas in Mexico

Gas stations in Mexico feature “full service”, which involves a gas station attendant leading you into the pumping bay and helping you fill up your vehicle. When filling up, make sure that the counter on the pump is set to zero before the attendant fuels up your vehicle.

If needed, you also have the option of requesting additional services from the gas station attendant, such as cleaning your windshields, checking your tire pressure, or other minor work that won’t take more than a few minutes at most.

You can pay for gas using either cash or credit cards. However, it’s a good idea to have some cash ready in case some gas stations don’t accept cards or their card payment system falters.

Finding Parking Spaces in Mexico

Valet parking is common in the city, as seen in various businesses, shops, and amenities (such as restaurants, for example) offering their own private parking spaces for customers.

Plots of vacant land are also used to provide local parking, for which costs will vary depending on the location, how long the car will remain parked, and the availability of other local parking options.

There are various areas with metered parking in Mexico CIty, such as Condesa and Polanco. Notable features include its precise marking with white lines in the road indicating where a car should park. Operating hours and restrictions may vary, but you will be able to see them on the meters and signs.

Popular Vehicle Models in the Mexican Car Rental Market

Popular vehicle models may vary depending on your preferences and the size of your family. Below are some of the popular car models, by type, in Mexico:

  • Subcompact Car: Chevrolet Aveo, Nissan March, Kia Rio
  • Truck: Nissan NP300, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Saviero
  • Compact Car: Nissan Sentra
  • Subcompact SUV: Nissan Kicks

Car Rental Rates in Mexico

  • Compact (4 adults, 2 bags): USD $5/day
  • Intermediate (5 adults, 3 bags): USD $7/day
  • Economy (2 adults, 2 bags): USD $7/day
  • Standard (5 adults, 3 bags): USD $9/day
  • Full-Size (5 adults, 2 bags): USD $11/day
  • Intermediate SUV (5 adults, 3 bags): USD $22/day
  • Compact SUV (4 adults, 2 bags): USD $28/day
  • Standard SUV (5 adults, 3 bags): USD $37/day
  • Minivan (5 adults, 5 bags): USD $38/day
  • Full-size SUV (5 adults, 2 bags): $66/day

Source: Car Rentals in Mexico City from $5/day – Search for Rental Cars on KAYAK (as of Friday February 9th, subject to change)

Overview of Mexican Driving Rules for Travelers

When driving in Mexico, people drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left and all occupants of the vehicle must wear seatbelts.

Drinking while driving is illegal, and the legal driving age is 18. The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0.08%. Using mobile devices while driving, without a hands-free system, is also prohibited.

When you approach towns and cities, beware of speed bumps. If you see a sign for speed bumps (known as “topes”), you must slow down immediately, but sometimes the signs can be hard to see.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can foreigners rent a car in Mexico?

Foreigners can rent a car in Mexico, but you’ll need a valid driver’s license to do so. Fortunately, you won’t need to organize an International Driving Permit (IDP). So, as long as your license is valid and written in English, you should be able to rent a car in Mexico just fine.

What other requirements do I need to rent a car in Mexico?

Aside from being 18 years of age (or older) and having a valid driver’s license, you will need your credit or debit card, passport, and car insurance.

Do I need car insurance in Mexico?

Car insurance in Mexico is required by law, even if you’ll be staying and driving for a short time. If you lack car insurance and end up in an accident, you could end up imprisoned. If you’re found at fault, Mexican authorities could detain you until they can verify liability coverage.

How much does car insurance in Mexico cost?

The lowest cost for liability coverage could be USD $30/day. If you also include vehicle coverage, that’ll be about USD $42/day. Annual liability coverage is around USD $200/day.

Content Writer at Pacific Prime Latin America
Wish Sutthatothon (Nickname: Guy) is currently a content writer at Pacific Prime Thailand, an insurance broker that connects individuals and businesses with insurance providers worldwide. He creates and edits blog articles, guides, reports, webpages, and other types of digital content.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Media & Communication major (concentration: Creative Content) from Mahidol University International College (MUIC). During the compulsory major elective period in the summer of 2021 and voluntarily during the summer of 2022, he also interned as a video and photo editor at Mbrella Films.

He has experience working as an English Content Writer at a real estate buying/renting/selling platform in Thonglor. There, he crafted company blog posts on a multitude of topics. Topics include market trends, legal issues and disputes in property businesses, financial guides, expat guides, home insurance, home decoration and maintenance, and weekly real estate news quick-recaps. Occasionally, as part of the blog-writing process, he would also translate existing Thai blogs to English.

In his free time, Guy enjoys doing scriptwriting and storytelling for comic strips, watching movies, and listening to music (particularly film scores).
Wish Sutthatothon