#1  
Old 02-16-2017, 07:38 AM
The Tof The Tof is offline
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Driving in Mexico..

So, The Girlfriend and I are heading down to Cancun in a few months. Our intent was to rent a car and venture out on our own, making a day trip of Chichen Itza and Tulum.

I shared this plan, while chit chatting with a coworker(who is Mexican.. not fully a coincidence, I brought it up with her because she's a fluent Spanish speaker, and I'm trying to learn some conversational Spanish and had a question) and she was MORTIFIED! She then went on about how dangerous the country is outside of the resort areas, and how her husband (also Mexican) refuses to go to the country because its too dangerous.

The State Department has no travel warnings for Quintana Roo or the Yucatan. I've done some research and discovered some things I didn't know (Have to have Mexican insurance, watch out for gas scams, speed bumps, things like this). And most travel forums I've read have said, essentially, driving in the area is safe as this isn't a particularly dangerous part of Mexico. Obey the speed limit, buckle up, and worst case scenario, I'll run into a cop shakedown. But if you haggle with them, and pay them you'll be on your way.

So, I'm torn. The Girlfriend REALLY wants to see Mayan ruins. That is definitely on the agenda, but if we pay for a tour A> it eats into our budget for something we didn't plan on, meaning we'll probably have to choose between ruins and Scuba Diving. B> The Girlfriend hates tours, as she feels rushed, and doesn't get to take her time her, me and her camera. C>Traveling by bus will get her car sick 100%.

But, I also don't want to be kidnapped or murdered.

So, anybody here made this drive recently? Am I being overly paranoid? If my coworker didn't have roots in the country, I'd probably chalk it up to some American paranoia, given the lack of travel warnings for the area, but her relationship to the country really gives me pause.

(I am also thinking, should we drive, we should stick to main freeway routes.. which means doing Chichen Itza and Tulum on the same day is likely not feasable)
  #2  
Old 02-16-2017, 07:43 AM
CairoCarol CairoCarol is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Tof View Post
So, anybody here made this drive recently?
In February 2013, my mother and I drove from Ajijic (near Lake Chapala) to Iowa, exiting Mexico at the border in Laredo, TX. I don't know if that is relevant to you or not, but if you like I'll share details. (Short version: harrowing as hell, though only part of it was the "driving in Mexico" part - the overly loaded automobile and totally insane mother were significant factors.)
  #3  
Old 02-16-2017, 08:29 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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It's perfectly fine.

Biggest problem I've ever encountered is the road down the Yucatan coast is loaded with sets of these annoying things like every half mile. Do NOT not slow down for them, unless you want to be buying your rental car a new suspension, and be careful because there's not always a sign warning you about them.



.

Last edited by DCnDC; 02-16-2017 at 08:31 AM.
  #4  
Old 02-16-2017, 09:18 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
Biggest problem I've ever encountered is the road down the Yucatan coast is loaded with sets of these annoying things like every half mile. Do NOT not slow down for them, unless you want to be buying your rental car a new suspension, and be careful because there's not always a sign warning you about them.
If you're not going to slow down for them anyway, what difference does it make if there's a warning sign?
  #5  
Old 02-16-2017, 09:29 AM
Ulf the Unwashed Ulf the Unwashed is online now
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"Not not"

= "do not fail to slow down"

= "slow down!"
  #6  
Old 02-16-2017, 09:29 AM
Sparky812 Sparky812 is offline
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You're fine.

From Cancun to Tulum along the Mayan Riviera is very safe and well-travelled, mostly by tourists.
Similarly, the road to Chichen Itza is less travelled but still not bad.

BTW, you can't do them both in one day, nor would you want to. I would suggest different full-day trips to each.
I'd also recommend a day trip to Xcaret Park.

You can also ferry over to Cozumel and/or Isla Mujeres if you're just into travelling and scenery changes.



Take it easy, follow the speed limit and watch for traffic, hazards, etc.. ahead of you. There's often little warning of intersections, road work, etc.. FYI, there's typically no shoulders on the road to pull off in an emergency.

Buy a map, or if you have a GPS, make sure you have a current Mexico road map and bring it down with you. The car rental companies offer GPS for about $10 a day, I believe.
  #7  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:04 AM
elbows elbows is offline
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Consider instead, hiring a car with driver for the times you wish to visit ruins. They will happily wait at your disposal. You'll be much safer, I think.

Last edited by elbows; 02-16-2017 at 10:05 AM.
  #8  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:10 AM
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
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FWIW, my husband's family is Mexican and would give you the same advice (not to do it). Try pinging HarmonicaMoon, a Doper who lives in Mexico. He may be able to give you a better appraisal.
  #9  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:18 AM
Turble Turble is offline
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One thing to be aware of when driving in Mexico is the customary warning sign of danger ahead – a branch broken off a tree or bush placed on the edge of the pavement. It may be warning of somebody changing a tire around the curve, or it may be a stalled gasoline tank truck or school bus, or a landslide, or the bridge may be out. If you see a branch on the edge of the road, slow down and be extra alert.

Have fun and pay no attention to the doomsayers – it’s gonna be a great trip.
  #10  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:28 AM
wguy123 wguy123 is offline
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It's too bad your girlfriend gets sick in buses because they have an excellent bus system (ADO). Relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Think Greyhound, not tour bus.
  #11  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:28 AM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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Car rental.
Get the optional tire insurance.
Inspect tires.
Make sure the car has front and rear license plates.
In Q. Roo, rental car plates are a different color. And check points know this.

Chichen Itza.
Overnight stay in Valladolid. I live there. PM me for lodging recommendations.
Arrive at Chichen Itza at 8am when it opens. It ain't pretty after the tour buses arrive.
You can easily arrive in Tulum in the afternoon.
  #12  
Old 02-16-2017, 10:36 AM
wguy123 wguy123 is offline
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Originally Posted by harmonicamoon View Post
Car rental.

Overnight stay in Valladolid. I live there. PM me for lodging recommendations.
My wife and I loved Valladolid. We spent three nights there and could've stayed longer. Old churches/cathedrals, several nearby cenotes, fun night entertainment at the central plaza, great restaurants...
  #13  
Old 02-16-2017, 01:06 PM
The Tof The Tof is offline
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Thanks for the advice so far everybody.

HarmonicaMoon.. our hotels and stuff are already booked and paid for so it's definitely a day trip back and forth to Cancun. We arrive Sunday about 0630, and right now the plan is to go straight from the airport.. which means if everything goes smashingly with the flight and attaining the car, and gathering our luggage.. we will be at Chichen Itza the SOONEST.. 9:00... probably later because we'll probably stop at the hotel and put our luggage in their luggage closet or whatever first. Duly noted to check the tires! Thanks for the tip. Whats the deal with the license plates? Will they charge us more knowing we're tourists?

What I'm also curious about is the trip to Tulum from Chichen Itza. What I'm reading is that even though google says its like a 50 minute drive, which is what made us think the trip for both ina day was possible, however the road isn't well maintained and we should stick to the main roads. But, if we stick to the main freeway, its like 3 hours. What would be your thought?

Sunny Daze- I wonder if the people we know travel to the more dangerous areas for purposes of seeing family?

Sparky- We have 4 days... One is earmarked for ruins, one for Scuba, one for Cancun and/or Isla Mujeres and one for actually taking it easy and getting some R&R. I don't think we can add a lot more to the itinerary. Next time!

Gary T- I read it the same way at first. I had to do a double take, because it didn't make sense.

WGuy- I know.. she's really sensitive to it. Even locally, if we're driving to the coast or something and in the front seat.

WGuy- Valladolid sounds right up our alley!!

Keep the suggestions coming. I'm being talked into this as I type.
  #14  
Old 02-16-2017, 02:06 PM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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Just do it. I've driven all they wan through Mexico and back several times. Never had a single incident. Mexicans have, in recent years, become much more disciplined drivers. Cars are expensive in Mexico and they don't want to wreck theirs any more than you do.

Yes, "topes" (Speed humps) are common, you'll always know when one is coming, if you are paying attention to the road. Roads are now pretty decently signposted, but rely on arrows pointing to the names of towns, so brief yourself on a roadmap before you start out. I'm not sure about Quintana Roo, but like in the US, the different states vary wildly in their manner of signposting roads.

Avoid driving after dark, for reasons that are too numerous to itemize. Be really careful, the greatest danger is probably the fact that driving customs there are different from ours, and some things you do might surprise other drivers, who might not think fast enough to avoid you.

Mexican toll roads (cuota) are very, very expensive, so plan on using old roads (libre), give yourself plenty of time, and enjoy the countryside.

Last edited by jtur88; 02-16-2017 at 02:09 PM.
  #15  
Old 02-16-2017, 02:20 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
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actually a friend of my family said half jokingly where she lived In mexico driving had gotten better because so many people learned to drive carefully in the us as not to get caught ......
  #16  
Old 02-16-2017, 02:49 PM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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If you only have four days, I would bag Chichen Itza.

Isla Mujeres has good snorkeling, ruins, a national park and Playa Norte is beautiful. And you don't need no stinkin' rental.
  #17  
Old 02-16-2017, 02:57 PM
stpauler stpauler is offline
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Last time I was in Cancun, about 3 years ago, I rented a car and drove to Chichen Itza with my husband and two of his co-workers. We even stopped and had a nice dinner in Villadolid too.

The only thing of note was we went through a police checkpoint and had to show ID and car rental info. I feel a little bit bad about this, but I did fake my understanding of Spanish to be a bit less that it was to make the traffic stop quicker.
  #18  
Old 02-17-2017, 07:24 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Mexican toll roads (cuota) are very, very expensive, so plan on using old roads (libre), give yourself plenty of time, and enjoy the countryside.
If you're not poor, then they're not expensive, and are worth every penny. You get to where you want to go quickly and efficiently, they're patrolled regularly by the Angeles Verdes, and your toll includes insurance. Most importantly it keeps that vast majority of shitty cars and shitty trucks off the road (they use the libre) so that you can cruise securely.
  #19  
Old 02-17-2017, 01:39 PM
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
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Originally Posted by The Tof View Post
Sunny Daze- I wonder if the people we know travel to the more dangerous areas for purposes of seeing family?
I believe so. I certainly think there are regional differences in crime.

I'm glad HarmonicaMoon was able to join the thread and give you a better idea of safety in the specific area you are visiting. It sounds like you should go for it.
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