I have driven with a US license for years not only in Mexico, but through out central America. I believe my US drivers license is sufficient. Beware of all the scams at the pumps. Follow the rules to avoid police.like wearing a seat belt. Traffic sometimes runs beyond the speed limit. That doesn't me you. Do not speed. They won't stop locals, but they will stop you.
I have been fortunate over the years and have never had any issues driving in Central America. Obey the traffic laws and you will have no problems.
Please read thru the forum for recommended car rental places. Do not book off Travelocity or Expedia ( travel sites). Also do not book with familiar rent car companies from the US ( Hertz, Dollar etc...) they are not owned by the same companies and not good experience to rent from in Mexico. Also, your car insurance from the US will not cover a rent car in Mexico. Either buy full coverage thru the rent car company or use the insurance from a credit card. Please know if you use a credit card you will have to pay for any accidents before you leave Mexico and get with the credit card company after you return to the US. Please read on the gas station scams while getting gas. None of this is meant to scare you in anyway but just to be informed. Have fun!!!!!
I personally love Avant. Get on their website and pick the actual car and they will give you an actual quote, no bait and switch. They also do not put a credit card hold on your card like others do.Edited: 14 May 2018, 02:43
Three cardinal rules:
1) Renting a car in no way should be thought of as an economical alternative to other forms of transportation (Taxis, buses, even tours if it's just one or two people or a combination of all of the above) People rent a car for the convenience, not to save money.
2) You can't do enough research. Research rental companies, research how to get gas the correct way, research what to do at police checkpoints. (there are often checkpoints when crossing from one municipality to the other, when entering or leaving the hotel zone, and near the airport) Federal police may sometimes have a checkpoint set up when crossing state lines, but they no issue for visitors. Do all this before you consider renting a car.
3)If you do not speak at least an intermediate amount of Spanish and/or can't act assertively when in a foreign country and drive somewhat more defensively than at home, it's probably best not to rent a car
You can use a valid license from any other country for as long as you are legally in Mexico as a tourist.Edited: 14 May 2018, 03:25
Don't book through a 3rd party site, only direct with the rental car company. Avant Easy and American are 3 that get some positive (and some negative) reviews.
You don't need a car to get around Cancun, use a transfer service to get to/from the airport to your lodging. In the Hotel Zone, the bus system is easy to use runs 24/7 and is cheap.
We rented a car for 1 day only to drive to Tulum and back.
Expect to pay about $40 a day +/- including insurance. The company will want to put a 'hold'/deposit on your credit card for an amount, too ($800 is not unusual).
I have rented with Easyway at least 10 times and have always had a great experience. Expect to pay for insurance, as said above around $40/day is a good number to expect
I have just returned from a 15 night trip around the Yucatan Peninsula and my personal experience was fantastic, Tulum was one of the places we visited. You have already had some great advise from other contributors but I think the most important is to do your research, having said that here are some of my own points of advice:I researched this a lot and believe me there is a lot of information out there on TA and other websites so do your research and if you are so inclined add my experience into the mix.
In my honest opinion there is absolutely no reason not to hire a car and enjoy the freedom of planning your own journey around the Yucatán Peninsula, I did not have one bad or even slightly iffy experience in 15 days of driving around.
The hire company I used was America Car Hire, they were great, very polite and helpful, I pre-booked online direct with the company using their Mexican website and booking in pesos although payment is not taken until you pick up the vehicle. Do not use a third party booking agent!! I booked an all-inclusive insurance package as my research suggested this was the best and most secure way to approach this. There was one question at the point of collection asking if I wanted to add an extra cover which I declined and that was it, box ticked and move on.
It was a good vehicle, smooth running with excellent a/c, yes there were lots of scratches on the body work, a couple of minor dents but these were all pointed out to me and marked on the pick-up forms, a very quick inspection on its return and all ok.
There are lots of scare stories about tourists being ripped off at the filling stations, in my experience these are totally unfounded; without exception every time I filled up with petrol the attendant pointed out to me that the reading was on zero before he started. Just get out of the car, speak to the guys, give them a smile and a tip, they will wash your windscreen and ask if you want oil & water checked, it is a better service than we get at home where it is all self-service!
There is a lot of signs saying “RETORNO” this means U turns, they can be on dual carriage ways, or even three or four lane roads, so be careful, very careful. If like I was travelling from England, this is all happening whilst driving on what is to us the wrong side of the road…..
Picture the scene of my first experience of a Retorno, arriving in Playa del Carmen the road is in three lanes, the fastest lane on the left, I have to do a U turn from our fats lane, across the centre, crossing the two fastest lanes in the opposite direction and then take an exit within 200 yards! Help from Claire was greatly appreciated and avoided the need for a change of underwear!
I would recommend you take your own navigation system if possible, we used TomTom, it proved to be excellent and took us to lots of small streets and addresses without any issues, it is also a good reference point for the current speed limit you are driving in, but I stress it does not replace watching signs and making sure you stay legal.
The speed limits change at very regular and seemingly crazy intervals, such as going from 90 down to 60 and back to 80 over a distance of two hundred yards only to drop back to 60 seventy-five yards later and for a distance of only one hundred yards........ as I said sometimes just crazy!
Returning the vehicle was simple and smooth, they were again very polite and no attempt was made to claim new scratches or other issues with the car.
The roads are incredibly straight and can be boring to drive, but stick to the limits, do not follow the speed of other drivers, do not drive as the Mexicans do, let them overtake and get out of your way, enjoy the trip you are on holiday.
Be a very defensive driver and always assume the vehicle on your right will be turning left at an upcoming cross street. If you are in an accident, do not move the car and expect the police to detain all parties involved. Honestly if I did not have to drive every day in Cancun, I would not. I have never been in a city with drivers that ignore rules of the road and lack common sense.
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I rented from AVANT..Excellent company, excellent employees. Had no trouble driving for the entire last week of may into June. Drove from Cancun to Tulum, to Coba, and some. Never had a problem getting gas. Never had a problem with the police. The speed limit signs do change a lot. You do get passed by locals. Just take it easy and you will have no issues. Our service guys at the gas station did not try to rip me off. Gave them 40 pasos after getting my windows washed.