We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving to PV

Which Puerto Vallarta hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Park City, Utah
Level Contributor
3 posts
7 reviews
Save Topic
Driving to PV

My husband & I will be temporarily moving to Puerto Vallarta in a couple of months. We are planning on driving down through Nogales. I'm not at all nervous about living in PV, but I'm a little concerned about the safety of the areas around the border and towns between the border & PV. Any suggestions on areas to avoid? Other tips would be welcome as well.

Nanaimo, BC
Level Contributor
340 posts
83 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Driving to PV

We have traveled several times in our RV crossing from the USA to Mexico and would recommend crossing at Lukeville rather than Nogales. Lukeville is less busy, convenient if coming from the west, and the cuota has been recently paved most of the way to Santa Anna. All the paper work can be done at the Lukeville crossing as well. Driving to PV, a person can avoid tolls by taking the libra roads, but would suggest taking the Cuota and paying the tolls as the roads are better maintained, although not as scenic. There are lots of signs pointing the way, but make sure you get a good map. We always took the back road towards San Blas rather than the inland road when getting closer to PV. The trip is very easy but keep your speed down and do not drive at night. Take pesos rather than US $ for the tolls as well as meals, acccommodation, etc. PM me if you require further info.

Arizona
Level Contributor
177 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Driving to PV

Where are you driving from? We have driven twice so far this year going through Nogales without any problems whatsoever! The first time we got a late start and ended up driving in the dark to San Carlos. We used the Cuotas which are marked and fairly cheap. They do take US dollars if you don't have pesos. The road was nice and we never felt threatened. The second time we left around 8 am and arrived early enough in San Carlos to enjoy the beach and pool at the hotel. The second day we stopped in Mazatlan. I didn't find it as nice as San Carlos or PV but felt safe and no problems while we were there. We got an early start and were able to enjoy some daylight in Mazatlan. The third day, you will be driving the jungle road, it takes longer than we expected both times, since there is construction and accidents. It is very curvey and people tend to be in a hurry. Just take your time, better to be safe than sorry. I ordered a charted map online which was a tremendous help on the trip. It lists all the gas stations and landmarks, plus kilometer markers. If you would like the link to the site where I purchased it message me.

Puerto Vallarta
Level Contributor
35 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Driving to PV

Depending on where you begin your travel in SoCal, a Lukeville crossing does save you any time. You will still need to spend two nights in Mexico before arriving in PV. Plus, I do not think you can get your car permit in Lukeville. I do know that you can not turn it back on your exit. For the last five trips, I have used the truck crossing at Nogales with the first night spent in Navojoa. The trip to San Carlos is a little out of the way, plus it makes for a long drive the next day to Mazatlan. The next night is spent in Mazatlan. I also get my car permit via the internet ahead of time; so much easier.

Nanaimo, BC
Level Contributor
340 posts
83 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Driving to PV

LaAlmeja: You can definitely get your vehicle permit at the Lukeville crossing, although it's several kms. south of the border. We have done it for years, unless things have changed this year, which I doubt. Going north, be sure to drop off your permit there, as it is very easy to miss and is not well signed.

Puerto Vallarta...
Level Contributor
12,236 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Driving to PV

We've only gone through Nogales twice (round trip) so I'm not an expert on this route, but I do have a couple of suggestions based on experience. It's a minimum of two days from Phoenix to Vallarta so it's a good idea to have a range of ideas of where you might stay if things don't go as planned.

One day when we had a late start from Tucson, we stayed in Guaymas at a great place called the Armida. I wouldn't bother to go to San Carlos, the Armida is a perfect stopover hotel (great restaurants right onsite, secure parking, nice rooms).

Do not stay in Culiacan. It's not just because it's a favourite of drug cartels, it's just a very non-tourist friendly city in terms of signage, etc. It's hard to find anyone who speaks English there, but even if you can function entirely in Spanish, it's just very confusing. We even had difficulty finding our way back to the Cuota road to continue on to Mazatlan. (The signs led us to an entry point which was closed :))

Have an idea of where you might stay in Mazatlan should you only get that far. There are many resorts there (which you don't need to pay for), and some popular smaller hotels and b&bs with no parking. So, do a bit of research on the Mazatlan forum just in case. I believe Hotel Azteca has parking and, if it's still around, the Hotel Lerma has great parking and costs something like 150 pesos per night per room (yes you heard me. 150 PESOS!)

Edited to add one more thing. Do not depend on GPS for directions as many places have no info. When driving in Culiacan in 2007, it told me I was driving along "a road" :)

Good luck.

Edited: 20 June 2010, 14:05
Pacific Latitiude...
Level Contributor
1,333 posts
110 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Driving to PV

We stayed in an old colonial hotel on the north side of the hill in Guaymas (Hotel Playa de Cortes)

www.vfmii.com/exc/aspquery…

and also in Mazatlan (Pueblo Bonito). Both very memorable places, The former really not hotel quality but neat location, the latter a timeshare that has all the amenities of a fine hotel.

Puerto Vallarta...
Level Contributor
39 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Driving to PV

We drove from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta twice this year, and are also temporary residents of Vallarta. Going through Nogales worked just fine for us - no lines, no wait. We stopped about 20 minutes South of the border to get our proper paperwork and permits for our car. Keep in mind, this is not done right at the border crossing point.

We did the long drive, SF to Phoenix in one day, and Phoenix to Mazatlan in one day. There are plenty of hotels to stay at in Mazatlan, but I recommend the Best Western if you have pets with you.

Also, I definitely definitely recommend taking the cuota roads, much better than the free roads. There are cuota roads all the way from the border to Tepic. After that, it is a windy, free road all the way to Vallarta - takes 2-3 hours depending on traffic.

Good luck and have a safe trip!!

Rio Linda
2 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Driving to PV

Hi We will be driving to PV from Lukeville in January and I am researching the route. You wrote of a charted? Map you got online , could you send me that info? Thanks L'eona

earthstardance@hotmail.com

Puerto Vallarta...
Level Contributor
12,236 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Driving to PV

For anyone driving to Vallarta, I'd really recommend the Forum, Mexico Connect. The situation along the border (the whole border) is always changing and, along with researching the routes, take a look at what is happening in your chosen point near the time of travel.

www.mexconnect.com/forums/?t=search_engine

Puerto Vallarta
Level Contributor
35 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Driving to PV

In an effort to be pro-active when it comes to tourists’ fears of driving the highways from the US/Mexico border to Mazatlán, the Secretary of Tourism has introduced a new program.

The department is offering an escort of Green Angels to accompany your vehicle or caravan to your destination free of charge.

If you wish to take advantage of this program, you will have to email Sectur (Secretary of Tourism) before your departure with the following information:

your name, address and telephone number

the days you will be travelling through Mexico

your destination

The email address for the Secretary of Tourism for this program is:

gruiz@sectur.gob.mx

Attention: Guillermo Enriques Ruiz, Jefe de la Unidad de la Corporación de Angeles Verdes

The Green Angels is a free service offered by the Secretary of Tourism to assist drivers who experience mechanical problems on Mexico’s highways. They monitor the roads checking for stranded drivers, but if a Green Angel truck does not pass by when you need it. You can call them at 078.