Jump to content
Chapala.com Webboard

driving from eastern Canada to Ajijic - advice?


Recommended Posts

Hello

Friends are considering driving to Ajijic from Eastern Canada this winter for a visit.  Any advice or stories to share about the best place to cross US-Mex border; safest routes through Mexico etc ?  They are not moving down here so do not need any of the immigration info.  They will however be bringing their dog.

Thank you !

Link to post
Share on other sites

From Eastern Canada the logical, to me, crossing for a first-timer is Laredo Tx. Then down through/skirting Monterrey and Saltillo and San Luis Potosi, straight through Lagos de Moreno and down the cuota to the eastern outskirts of Guadalajara where they will pick up the Macro Libramiento south, getting off of it later on the road between Guadalajara and Chapala/Ajijic.  Google Maps is their friend both before the trip and during the ride.... even in Mexico.

This route is almost exclusively 4-lane, much of that cuota (toll). Gas will be abundantly available along the way at Pemex stations, running about $3.60/gallon US for regular (Magna in the green pump). It is about 12 hours from Laredo to Ajijic and probably more than should be done by first time visitors. A 'favorite' stopping place about half way is the town of Matehuala at the Las Palmas Midway Inn which does accept pets. Nothing really special but meets most folks requirements. Has a restaurant but if one wants to have a real treat, dine across the street/highway at La Noria Restaurant.

I'm not a pet owner but I think that there is a 'requirement' to have a vet-check done within a week prior to a planned border crossing. Whether or not it will even be checked by anyone is up to conjecture, but.....

At the border they will need to stop and get a Tourist Card, good for 180 days usually. They must, there, also get a temporary vehicle permit (TIP) for their vehicle, tied to their Tourist Card and also good for 180 days. Don't forget, upon leaving Mexico at the border, to turn in both the Tourist Card AND the TIP. The TIP is not expensive but one must put a refundable deposit of around $400 US on a credit card (or pay cash). This deposit will be returned to the credit card IF they turn the TIP back in as required upon leaving.

Along the way there will be several 'military stops' manned with soldiers, often very young looking, wielding automatic weapons. Don't freak out, it is a very normal part of driving within Mexico. Just smile as they, generally, wave you through.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some additional thoughts ... Buy auto insurance before you leave.  I have used Lewis and Lewis, you will find them on the web.  Read up on what to do if you have an accident, it is different then what you would do in Canada or the states. Fill up with fuel before you cross, the fuel is not cheap after you cross the bridge.  Plan your travel for daylight hours only. Cross at the  Colombia bridge, west of Laredo.  Get to the crossing by 8 am.  It will take an hour to do the paperwork.  Bring with you your passport, and your car registration (Not a copy).  The people working at the crossing speak very little English, you will be able to get done what you need to.  Be friendly, we normally bring tootsies roll pops for the people working at the crossing.  They will x-ray your vehicle, it will take only a few minutes.  Do stop at the town of Matehuala at the Las Palmas Midway Inn and do eat at La Noria Restaurant, very good food at Mexican pricing:)  Do follow Google, but don't take Googles suggested "Short cross"  Stay on the Cuotas.  Cuotas are expensive but worth it.  Hint, you will see signs for Mexico when you are driving in Mexico, the signs mean Mexico City.  When on a 2 lane highway, you will notice trucks and cars driving on the far right side of the road, stay over by them.  The center of the road is used for passing, you don't want to be in the center of your lane when someone else coming from the opposite direction is passing. You will need peso, your Canadian and US dollars are not liked.  We get our pesos from ATMs.  Most Pemexs will take a card for gas.  Try to use ATMs at banks only. You may be tempted to drive all the way to Ajijic in a day ... don't!  Enjoy the drive, take your time and don't drive after sunset.  

You will be able to do this, hell I have for the last 5 years.   

Enjoy your trip:) 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, feewee said:

Hello

Friends are considering driving to Ajijic from Eastern Canada this winter for a visit.  Any advice or stories to share about the best place to cross US-Mex border; safest routes through Mexico etc ?  They are not moving down here so do not need any of the immigration info.  They will however be bringing their dog.

Thank you !

I have driven the Nashville to Laredo route many times over the years and that seems to be doable from Eastern Canada. I can send you a turn by turn log from Columbia Solidarity bridge just west of Laredo to Ajijic. Of course it is in miles and they will have to convert to Kilometers. If you want it just message me your email address to send it to.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We do not bring a car down anymore but others that do can perhaps provide recent experiences.

First of all Eastern Canada is a pretty big bite. Perhaps a province and major city location could be beneficial to the travel. Secondly Credit cards, I recall being frustrated by gas stations requiring a US postal code to fill up at the pump. If they still do perhaps you Canadians can help with the actual code or codes that were accepted? 11111

Enjoy the trip, both ways, it truly huge continent! Your looking at up to 4500-6000±km one way. Lots of cash for gas & a bed.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, mkshawn said:

<snip> Secondly Credit cards, I recall being frustrated by gas stations requiring a US postal code to fill up at the pump. If they still do perhaps you Canadians can help with the actual code or codes that were accepted? <snip>

We drove here from the Toronto area 3 weeks ago and the following worked:

"If prompted for your ZIP code, just enter the three digits of your postal code plus two zeros. So for example, if your postal code is A2B 3C4, the 5 digit number you should enter is 23400"

TRAVEL TIP: U.S. GAS PUMP CODE

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

That happened to us, in our move from AZ to TX. We had changed our address upon departure, but the change was not instant, nor was our ability to remember our new ZIP.  Frustrating!!!  85710 vs 78516.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gracias everyone!  All excellent information.  They are starting the trip from Montreal and will take off in early January.  They are fairly adventurous folks but would never have thought about the Cdn credit card issues or about gas pumps not taking postal codes.... I will pass this on for sure.  Look for their silver Honda van with Quebec license plates and say bonjour/hi!

Feewee

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...