Your Yucatan Travel Driving Guide

In Yucatan travel has been greatly enhanced due to road improvements made in the last several years. Prior to this program, roads were somewhat narrow and passed through literally every town and village found on the way.

Traveling with the intention of getting to know these villages and towns allows you to get to know the interior, view the true rural culture and experience the Mayan culture of modern day Yucatan. Stopping in these villages also affords you the opportunity to leave your financial footprint by making your purchases there.


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While stopping in these villages of Yucatan travel with the intentions of gaining a cultural experience. Stop and buy fresh fruits. I guarantee you it will be the first time you will have ever known what a banana truly tastes like. Buy a handmade hammock or a Hand embroidered huipil or be like us buying up every corazoncito/polvorones that we find in the little village stores. These are shortbread cookies that everyone in my family loves.

The bottom line is that your Yucatan travel experience can also be an economical bonanza for the local villagers. They count on that influx of money from outside of the village.

The new Cuota Road/Toll Road (Mexico 180) from Merida to CanCun is a modern expressway with very few exits to the villages and towns found along the old road and has been an economic disaster for them. On the flip side, the Cuota Road has made Yucatan travel from Merida Yucatan to Chichen Itza (1hr.), Valladolid (1.5 hrs.) and on to Cancun(3 hrs) much faster and safer. Taking the old road can double, if not triple, the time required.

Mexico 261 reconstruction, from Merida to Progreso, has literally been a life saver. My first Yucatan travel experience with this road was in 1975. At that time this road was a two laned death trap that was merely blacktop over the stony ground. The road was so bad that few traveled at any rate of speed and the impatient speed demons taking huge risks to pass caused many accidents and deaths. Thankfully the 281 is now an 8-10 lane expressway with overpasses and exits and the once one hour trip is now a safe 20 minute ride. Note that the 261 continues on to Muna, just north of Uxmal, and has greatly reduced travel time to these ruins.

The Periferico is literally an expressway ring around the city of Merida and affords you the opportunity to go around the capital of Merida and link up to the highways to your destination. Overpasses continue to be built and there still are areas with stop lights but at the rate they are building the overpasses will continue to speed up your Yucatan travel plans.

Side note: The Periferico, in the 1980’s was so far outside of the city that few people utilized it since if they had a breakdown it could be some time before help passed by. Eventually the city grew passed the ring and continues to spur development and growth and Merida continues to engulf what were once small Mayan villages.

Two other road improvements, although they are not expressways, are the Mex. 180 to the City of Campeche and the Yucatan 18 to Peto. These are very wide two lane roads that circumvent the towns and villages along the way, with occasional passing lanes. These improvements, along with the Mexican driving etiquette of signaling with their left turn signal and driving as far to the right as possible, makes passing slower moving vehicles on these wide roads very safe. The trip to Campeche is 2.5-3 hours.

The Yucatan 18 to Peto is a new highway that runs from Merida down to what is considered to be the “Breadbasket of Yucatan”. This area has become highly developed in agriculture and this road affords a direct link to the Port of Progreso. After you spend the morning at Uxmal, your Yucatan travel plans should include taking Mexico 184 out of Muna. This road follows the rim of the Chicxulub Crater and travels through Tekax, known for its pottery and tiles, Oxkutzcab, citrus production and export, and Tekax with its House of Three Floors castle. The Yucatan 18 greatly reduces the time needed for a trip to Chetumal and Belize.

Upon arriving to Yucatan, stop by an OXXO store or a Pemex gas station and purchase a copy of Guia Roji’s map called Por las Carreteras de Mexico. These are the most current maps of Mexico. You should not trust most maps on the internet since it has been my experience that they do not show the new roads and improvements.

Driving to Yucatan from the United States

If you are planning on making the drive to Yucatan, Mexico form the United States to bring your vehicles or your belongings, then you need to take a look at our friend Dave's website. He gives a detailed account and step by step directions from Brownsville to Merida.

Driving Through Mexico - Directions to Yucatan -This is a must read if you are planning on making the trip to Yucatan!


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