If you have plans to drive to the third largest city in Mexico from the U.S., you may already be anticipating the spectacular scenery, the intermingled modern and old-world architectural styles, and the exquisite cuisine! Many tourists bypass this vibrant city located in the state of Nuevo Leon, but to do so would be a disservice to your adventures in Mexico.
Monterrey holds many exciting adventures. You can pretend you are a prince or princess from the 18th century at the Palacio del Obispado (Bishop’s Palace). You can gird your loins and jump off a mountain at the 230-foot bungee jump at the Cola de Caballo (you do you, right?)! Or maybe you want to add some Mexican magic to your journey by checking out Villa de Santiago, a “Pueblo Mágico, or Magical Town, defined as a ‘place with symbols and legends’ where ‘transcendental events’ that have shaped the History of Mexico took place.” If you’ve already checked off Sedona, AZ on your spiritual tourism journey, you need to add Villa de Santiago to your list.
Driving to Monterrey from California is a 24-hour road trip that will take upwards of two days and route you through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. You may choose to fly to Texas and begin your drive there. Most people heading to Monterrey cross the border in Laredo, TX. Once you’ve entered Mexico, it’s about three hours to Monterrey.
Before you leave, it is highly recommended to purchase Mexican car insurance. Your current American insurance will not work south of the border and Mexico requires all vehicles to have insurance issued from a Mexican insurance company. Failure to purchase the required insurance can lead to fines and worse – especially if you damage someone else’s property or vehicle.
Be forewarned that an “endorsement” on your current coverage is not a Mexico Insurance policy and might only have limited physical damage coverage, about 25 miles from the border. Make sure you get the peace of mind you need while traveling in this foreign country by purchasing valid Mexican car insurance.
Precautions for Driving from Laredo to Monterrey
Although the U.S. State Department has issued many travel advisories for Mexico, Nuevo Laredo falls under the more relaxed “Exercise Increased Caution” category. Driving through the Laredo border crossing and into the country can be accomplished safely, but travelers should use caution and common sense. Always have plenty of pesos in hand just in case you need money.
· You will need a valid (not expired) driver’s license to drive into Mexico.
· You will need to acquire a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP) if you are driving a vehicle with U.S. license plates. You can purchase the TIP online (recommended). This requires a refundable deposit of $200 to $400 (depending on the age of your vehicle).
· You will need to acquire a “Mexican Tourist Card” or FMM. It’s free for those staying under 7 days and approximately $35 for those staying longer. This can also be acquired online to avoid waiting in long lines.
· Plan your route, cross the border early in the morning, and drive only during the day. Depending on the time of the year, border crossings can be long, drawn-out ordeals, so it is always good to start early.
· Avoid stopping along the route and use the toll roads. The best advice is to purchase a toll pass ahead of time. Have water and snacks so you don’t need to stop.
· Remember speed limits are in kilometers per hour, not in miles, as a rule, the maximum speed on major highways is 110 km/h (68 mph).
· If you get stopped by local law enforcement, remove your sunglasses, be polite, and don’t offer a bribe.
How Much Does Mexican Car Insurance Cost?
Mexican car insurance premium depends on the value of your vehicle, the length of time you will be in Mexico, and the type of coverage you buy. We offer policies from one day to one year. If you cross the border several times during a period of six months, you might benefit from a discounted long-term policy. Contact one of our Sanborn’s agents for a personalized quote.
What to See and Do in Monterrey
Get your exploring mojo on with a trip to hike the Sierra Madre mountains or just check out the views. The area is a blend of old-world culture and architecture mixed with more modern attractions, such as fine dining, museums, cathedrals and more. Some of the must-see places include:
· Macroplaza, one of the largest plazas in the world. Walkways, fountains, and Monterrey’s most important buildings and sites are here. Perfect for people-watching!
· Barrio Antiguo is filled with old Mexico treasures and up-and-coming cafes, art galleries, and antique shops. Bring cash in pesos, most merchants don’t accept cards.
· Museo de Historia Mexicana – One of the most important museums in Monterrey. Learn about northern Mexican History through more than 1,200 artifacts with interactive galleries.
· Zona Rosa is an area downtown between the streets of Morelos, Zaragoza, and the Macroplaza, with hotels, restaurants, and great shopping.
Here is our Google Maps list of the best things to see and do for your next visit to Monterrey.
How to Dress for Monterrey’s Climate
January-April tends to be very moderate with highs in the 70s and 80s and lows in the 50s and 60s, so you may want to bring a mix of long- and short-sleeved tops, pants, and a light jacket. For the rest of the year:
· May-August: Highs are typically in the 90s and lows are in the 70s, so you’ll want to dress a little lighter during these hot days and warm nights short sleeves, shorts, and light pants will do you well.
· September-December: Highs begin to drop into the 70s and 80s while lows can drop to the mid-50s in December. Bring along some pants, long-sleeved shirts and a jacket.
Monterrey is temperate year-round, although it can get quite hot and muggy during the summer months. Bring sunscreen and a large hat to protect you from the rays. September is considered the wettest month, so pack appropriately (maybe a disposable rain poncho!).
The Nitty-Gritty of Driving to Monterrey, Mexico
First, make sure your car is ready for the trip by checking all your fluids, filling it up with gas (if you must buy gas in Mexico, you’ll be required to pay in pesos), and making sure your tire pressure is good. Once you’ve purchased your Mexican car insurance and required documents, make your way across the Juarez-Lincoln National Bridge to enter Mexico.
Once you’ve successfully gotten through the border, make your way to Hwy 85D South, a toll road. Don’t get confused and use Federal Hwy 85. You’ll want to stay on the toll road.
Get Mexican Auto Insurance Quotes with Sanborn's Insurance
With over 75 years of experience helping travelers, our agents at Sanborn's Mexico Insurance will help you customize the coverage you need while driving into Mexico.
If you are planning multiple border crossings in a year, you can get an annual Mexican policy with deeper discounts and more savings. At Sanborn’s, we have the fastest and cheapest coverage options for your trip to Mexico. Visit our website or call 800-222-0158.