San Juan Teotihuacán, México – Hoy no circula? That sounds Spanish to me!

There are a lot of non-transparent and partially incomprehensible traffic rules regarding driving in and around Mexico City. We want to clarify some of these rumours to make travelling easier for other passengers:

1. The outer northern highway ring around Mexico City is finished. It’s called Arco Norte, respectively MEX 40D. It is a toll road, but a good access road coming from the north, and by far not as expensive and used as the highways further in the city. Take care: There are no gas stations, parking lots, restrooms or catering along MEX 40 between Tula and MEX 132D.

2. There are two sufficiently well-known campgrounds at the edge of Mexico City, Pepe’s Hotel Posada in Tepotzotlán and Teotihuacán Trailer Park in San Juan Teotihuacán. Both have good bus connection for city visits, but the last mentioned is preferred by some travellers due to the world-renowned pyramid place Teotihuacán is just a few kilometres away. The only practical way to approach it is MEX 132 that is accessible from MEX 40 as well. The campground is not situated in the hoy no circula zone (more later) the owner assures us, although this is sometimes claimed, even in the “bible” Mexican Camping from Church & Church. The one-way regulation when reaching the campground mentioned in the same book doesn’t exist on our visit.

3. Hoy no circula means „don’t drive today“ and is a ruling to dam exhaust emissions. On each weekday and on each Saturday cars with certain license plates are not allowed to drive, decisive are the last digits of the car’s number plate as follows: Monday 5 and 6 (and each 1st Saturday of a month), Tuesday 7 and 8 (and each 2nd Saturday), Wednesday 3 and 4 (and each 3rd Saturday), Thursday 1 and 2 (and each 4th Saturday), Friday 9 and 0 (and each 5th Saturday, if applicable). This regulation does not apply to vehicles younger than eight years. Contrary reports, the rule is not valid for foreigners, aren’t true. Besides vehicles with a number plate outside of Mexico City (Distrito Federal) or the State of Mexico are not allowed to drive between 5 and 11 a.m. on weekdays. All these restrictions can be extended in case of smog. The PEMEX gas stations around Mexico have detailed information.

4. We couldn’t figure out exactly if a vehicle of a bigger size like ours is allowed to drive on the Periférico. This is a highway through Mexico City free of junctions and traffic lights, partially built on stilts. It is not allowed for delivery trucks to use it. There are different opinions if the ruling applies only to vehicles with a truck license plate or if it refers to the vehicle’s size.

5. Fines for infringements are drastic. Police officers have the right to confiscate vehicles. They will be stored for a day on a cordoned site and a high fine on the impounded car has to be paid.

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