Car Rental in Oaxaca: Everything You Need to Know Before Your Trip

If you’re planning a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, you may be considering renting a car to get around. Car rental can be a convenient and affordable way to explore the region, but there are a few things you should know before you book. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about car rental in Oaxaca, including the best rental companies, important safety considerations, and tips for navigating the roads.

Why Rent a Car in Oaxaca?

Oaxaca is a beautiful state with plenty of scenic drives and off-the-beaten-path destinations to explore. While you can certainly get around using public transportation or hiring a driver, renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and on your own schedule. Plus, car rental can be surprisingly affordable, especially if you’re traveling with a group or planning to visit multiple destinations.

Choosing a Rental Company

When it comes to choosing a car rental company in Oaxaca, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure the company has a good reputation for safety and reliability. Look for reviews online and ask for recommendations from fellow travelers or your hotel concierge.

You should also consider the type of vehicle you’ll need. If you’re planning to explore rural areas or mountainous terrain, you may want to opt for a car with four-wheel drive. On the other hand, if you’ll be spending most of your time in the city, a smaller, more fuel-efficient car may be a better choice.

Finally, be sure to compare prices and look for any hidden fees or charges. Some rental companies may add on extra fees for insurance, GPS rental, or additional drivers, so it’s important to read the fine print before you book.

Safety Considerations

Before you hit the road in Oaxaca, it’s important to be aware of the unique safety considerations of driving in Mexico. First and foremost, be sure to have all the necessary paperwork and documentation, including your driver’s license, passport, and rental agreement. You should also make sure your rental car is properly insured, as Mexican liability insurance is mandatory.

It’s also important to be aware of the local driving culture. Mexican drivers may be more aggressive than you’re used to, and traffic laws may not always be strictly enforced. Be especially cautious when driving at night, as some roads may not be well-lit and there may be pedestrians or animals on the road.

Navigating the Roads

Driving in Oaxaca can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging if you’re not used to the local roads. Here are a few tips to help you navigate:

  • Use a GPS or map. GPS can be a lifesaver in unfamiliar territory, but make sure you have a backup in case you lose signal. A paper map can also come in handy.
  • Watch out for topes. Topes are speed bumps that are common on Mexican roads. They can be quite large and difficult to spot, so be sure to slow down when you see one.
  • Take your time. The roads in Oaxaca can be narrow and winding, so it’s important to take your time and drive defensively. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and avoid rushing.
  • Be prepared for tolls. Some of the major highways in Oaxaca are toll roads, so be sure to have cash on hand to pay the tolls.

Exploring Oaxaca by Car

Once you’re behind the wheel, it’s time to start exploring! Oaxaca has plenty of beautiful destinations to discover, from charming colonial towns to rugged mountain landscapes. Here are a few destinations to add to your Oaxaca road trip itinerary:

Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua is a natural wonder located about an hour and a half from Oaxaca city. It’s a series of mineral springs that have created petrified waterfalls and pools with a stunning turquoise color. The drive to Hierve el Agua is beautiful, taking you through rural villages and fields of agave plants.

Monte Alban

Monte Alban is an ancient Zapotec city located just a few miles from Oaxaca city. It was once a thriving center of civilization and has been well-preserved over the centuries. The site is perched on a hilltop and offers stunning views of the valley below.

Teotitlan del Valle

Teotitlan del Valle is a small town known for its traditional woolen rugs and textiles. It’s a great place to stop for a bit of shopping and to see how the rugs are made. You can also visit the local market and sample some of the town’s famous mezcal.

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is a beach town located on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca. It’s a popular destination for surfers and has a laid-back vibe. The drive to Puerto Escondido is long but scenic, taking you through the rugged mountains of the Sierra Madre del Sur.


Renting a car in Oaxaca can be a great way to see the sights and explore the region at your own pace. However, it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges of driving in Mexico and to choose a reputable rental company. With a little preparation and some careful driving, you can have a memorable road trip in one of Mexico’s most beautiful states.


  1. Do I need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Oaxaca?

No, you do not need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Oaxaca. Your regular driver’s license from your home country will be sufficient.

  1. Can I rent a car in Oaxaca if I am under 25?

Most car rental companies in Oaxaca require renters to be at least 25 years old. However, some companies may make exceptions if you pay an additional fee or provide proof of insurance.

  1. Is it safe to drive in Oaxaca?

Driving in Oaxaca can be safe if you take the necessary precautions, such as driving defensively and following local traffic laws. However, it’s important to be aware of the unique safety considerations of driving in Mexico.

  1. Can I drive to Oaxaca from the United States?

Yes, you can drive to Oaxaca from the United States. However, it is a long and often challenging drive, and you will need to cross the border into Mexico. Be sure to have all the necessary documentation and be aware of the current border crossing requirements.

  1. Do I need to purchase additional insurance when renting a car in Oaxaca?

Yes, it is recommended that you purchase additional insurance when renting a car in Oaxaca. Mexican liability insurance is mandatory, and you may also want to consider additional coverage for theft or damage to the rental car. Be sure to check with your rental company for more information.