Take a Tour or Hire Your Own Driver?

Take a Tour or Hire Your Own Driver? 1

So, you’re in a tourist area and you want to see the sites. You see lots of tour options, what should you do? I highly recommend you consider hiring a private driver. It has lots of benefits, plus it can add a little romance to couple getaways!

In Mazatlan, a popular tour I’ve been on several times is to Copala and Concordia, two small mountain towns. It’s really a fun tour. You get to see old Mexico and meet adorable kids. Recently, my husband and I were going to go on this tour. We were the first to be picked up at a time I should never see while on vacation. Next we had to pick up all the other tourists at a variety of hotels. The first stop was a jewelry store. This had nothing to do with Copala or Concordia. The tour operators just wanted folks to buy jewelry. We were there for at least an hour. My husband and I aren’t big jewelry people, plus we had been on the “tour” for at least 2 hours at this point.  To say we were frustrated is an understatement. Since the tour hadn’t actually started, we decided to leave and get a refund.

As we left, we went past a big tourist place, the name of which I cannot remember. We were lucky enough to strike up a conversation with a tour driver who was waiting for the show to end. He was wearing a uniform with the tour name and he had a nearby van with the tour logo, so we knew he was legit. As we were chatting, he said tomorrow was his day off. We decided to hire him to take us on the Copala/Concordia tour the next day. The price was a bit more than our original tour, but it was SO well worth it.

Take a Tour or Hire Your Own Driver? 2

First off, we decided on the time to depart. Second, we didn’t hit a single jewelry store! We got to decide where to go, how long to stay and where to go next! We stopped by a candy store on our way up to the town, since we knew we’d see lots of kids in the small mountain towns. It was a tiny candy store that we never would have seen otherwise. Our guide was even able to tell us what kind of candy to pick.

Take a Tour or Hire Your Own Driver? 3

We stopped at a brick making location and walked through the entire process. Did you know each brick maker is paid per brick and they complete each step on their own, from digging and mixing the mud to forming and drying the bricks. The only part that is done as a group is the firing, which is simply building a huge fire within the bricks, which are stacked almost like a building. We never would have learned about this if we were on a large tour. We also stopped by a bakery that seemed to be in someone’s living room, no sign or anything. Again, no tour would have stopped there!

Our tour guide brought along a friend. Expect that. Everyone in Mexico has a friend/cousin/relative that will join them. This actually worked out just fine for us.

Take a Tour or Hire Your Own Driver? - Donkey-taxi

Next we went to the lovely mountain towns. We heard about so much more history than we ever would have known. Our tour guide took us to a wonderful restaurant with the best banana cream pie ever. He recommended some other house specials, as well. Since it was the tour guide’s day off, I suspect there were next to no tours going on. It meant none of the locations were crowded.

The benefits for the tourists are clear. The tour guide had the benefit of getting the full price, instead of just a cut.

A couple of tips on working with a private driver:

  • PLEASE agree upon a price first.
  •  I highly recommend you tip or buy lunch or something to show your appreciation.
  • Working with a tour guide on his day off helped us know he was a reputable guy. I wouldn’t just pick someone off the street.
  • Give the guy some latitude. He or she will show you amazing sights that aren’t written about in any tour guide.
  • If you can, share your guide’s contact information with others (unlike I have done here. I know his email had scoobydoo in it and ended with hotmail. Good luck with that!)

It was a memorable day and a wonderful experience. I so highly recommend this option! After doing this once, I would never consider a tour again.  213 254 5447


  1. Thanks for helping out, superb information.

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