Thinking of Mexico City? – Some tips before you go.

I’ve no earth shattering revelations to share with you but here are a few thoughts after a recent trip:

Getting There:

There are direct flights to Mexico City from major European airports. From Ireland, we went via Madrid which was the best value on the day. But against that, it meant a short flight followed by a 12 hour flight. If we’d traveled via the US, the 2 flights would have been more balanced time wise. Whatever route you take, make sure to allow enough time for transfers. No matter what options Skyscanner present, 90 minutes is NOT enough for any connection!!!

At the Airport:

There are taxi booths at the exit and its a fixed price for trips into town. You prepay at the booth and it costs about €20. The journey to the city takes about 20-30 minutes.

A SIM card is very useful but not essential. You can get a local SIM in the Telcel Store on the 2nd Departure level. Note that the store closes at 7.00pm. There will be WiFi in your hotel, in restaurants, shops, etc.

Getting Around:

Taxi is the most expensive option. Be very careful about hailing one on the street – especially at night.

Uber is generally reliable and affordable

There is an easy to use Metro system which uses symbols and colours to avoid language confusion. The subway is the most efficient way to get around because of course it avoids the street traffic. Metro cards are available in the stations but they can run out of supplies. The card is useful because it can also be used on buses ( the bus is slightly more expensive than the subway). If you cannot get a card, then just buy bundles of MXN $5 tickets ( €0.25) each. Incredible value.

The first few carriages may be female only. It can be a bit intimidating to jump into a carriage full of men further back but there was no unease among any female commuters. Its best to use an UBER after dark.

Money:

The Mexican Peso (MXN) is the currency. The symbol is the same as the US dollar sign $. Confirm which currency is being quoted for tourist trips etc.

Avoid exchange bureaus.

Most ATM’s will have a charge (which you agree to before withdrawal). Stay away from random isolated ATM’s.

Try to build up a stash of small notes and coins for small vendors, street food, tips, public toilets, etc.

If using credit card, many restaurants now do the transaction at your table so your card doesn’t leave your sight.

If possible, use Revolut (to pay less fees).

Carrying Valuables:

The main crime against tourists is petty theft.

Make sure you have copies of your documents. Usually, we’d carry the copies and leave the passports, etc. in the hotel safe but in Mexico City you will need your actual ID for the Palace and a few other places.

When not in use, carry your camera in a bag rather than slung around your neck in full view.

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(Bag Lady! – I carried a fold up shopper all the time for the camera which I only used in tourist areas)

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(In some places, I was happier leaving the camera in the bag and just using my phone)

Language:

English is common but not universally spoken. Don’t assume that every restaurant has an English menu. Learn a few numbers and phrases and download a translation app.

Plugs and Sockets:

USA appliances and adapters will work in Mexico.

Opening Hours:

Most public buildings remain closed on Mondays – plan accordingly. (Teotihuacan is open on Mondays)

What to Wear:

Well we’d all the wrong stuff anyway! In early January it was pleasant during the day (not roasting) – You’d need something over a t-shirt in the morning and evening. But I was COLD outdoors at night. I’d just a hoodie but wished I’d my winter coat! (Yes – that cold!!) And no way was I walking around at night in sandals – socks and runners every evening.

Apart from temperature, best advice is that this is not a city for shorts and flip flops at any time.

Food and Drink:

We were moving on to an all-inclusive after the city so were happy to just graze at food stalls and in mercados.

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Stick to stalls that are popular with locals.

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(“I’ll have what he’s having!”)
Drink bottled water.

Bathrooms:

The door with an M is for WOMEN (mujeres)!

Usual Common Sense Stuff:

Make sure you have travel insurance

Carry tissues and hand sanitizer

Beware of pickpockets in crowded places.

Finally, Don’t get too hung up on security issues and safety

You’ll have a wonderful time!

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9 thoughts on “Thinking of Mexico City? – Some tips before you go.

  1. Confusing with the same symbols for dollars and pesos! Good tip!

    Also funny about the bathrooms. It always takes me a while in another country to figure it out. 🙂

  2. Great post, fantastic tips and beautiful photos – I hope you had a great time exploring Mexico in January! It was such a dreadful month on the Emerald Isle! I didn’t know that the Metro carriages would be divided between man and woman, is it due to religion or safety? Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    1. It was in response to safety I believe Aiva- particularly at rush hour. But we didn’t split up so traveled several times in the general carriages without discomfort.

    1. Hi Maggie – We were pretty much in the tourist areas all the time and never felt uneasy. It being New Year, there were lots of visitors about. We were exhausted in the evenings so stayed close enough to our hotel which was near the Angel monument and had plenty of restaurant, coffee and bar options.

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