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Mexico City

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Federal District : Mexico City
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Mexico City is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Mexico City Cathedral in the Centro

Mexico City [1] (Spanish: México, Ciudad de México, or D.F. (pronounced deh eh-feh)) is the Capital of Mexico, and one of the world's largest and most populated cities.


Districts

Mexico City main districts and roads

The city is officially divided into 16 delegaciones (boroughs) which are in turn subdivided into colonias (neighborhoods), of which there are around 250; however, it is better to think of the city in terms of districts to facilitate the visitor getting around. Many older towns like Coyoacán, San Angel and Tlalpan got merged into the urban sprawl, and each of these still manages to preserve some of its original, unique character.


  • Centro Historico - Where it all began. Historic city center that is focused on the Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución and extends in all directions for a number of blocks with its furthest extent being west to the Alameda Central. The Zocalo is the largest square in Latin America and the second largest in the world after Moscow’s Red Square.
  • Chapultepec - Lomas - Chapultepec is one of the biggest urban parks world over; its name means grass hopper hill and hosts the the main city zoo, many museums and an amusement park. Lomas is the wealthiest district in the city nearby Chapultepec.
  • Polanco - One of the wealthiest residential areas with some of the most expensive boutique stores in the city. Filled with embassies, upscale restaurants, night clubs and hotels.
  • Zona Rosa - Better known to tourist as Reforma district because embraces Paseo de la Reforma avenue, it is an important business and entertainment district. There is a strong gay presence here as well.
  • Coyoacán - A colonial town swallowed by the city turned into neo intellectual district.
  • Condesa and Roma - Recently reborn after decades of oblivion, with plenty of trendy restaurants, bistros, clubs, pubs and shops.
  • San Angel - Trendy, gentrified area lined with cobblestone streets, upscale boutiques and many restaurants. Its a wealthy residential area as well.
  • Xochimilco - Is better known for its extended series of canals — all that remains of the ancient Xochimilco lake. Xochimilco has kept its ancient traditions, even though its proximity to Mexico City influence that area to urbanize.
  • Santa Fe - Business district at the city western tip that consists mainly of highrise buildings surrounding a large shopping mall.
  • Del Valle and Narvarte - Middle class residential, business and shopping area in south central city.
  • Tlalpan and Pedregal - Largest of the boroughs and Tlalpan is home of Ajusco, a volcanic mountain peak and National Park, one of the highest mountains in Mexico City.

The outer area of Mexico City includes:

Understand

Angel de la Independencia in Zona Rosa

The greater Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the world's largest and most populated, with an estimate of about 20 million people living in the region. It is shaped roughly like an oval of about 60 by 40 kilometers, built on the dry bed of Lake Texcoco, and surrounded on three sides by tall mountains and volcanoes such as the Ajusco, the Popocatepetl and the Ixtlacihuatl. Mexico City proper (with an estimated population of between 8 to 9 million) is located in the Federal District (Spanish: Distrito Federal or D.F.), a federally-administered area (that is, not part of any Mexican state) which acts as the capital of Mexico. The rest of the metropolitan area extends beyond it into Mexico State, which surrounds D.F. on three sides. Legally and practically speaking, Mexico City is the same as the Federal District, and that is where most tourists will spend the majority of their time when visiting or staying in the city.

File:MexCity5.JPG
Downtown Mexico city is very decentralized with both high-rise and low-rise buildings, unlike American cities' skylines.

Mexico City is divided up into 16 delegaciones, similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into "colonias" (neighborhoods), of which there are about 250. Knowing what colonia you're going to is essential to getting around, almost all locals will know where a given colonia is (however, beware that there are some colonias with duplicate or very similar names). As with many very large cities, the structure is relatively decentralized, with several parts of the city having their own miniature "downtown areas". However, the real downtown areas are Centro, the old city center, and Zona Rosa, the new business and entertainment district.

The city is located 2200 meters above the sea level. Some people not used to high places have experienced difficulty when breathing, however these symptoms fade a few minutes after arrival.

Skyline of Reforma skyscrapers

Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city; it's huge. There is an enormous selection of venues: clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and variations and combinations thereof to choose from. There is incredible variation, from ultramodern lounges in Santa Fe and Reforma, to decades-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacán and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, Condesa and the Zona Rosa.

Also, when going out, check the date, since this is an important indicator of how full places will generally be, and how long you might have to wait to get in. Salaries are usually paid twice per month, the 30th/31st-1st, and the 14th-15th. On or right after these dates is when most Mexicans will go out, especially if pay day coincides with a weekend. In the more expensive places, people might leave for Acapulco or vacations farther afield during the summer and long weekends. Mexican weekends, in the sense of when it's common to go out drinking, are Thursday night to Sunday morning, and sometimes throughout Sunday.

History

File:MexCity2.JPG
Chapultepec Park overlooking Polanco's Skyline.

The origins of Mexico City date back to 1325, when the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan was founded and later destroyed in 1521 by Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortez. The city served as the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain until the outbreak of the Independence War in 1810. The city became the capital of the Mexican Empire in 1821 and of the Mexican Republic in 1823 after the abdication of Agustin de Iturbide. During the Mexico - U.S. war in 1847, the city was invaded by the American army. In 1864 the French invaded Mexico and the emperor Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg ruled the country from the Castillo de Chapultepec and ordered to build Avenue of the Empress (today's Paseo de la Reforma promenade). Porfirio Díaz assumed power in 1876 and left an outstanding mark in the city with many European styled buildings such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Palacio Postal. Diaz was overthrown in 1910 with the Mexican Revolution and this marked a radical change in the city's architecture. The 20th century saw the uncontrolled growth of the City beyond the Centro Historico with the influx of thousands of immigrants from the rest of the country. In 1968 the city was host to the Olympic Games which saw the construction of the Azteca stadium, the Palacio de los Deportes, the Olympic stadium and other sports facilities. In 1985 the city suffered an 8.1 Richter grade earthquake that tore down several buildings in the Centro Historico, Colonia Roma and other old neighborhoods.

Economy

Mexico City ranks 8th in terms of GDP size among 30 world cities. More than a third of total Mexican economy is concentrated here. The size of its economy is US $315 billion, compared to $1.1 trillion of that of New York. Mexico City is the wealthiest city in all of Latin America, with a nominal GDP per capita is $37,696. Mexico City's poverty rate is also the lowest in Mexico, at 1,5%, and its Human Development Index (HDI) is the highest in the nation at 0.8930. It is home to the Mexican Stock Exchange. Most of the large local and multinational corporations are headquartered here, mainly in the Polanco and Santa Fe districts.

Climate

Mexico City weather is divided in two seasons, the dry, from November to April, and the rainy from May to October. Spring months are warm, while the summer months can vary from light to heavy rains especially in the late afternoon. Fall and winter dawns get really cold but with an amazingly clear sky. Temperatures range from 0°C in late October, November, December and January mornings, to 32°C in March, April and May during mid-day highs.mah

Air pollution

Pollution over Mexico City.
Mexico City air pollution index scale

The city sits in a valley, formed by mountains and volcanoes, making this the worst of the environments to locate one of the largest cities in the world. In 1987, pollution was at its worst when one day thousands of birds appeared dead on the sidewalks of the city. Environmentalists attributed this to air pollution. This situation obliged authorities to implement measures to improve air quality, resulting in the transfer of most of heavy industry (glass, car and steel factories) and oil refineries outside of the city and the introduction of unleaded vehicle fuels. Today, the air quality is in much better shape and ozone and carbon dioxide levels are on the fall. Although the smog layer is visible nearly every day, its effects in terms of breathing and eye irritation should be barely noticeable and it should not be a worry for the visitor. Pollution is in maximun effect in the hot, dry season of spring, from late February to early May and there is a greenhouse effect that appears during winter from late November to early February. You can check the current air quality on the Atmospheric Monitoring System website [2]. This government body established an index denominated IMECA (Metropolitan Index for Air Quality) in order to make population aware of the current air pollution situation. When the index exceeds 170 points, a "Environmental pre-contingency" is issued and people are asked to refrain from performing open-air activities such as sports. In the case of an "Environmental Contingency", only vehicles with a cero or doble cero emissions sticker can circulate.

Earthquakes

The catastrophic earthquake of 8.1 degrees richter that took place in the morning of September 19th 1985 and took the lives of between 9,000 and 30,000 people, remains fresh in the memory of the majority of Mexico City's inhabitants. Since the city was established in the dry bed of lake Texcoco and several geological faults that originate in the pacific coast reach the city, earthquakes are a common phenomena. Right after the 1985 earthquake many constructions were reinforced and new buildings are designed to meet structural criteria by law and no major building collapse has happened since, even after several strong earthquakes. You can check the latest earthquake activity at the National Earthquake Center [3] an institute of the National University (UNAM). Should you happen to be in the middle of an earthquake, remain calm and follow some simple rules: if you are indoors, stay under the doorways, move away of objects that can fall, and/or follow exit paths ("Ruta de Evacuación") out to the streets; if you are outdoors, move away from slopes or electrical wires towards open areas or marked "safe zones".

People

File:MexCity3.JPG
Upscale neighborhood west of the city.

With a population of more than 20 million including the greater metropolitan area, you can expect to find all kinds of people in Mexico City, in terms of racial, sexual, political, cultural and wealth diversity. Citizens are mostly Criollo (people of unmixed Spanish racial background) and Mestizo (people of mixed Spanish and Amerindian racial background). Amerindian people constitute less than one percent of the city's population, but there are some who are still moving to the city in search of opportunities, unfortunately they are racially discriminated by most in society, and they only find poverty and end up living in slums at the city outskirts.

As a big city, it is also the home of large foreign communities, like Cubans, Spaniards, Americans, Jews, Chinese, Chilean, Lebanese, and more recently Argentines and Koreans. It is the temporary home to many expats too, working here for the many multinational companies operating in Mexico.

Mexico City is also perhaps the most liberal city in Latin America. As such, this is generally a gay friendly city, particularly in the Zona Rosa District. Civil unions/marriage for same sex couples are legal within Mexico City. Abortion on demand is also legal, as well as euthanasia, and prostitution (only in a designated "red light" district), which were recently legalized.

Costs

Although Mexico City is considered an expensive city, your trip budget will depend on your lifestyle and way of traveling, as you can find cheap and expensive prices for almost everything. Public transportation is very cheap and there are many affordable places to eat. On the other hand you can find world-class hotels and fancy restaurants with higher prices. A daily backpacker budget for transportation and meals should range between 100 to 200 pesos a day (10 to 20 USD), using public transport and eating at street stands, while a more comfortable budget should range between 200 to 500 pesos a day (20 to 50 USD) using private taxis (taxi de sitio) and eating at fast food places, for those that money is not a problem then the sky is the limit.

Addresses

The addressing system is fairly simple, starting by street name, house number, colonia (neighborhood), city, state and postal code. A typical address could be something like Colima 15, Colonia Roma Norte, Mexico, Distrito Federal, 06760. However, the numbering tends to not be in the right order!

Photography

For the avid photographer, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. The city is paranoid about tripods. You are not allowed to use a tripod in any ticketed place, such as museums, the metro stations, architectural ruins, etc. You will be politely asked to hold your camera in your hands. Apparently, it has something to do with being a professional. However, you can sneak a few pictures with the tripod (lots of HDR opportunities and panoramas) and feign confusion each time you are stopped by a different authority.

Compact Flash cards can be found at several different locations. Look for stores such as Radio Shack, Office Depot, Office Max or Wal-Mart. Prices tend to be on the high end, but they are affordable. You could also try some of the places that are dedicated to selling photographic equipment, they are easily identified because you will see the street signs with names such as Kodak or Fuji.

You can print your photos at most of the major chains of pharmacies around town, look for Farmacias Benavides, Farmacias Guadalajara or Farmacias del Ahorro (with a white 'A' inside a red circle). Prices differ from store to store. Also, while near the Zocalo on the street Republica de Brasil, many people standing on the side of the sidewalk will verbally advertise "imprentas." They are offering printing services.

For people who love to do street photography, a good place to start is in front of the Bellas Artes square, during afternoons. There is a smorgasbord of faces cutting across the square and perching on one of the benches for an hour will easily give you access to photography fodder. Many urchins and ethnic street dwellers have learnt to ask for money before allowing you to shoot them. Sympathize and accept. It is worth it.

Keep in mind some museums, like the Museum of National History in the Chapultepec, charge an extra fee for those with video cameras. Also in most museums, flash photography is not permitted.

Talk

Like the majority of Mexico, Spanish is the dominant language in Mexico City. English may be spoken in the city's affluent neighborhoods and tourist areas such as Polanco, Chapultepec, Satelite, and Santa Fe, as well as by ex pats and Americans working and living in the city, but knowing some Spanish is a necessity to truly enjoy this city as much of the city's population is monolingual.

Get in

By plane

Benito Juarez International Airport (IATA: MEX) (ICAO: MMMX)

Most travelers arrive to Mexico City by air, to the Benito Juárez International Airport [4], located in the eastern part of the city. There are frequent flights to and from most larger cities in the world, as Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, London, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Chicago, Toronto and Tokyo. Some of the international airlines that operate regular flights to Mexico City include (as of April 2007): Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Alaska Airlines [5], American Airlines, Avianca, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Copa, Cubana de Aviacion, Delta [6], Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, LAN, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (recently grounded), Lufthansa, Mexicana, Northwest, TACA, Varig, Ocean Air, United Airlines and US Airways. The airport has a plane spotting area. To reach it, take the subway and go to the Terminal Aerea station.

As of January 16, 2008, a new terminal, Terminal 2, opened at Benito Juarez. If you are flying in or out of the city check with your airline as to what terminal you should use for ticketing and check-in. Give yourself extra time to make your flight to avoid confusion.

Arrival

If you arrive on an international flight, after picking up your luggage you will go through Immigration, and then Customs. Make sure you fill in all forms prior to landing to make this an expedite process. Sometimes the airline will hand them out on the flight. There is a $300 Dollars duty allowance that include new clothing, tobacco and liquors. The Mexican customs law allows passengers to bring free of duties a laptop, an mp3 player, a digital camera, a tripod, a video camera and used clothing.

You will also be required to fill out a Migratory Form for Foreign Tourist, Transmigrant, Business Visitor of Council Visitor which must be stamped by the customs officer. This form has a bar code on it and a blue stripe across the top saying "Estados Unidos Mexicanos." Be sure not to lose this form as without it, you will not be able to leave the country. If you lose or misplace it during the visit, you must visit the immigration office at the airport to fill out a new one. If you plead ignorance they may let it go, but otherwise there's a 440 peso fine.

After going through customs you will pick up your luggage, then pass through screening. You will press a button for a red or green light. The red means they will search you, the green means you can go.

The entire process, from when the plane arrives to when you are done with customs, usually takes about an hour. After completing customs you will go through large doors to the waiting area for international arrivals. Be prepared to see a lot of people in this area. It is a custom for families to pick up their beloved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size. There are carriers who will offer to carry your luggage. This is a service authorized by the airport and is safe - they will be uniformed with white shirts, navy blue tie and dark blue pants, and will carry a wheelie (or keep it nearby) with the union logo on it. There is no fixed price for this service, but 15-25 pesos should be fine, unless you are travelling in a group or have a lot of bags.

Currency conversion

The airport offers the best rates for converting your currency. There are many currency changers, some offering better rates than others. The converter near Gate E1, in the arrival wing offers the best rate.

Ground transportation
  • Taxi— The airport offers a service of licensed and secure taxis known as Transportacion Terrestre [7]. These cabs are white and yellow with black airplane stickers on the doors. You should buy a ticket in the marked counters inside the airport. You can ask one of the wheelie guys for "Taxi Seguro", or "Boleto de Taxi" and he'll take you and your luggage to the Taxi counter. Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from 5 to 25 US dollars for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car and the zone of the city you are going to. A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. Some ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans to single persons with moderate amounts of luggage. Be aware the airport is not located in the best area of the city, so it is not recommended for tourists to walk outside the airport terminal in search for cheaper taxi service unless you have pre-arranged your service. Despite this, an alternative Taxi Sitio (site) can be reached by using the overpass located outside of Gate D. Taxis here are about half the price of the official airport taxis and are considered secure - this is the Sitio that is set up for the airline employees.
  • Metro— If you are looking for a more economical means of transportation and you're not carrying too much luggage, take the Metro (Subway). The Terminal Aerea station is next to the Domestic flights terminal 1, to the left when coming out from the international arrivals hall. The tickets cost 2 pesos each. Realize that the Metro has its own risks - pick pocketing is a moderate danger so be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings. When you arrive at terminal 2 there is no metro station. You have to transfer to terminal 1 first.


Travel Warning WARNING: Sometimes during rush hours, the Metro authorities will separate women from men in order to protect women from sexual harassment. It is not compulsory for women to travel separately if they are accompanied by men, but just in case, plan ahead and decide beforehand on which station are you going to hop off.

Licenciado Adolfo López Mateos International Airport

This airport (IATA: TLC) (ICAO: MMTO) is located in the City of Toluca 50 kilometers southwest of Mexico City and recently transformed itself from a general aviation airport into the hub of several domestic low-cost carriers such as Interjet and Volaris which serve destinations as Monterrey, Cancún, Guadalajara, Tijuana and many other Mexican cities. As of April 2007, Toluca is served internationally by Continental Airlines from Houston. Reaching the Toluca airport is not easy since you will need to drive your own car or hire a taxi which could be expensive. Volaris offers free airport shuttle from its Santa Fe office in Vasco de Quiroga Avenue, while Interjet offers shuttle from several hotels around the city, including the Santa Fe Sheraton hotel.

Depending on your overall trip, it might also be worth considering flying to nearby cities as Cuernavaca (CVJ) and Puebla (PBC), however reaching Mexico City from these places could be quite tiresome and expensive.

By bus

Although most of foreign travelers will reach Mexico City by air, it is also possible to arrive by bus. Greyhound offers several connecting routes from the United States and it is possible to buy one single ticket from many major cities in the U.S. to Mexico. Traveling by bus in Mexico is comfortable compared to other countries, since many Mexicans used to travel by bus until the recent introduction of several low-cost airlines.

The city has 4 major bus stations:

  • Terminal Autobuses del Norte, Av. 100 Metros 4907, Colonia Magdalena de las Salinas, tel 5587 1552. Metro station stop "Autobuses del Norte" (Line 5, yellow). Most buses departing to and arriving from bordering towns with the U.S. operate from this terminal such as Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Reynosa, even Ciudad Juarez. Other destinations that depart from this terminal: Acapulco, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, Leon, Queretaro, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Hermosillo, Tijuana. Overall, buses are bound to northern Mexico.
  • Terminal de Autobuses del Poniente, Av. Sur 122, Colonia Real del Monte. Metro station "Observatorio" (Line 1, pink). Also known as Terminal de Autobuses Observatorio. Usually used for destinations in the western part of Mexico such as Collima, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Toluca.
  • Terminal de Autobuses del Sur "Taxqueña", Av. Taxqueña 1320, Colonia Campestre Churubusco, Metro station "Taxqueña"(Line 2, blue). This station is used for destinations in southern Mexico such as: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Oaxaca, Tepoztlan, Puebla.
  • Terminal de Autobuses del Oriente "TAPO", Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza 200, Colonia 10 de Mayo. Metro Station "San Lazaro" (Line 1, pink). Serving also destinations in the south and the gulf of Mexico such as: Campeche, Cancun, Merida, Villahermosa, Veracruz, Jalapa.

Some of the most common bus lines in Mexico:

  • ADO
  • Estrella Roja
  • Omnibus de Mexico
  • ETN Real first class buses
  • UNO

By train

Passenger train services ceased operating in Mexico some ten years ago, only freight trains ride to and around Mexico City. Nowadays only one train route is operating. This is the Chihuahua Pacífico route between CHihuahua and Los Mochis, crossing the Sierra. Tarahumara

Get around

File:MexCity4.JPG
Mexico City's Metro streches northeast into Ecatepec, State of Mexico.

Mexico City is a huge place, but driving is definitely not a way to see it even if tourist attractions are scattered throughout the city. A good way to plan your trip is to stop by Guia Roji [8] to identify the location of the "Colonias" (neighborhoods) you intend to visit. You may also try Google Maps [9] and Map24 [10], to find addresses and even look for directions.

Mexico City has several public transport alternatives. Metro is reliable and runs underground, the city government operates the RTP bus system and Electric Trolley buses. There are also plenty of franchised private buses which are less reliable and safe because of their driving habits. And finally thousands of taxis, many of them old Volkswagen bugs in their famous green paint scheme.

By metro

Mexico City Metro

Officially named Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, but known simply as Metro [11], it is one of the largest and most used subway systems in the world, comprised by 11 different lines that measure more than 170 km and carry 4.4 million people every day. You'll quickly see how busy it is, particularly during the day: trains are often filled to capacity, and sometimes it will be hot and uncomfortable. Despite the close quarters, it's relatively quick and efficient, especially as an alternative to taxis during rush hours, and extremely cheap (tickets for one trip with unlimited transfers within the system are only $2!). Trains run every couple of minutes, so if you just miss it, you won't have long to wait until another arrives, and the Metro can be the quickest way to travel longer distances within the city. Stations usually have food stalls inside and outside the entrances, and many have city-sponsored exhibits and artwork on display, so it's good even for a look around. Operating hours are from 5AM to midnight on weekdays (starts at 6AM on Saturday and 7AM on Sunday), so if your plans will keep you out beyond midnight, be sure to have alternate means of transport.

Although the Metro lacks informational signs in English, the system was originally designed with illiteracy in mind, so finding your way around should not be a problem. Lines are defined by number but also by a color, and that color runs as a thematic band across the entire station and along the entire route, so you always know what line you are on. Stations are identified by name but also by a pictorial icon that represents that area in some way. However, even with this user-friendly approach, entire maps of the Metro system are not posted everywhere that you'd like. They're usually only near ticket booths; there are no maps on the trains and only rarely posted on the platforms, so work out your route before going through the turnstiles. Trains and platforms do have a line diagram with icons and transfer points for easy reference.

Some lines run through more tourist-related spots than others and will become very familiar to you after a while. Line 1 (pink) runs through many tourist spots, such as Centro Historico (Salto del Agua station), the Chapultepec Forest (Chapultepec Station), Condesa and Roma neighborhoods (Insurgentes and Sevilla stations) and the Northwest Bus Station (Observatorio station). Line 2 (blue) runs through the Centro Historico (Allende, Zocalo and Bellas Artes stations) and reaches the South Bus Station (Tasqueña). Line 7 (orange) runs through many touristic spots such as the Chapultepec Forest (Auditorio Station) and the Polanco neighborhood (Polanco Station). Line 9 (brown) runs near the Condesa neighborhood (Chilpancingo). Line 3 (green) runs near Coyoacan (Coyoacan and Miguel Angel de Quevedo stations) and also near the City University (Copilco and Ciudad Universitaria stations). If traveling to and from the airport, you'll use Line 5 (yellow) to connect to the Mexico City International Airport (Terminal Aerea station).

Here are a few of the commonly-used Metro signs translated into English:

  • Taquilla - Ticket booth
  • Entrada - Entrance
  • Salida - Exit
  • No Pase - Do not enter
  • Andenes - Train platforms (both directions)
  • Correspondencia - Line transfer

As you enter a Metro station, look for the ticket booth. There might be a short queue for tickets, and to avoid having to always stand in line, many people buy a small handful of tickets at a time. A sign is posted by the ticket window that shows how much it would cost for any number of tickets. Once you approach the agent, simply drop some money into the tray and announce (in Spanish) how many tickets you would like ("uno" for $2, "cinco" for $10, "diez" for $20, and so on). You do not need to say anything about where you are going, since fares are the same for everywhere in the system.

Once you have your ticket (boleto) it is time to go through the turnstiles (but make sure to confirm your route on a map first!). The stiles are clearly marked for exit or entry but if you are confused, simply follow the crowd. Insert the ticket into the slot (it does not matter which direction is up or forward) and a small display will flash, indicating you may proceed. You won't get the ticket back. A few frequent Metro users use keycards instead of tickets, so if you see any turnstiles marked with "solo tarjeta" that means the ticket reader is broken; just move to another turnstile.

Past the turnstiles, signs that tell you where to go depending on your direction within the Line are usually clearly marked, as are signs that tell you where to transfer to a different Line. There is no standard station layout, but they are all designed to facilitate vast amounts of human traffic, so following the crowd works well, as long you double check the signs to make sure the crowd is taking you in the same direction.

On the platform, try to stand near the edge. During rush hours when it can get pretty crowded, there is sometimes a mad rush on and off the train. Although for the most part people are respectful and usually let departing passengers off first, train doors are always threatening to close and that means you need to be moderately aggressive if you don't want to get left behind. If you're traveling in a group, this could mean having to travel separately. At the ends of the platform, the train is usually less crowded, so you could wait there, but during rush hours some busier stations reserve those sections of platform exclusively for women and children for their safety.

While on the train, you will see a steady stream of people walking through the carriages announcing their wares for sale. Act as if you are used to them (that is, ignore them, unless they need to pass you). Most often you'll see the city's blind population make their living by selling pirate music CD's, blaring their songs through amplifiers carried in a backpack. There are people who "perform" (such as singing, or repeatedly somersaulting shirtless onto a pile of broken glass) and expect a donation. There are also people who hand out candy or snacks between stops, and if you eat it or keep it you are expected to pay for it; if you don't want it, they'll take it back at the next stop. It's all quite amusing, but don't laugh... this is how they make a living. The best thing to do is observing how others around you behave, but you can usually just avoid eye contact with these merchants and they will leave you alone.

If the merchants weren't enough, the trains are usually just crowded places to be. You will usually not get seats if you are traveling through the city center during the day, and even if you do, it's considered good manners to offer your seat to the aged, pregnant or disabled, as all cars have clearly marked handicap seats. In keeping with the mad rush on and off the train, people will move toward the exits before the train stops, so let them through and feel free to do the same when you need to (a "con permiso" helps, but body language speaks the loudest here).

A few words of warning, there have been incidences of pickpocketing. Keep your belongings close to you; if you have bags, close them and keep them in sight. As long as you are alert and careful you won't have any problems. If theft or any other sort of harassment do occur, you can stop the train and attract the attention of the authorities by pulling on alarms near the doors, which are labeled "señal de alarma."

When exiting, follow the crowd through signs marked Salida. Many stations have multiple exits to different streets (or different sides of streets, marked with a cardinal direction) and should have posted road maps that show the immediate area with icons for banks, restaurants, parks and so forth. Use these to orient yourself and figure out where you need to go.

By bus

Mexico City RTP Bus


There are two kinds of buses. The first, are full-sized buses operated by the City Government known as RTP [12] and cost $2.00 anywhere you go. Make sure to pay with exact change as they don't give change back. The second kind of buses are known as "Microbuses" or "Peseros". These buses are private-run and come in small and bigger sizes. Peseros cost 3.00 pesos for shorter trips, 3.50 for 6-12 km trips and 4 pesos for 12+ km trips. Full-sized private buses are 3.50 pesos for shorter trips, and 4.50 for longer trips.


Mexico City Microbus

Both type of buses usually stop at the same place. Riding RTP buses is probably a safer and more comfortable way than the private franchised and smaller microbuses who are known to have terrible driving habits.


Turibus


Buses can be packed during rush hours, and you have to pay attention to your stops (buses make very short stops if there's just one person getting off, so be ready), but they are very practical when your route aligns with a large avenue. There's usually a button above or close to the rear door to signal that you're getting off; if there isn't one, it's not working, or you can't get to it, shouting Bajan! (pronounced "BAH-han") in a loud and desperate voice usually works.


By metrobus

Mexico City Metrobus

Established in June 2005, the Metrobús operates in a confined lane along Insurgentes Avenue. Plans exist for additional routes. It costs 4.5 pesos to ride during the day, but a card must be bought in advance (11 pesos). After 11:30 or so, it's 5 pesos. There are stops approximately every 500m. Expect it to be crowded around the clock.

By trolley bus

"Trolebuses" [13] are operated by the Electric Transport Services. There are 15 Trolley bus lines that spread around for more than 400 km. They usually do not get as crowded as regular buses, and they are quite comfortable and reliable. They can be a little slower than regular buses, since they are unable to change lanes as quickly. There is a flat fare of 2 pesos (around 20 cents USD), and bus drivers do not give out change.

By light rail

The Tren Ligero [14] is operated by Electric Transport Services and consists of one single line that runs south of the city, connecting with Metro station Tasqueña (Line 2, blue; alternatively you may see it spelled as Taxqueña). For tourists, it is useful if you plan to visit Xochimilco or the Azteca stadium. The rate for a single ride is 2 pesos, and while the ticketing system works very similarly to the Metro, the tickets are not the same. You must purchase light rail tickets separately; they are sold at most stations along the line.

By taxi

Mexico City taxi

There are more than 250 thousand registered cabs in the city and they are one of the most efficient ways to get around. The prices are low, a fixed fee of about 6 pesos to get into the cab, and about 0.7 pesos per quarter kilometer or 45 seconds thereafter, for the normal taxis (taxi libre). The night rates, supposedly between 11PM at night and 6AM in the morning are about 20% higher. Some taxis "adjust" their meters to run more quickly, but in general, cab fare is cheap, and it's usually easy to find a taxi. At night, and in areas where there are few taxis, cab drivers will often not use the meter, but rather quote you a price before you get in. This price will often be high, however, you can haggle. They will tell you that their price is good because they are "safe". If you don't agree on the price, don't worry, another cab will come along.

Catching cabs in the street can be dangerous, since free-range cabs are not accountable to anyone. Taxi robberies, so-called "express kidnappings", where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their credit cards, do occur, but there are some general precautions that will minimize the risk:

  • Taxis have special license plates. The registration number starts with "L" or "A" for free-roaming taxis, and with "S" for base taxis (registered taxis based on a certain spot, called "sitios"). Base taxis are safer.
  • The taxi license should be displayed inside the taxi; usually it is mounted somewhere above the windshield. Check that the photo of the driver on the license is of the actual driver. Make a point of looking at it.
  • Look for the meter. Without it they will be more likely to rip you off.
  • If you are nervous, take base taxis only. These may be a bit more expensive, but are well worth the expense.
  • If you are safety-conscious or require additional comfort, consider radio taxis, which can be called by phone, and are extremely reliable and safe, although a bit pricier than other taxis. Most restaurants, hotels, etc. have the number for radio taxis. Radio taxis will usually give you the price for the trip on the phone when you order them. Radio taxis charge more than regular taxis, but are available all night. Hotel taxis will be significantly more expensive than site or radio taxis.
  • As with absolutely everything else, risks are greater at night. At night radio taxis are recommended.


Mexico City is so large, and many street names so common, that cab drivers are unlikely to know where to go when you give only a name or address of your destination. Always include either the name of the colonia or the district (i.e. "Zona Rosa"), as well as any nearby landmarks or cross streets. You may be asked to give directions near the tail end of the journey; if either your Spanish or your sense of direction is poor, carry a map and be prepared to point.

By Turibus

The Turibus [15] is a sightseeing double-decker hop-in hop-off bus that is a good alternative to see the city if you don't have too much time. The one-day ticket costs $120 pesos (around USD $11) and its route includes the Zona Rosa, Chapultepec Park, Polanco, Condesa, Roma and the Historic Center. There is a secondary route which just started in late May 2007, and runs from Fuente de la Cibeles in Condesa to Coyoacan and Xochimilco. Your ticket should be valid for both routes.

If you get lost

If you get absolutely lost and you are far away from your hotel, hop into a pesero (mini bus) or bus that takes you to a Metro station [16]; most of them do. Look for the sign with the stylized metro "M" in the front window. From there and using the wall maps you can get back to a more familiar place.

By Car

File:MexCity8.JPG
Freeway traffic before rush hour around El Predregal zone in the southwest region.

Driving around by car is the least advised way to visit the city due to the complicated road structure and the 3.5 million vehicles moving around the city. Traffic jams are almost omnipresent on weekdays, and driving from one end of the city to the other could take you between 2 to 4 hours at peak times. The condition of pavement in freeways such as Viaducto and Periferico is good, however in avenues, streets and roads varies from fair to poor since most streets have fissures, bumps and holes. Most are paved with asphalt and only until recently some have been paved using concrete. Since the city grew without planned control, the street structure resembles a labyrinth in many areas. Driving can turn into a really challenging experience if you don't know precisely well where are you going. There is only one company that has been able to map the entire city, Guia Roji [17]. Shortcuts are complicated and often involve about six to eight turns.

Street parking (Estacionamiento in Spanish) is scarce around the City and practically nonexistent in crowded areas. Where available expect to pay between $12 to $18 pesos an hour while most of hotels charge between $25 to $50 pesos an hour. Some areas of the city such as Zona Rosa, Chapultepec, Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa have parking meters on the sidewalks which are about $10 pesos an hour and are free on weekends. It is possible to park in other streets without meters but is likely there will be a "parking vendor" (Franelero in Spanish) which are not authorized by the city, but will "take care of your car". Expect to pay between $10 to $20 pesos to these fellows, some of them will "charge" at your arrival, the best advice is to pay if you want to see your car in good shape when you come back.

File:MexCity11.JPG
With some seven million cars, evening rush hour in Mexico City is no different than any other major city.

Hoy No Circula (Today You Do Not Circulate) is an extremely important anti-traffic and anti-pollution program that all visitors including foreigners must take into consideration when wishing to drive through Mexico City and nearby Mexico State with their foreign-plated vehicles, as they are not immune to these restrictions. It limits vehicle circulation to certain restricted hours during the day depending on the last digit of your plate number (plates with all letters are automatically assigned a digit). Currently, Mexico City, but not the State of Mexico, offers a special pass good for 2 weeks, that allows someone with a foreign-plated vehicle to be exempt from these restrictions. [18] Excellent details of how the program works for locals and foreigners is found at the following link: [19].

The visitor should take into consideration the following tips when driving: avenues have preference over streets and streets over closed streets. Continuous right turn even when traffic light red is allowed. Seat belts are mandatory for both front seats. If you're stopped by a police car, it is likely they will try to get money out from you. It is up to you if you accept to do so, the latest trend is to refuse giving them anything.

See

Santa Fe

Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the pre-Columbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch since then. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro. In addition, Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world (without taking into account art galleries), with New York #2, London #3 and Toronto #4.

Landmarks

  • Plaza de la Constitucion, commonly known as Zócalo in the Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) is one of the largest squares in the world, surrounded by historic buildings, including the City Hall and the Cathedral.
  • 'Cathedral the biggest in the Americas, fullfilled of gold.
  • Angel de la Independencia or simply known as "El Angel" is a monument in Reforma Avenue and Florencia Street, near Zona Rosa.
  • Basilica de Guadalupe, Catholicism's holiest place in the Americas, and the destination of pilgrims from all over the world, especially during the yearly celebration on the 12th of December. It is the shrine that guards the shroud of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
  • Ciudad Universitaria— The main campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, [20] the National University of Mexico. Located in Insurgentes Sur Avenue, it is one of the world's largest universities, with more than 270,000 students every semester. In 2007 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage place.
  • Coyoacán— historic counterculture district which was home to Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, amongst others.
  • Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi— The square is surrounded by cafés and restaurants much favored by tourists, and in these and in the square itself groups of musicians play folk music. Most of these groups are "mariachis" from Jalisco, dressed in Charro costume and playing trumpets, violins, guitars and the guitarrón or bass guitar. Payment is expected for each song, but it is also possible to arrange for a longer performances. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands.
  • Ciudadela crafts market— The Ciudadela is a Mexican crafts market where cultural groups from around Mexico distribute their crafts to other parts of the country and the world.
  • Alameda and Paseo de la Reforma— Paseo de la Reforma ("Reform Avenue") is a 12 km long grand avenue in Mexico City. The name commemorates the liberal reforms of Mexican President Benito Juarez.
  • Cineteca Nacional (National Film Archive)— It was the first to screen art films, and is known for its forums, retrospectives and homages. It has four screening rooms, a video and a film library, as well as a cafeteria.


  • Latinoamericana Tower for stunning views of the city. Its central location, height (183 m or 597 ft; 45 stories), and history make it one of Mexico City's most important landmarks.
  • Torre Mayor— It's the new and highest tower in town, and highest skyscraper in Latin America, and good for more impressive views of the city.
  • Mexico City National Cemetery[21] - 31 Virginia Fabregas, Colonia San Rafael. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM to 5PM. The cemetery is the final resting place for 750 unknown American soldiers lost during the Mexican-American War between 1846 and 1848. Another 813 Americans are also interred here. Free.

Parks

  • Chapultepec Park and Zoo Paseo de la Reforma. Is a large park of 6 square Km. in the middle of the City host to many attractions, including the city Zoo and several museums such as the Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, the Children's Museum (Museo del Papalote), the Technology Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum also known as Castillo de Chapultepec, the former residence of the Austrian Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg. Nearby Metro station: "Auditorio" (Line 7, Orange).
  • Xochimilco, a vast system of waterways and flower gardens dating back to Aztec times in the south of the city where tourists can enjoy a trip in the "trajineras" (vividly-colored boats). Trajineras pass each other carrying Mariachi or marimba bands. Xochimilco is the last remnant of how Mexico City looked like when the Spanish arrived to Mexico City in 1521 and it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987.
  • Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi, in Mexico City is surrounded by bars and restaurants that cater to Mariachi Band enthusiasts. It is where bands come to do public auditions outside, on weekend evenings, simply play for pleasure, or for whoever may pay them. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands. You can also find a great "pulqueria" here (a bar that sells pulque, an interesting fermented maguey cactus drink).

Museums

Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world.

  • National Museum of Anthropology Chapultepec. One of the best museums worldwide over, built in late 1960’s and designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, do not miss its impressive fountain. It gathers the best collection of sculptures, jewels and handcrafts from ancient Mexican cultures.
  • Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco has examples of modern, colonial, and pre-Columbian architecture, all around one square.
  • Museum of Modern Art Chapultepec. Here you will find paintings from Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo.
  • Dolores Olmedo Museum Xochimilco. An art philanthropist left her former home, the grand Hacienda La Noria, as a museum featuring the works of her friend Diego Rivera. At least 137 of his works are displayed here, as well as 25 paintings of Frida Kahlo.
  • Fine Arts Palace Museum (Palacio de Bellas Artes) Centro. A concert hall and an arts center, it houses some of Mexico's finest murals and the Art Deco interior is worth seeing alone.
  • Rufino Tamayo Museum Chapultepec. Contains the works of Mexican painter, Rufino Tamayo.
  • José Luis Cuevas Museum Centro. Opened in 1992 and is filled with about 1,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures from notorious artist, Jose Cuevas.
  • National History Museum in Chapultepec's Castle Chapultepec. The Museum's nineteen rooms contain, in addition to a collection of pre-Columbian material and reproductions of old manuscripts, a vast range of exhibits illustrating the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.
  • Papalote, children's Museum Chapultepec. If you've got kids, they'll love it! Bright, colorful, and filled with educational experiences for children of all ages.
  • Universum (National University's Museum) Coyoacán. A science museum maintained by UNAM, the largest university in Latin America. Take some time to wander around the Campus.
  • Casa Mural Diego Rivera Centro. Contains murals of acclaimed artist, Diego Rivera.
  • National Palace (Zocalo) Centro. You can see some impressive Diego Rivera frescoes. You'll need to carry some sort of ID in order to enter the building.
  • San Ildefonso Museum Centro. There are some of Orozco's best frescoes. The temporary exhibitions are usually very good.
  • Franz Meyer Museum Centro. Display the collections of Franz Mayer, it holds Mexico's largest decorative art collection and also hosts temporary exhibits in the fields of design and photography.
  • Mexico City's Museum Centro. Great place to learn about Mexico City's eclectic history.
  • Templo Mayor Museum (Zocalo) Centro. Contains the ruins and last remnants of the Aztec empire.
  • San Carlos Museum Centro. The San Carlos Musuem holds some of Mexico's best paintings and exhibit 15th and 16th century paintings.
  • National Art Museum Centro. The National Art Museum, houses a rich collection of Mexican art ranging from the 16th to the first half of the 20th centuries.
  • National History Museum Chapultepec. Displays a vast range of exhibits illustrating the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.
  • Frida Khalo Museum, Coyoacán Former house of the painter since she was born to her death.
  • Anahuacalli Museum, Coyoacán It houses Diego Rivera’s collection of Aztec and Mayan sculptures.

Do

NASCAR race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

As the world's largest city, Mexico City offers something for everyone and for every budget. Attractions in Mexico City focus less on lazing on the beach and more on exploring the culture of Mexico. The most usual schedule foreign travelers do is a visit to the Centro Historico, a visit to the ruins of Teotihuacan in the outskirts of the City and probably a visit to Xochimilco.

Seasonal Celebrations

  • Independence Day "Yell"— In the evening of September 15th, the President of the Country (or the City Mayor) salutes the crowds from the presidential balcony in the National Palace located in the Constitution Square (Zocalo)and shouts the famous "Viva Mexico". The Zocalo, (as well as the rest of the city) is decorated with ornaments and lights. This is an incredible expression of Mexican patriotism combined with a party mood. Expect big crowds with a big revelery.
  • Independence Parade— In the morning of September 16th, there is a military parade that runs across Paseo de la Reforma, turns right at Juarez Avenue which later becomes Madero Street and ends at the Zocalo. Some 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers of the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force march through the streets displaying its equipment and weapons.
  • Day of the Dead November 2. Mexicans are one of the few countries in the world that celebrate this day, in which people go to the cemeteries to offer tribute to their departed ones. But this is not a sad celebration, on the contrary, people give family and friends candy treats in the shape of skulls and bones made of sugar and chocolate. Don't miss a visit to a public market to find these candies.
  • Wise Men's day January 6. Most Mexican kids receive toys from the Three Wise Men. This is a celebration that pays homage to the aforementioned Bible story. To celebrate it the family gather to eat the "Rosca de Reyes", a sort of bundt cake.

Amusement parks

  • Six Flags Mexico[22] Carretera Picacho al Ajusco #1500 Col. Héroes de Padierna. Southwest of Mexico City, it is the largest amusement park in Latin America and the only Six Flags park outside the U.S. and Canada. The park is fitted with several million-dollar attractions, including Batman the Ride and not for the faint-hearted Medusa Roller Coaster. Entrance Fees: Adults $285 pesos, Children $170 pesos.
  • La Feria de Chapultepec, Circuito Bosque de Chapultepec Segunda Seccion. Features the first roller-coaster in the country, a must for roller coaster fans, many other attractions. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-6PM. Entrance $79.90 pesos (access to all attractions).

Car races

  • Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez [23] Cd. Deportiva de la Magdalena Mixiuhca. Río Piedad avenue and Río Churubusco, tel 55983316. The race track is next to the "Palacio de los Deportes" (Sports Palace). Metro Station "Ciudad Deportiva" (Line 9 Brown). Built in 1962, it was Mexico City's F1 racing track until 1992 when the Mexico Grand Prix was cancelled. Ayrton Sena and Alain Prost won the prix in this track in the late 80's and early 90's. This 4.4km long race track still holds the NASCAR race every year and in 2007 it was one of the stops for the A1 - Grand Prix racing challenge.

Sport events

If you're into sports, then Mexico City has plenty to offer. Soccer is the national sport and Mexicans go crazy about it. The city was host to two FIFA world cups, one in 1970 and the other in 1986. Other important sports in Mexico City is baseball, with many Mexicans playing professionally in the US. The city has been the only Latin American host to an Olympiade in 1968, when the majority of the city's sport facilities were built.

  • Estadio Azteca [24] Calzada de Tlalpan 3465, Colonia Ursula Coapa. The biggest soccer stadium in the world, built in 1966 for the 1968 Olympic Games with a full capacity of 129,300 seats. Its main attraction is the classic soccer match between America and Guadalajara teams. It also serves as venue for concerts and for the first NFL regular-season game outside the United States. To reach the Estadio Azteca, you can use the light rail train line that runs to Xochimilco and hop off at the "Estadio Azteca" station. Prices for soccer usually start from 20 pesos up to 600 for field level seats. Beware of resellers, as they will often sell fake tickets.
  • Estadio Olimpico de Ciudad Universitaria Insurgentes Sur Avenue, Ciudad Universitaria. Simply known as "Estadio de C.U." Located south of the city, this was where the opening ceremony of the 1968 Olympic Games took place with a full capacity of 72,000 seats. It is home for the "Pumas" soccer team of the National University (UNAM). Today it is host to several sport games, mainly soccer and American football. To reach the stadium by public transport you can use the Metro and hop off at the Universidad station (Line 3, green), and hop in one of the free shuttle buses that run around the University circuit (only in weekdays).
  • Foro Sol— Intended to serve as baseball stadium, it is also a venue for many concerts.
  • Palacio de los Deportes Viaducto Piedad and Rio Churubusco. Metro station: Ciudad Deportiva (Line 9). Built for the 1968 Olympic Games, with a full capacity of 22,000, it hosts several indoor sports, including NBA games once a year. Venue for several concerts, circus, expos.
  • Estadio Azul— Host to the Cruz Azul soccer team.

Lucha libre

  • Arena Mexico [25], Mexican free wrestling. It is mostly a show rather than a sport, but it has been very popular among foreigners lately. Doctor Lavista 189, Colonia de los Doctores. You can enter through Avenida Chapultepec. It's very close to Zona Rosa and Avenida Insurgentes. Tickets cost from 50 to 300 pesos

Horse racing

  • Hipodromo de las Americas [26] Industria Militar Avenue Colonia Lomas de Sotelo. Its a thoroughbred and quarter-horse race track. There are races nearly every day, the complex has different zones for different budgets including the original club-house and grandstand, with seating for 20,000 persons and several restaurants. Betting starts as low as $10 pesos.

Alternative Travel

  • Journeys Beyond the Surface [27] is an alternative-travel agency offering customized day trips to help you get to know any aspect of Mexico City that interests you. They accompany you so you have a safe yet challenging day. Their specialty is to take you to places that tourists generally do not get to see, to enable you to get a glimpse of what it is like to live in this city.
  • Yollohtli [28] means "The Heart of the Path" in nahuatl. Yollohtli brings you closer to the nature, mystical history and magic of deep Mexico. "Off the beaten track" tourism to get to know little-known prehispanic archaeological sites all over Mexico, for adventurers of all ages.

Learn

Like many other things in the country, Mexico City has the largest concentration of universities and colleges, starting with the UNAM, one of the finest in Latin America and the oldest university in the American continent, founded in 1551.

Some of the most renowned universities in the city include:

  • Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico [29] Commonly known as UNAM, located in the south of the City in Ciudad Universitaria is a public university with a student population of more than 300,000.
  • Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey [30] simply known as "Tec" is a branch of the famous private institute in Monterrey.
  • Instituto Politecnico Nacional [31] Public university dedicated mainly to engineering and research.
  • Universidad Iberoamericana [32] Private university of Jesuit origin.
  • Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico [33] Private university.
  • Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana [34] Commonly known as UAM, a public university with four campuses citywide.
  • Universidad Tecnologica de Mexico [35] Private university.
  • Universidad del Valle de Mexico [36] Private, a branch of Laurate international Universities.
  • Universidad de Las Américas [www.udla.mx] The first private university in México
  • Universidad Anahuac Private university.
  • Universidad La Salle Private catholic university.

You can learn Spanish in Mexico City as there are various schools offering courses for foreigners, for example:

  • Centro de Ensenanza de Lenguas Extranjeras Known as CELE, is a faculty of the National University (UNAM) and is probably the most renowned, located south of the city in Ciudad Universitaria. [37]
  • Center for International Education, La Salle (CIEL)
  • Academia Hispano México, S.A. de C.V.
  • CIB Centro de Idiomas Bravo

Work

Mexico has very strict immigration laws. In order to work you should obtain a permit known as FM2 or FM3 which is very hard to get unless you're marrying a Mexican citizen or you are an expat working for a multinational company. Most foreigners working without a permit perform jobs such as language teachers, waiters or salesmen. Others own a restaurant or shop. If you're working without a permit and an immigration officer finds out, it could mean a fine, deportation or spending some time in a detention facility of the National Immigration Institute.

Buy

Mexico City is famous among Mexicans for its huge malls, streets like Presidente Mazaryk offer haute couture stores.

Shopping Districts

  • Polanco— Upscale shopping and dining district centered around Presidente Masaryk and Campos Eliseos streets. It also has several shopping malls.
  • Altavista— San Angel upscale shopping street.
  • Condesa Trendy district full with alternative stores.
  • Centro Historico&mdsh; The city's oldest shopping district, you can find almost anything here. The old department stores are clustered around 20 de Noviembre street.
  • Pino Saurez&mdsh; There is a lot of youth-minded fashion going on here. Most of it is a knock-off of something else but at such low prices who can complain? There is a very large indoor market near the metro stop (Pino Saurez, on the pink line) that has a ton of clothing, shoes, and food vendors.

Mexico City is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.


Shopping Centers

American-style shopping malls appeared in Mexico City by the late 1960’s and are now are spread all over the metropolitan area. Here you will find most of the fashion malls sorted by area.

Central

  • Reforma 222, Paseo de la Reforma 222, Juárez
  • Plaza Insurgentes, San Luis Potosí 214, Roma
  • Plaza Galerías
  • Parque Delta, Cuauhtemoc 462, Narvarte
  • Metrópoli Patriotismo, Patriotismo 229, San pedro de los Pinos

North

  • Parque Lindavista, Riobamba 289, Lindavista
  • Plaza Lindavista, Montevideo 363, Lindavista
  • Plaza Satélite, Circuito Centro Comercial 2251, Ciudad satélite
  • Mundo E, periférico Norte 1007, Santa Mónica
  • La Cúspide

West

  • Antara Polanco; Ejército Nacional 843, Polanco
  • Moliere dos22; Moliere 222, Polanco
  • Pabellón Polanco; ejército Nacional 980, Polanco
  • Magnocentro 26 Fun & Fashion, Magnocentro 26, Interlomas
  • Parque Duraznos, Bosque de Duraznos 39, Bosques de las Lomas
  • Paseo Arcos Bosques, paseo de los Tamarindos 100, Bosques de las Lomas
  • Centro Santa Fe, Vasco de Quiroga 3800, Santa Fe

South

  • Centro Coyoacan, Avenida Coyoacan 2000, Del Valle
  • Plaza Universidad, Avenida Universidad 1000, Del Valle
  • Galerías Insurgentes, Insurgentes Sur 1329, Del Valle
  • Perisur, insurgentes Sur 4690, Jardines del Pedregal
  • Galerías Coapa, Calzada del Hueso 519, Coapa
  • Plaza Cuicuilco
  • Plaza Loreto, Altamirano 46, San Angel
  • Pabellón Altavista, Camino al Desierto de los Leones 52, San Angel
  • Gran Sur, Periférico Sur 5550, Pedregal de Carrasco

Outlet Malls

  • Premium Outlets at Punta Norte, Northwest of Mexico City (State of Mexico) in the intersection of Periferico (Mexico Hwy #57) and the Chamapa La Venta highway, near Ciudad Satelite You will need a taxi or a car to get there.
  • Las Plazas Outlet Lerma Mexico - Toluca highway Km. 50 in the intersection with Calzada Cholula in the City of Lerma, near Toluca. You will need a car to get there.

Arts and Crafts

  • Mercado de Curiosidades In Centro Historico.
  • Mercado Insurgentes In Zona Rosa.

The National Fund for the Development of Arts and Crafts (Fonart), Avenida Patriotismo 691, in Mixcoac, Avenida Paseo de la Reforma No. 116 in Colonia Juárez and Avenida Juarez 89 in Centro.

Flea and Antique Markets

Although street vendors can be found almost anywhere in Mexico City, the following are more "formal" flea markets selling handcrafts, furniture and antiques.

  • Bazar del Sábado in San Angel. Every Saturday, artists show and sell their paintings in a beautiful, cobblestoned zone of the city. There are also stores where they sell handcrafts.
  • Mercado de Artesanias in Coyoacan
  • Plaza del Angel in Zona Rosa
  • Mercado de Alvaro Obregon in Colonia Roma
  • Sunday art market in the Monumento a la Madre
  • Mercado de Antiguedades de Cuauhtemoc, near Centro Historico
  • La Lagunilla and Tepito near Centro Historico
Travel Warning WARNING: Be careful. Tepito is a very dangerous place. If your curiosity gets the better of you, at least dress down, go with someone else, and arrive early in the day when it's less crowded. If you don't speak Spanish it's probably better to stay away. The area is known to be home of drug lords and black market dealers.

Supermarkets

If you're staying longer you may want to buy groceries and food at any of the hundreds of Supermarkets. These are some of the most common:

  • Chedraui
  • Comercial Mexicana
  • Gigante Recently bought, now "Soriana"
  • Superama High end supermarket
  • Wal-Mart

Ethnic Grocery Stores

For generally hard-to-find ingredients, such as vegetables and spices that are unusual in Mexico, try the Mercado de San Juan [38] (Ernesto Pugibet street, Salto del Agua metro station). You can even find exotic meats here, such as iguana, alligator, ostrich, and foie gras. Go to the cheese stand at the center of the market, and ask for a sample— the friendly owner will give you bread, wine, and samples of dozens of different kinds of cheese.

Arabic

  • Al Mayak Cuauhtemoc Avenue and Guanajuato, Colonia Roma. Owned by Lebanese businessmen, they sell ingredients and foodstuff. They also sell sweets and dry fruit.

Korean

  • Supermercado Seul Florencia Avenue and Hamburgo Street, Zona Rosa.
  • Seoul Market Hamburgo 206, Zona Rosa.
  • Uri Market Londres 234, Zona Rosa.

Japanese

  • Mikasa San Luis Potosi 170, get from Insurgentes Sur Avenue, between Medellin and Monterrey. Lots of Japanese food ingredients, candy and drinks
  • Kokeshi Amores 1529, Colonia del Valle (between Parroquia street and Felix Cuevas Avenue (Eje 7). Mostly Japanese food stuff but they also sell other Asian foods. They also sell Japanese dinnerware. Tel. 55347131

Asian

File:MexCity7.JPG
Chinatown strip south of Palacio de Bellas Artes and Alameda Central.
  • Super Kise Division del Norte 2515, Del Carmen, Coyoacan. South of the city, they sell Korean, Chinese and Japanese groceries.

Kosher

Many food products in Mexico including milk are kosher compliant. If you're looking for specific products, try some stores in the Polanco neighborhood. At some Superama branches you would find kosher departments, especially the ones in Polanco, Tecamachalco and Santa Fe neighborhoods.

Eat

Although it is easy to assume that Mexico City is the world capital of tacos, you can find almost any kind of food in this city. There are regional specialties from all over Mexico as well as international cuisine, including Japanese, Chinese, French, Polish, Italian, Argentinean, Belgian, Irish, you name it. The main restaurant areas are located in Polanco, Condesa, Centro, Zona Rosa, along Avenida Insurgentes from Viaducto to Copilco and more recently Santa Fe.

For superb Mexican cuisine you can try El Cardenal (Sheraton Centro Histórico), Los Girasoles (Tacuba 8), Aguila y Sol (Emilio Castelar 229), Izote (Masaryk 513) and, for something more affordable, Café Tacuba (Tacuba 28). Another great experience is to dine in an old converted hacienda: try Hacienda de los Morales (Vázquez de Mella 525), San Angel Inn (Diego Rivera 50) or Antigua Hacienda de Tlalpan (Calzada de Tlalpan 4619).

There are Mexican chain restaurants that can be assumed to be safe and similar no matter where you are, including Vips, Toks, and the more traditional Sanborns, all reminiscent of Denny's in the United States. You can expect to pay between $100 to $150 per person. If you're on a budget, you can also try one of the myriad comida corrida(set menu) restaurants, frequented by many office workers. Most of these offer very good food, are usually safe, and should range between $35 to $60.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous type of food almost anywhere in Mexico city are fast food outlets, located on the ground floor of a street-facing building, or puestas, street stands located on a sidewalk or almost anywhere there is room. These serve the usual tacos, burritos or tortas (filled bread rolls similar to a sub or sandwich), and they can be very cheap ($10 to $50).

If you want to stuff your face with lots of real Mexican food at cheap prices then head over to La Merced (the central market, located on the pink line of the subway at the stop "Merced"). There are several restraunts as well as stands serving up some delicious food. Huaraches, which are something like giant tortillas with different toppings/fillings, are popular here, as are alambres.

If you want something safe and familiar, most American fast food chains have franchises here. You'll see McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, TGI Friday's, Chili's, Dairy Queen, Subway, and yes, even Starbucks. These are all fairly affordable to Europeans/Americans and people from other richer countries but generally cost more than they do in the US.

El Globo, a French-style bakery, has locations throughout the city selling both French and traditional Mexican pastries, like orejas (little ears), eclairs, empanadas, and rosca during New Year's. It can't be beat for a quick snack or bagful of pastries to eat later.

Do not miss the chance to go to Panaderia Madrid (calle 5 de Febrero, one block off the main plaza in downtown Mexico). This is a very old and typical bakery, they will usually have fresh bread twice a day, but if there are a lot of customers they will bake as many as four times a day.

Asian food restaurants are abundant, and the quality is good, and caters from cheap Chinese cafeterias to expensive and very good Japanese food. Note that Korean, Japanese and Chinese are most common cuisines in Mexico City, while Indian, Thai and Indonesian can be harder to find. Most sushi places, however, put far too much rice on their sushi rolls and not enough fish.

Vegetarian alternatives are commonly available at larger restaurants. The magic phrases, for vegetarians, are "sin pollo" (no chicken), "sin carne" (no meat), "sin huevo" (no eggs) and "sin queso" (no cheese). If you can communicate this and then gesticulate to the menu, the waiter normally will give you suggestions. In regular restaurants, they will even try to edit an existing dish for you. Just make sure you are clear. Chile Rellenos are a definite standard in any restaurant for the vegetarian.

Restaurant basics

Tips— Tipping is expected, with 10% the standard for all restaurants. You can tip less or not tip at all for poor service.

In Mexico, there is no difference in prices if you sit inside or outside, it is the same if you eat at the bar or sit at a table.

Don't leave without trying

  • Tacos al pastor
  • Enchiladas Suizas
  • Pozole
  • Quesadillas
  • Chilaquiles
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Arrachera
  • Micheladas
  • Huaraches
  • Alambres

For a quick snack you can always try a tamal (steamed corn dough with chicken or pork) bought on the street or specialized shops, accompanied by a cup of atole (hot corn starch drink), which is the breakfast of the humble on their way to work.

Drink

The typical Mexican place to go to drink is the cantina, a bar where food is usually free, and you pay for drinks (exact policies and minimums vary). Cantinas serve a wide range of Mexican and foreign drinks, with prices usually reasonable compared to prices in the US, and you'll be continually served various Mexican food, such as tacos (you should ask for 'Botana'). If your tolerance for Mexican music (mariachi or otherwise), smoke-filled rooms, and lots of noise is low however, this may not be your kind of place. Cantinas are open moderately late, usually past midnight at the very least. However some cantinas, like La Victoria, near the Plaza Garibaldi, are also open at midday for lunch.

In addition, there are bars that play a combination of Spanish and English-language rock, electronic music, and some Latin/Caribbean music. These bars tend to close around 3-4AM.

Club music mainly falls into three main categories, pop, rock and electronic music. The pop places generally play what's on the music charts, Latin pop, and sometimes traditional Mexican music, and are frequented by a younger (sometimes very young) audience, and are often more upper class. The rock places play rock in the wide sense, in English and Spanish. Most people are at least over 18 in these places. The electronica clubs, which attract everyone from Mexico City's large subculture of ravers and electronica fans, of all ages. Most clubs close late, 3-4AM at the earliest, and some are open until 7AM or 8AM.

The best bet used to be the Zona Rosa, which has a large number of street bars with rock bands playing and a large selection of clubs but most of them are strip club and gay bars. One of the best clubs is "Africa" which is reasonably priced (after the entrance fee) and plays a great selection of Latin and English pop. They also provide African hats and balloons for everyone's entertainment! A very good part of town is San Angel / Pedregal, full of young hip professionals with money to spare.

Another good area is Polanco, particularly a street called Mazaryk, where you'll find plenty of good clubs but it is best to make a reservation. Be forewarned - entrace is judged on appearance and to get a table a minimum 2 bottle service is required, unless its a slow night [min. US$80 per bottle].

Posh and upper scale night clubs can be found in the Lomas area, particularly the Hyde, Shine, Sense and Disco Lomas Clubs, but be warned some of these could be extremely expensive, where the cover charge could range from 250 pesos upwards and bottles start at 130 USD. In addition, getting in could very difficult, as these are the most exclusive in town. If you do decide to go to one, the best is probably the Hyde nightclub, located at the "Edificio del Pantalón". Dress elegantly and be cautious, as the most powerful and rich people in mexico are the main clients, and any brawl could get you facing bodyguards or nightclub security personnel.

Otherwise slow, but cheaper bar service is available. All kinds of "hit" music plays, and the best crowds are located here. Some cater to specific types of music though [e.g. Vantay plays more rock]. Some of the more popular clubs include Momma, Cuche and the Bulldog which is always a good bet. The clubs don't really get started until after 10PM. ******In Zona Rosa at the address of #91A Cuauhtemoc is a great rockabilly club. Do not expect other foreigners/tourists. The beer is cheap, the live music is great, and the mosh pit is a blast.*****

Another great place to go out dancing is the Centro de Cultura Espana located right behind the Zocalo on the 5th floor on Friday and Saturday nights. No cover, 25 Peso beers, electro beats and chilled vibes.

The other common Mexican-style thing to do when going out is to go dancing, usually to salsa, meringue, rumba, mambo, son, or other Caribbean/Latin music. This is considerably more fun if you're a somewhat competent dancer, but even complete beginners who don't mind making fools of themselves will likely enjoy it. Most dance places close late, 3-4AM is common.

The legal drinking age is 18. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public ("open container"). This is strictly enforced and the penalty is at least 24 hours in jail.

Take an identification card such as a copy of your passport.

Sleep

Embassy Suites hotel facing Cristobal Colon statue in Reforma.

The city has literally hundreds of hotels in all price ranges, though the district you want to stay in will be a good indicator of price and quality. Zona Rosa is a tourist haven with a strong mid-range selection; the Polanco district is where high-end hotels thrive, and the Centro Histórico is home to plenty of budget hotels and backpacker hostels. A wide variety of hotels can also be found along Paseo de la Reforma.



Budget

  • Hotel Habana, Rep De Cuba No. 77, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, CP. 06010, 5555181591. The Hotel Habana in the Calle República de Cuba has well-appointed rooms for a good price.

If you are on a low-budget, you can find hotels as low as $7 USD if you take a room with a shared bathroom. Most are centred in the Centro Historico and are very decent.

Hostels are more expensive than getting your own private room with full facilities like a TV and restroom, but the cheap hotels are not listed on the internet and many foreigners jump into the hostels for a much worse value. The hostels are a good place to meet people but you should only stay there if you dont mind noise, complete lack of privacy, sharing a bedroom with people who will be coming and going at all hours of the night, and a sometimes dirty restroom. There are plenty of other places to meet people besides hostels so be sure to look around before deciding to stay at one just because it has a sign in English.

Mid-range

  • Holiday Inn Zocalo, Av Cinco De Mayo 61 Col Centro Colonia Centro Mexico City 06000. Four stay hotel that has an amazing rooftop balcony restaurant overlooking Zocalo Square. The rooms are comfortable, well furnished although the internet access in the lobby can be inconsistent. $102.
  • Hotel Majestic, Av Madero 73, Centro Histórico, Mexico City 06000. While boasting an impressive tezontle stone facade, this four star hotel is let down by small rooms and staff that seem ambivalent. However, it is an unbeatable location and the terrace restaurant gives stunning panoramic views of the Zócalo.
  • Four Seasons Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma 500 Colonia Juárez Mexico City 06600, [39]. The most luxurious hotel in Mexico City, it is built in a square around a large open-air courtyard containing tropical gardens, a fountain, sculptures, a cafe, and a restaurant. All rooms are fitted and finished to a high standard and great service from the staff, especially the concierge.
  • JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City, Andres Bello 29 Mexico City 11560 Mexico, [40]. Situated in the trendy Polanco district, with great shopping and restaurants within walking distance, the JW Marriott delivers all expectations. The rooms are luxurious and comfortable, with exceptional detailing, and the staff goes out of their way to ensure that every request is catered to.
  • Nikko Hotel, Campos Eliseos 204 Col. Polanco Mexico City 11560. Hosts some of the best Japanese restaurants in town and some art galleries worth visiting. Perfect location for restaurants and major museums. $183.
  • Presidente Intercontinental Mexico City, Campos Eliseos 218 Mexico City, Distrito Federal 11560 Mexico. It's hard to miss this hotel which towers 42 stories high in a sleek, ultra modern design. All rooms featuring a view of the city or Chapultepec Park and feature a daily maid service, air conditioning, kitchenettes and cable television. The hotel itself offers a convenient car rental desk, health club and business center. $104.
  • W Hotel Mexico City, Campos Eliseos 252 Mexico City 11560. The W Hotel displays its signature sexiness in Mexico city, with sleek designs, cherry red walls in the rooms and the traditional all white beds. Great for young professionals, families and mature customers may not appreciate the thumping techno muisc that accompanies them throughout the hotel. $353.

Contact

To stay in contact while traveling in México City.

Phone

If someone is calling you the country code is +52 then the area code is 55 then the 8 digit phone number. If you want to make a long distance call out of Mexico , you should dial the prefix 01 for national calls followed by the area code. If you are making an international long distance call, you must dial 00 followed by the country code, for example, if you're calling the U.S. you should dial 00+1 and the area code, if you're calling the U.K, dial 0044 and the area code, and so on. If you want to use your cellular phone you can get your phone unlocked before you go. When you arrive in Mexico City, you can purchase a Télcel or Movistar Sim (GSM) card, called a "chip". Then you will get a Mexican Cell phone number. Remember this is a prepaid cellular option. You get free incoming calls from inside the city, but the roaming charges can easily build up if you travel to other cities. People calling you from long distance will need to dial (1) after the +52 in this format: +52 (1) (55) plus 8 digit phone number. All other phone numbers in Mexico are seven digit, and all other area codes are three digit. Calling from a Mexican phone (either land or mobile) to a Mexican cell phone is called ¨El Que Llama Paga¨ meaning only the person making the call pays for the air time, and thus requires the 044 prefix before the 10 digit number composed of the area code and the mobile number to be dialed: land or mobile to Mexico City registered mobile would be 044 55 12345678. If you are calling to a mobile with a different area code, i.e. Acapulco area code 744 then you use the prefix 045, then the three digit area code, the seven digit mobile i.e. 045 744 1234567. This might seem confusing at first but you get easily accustomed to it. Another option is to buy a prepaid Mexican phone kit, they frequently include more air time worth than the kit actually costs, air time is called ¨Tiempo Aire¨. For Telcel these kits are called ¨Amigo Kit¨ for Movistar they are called ¨Movistar Prepago¨ and for Iusacell ¨Viva Kit¨ the you can just keep the phone as a spare for whenever you are in Mexico, there are no costs in between uses. These kits start at around 30 USD.

Mobile Telephones

There are four main cell phone operators in Mexico.

  • Telcel The largest coverage in Mexico, using a GSM network.
  • Movistar A GSM network with decent coverage in most cities.
  • Iusacell (includes former Unefon network) A CDMA-based 3G network with coverage in most cities and large towns.
  • Nextel

Internet

Mexico City has amazing access to the internet considering the availability in the rest of Latin America. There are several internet cafes throughout the city, many of them in Zona Rosa. Price varies from 10 to 20 pesos an hour.

Look for the word 'Cyber' or 'CiberCafe' in order to find a place with internet access.

Hot spots for wi fi connection to the internet are available in several places around the city, particularly in malls, coffee stores and restaurants. Most (if not all) of them are operated by the Mexican phone company Telmex through their Internet division Prodigy Movil. In order to be able to connect in those places, the user must be subscribed to the service, or buy a prepaid card known as "Tarjeta Multifon"; visitors coming from the US can access the service using their AT&T or T-Mobile Internet accounts. Cards can be bought at the Sanborns restaurant chain, Telmex stores and many stores that offer telephony related products.

Radio

Unfortunately there are no full-time English spoken radio stations in Mexico, however these are a few options to listen:

  • Imagen 90.5 FM Features a twice-a-day English news program at 5:30 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. with a summary of the most important news around the globe.
  • Ibero 90.9 FM University radio station that plays mainly indie-rock but also has cultural programs.
  • Alfa 91.3 FM Broadcasts English language hit pop music.
  • Beat 100.9 FM Electronic music station.
  • Mix 106.5 FM Hits in English from the 80s, 90s, and nowadays pop/rock music.
  • Universal 92.1 FM Old hits in English (70s, 80s).

Newspapers

With the exception of "The News", you won't find newspapers in English or other foreign languages in regular newsstands, however, you can find many at any Sanborns store. Many U.S. newspapers have subscriptions available in Mexico, including the Wall Street Journal , Today, the New York Times and the Miami Herald.

Some of the most read local newspapers include:

  • The News [41] English-language daily published in Mexico City.
  • El Universal[42] The online version includes a good English section.
  • Diario Monitor [44]
  • La Jornada [45] Renowned as politically left oriented.

Stay safe

Travel in Mexico City is generally safe. Much of your travel within the city will be done via public transportation or walking. Mexico City is an immensely crowded place, and with any major metropolitan area, it is advised to be aware of your surroundings.

Plan ahead - know where you are going and how you will arrive. Mexico City is quite hospitable, and people who work for hotels and other hospitality-oriented businesses will help. This will help in avoiding confusion, becoming lost or stranded. Also, you can ask a local for advice to get somewhere, though you should speak good Spanish to do this. In the Polanco, Sante Fe and Lomas districts, some police officers and many business people and younger children speak English, as it is very common to learn in school. However police officers in Mexico get paid a third of what New York City police officers get and some rely on bribe and corruption to make more money.

Catching cabs in the street can be dangerous, since free-range cabs are not accountable to anyone. Taxi robberies, so-called "express kidnappings", where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their credit cards, do occur. However, be aware that 95% of total kidnapping victims are nationals, so your odds of being taken are very slim, but you should always use your common sense.

Protect your personal information. There are many pickpockets in Mexico City. Purses and bulky, full pockets are quite attractive. Do not keep your passports, money, identification, and other important items hanging out for someone to steal. Use a money belt or place these items in a hotel safe, or tuck them away inside your clothes.

Do not show money in front of others, this generally attracts pickpockets.

The Mexico City Government recently opened a specialized prosecution office (Ministerio Público in Spanish) for foreigners that find themselves affected by robberies or other crime situations. It is located in Victoria Street 76, Centro Historico. Multilingual staff are available.

In case of emergency

Dial 066, the number for all emergencies, (fire, police).

Cope

Some people may consider Mexico City to have a bad reputation, in terms of crime statistics, air pollution, and on more contrived issues, such as earthquakes. However, crime and pollution levels are down over the last decade and you shouldn't face any trouble within the tourist areas. As in any large city, there are areas that are better to be avoided, especially at night, and precautions to take, but Mexico City is not particularly dangerous.

When walking in the city you could be approached by people. Usually they are just trying to sell something or begging for a few coins, but if you aren't interested, it is not considered insulting to just ignore them. Also, if someone of importance (such as a police officer) approaches you, they will definitely let you know.

If you do get approached by a police officer, understand that there are three different types: the Policia (Police), who are usually driving around the city with their lights flashing; the Policia Auxiliar (Auxiliary Police), who are like security guards; and the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) who simply direct traffic.

Remember most Mexicans are very curious in regards of foreigners and are willing to help. If in need for directions, try to ask young people, who may speak a little English.

Driving

Many locals (not all of them, of course) have terrible driving habits as a result of the frequent traffic jams in the city. Traffic signals are more an ornament than what they were made for. When traffic is not present, particularly at night, locals tend to speed up so be careful when changing lanes. Street names and road signs may not be present everywhere so it is strongly advisable to ask for directions before driving your car. Potholes, fissures, and very large-yet-unanticipated speed-bumps ("topes") are common on the roads, so exercise some caution. When off the main roads, especially in the colonias, maneuvering in the narrow streets and alleys can be tricky. Often a paved road turns to cobblestone (in high-end neighborhoods) or dirt (if this happens, you've gone way off the tourist areas). Also, some colonia streets are blocked off behind gates.

Drinking

Mexico City's alcohol laws are harsh; although in many nightclubs, bars and restaurants it is common for minors to drink without proving their age as long as they appear to be over 18. It is also permitted for minors to drink alcohol if they are in the company of an adult who is willing to take responsibility. Drinking alcoholic beverages in the street is prohibited--doing so can get you in trouble with the police. Drunk driving is also strictly prohibited and strongly enforced. The police have incorporated random alcohol tests on streets near bars and clubs, and if you test positive, you could be arrested and spend 36 hours in jail. The system is very efficient, and you will sometimes see a stopped car or truck with a policeman interrogating the occupants.

Smoking

Smoking inside public and private buildings is strictly prohibited by law. Restaurants used to have smoking and non-smoking sections, but recent laws have banned smoking in any public enclosed space. Fines can be steep, so if you want to smoke in a restaurant it is best to ask the waiter before lighting up. Of course, going outside is always an option. Smoking light drugs, such as Marihuana, is prohibited and offenders could be imprisoned if found in possesion of more than one personal dose.

Get out

  • Oaxtepec— Oaxtepec is a short distance away from Mexico City and is a great place to get out of the hectic city and do some swimming. The climate is constantly warm and sunny and there is a very affordable and very fun waterpark (only half is open on weekdays...on the weekends the rest of the park is open). There are plenty of lodging options and most include access to a club house with a sauna and an olympic pool and diving pool. A bus leaves every 10 minutes from the Taxqueña bus station and costs 81 pesos through OCC.
  • Cuernavaca— Cuernavaca is the capital city of the state of Morelos. Its only 45 minutes away from Mexico City and is known world-wide known as "The City of Eternal Spring" due to its excellent template climate with an annual average of 20ºC.


  • Taxco— Famous for its beautiful colonial architecture and narrow cobbled streets.
  • Teotihuacan— The ancient city of giant pre-Colombian pyramids.
  • Puebla— UNESCO world heritage place for its colonial architecture and site of the battle with the French army in the mid 1800's. The city is known throughout Mexico for it’s cuisine, it’s worthwhile to take a one day trip from Mexico City to do some sight-seen and sample some of the food. Many good restaurants are conveniently located near the main square.
  • Valle de Bravo— A beautiful town next to a lake and in the middle of the forest, great place for all kinds of sports (e.g. mountain biking, sailing, water skiing and paragliding). Consider driving up Nevado de Toluca and into the crater that holds a lake. Nevado de Toluca is a dormant volcano on your way to Valle de Bravo. Also, late winter/early spring is the best time to see the monarch butterflies on your way to VdB.
  • Pachuca "The Beautiful Windy"— A cozy little miners city.
  • Desert of the Lions National Park— 20 minutes away from the city you can find yourself surrounded by trees in the middle of the forest. Take a hike from "La Venta" to "El Convento" or up to "Cruz Blanca" and eat some great quesadillas for lunch, you can't miss them since it the only structure on "Cruz Blanca". If you can find a mountain bike, it's one of the best places to ride.
  • Tepoztlan— A cool new age city south of Mexico City which has an interesting pyramid on top of a mountain. The journey up to see the pyramid takes approximately an hour and is well worth it once you see the view on top. Tepoztlan is also known for its frequent UFO activity. Believe it or not if you want, but a large percentage of the town residents claim to have seen the "ovni."
  • Bernal— About a 2.5 hour drive outside of Mexico City (north towards Queretaro), has the famous La Pena de Bernal. Popular on summer soltice. Very small town but lively.




This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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