Tell me what I need to know about my trip to Mexico!

I’m finally actually going in a few weeks! My cousin is in the Peace Corps in San Luis Potosi and we’ll be taking day trips from there and Mexico City. She’s coming up with stuff for us to do, but I was hoping you guys could advise me on the rest of it - what haven’t I thought about bringing? I’ve never left the tourist beaten path before, so this is kind of new to me. What does one wear? I understand Mexico City is a more formal sort of place and tourists stand out in shorts (which is fine by me as the only time I can be convinced to wear shorts is if I’m about to ride a roller coaster.) And I’ve been told never to take a cab off the street and that there are pickpockets, obviously. What don’t I know, thought?

You are a tourist, so don’t worry about dressing like one! No use passing out from heatstroke because you’re dressed like a local who is accustomed to the heat.

Don’t drink the water, always buy bottled.

Don’t eat food that may have been washed in tap water (greens, some fruits, etc.). I would take that risk it in a higher end restaurant though.

Get your hepatitis shots before you go.

Don’t go looking for drugs in N Mexico.

If the waiter brings you a bottled water opened already “for your convenience” send it back.

I just realized I accidentally rhymed. :slight_smile:

Nothing else? I already know about the water. Like, is Mexico the sort of place where one shouldn’t expect there to always be toilet paper?

There’s usually toilet paper, especially in tourist friendly areas. Generally, you’re not supposed to throw toilet paper down the toilet and there is a gross wastepaper basket for you to get rid of your TP.

You’re supposed to bargain for whatever you are buying in the market stalls. Start at 50% asking price and then go as high as you want.

I’ve only ever driver around SLP, so I don’t have a lot to offer there.

As for getting around, take the toll roads. I’m not sure if you’re driving from SLP to Mexico City, but the toll road Highway 57 will make it very quick, and very safe, and the toll includes insurance.

In Mexico City there’s all the normal tourist stuff: the Zocalo, the tour bus, the museums, the Zona Rosa, and more down in the Reforma/Centro area. If you’re comfortable at night, Plaza Garibaldi is worth a look. If you’re religious or like religious art, then the Basilica is amazing.

Don’t feel limited to the center of town, though. Xochimilco is worth the trip. You can rent an entire boat for very cheap. Coyoacan is charming and lots of leftists used to live there and you can pay capitalist money and walk through their houses!

Don’t worry about looking like a tourist. All of the tourists look like tourists, including the Mexican tourists!

I truly detested living in Mexico City, but I miss all of the day trips to its different offerings.

Oh, to get out of the city, but close to the city, consider going to the Desierto de los Leones park, or a bit further to the Marquesa area (not the park proper; it’s a tiny crap-hole). Then a bit further and you’re in Toluca. Eat somewhere along the highway between Toluca and Mexico.

Do you speak the language? At least, try to utilize it, to the best of your abilities.:slight_smile: A little, will go a long way!:wink:

Good morning = Buenos dias
Good afternoon/evening = Buenas tardes
Good night = Buenas noche
Thank you = Gracias
Thank you, very much = Muchas gracias
You’re welcome = De nada (translated, it means… “it’s nothing”. Weird, ain’t it?!:rolleyes:)

Try not to stray too far, off of the “beaten path”, but above all, just “BE AWARE of your surroundings.” Mexicans are people, just like Americans…
Some are good and some are bad, and luckily, for the most part “people, are generally good”!:smiley: IMHO

I use to travel to Mexico frequently for business and pleasure. With what’s going on there over the last year, there’s no in hell that I would go there now.

If you will be traveling with a credit card or an ATM card, make sure you know the pin codes. Express kidnapping has been on the rise over the last 5 years. If you are taken, give them the pin code when requested. They will hold you for about 24 hours or until your bank cuts off the withdrawals on your card. You put your life at risk if you say you don’t know the pin code.

My friend wants me to travel with her to mexico city to visit another friend.
I didn’t realize till after much online research that this may not be the safest trip; we should’ve asked her friend to meet us in cancun. But the tickets are bought and i have that new york attitude which hopefully will be helpful. Any how I have a few questions to ask the well travelled in this group.

-Are there certain things we shouldn’t bring with us to mexico city? ie: my laptop, digital camera, iphone
-Should we just buy disposable cameras?
-Are there aztec ruins in this area, I’m looking for a cultural experience, any good not very well known/non touristy sites, any good touristy site suggestions?
-Where to shop for souvenirs/gifts?
-Someone mentioned drinking water is a no-no unless maybe you’re at a high-end restaurant, what area of mexico city are such more likely to be found?
-Are there any beaches or bodies of water out there?
-Is it easy and inexpensive to travel to other cities or within the city?
-Is it better to travel in large packs or small groups or as couples?
-Are they racist or sexist out there?
-Are they friendly to tourists, should we talk in english or attempt our spanish?

whew … I actually started out with a few questions and as i wrote i kept thinking up of new ones
I appreciate all your feedback

Just don’t drink the water. Bottled is fine and if you order water in a restaurant it comes bottled. Don’t brush your teeth with it, either. Bottled water is available everywhere.

It’s super inexpensive to ride first class buses, which are very nice.

Attempt your Spanish and then watch the most unexpected people bust out their English. Hotel clerks spoke very little English and then a street sweeper will tell you he spent five years in Wisconsin.

Mexico City is known for property crimes. The pickpockets are experts there. You can bring whatever you like, but don’t be flashing your iPhone all over town and be aware of your surroundings, just like in any other large world city. I took my iPhone and my nice camera and still have both, no problem. My mom lost her phone, but I think she just plain lost it in a couch!

If you are used to New York, I can’t see that you’ll be surprised by Mexico City. It’s not what you’re expecting, probably. I did feel like I stood out there, though (although surprisingly not nearly as much in Queretaro and San Luis Potosi) - like I was a pale white giant and somebody was following me around with a spotlight.

There’s an Aztec temple right smack in the middle of the city square, actually. You can take a fun picture with it in the foreground and the cathedral in the background. It’s called Temple Mayor and there’s a very nice museum that goes to it. Also do NOT miss the Anthropology Museum.

Of course, now I’m a total expert on Mexico having spent a week and two days there, but I can tell you it was a much less “third worldy” place than I expected. Totally modern cities, and then burro carts crossing the highway, but the hotels had wifi.

We never once felt unsafe at all, and we’re two women, three with my cousin (who granted speaks good Spanish and has lived there for almost a year now.)

ETA - by the way, we rode the D.F. subway, city buses in San Luis Potosi, first class bus three times, second class bus to Santa Maria del Rio - by far the only scary transportation was the occasional cab that took us the wrong way down a one way street breaking the sound barrier. But you should be used to that in New York.

Mexico City is fine if you have common sense and avoid the non-tourist areas.

Don’t have them on the street in non-tourist areas.

Yuck. I never had a problem near my home, near work, and in touristy areas with my very recognizable Canon DSLR.

Touristy is Teotihuacan. Awesome!. That’s Aztec. Also go to the Halls of Montezuma (not Aztec, it’s really called the Castle of Chapultapec, lots of Mexican history that intersects with American history).

I’m an idiot so usually did it in the airport, or in smaller towns.

You’re better off not risking it. It’s treated and chlorinated, but unless the cistern is treated and unless you know there’ve been no water main breaks (remember: earthquake country), it’s better just to drink bottled. I’ve always brushed my teeth with it and cooked with it, though.

Not in Mexico City. Close by is Valle de Bravo with its lake.

Driving was my preferred means. Take the tolls roads. Both easy and inexpensive, inexpensive meaning compared to dying or flying.

Depending on where you’re at. Touristy areas, doesn’t matter.

Some yes, some no, but Mexico City in the touristy areas is lousy with open gays and women not cooking and not washing dishes.

Everywhere. No reason not to brush your teeth, though.

If you don’t have a car, this is the cheapest option, and don’t think Greyhound. First class busses really are a great option, and that’s me saying it as a travel snob.
I miss Mexico. At least they used Roman alphabets to write with.

Seriously, on the first class bus you get a drink, a snack, a movie or two (in Spanish, of course, except for some reason the new Star Trek movie was English with Spanish subtitles), a leg rest, a seat that really reclines, a bathroom if you need it (clean, but you should be coordinated!) - if they had these first class buses here in the US I’d ride them all the time.