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First timer in Mex

Round Rock, Texas
5 posts
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First timer in Mex

Hello all,

First time international traveler here - going to MX City for a short conference. Any tips on customs, currency, taxis, dos/don'ts etc. much appreciated.

Edmonton, Canada
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1. Re: First timer in Mex

You're looking for standard, off-the-shelf advice. May I suggest a guidebook to Mexico City? Your local library may have something.

Mexico City, Mexico
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2. Re: First timer in Mex

You'll have better luck getting an answer if you ask specific questions/ doubts you might have. Currency...call your bank and let them know you'll be traveling to Mexico and ask them in which ATM in mexico the fees are lowest for you to withdraw from. Dollars are rarely accepted in establishments in mexico. In which area is your conference?

Edited: 06 May 2012, 17:23
Minnesota
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519 posts
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3. Re: First timer in Mex

Have a great first trip and I hope all goes well.

Don't flash any money around in an obvious way and don't carry much more than you need on any particular day. Get a money belt that goes under your pants to feel safe when out in public. Put your credit cards, ATM cards, big bills, and passport in your hotel safe or in your money belt.

If you need money use the ATMs that are connected to a bank, either inside the bank itself or in the glass enclosed rooms next to the banks.

Learn a few basic and necessary words and expressions in Spanish before you go and greet people in a formal but friendly manner. You don't need but maybe a dozen basic expressions for yes, no, greetings, thanking, goodbye, etc.

Let your hotel staff get you a taxi if you don't feel good about using the metro. Figure out ahead where you want to go and ask for guidance if needed. Someone at your conference should be able to help or at your hotel. If you want to explore in some down time during your conference try to connect with someone else at the conference who knows Mexico City and maybe has at least a bit of Spanish ability.

Act like you would in any large city anywhere in the world including in the USA. If a neighborhood or place looks dubious then walk away.

Enjoy yourself. Mexico is a wonderful country with millions of nice people. The troubles and violence are basically only in a few places that are easily known and avoided. So far there is no narco violence in Mexico City which is also referred to as DF (federal district). We've been to Mexico several times and always had a great time.

Round Rock, Texas
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4. Re: First timer in Mex

Mexico City is the conference location. I know it's a general question, but I would guess some people have one or two tidbits of advice generally. Thanks.

Round Rock, Texas
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5. Re: First timer in Mex

Not interested in a guidebook when I'm going for just a two day conference, but thanks.

Round Rock, Texas
5 posts
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6. Re: First timer in Mex

Thanks - very helpful and much appreciated.

Minnesota
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519 posts
666 reviews
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7. Re: First timer in Mex

PS

Figure out the exchange rate (roughly 13 pesos to the US dollar or eight cents to a peso) and have it in your head. In Mexico they also use the $ sign so don't think they are quoting prices in US dollars.

Eat where it looks crowded. That means the place either has good food or is affordable or both. But if you are at a short conference perhaps your meals will be with others at the conference or at your hotel.

Hotels can be noisy from both internal and external noise. Accept it. It can also be chilly at night because of altitude. Bring warm jammies. Daytime is usually very pleasant.

Particularly in Mexico City it is not advisable to flag down any taxi on the street. Use help at your hotel, the conference, or restaurant to get a secure one. If you take the metro watch your pockets and belongings. Just be alert.

Don't let any touts get you to go to places for any deals. Just ignore them if it comes up. It probably won't but be aware.

Use a bathroom when they are available. Sometimes it can be hard to find one. Old traveller's tip- never pass up a free bathroom when on the road. When you have lunch use the facilities before leaving for example.

Mexico City, Mexico
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1,311 posts
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8. Re: First timer in Mex

And figure out where you are going to stay.

In Reforma, the nice big avenue.

Near the Centro, the typical Mexico City.

In Polanco, the mix of old and modern Mexico (it's more new than old)

Or Santa Fe (where you'll find great shopping, business corporatives and the Mexican "manhattan")

Mexico City, Mexico
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9. Re: First timer in Mex

If you take a taxi in Mexico City be sure to only take a SITIO. These are the only safe taxis in Mexico City. The "libres" can be dangerous as they are not regulated. Most SITIOs will have the word "Sitio" written on the outside of the taxi. You can also look for SITIO stands or stop by any hotel, restaurant and ask them to call a SITIO for you.

We live in Mexico City. It is a beautiful city with many things to do. But safety should be a number one priority. Don't stay out late at night and, if you do, don't go alone. Mexico City has an amazing Zoo (free). Terrific museums include Senor Slim's in Polanco (free), the Anthropologic museum. Also, Chapultepec Castle has a modest fee and is within walking distance from the Zoo.

Be careful using ATMs in the city. If you choose to use one, try one inside a bank or established business. Still, there is no guarantee. Keep a close watch on your credit cards. We have had two compromised. Thanks to Chase Visa, they have always covered the unauthorized expenses and helped us to quickly close the account and obtain a new credit card.

Food is inexpensive in Mexico City. One of the best restaurants is El Cardenal in Lomas on Palmas. There are several in this chain, but this is our favorite.

The Zocolo is a must see (in daylight) and be careful. There are pyramid ruins in the Zocolo (modest fee) and a beautiful church. Cafe Tacuba on Tacuba street is fabulous, but you won't know it until you enter as it doesn't look like much on the outside. Try the "Cuatro Cositas" dish.

Of all the advice, remember to only use SITIO taxis. The city buses along Paseo de la Reforma are inexpensive and go up and down Reforma, but you have to be sure you are only getting on the city buses (digital display on the top/outside of the bus). These cost anywhere from 3-5 pesos for each trip (less than 50 cents).

Have a great time and make sure to carry the US Embassy's phone number with you in the event of an emergency. The US Embassy is located at 305 Reforma.

Edited: 11 May 2012, 18:10
10. Re: First timer in Mex

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