Travel Safe - Travelocity


Practical Advice for México City


Travel Safe - Travelocity



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México City gets a lot of bad press, mostly for pollution and crime.  Both are problems.  Every major city in the world has the same problems?  Read this page carefully, use caution and common sense and enjoy your vacation.  Print our maps and the phone numbers on our Miscellaneous Information page, take them with you and keep them handy.
 

Altitude: 

 

Remember you are at an altitude of over 7300 feet and the air is much thinner than you are probably used to.  Occurrences of light-headedness, mild headaches, breathlessness and tiring easily are common.  Drink a lot of water and be very careful with alcohol consumption.  Take your time and rest often.
Public Telephones:

Most public phones in México will not accept coins - only prepaid phone cards.

 

Be very careful of telephone rip offs!  There are many ways for unscrupulous individuals or companies to take advantage of tourists and business travelers.  Some phone booths in México charge as much as $20.00 (U.S.) per minute for long distance.  Never make a call from a public phone that advertises - Call Collect or use your MasterCard, Visa or American Express card.  These are some of the most expensive phones in the world.

Prepaid phone cards are the primary means of making calls from Mexican telephones.  Be careful of what you buy.  The actual telephone rates for some of these cards can vary greatly - from reasonable to almost criminal.  Be careful when you buy cards on the street, as many vendors will try to switch the card denominations, take advantage of the exchange rate (if your paying in dollars), cheat you with a shortchange or just overcharge you for the cards.  Also, phone calls from your hotel can be very, very expensive!  Many hotels have outrageous rates or a surcharge on long distance calls.

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Buses: The bus system is cheap and goes everywhere.  It can get very crowded, especially when the locals are going to or coming from work.  It can be difficult to learn the routes, but you can pick up free bus-route maps at the México City Tourism Office located at Amberes 54, on the corner of Londres, in Zona Rosa.  Keep a tight grip on your carry-on items at all times. Do not use the bus system after dark.
Crime: México City has it's fair share of crime, but much of the crime is hidden from most tourists. Many of the high crime areas are areas that most tourists will never be near.  There is an increasing amount of crime involving taxis (see below).  It is best to use only radio taxis or taxis that your hotel provides.  If you are out at night be extra careful, have your restaurant or night club call a cab for you and get the license number of the cab that they called. Do not wear fancy jewelry or flash large sums of money, especially at night.  Don't walk alone, don't use the subway or buses at night.  Use common sense and you should be OK.    
Driving: 

Do not drive in Mexico City, if at all possible!

Driving in México City is not recommended, even though millions of people do it daily.  Defensive driving tactics will be required, as traffic laws are seldom obeyed.  Expect red lights to be run and turns to be made, in any direction, from any lane.  Turn signals: seldom used or are always on.

If you are thinking of driving outside of México City, your experience should be mostly safe and enjoyable. It is no more difficult than driving in the U.S.  Despite what you may have heard, most Mexican drivers are very polite on the open road.  Watch out for topes (speed bumps), off the major highways, in every town of any size. They usually begin just as you enter a town and there can be lots of them before you exit the town.  Make sure you have the proper insurance coverage!!

Metro (Subway) México City's metro system is modern, cheap, fast and efficient. The stations are well lighted, very clean and the trains are extremely quiet. The metro system gets extremely crowded during rush hours, keep a tight grip on any carry on items at all times. Click here for a map of the metro system.  Do not use the metro after dark.
Parking: Parking in the city is often impossible and always difficult.  If you must drive, try to use private parking areas.  If you are parked illegally, you will have to pay a fine and it is highly possible your car will be towed.  This can get rather expensive.  See "Driving" above.
Taxis:  Taxis in México City are reasonable and the drivers can be very helpful.  Be aware that there are increasing instances of taxi crime.  It is not a good idea to hail cabs from the street, day or night.  Use only registered hotel cabs or call a radio cab.  If you are dining out, have the restaurant hail a cab from their "sitio" or have them call a radio cab for you.  Always get the number of the cab they are sending and wait for that particular cab.  Always check the number you were given against the number on the cab. 
Tourist Permit: You will need a tourist permit to enter México.  Your airline will furnish this for you. Keep the copy they give you at the airport in México City.  If you should lose your permit, it is possible to get a replacement through the immigration office (INM), although the procedure can take up a lot of your time.  If you lose your tourist permit call the SECTUR tourist office in México City (5250-0123) or your embassy or consulate.
Walking: We recommend that you do not walk alone after dark, especially in the less visible (busy) areas of the city.  If you must walk at night, know the shortest route to your destination and stick to it.  Leave your valuables in the hotel security box if your are going to be walking at night.

Regardless of what you may see, pedestrians actually do have the right-of-way.  Be very careful crossing the streets.  Watch out for cars that are turning from the wrong lane and watch carefully for cars even if you have the green light. 

Water:  Don't drink the water unless you are sure it is purified.  Most all of the larger hotels and restaurants have purified water systems.  Be careful anyway, ASK!  If there is the slightest doubt, don't take a chance.  Bottled water is cheap insurance.


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