Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mexico: Tips for travel

When we were planning our trip, I realised there was not enough information on the internet to help us and so here are a couple of tips I thought would be useful for anyone planning the a venture into Mexico

1. There is enough to see in Mexico for however long you want to be here. There is culture, history, handicrafts, beaches, mountains, relaxation, activities and anything else you might be looking for.

2. An itinerary for 10 days I would suggest based on my travels is Mexico City (1/2) days - Oaxaca (2 days) - San Cristobal (2 days) - Palenque (1 day) - Merida (2 days) - Cancun (2 days). This is still very hectic, and you can add/subtract some places, but this will allow you to cover a lot of the historical and beautiful places. This itinerary covers places in Central/South Mexico. There are many pretty places in the north too, but since I did not go there, have no idea.

3. Its very easy to travel between cities. Of course there are flights, but you can take the local buses too, which are very comfortable and easy to book. They are run by ADO and OCC, and you can book all buses for your trip from any of the terminals or shops anywhere in Mexico. Also, you can buy the first class or premier tickets which are comfortable and can be used for overnight travel too.

4. The tours to all the touristy places are very convenient. You can book them from the hotels itself, even late at night. In San Cristobal, the tours were in smaller groups with about 10 people, while in Merida it was a busload! For the Yucatan state though, I would say that its better to rent a car as its very beautiful, pretty safe and the car gives you a lot more flexibility than going with a tour. Also, knowing Spanish enhances the experience for sure, so take a crash course if you can before you go;-).

5. Book hotels near the city center at most of the places other than Mexico City. It makes life more easier.

6. Most places take cash, so carry that rather than using credit card everywhere.

7. People in Mexico are very simple and friendly. Except Mexico City where the cab drivers especially try to cheat you.

8. Its a good idea to know Spanish when in Mexico as a lot of people do not know English. At least learn some basic 15-20 Spanish words, it would be very helpful.

Hello - Hola
Good day - Buenos dias
Welcome - Bienvenida
Thank you very much - Muchos gracias

Bus - Autobus
Central square - Zocalo
Beach - Playa
Restaurant - Restaurante

Food - Comida
Chicken - Pollo
Meat - Carne
Spicy - Picante

Hours - Horas
One, two, three, four, five - Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco
Half, fifty, hundred - Media, cincuenta, cien

Toilet - Banos
Women - Damas

9. Weather in Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas is cold most of the year, as these places are at about 6000 feet altitude. Yucatan though stays pretty warm and comfortable, even in the winters.

10. I had heard a lot about safety issues in Mexico but I did not feel like that at all. In Mexico City, its a good idea to be sure about where you are going and know the price the cab ride will take. Otherwise everywhere felt safe and Merida especially felt just like a European town.

11. Travel is cheap in Mexico, am just putting some indicative rates for the tours we took:

Mexico City
Taxi from airport to Centro Historico: 200 pesos (special taxis)
Teotihuacan ruins (Mexico City) : 550 pesos

San Cristobal de las Casa
Sumidero canyon: 290 pesos
El Chiflon waterfalls and Montebello lakes: 340 pesos
Ziplining at El Chiflon: 150 pesos

Palenque ruins: 80 pesos
Bus Palenque to Merida (first class): 150 pesos

Uxmal ruins tour: 425 pesos (+180 pesos entry)
Chichenitza tour: 425 pesos (+180 pesos entry)
Cenote ticket: 70 pesos
Bus ticket (return) to Progreso: 30 pesos

12. Some food recommendations for Mexico City from a friend:
- La coyoacana in downtown Coyoacan
- El Bajio in Polanco (try tacos de jaiba)


Other articles on Mexico...

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