Mexico is very much open for business when it comes to tourism. We’re not just talking about Cancun either, although Spring Break in Cancun is still a dream vacation for thousands of young people every year. If Cancun is a little too party-centric for you (or you just don’t like the idea of being surrounded by students), you might want to consider Mexico City instead.
Like almost any major capital city in the developed world, Mexico City is a sprawling modern metropolis. It has all the amenities you’d expect of a 21st-century city, and it partners them up with great weather and incredible tourist attractions. It’s also got plenty of charm and character – where else in the world would you find an annual zombie walk, for example?
As with any potential vacation destination, if you go there without doing too much reading, you’ll run into things that you wish someone had told you before you set off. We want to be your friends in respect of that. We’ve put together a quick checklist of things people wish they’d known about before they arrived in Mexico’s capital. Don’t worry; there’s nothing that should put you off the idea of visiting; they’re just snippets of information you should bear in mind and prepare for. If you do, they’ll make your visit even better!
There Are Mosquitoes
We won’t dress this up – mosquitoes are a problem in Mexico City. They’re such a significant problem that there were concerns that the Zika virus would make its way there when that epidemic became an issue a few years ago, although there was never a significant outbreak. Mosquitoes aren’t just something you have to be aware of if you’re going to South America or Africa; there are plenty of them in this part of Latin America, too. The good news, though, is that they tend not to be as aggressive as the type you’ll find elsewhere. The high altitude makes it difficult for all but a few types of mosquito to prosper, and those that do aren’t particularly dangerous. A cheap mosquito net, plus a plug-in for your hotel room, should be enough to keep you safe.
They’re Not Joking About Spice
Although some of the stereotypes perpetuated about Mexican culture are unhelpful, most of the ones which relate to food are true. The level of spice in Mexican food is legendary. If you go on a mobile slots website, you’ll find mobile slot games like ‘Hot Chilli’ based around the Mexican culinary experience. If you order food from a market stall without checking the spice level of whatever you’re buying, you’re gambling with your tastebuds just as surely as you’d be gambling if you were playing the casino slots! The Mexicans just seem to have a higher tolerance for spice than the rest of the world. Even the fruit arrives spiced. If you really can’t cope with it, you might be best advised to avoid markets entirely and go for store-bought food instead. Inside a restaurant, you should be able to persuade the staff to tone things down for you.
You Should Always Use Uber
While we don’t like to generalize, there are some horror stories about tourists who’ve hailed taxis in the streets of Mexico City. Several times each year, you’ll see a news story about someone who got in a taxi and was effectively kidnapped and driven to a cash point, and then forced to withdraw all their money before being abandoned. We don’t expect that the majority of Mexico City cab drivers are inclined to do this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is doubly true if you’re a woman traveling alone because you’re more likely to be targeted. Using an Uber means that the company knows who picked you up, and where you’re supposed to be going. Nothing is ever completely safe, but you’ll be better protected.
Tequila Is To Be Sipped
We don’t know who decided tequila should be drunk as a shot, or when they decided it, but they were very wrong. Tequila in Mexico is sipped, not just slugged back. It’s one of Mexico’s national drinks, and they put a lot of work into developing and flavoring it. If you just pick it up from the table and knock it straight back down their throats, you’re insulting your hosts. Follow their lead and drink it slowly. Perhaps consider making some appreciative noises as you do so – even if you cant’ stand it. Everyone in Mexico drinks tequila, and you can expect to be brought a serving as a ‘thank you’ after eating in a restaurant. Make peace with the idea of drinking it slowly – and enjoying it!
Take Lots Of Cash
Little by little, we’re leaving cash behind in the USA and most of Europe. We’ve been more about card payment than cash for many years now, and more recently, we’ve been using contactless payments wherever we can for the sake of convenience. That isn’t the case in Mexico. You can walk for hours around the streets of Mexico City without seeing a single ATM. You’ll also be looked at like you’ve just landed from outer space if you present your card to pay for a minor transaction in a local grocery store. That isn’t the way things are done in Mexico yet. If you want to buy something, you’ll be expected to have the cash to pay for it. That usually means withdrawing a lot of cash before you go. Don’t take it all out with you at once – make sure you have a safe in your hotel room you can stash it in when it isn’t required. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to take part in a tourist activity, but not being able to do so because you don’t have any means of paying for it. Don’t let this happen to you.
In addition to all of the above, try to open your mind and ignore some of the more cliched warnings.
You might have heard the water isn’t safe to drink, and yet it’s used to make all the ice that goes in the cocktails. If it’s fine in the cocktails, it’s fine from your tap, too. Yes, the food may be left standing in the open for longer than it is in the USA, but the locals don’t spend their days battling food poisoning. Relax, enjoy yourself, and bask in the culture. If you do, we’re confident you’ll start planning your next visit the moment you return home!