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It's a good idea to take it easy on your first day or two in Mexico City because of the combination of the high altitude and the pollution problem. The city sits at 2240 meters above sea level (Denver, Colorado - "the Mile High City" - is only about 1600 meters), so the altitude is a reality, however, I did a fair bit of walking on my first day and didn't feel any effects. I think the key is to be aware of it and to walk a little more slowly than usual.
The pollution is also a real problem, however, I found that it wasn't as bad as the awful stories I had heard. During my time here, there was almost always a blue sky above. The smog sits farther on the horizon and usually is very visible near the base of the mountains where it tends to get trapped.
Be very careful on taxis on the street. You can be buying a trip to goodbye wallet.
At your hotel ask for a taxi company number and don't forget to buy a telephone card as coin tels are not very common anymore.
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Update March 2005
Hello, its been a while since i have posted on the page,Mexico City is its usual self but has had a rise in Demonstrations,partly because of the ongoing fight between the mayor and the president,expect to see a lot of demonstrators in the Zocolo,they occur on almost a daily basis,try to avoid these as you can accidently get caught up in them and get hurt especialy if its anti american although i havent see one of those for some time,The usualy police problems still linger on,Check my articles on the Police.Taxi Libre crime is on the downside and i dont feel its as bad as it once was.The has been some problems in the State of mexico,regarding people acutualy grabing police and holding them hostage,this is a long story and i really dont want to get into it on this page,i dont recoment avoiding being around any conflict beween police and vendors.
DF is not like disneyland people
No joke, Mexico City is really dangerous.
I myself, being a young girl, would never go there just for a holiday. I can go to DF because I know (or knew) people there, and I stay with them and travel with them, and they have lived there all there lives.
woman = bad idea
woman traveling alone = very bad idea
woman traveling alone who can't function in spanish = are you just stupid?!
The rest of Mexico (maybe save Tijuana...) is pretty safe in comparison, and the mexican people as a whole are awsome. Very giving and very kind. But big cities are dangerous places anywhere in the world. Mexico city is one of the biggest cities.
I definetly recommend knowing someone there.
no girlies this is NOT Cancun!
P.S. to anyone who is going to go blindly stumbling through the capital; stay away from Tepito (duh!) and Nezahualcoyotl (it's on the outskirts - you don't bother Neza and Neza won't bother you :) Tepito is pretty much smack bang in the middle which means you have to be very careful not to stumble on into it. Lagunilla is a really cool market (sundays) but any day the market's not there or after it gets dark it's hella dangerous.
Other comun tourist spots that get creepy after dark are MOST of the Zocalo, and Plaza Garibaldi. This is a comon misconception among tourists, as both places are big attractions, but the fact is, after dark they get nasty. (think about it people if you were dead broke in DF and you resorted to robbing someone, who would you rob, one of your countrymen or some stupid tourist whose money is worth more....) + look on a map, what's smack bang in the middle of Lagunilla, El Zocalo and La Plaza Garibaldi, yep you got it, our little friend Tepito. Here, maybe looking at the Metro map will help get your bearings http://www.metro.df.gob.mx/red/index.html
oh and if you're thinking of taking the metro.....
haha no, no reason to pee your pants, just be careful in the city, always be aware of your surroundings.
The Entire City is a Tourist Trap!!!!
Okay, you want to taste the culture of Mexico so you decide to visit its capital, right? Bad choice!!! My wife and I are both Mexican. My wife has family in Mexico so we visit a bit. Yes, the museum is awesume and many of the locals have a great heart, but this is all dwarffed by the fact that the city is soooo UGLY(!) and the poverty level, has caused a sudden jump in crime. Also, this city is full of graffiti and smog and you really cannot go out for walks because the city is so big and crowded with traffic and criminals. The smog is TERRIBLE!!! I strongly suggest you go to Merida, Yucatan instead---about 5-6 hours from Cancun. Now that, gives you a better flavor of what Mexican culture can really be. Mexico City is too influence by it's crime and fast paced money making metro life to offer tourist any charm. STAY AWAY!!!!!!...j.8a
It is recommended that for your personal security not to wear expensive jewelry, ostentatious articles and other valuables; instead they should be placed in the safe deposit box of the hotel.
It is recommended to change in advance sufficient money for spending the first days of your trip, thereby avoiding carrying huge amounts of cash.
It is advisable that when traveling you carry sufficient prescribed medications so they will last during your entire stay and that you also carry all your prescriptions and keep medications in their original containers to avoid misunderstandings with local authorities.
It is suggested that the visitor ask about requirements and services covered by insurance policies in case there is an emergency away from place of origin.
Dealing with Mexico City Police as a Tourist
If you are stopped by the police for an infraction,ask what the infraction is and explain that you are tourist,ask them if you are under arrest or is this just a warning ,if you are under arrest ,explain that you are a tourist and are a citizen of (U.S. GERMANY,FRANCE ETC.)And that you request to speak or be taken to the tourist police,in most cases if the infraction is real you will be transported in a police car to a special station of the Judical Police /Tourist Police where they can explain the infraction and what is the fine,Dont! attempt to bribe the police unless you know spanish and can play word games...but dont attempt to outright give them money as there are many cameras in the City and you will be charged
for attempt to bribe a police officer.If you are charged ask to call your embassy and speak to your consul which is your right under international law.I am not a lawyer so i can not give you legal advice on Mexican Law...
Dont drink from beer bottles of liquor in the
Centro Historical in Public as this is an Infraction.Stay away from the people who sell items at night in front of the Cafe El Popular.They are low lifes who sell drugs and who are watched by the police....Dont buy drugs in Mexico as they dont have Entrapment laws like they do in the U.S. If a Undercover police officer approaches you and displays a badge ask to see his credinicals as badges are easier to obtain than in other countrys if he tells you that you are under arrest,tell him that you want to speak to a uniformed officer especialy a tourist police officer...dont be allowed to be transported in any car that is not a real decorated police car..if the officer resist attempt to or cause a scene to attract attention.real police officers wont be afraid of a scene and you can explain later that you thought the officer was fake to the judge.
General Information on the Police in Mexico City 1
As A Person who lives in Mexico City and has many friends incluiding a fincee who works for the Departement of Public Security,i should explain the police system here in Mexico City.Mexico City has a orginization called the Department of Public Security,You will see all of these members while in Mexico City.(1)Protection Police(uniform color is blue)These officers are the type you will deal with if you have been robbed or need assistance in the Centro or the reforma area the Drive Blue and Grey Cars,and were nice blue dress jackets and hats with a white belt,they can help you with general directions or if you are being harrased or have been robbed.First be aware that most are helpful but speak little english.(2)Transit or Traffic officers(brown uniform)they assist with the movement of traffic and general are the most hated by the drivers of the city.(3)Bank and Industry Police(blue uniform)with a bullet proof vest (PBI)
these like the auxulary police are over glorfified security guards and are generaly no help unless you need directions or you are lost.There job is to protect banks and businesses that pay them,because unlike the U.S. Private security companys can not carry weapons with the exception of some special bodyguard firms and the firms that transport money around the city.(4)Auxulary Police(blue uniforms) see Bank police for description) (5)Tourist Police (white uniforms with white hats,you will see these in the Zona Rosa these are proably the best police in the city as they are to assist you and most ,if not all speak english,some speak german and french,they can assist you on advice for a good restraunt,where is a internet cafe,where is a safe taxi and so on...
General Safety/Security info
First,i would like to comment on some of my other members comments,I have over 20 years experence in Law Enforcment including protection Security,on both the Federal and local level.I have also assisted hotels in Mexico with there security programs and am a member of the Mexican Red Cross.
Mexico City is best described as a city on the verge of a major breakdown and has been for years.Having many friends in the DF police,i can tell you that the new reforms that would put into place a couple of years ago are a joke.i lived in the Centro Histrico for one year,and had the opertunity to see many things.(1)Yes there are more police in the Centro,zona rosa,etc..but most do not speak english or french etc.and are still below in traning and disipline compared to the counterparts in America France,England,etc.(2)Taxis are still a problem but not as bad as in the late 90´s
When you look at a cab look for the license plates they should match the numbers painted on the car,also by law the driver should have his huge picture postcard size licence in full view.If you have any problems with a driver have him pull over at the next police car you see and discuss it with the police.Most guide books havs pretty good seclection on security tips as does the US State Depatement.Mexico City is great for its History and Arctuture,but the demonstrations are almost daily in the Zocolo and the city bosses have turned the Nacional Place/Temple area in to a big flea market.One good idea is the new tour bus sistem that alows you to get off and on.i encourage this for your first day.Mexico City is great for a couple of days but Mexico is such more that the Zoo of the Capital City.
Be careful with taxis!
Unfortunately, this is a very unsecure city! But if you always take authorized taxis, there is nothing to worry about. We call it "Taxi de Sitio". Some authorized taxis accept credit cards!
Yeah, it costs much more than the regular taxi!
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Use common sense !!!!
With a little common sense Mexico CIty can be enjoyed greatly. Here are a couple of tips....First...AVOID drinking the local water, drink only bottled water !!!! or soda's or beer !!!! Avoid having drinks with ice !!! The ice is made from the local water and unless you want to spend yours days in Mexico City in the bathroom...STAY AWAY FROM IT !!!!!!
Leave all your expensive jewerly home.....ask Don King and his $100,000 Rolex some one polietly took off his hand as he faced the barrel of a gun !!!!! and of course keep aware of your surrondings !!!!! Walk in pairs or groups, avoid Taxi's or the subway at night and you'll be just fine !!!!
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Stay away from this Leaning Church...
...when the next Big One hits Mexico City. They say the city's sinking, well, here's proof: the old Shrine of Guadaloupe is tipping a liiiiittle bit more each year. Oh it's fine and safe to enter on a regular day, but all it might take is one major something-point-something on the Richter scale, and Look Out. I'm just saying. ;-O
Zona Rosa warnings
In la Zona Rosa, you're pegged as someone with money, so watch yourself. Do not walk alone. Men will be approached constantly and persistantly by guys who tell you that they can get you into a gent's club for no cover. Don't fall for this - you MIGHT get in free if you go with them, but then you'll get hustled for drinks. They will get your money if they get you inside the club. Also, watch out for the shoe shiners. They aggressively ask for your business. Some of them actually will bend down immediately and put some substance on your shoes. Don't let this happen, because now you're on the clock!
Don't take valuables!
When visiting, try not to take too much money, no expensive jewelry and only take what is essential to wonder around town. Try to avoid place where large crowds and small markets meet. Do not wear a wallet or carry a purse. If you need a watch, use one that is low profile and cheap. Learn the local languege and idioms. Only get on marked taxi cabs. If you need info on specific locations email me to get them.
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I read many books saying that the area around Plaza Garibaldi was rife with criminals....NOT SO! I felt more than comfortable walking from Plaza Garibaldi back to my hotel at the Zocalo alone late at night. I didn't see ANYONE, let alone criminals. Also, I think people are overreacting on the whole taxi cab problem, most of these drivers are honest people who could care less about driving you to the outskirts of town, robbing and murdering you, and leaving your body in a field. The drivers are usually fun people, with a lot of good information about D.F. to offer.
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Mexico City Travel Guide
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