I do not claim to be an expert on Mexico City, so I just share my personal observations. If you do research on the internet, it seems you`re entering a warzone; though the city sure has its problems and seedy areas, it is perfectly possible to have an enjoyable holiday here.
Moving around during the day in the area of Zocalo and the pedestrian streets leading from here to the Torre Latinoamericana/Palacio Bellas Artes area seemed very safe to me. There is a policeman at - literally - every street corner. Alameda Park, Paseo de Reforma and Chapultepec Park and the San Angel/Coayacan suburbs also looked and felt safe to me, though there was much less visible police presence. This is were most of the interesting sights for tourists are located, so it would be rather unlikely that you run into a seedy part of town by chance. Still, I avoided moving around after dark.
This doesn`t rule out pickpocketry, so do only take as much money as you reasonably need for the day with you and preferrably not in the backpockets of your trousers. There are always crowds in the inner city so you likely wouldn`t notice pickpocketing.
I would advise against hailing a street taxi. There have been cases where taxi drivers were in league with criminals and forced passengers to withdraw money from their credit or debit cards before a release ("secuestro express"). If you use a taxi, let the hotel call one - if the driver is known to the hotel, such an incident is rather unlikely.
According to locals I asked, using the metro is perfectly safe and the easiest way to get around within Mexico City. In crowded metros, you should be on alert for pickpocketing, but otherwise it was a great way to get around in the city and there was not one station that felt seedy.
In the pedestrian streets, it is not unusual to get "stuck" if the streets are full of people. Be especially watchful for pickpockets in these situations. Usually, Madero street between the Zocalo and the Palacio Bellas Artes was the most crowded, but the streets to the left and right of Madero less so.
If you intend to travel by bus: there have been a few armed robberies on the busline from the Bus Terminal "Norte" to Teotihuacan in the past. They have safety checks in Mexico City, but not during other stops. Still, I would always use the busline. Security has been stepped up as there were police checkpoints with thorough control of luggage and body patdowns.
Danger of Earthquake
Much of Mexico’s volcanic and seismic activity stems from the movement of the North American plate against the Cocos and Pacific plates and it is one of the most active trenches in the world.
The 1985 Mexico City earthquake, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake that struck Mexico City on the early morning of 19 September 1985, caused the deaths of at least 10,000 people and serious damage to the greater Mexico City Area.
To prevent damage some of houses are covered with metal frames (have a look at my picture).Related to:
Danger of loosing your suitcase
As I have already written in my transportation tip Moscow-Mexico City flight via Paris I had only 30 minutes to change an airplane in Paris and to change a terminal. I was in time because I almost run but I was very doubt that my suitcase can run as fast as I can, haha! So when I was passing the registration I asked if I would be sure that my suitcase would change an airplane so quickly. And they told me – for sure! But how upset I was in the Mexico City International Airport when I found that my suitcase wasn’t in time for the plane in Paris and stayed there to sleep without me…
So I lost an hour in the airport to find the situation out and went to the hotel without my suitcase. Next evening I lost two hours to go to the airport to find my suitcase (luckily it arrived there from Paris at last).
Mexico Travel Safety
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I believe it offers a unique service to international travellers. I am a retired U.S. Embassy Regional Security office employee who also served the United Nations and, as such, offer readers thirty-four years of experience in crime prevention, public safety, and personal protection.
SecurityCornerMexico.com offers invaluable information on travelling safely in Mexico. Twice last year, my website was recommended by the Washington Post´s travel section regarding international destinations as a trusted information resource for expatriates and travellers who visit Mexico; as well as by more than twenty of the most prestigious magazines and forums. In addition, I offer an online security consultancy service, also at no cost or conditions.
Is the English Speaker's Guide to Living in Mexico. Download your free monthly issue at no cost.
For the past five years, Solutions Abroad has helped more expatriates in Mexico than any other organization. Today, more than 1,000,000 people avid of information come to our website every year to get help on living in, moving to, or even just visiting, Mexico. With over 1,000 pages of information in English, Spanish, German (in French, anytime soon) and hundreds of service providers all over Mexico just a click away, we are the one-stop-shop for our growing community.Related to:
- School Holidays
- Women's Travel
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Don't trust stereotypes: Mexico City is on a tropical latitude (19 Deg. North), but weather is a combination of latitude, altitude and continentality and Mexico City is located at an altitude of 2240 m (7350 Ft), and is relatively close (300 Km - 190 Mi) to the sea. As a consequence, its weather is almost permanently temperate:
Average lowest-highest temperatures are 6-21 C (43-70 F) for January, the coolest month and 12-26 C (54-79 F) for May, the warmest (source weather.com). It is necessary to bring a sweater or a light coat if you are visiting between December and February.
It also rains significantly (850 mm annually), though most rain is concentrated in the "rainy season" that goes from June to October; if you are visiting during these months it's useful to bring an umbrella, as it rains daily for a couple of hours, in the evenings.
Take care with taxis
There are reports that the authorities are cracking down on taxi crime in Mexico City - I wouldn't be at all complacent about that.
The best advice about picking up a cab in the street is DON'T.
Hopping into one of those cute little green and white Volkswagens you see everywhere could ruin your holiday. At the airport take a registered airport taxi (yellow, booked and pre-paid inside the terminal); from your hotel or from a restaurant, get the desk to call you a radio cab and ask them to make a note of the licence plate number. If you must get a taxi in the street, make sure it's a radio cab - it will have an S in front of the licence plate number and an orange stripe on the plate. If in doubt - walk - all the way if necessary.
Check your government's travel advice on crime in Mexico, take careful note and follow it.. This is not scare-mongering. Robbery - with violence - is all too common. We met a young Englishman who had been robbed at knifepoint within 20 minutes of leaving the airport terminal. He was still in shock, but he was lucky - all they took was his money.
Make-sicko City ...
...as my daughter used to call it when she was younger - and Mexico City's pollution is more often than not so bad that the name really fits. Altitude is another hazard. At some 2000 metres above sea level, the city's altitude combined with daytime heat (and sudden drops in temperature at night) and the aforementioned pollution can cause real problems, so take it easy for a day or so when you first get there - and leave the assault on the pyramids at Teotihuacan for a few days more if you can.
We were lucky , and the days we spent here (mid-March) were clear and bright. I hope you strike it that way too.
even though guns are illegal they still make there way into the hands of the young. We were in a restaurant in Polanco firting with some senoritas when the angry boyfriend approached us and produced a .38 cal revolver from his front waistband. we told him that it was cool, and we would leave.... no action that night.
another night we found ourselves in an area known as Tepito, very dangerous. we found out later that police officers are often killed in broad daylight
Northern part of the city
An advice for everyone visiting Mexico City: Mexico is a very, very big city, so has its security problems. In wealth terms speaking, Mexico City has two parts. If you really want to enjoy your staying in this huge city do not risk yourself in the northern part. Due to the poverty, this is not a good place to be like tourist. The main attractions are concentrated in the Central and southern part of the city: Centro Historico, Zona Rosa, Polanco, Coyoacan, etc. There are a lot of museums and buildings and some ruins (for instance: Cuicuilco, Templo Mayor in the Zocalo). So, you will have a lot to see. This is not only my opinion. Every normal Mexican will tell you the same.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Women's Travel
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