Shopping, Mexico City
Known locally as the “witchcraft market,” the Sonora Market in Mexico City holds alot of interest for travellers because here you can find anything from soaps, powders, otions and animal skin, anything to cure your illness or ailment, wether you are sick, need money, a job, want to get your husband more interested - you can find anything at sonora... the bck of the famous market also has an area where you can buy food, pets, livestock, cats, dogs.. anything !!!!! the sonoa market houses what is arguably the highest concentration of shamans, santeros, voodoo and remedies in the world, all contained in kitsch bright mexican packaging with rather funny wording on the back...
To get to sonora you will need to go through various busy market streets and you will have to know your way pretty well to not get lost. THIS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE! MEXICAN OR TOURIST, this is not a nice area of town and should be avoided no matter how much this place seems like fun ! alot of people go here because its very close to la merced, another large food market which is wonderful.. but dont let your curiosity get to you and drag you down here !
* i have not photo for this tip - AS I WOULD NOT TAKE MY CAMERA HERE AT ALL !!
If you are planning to visit Tepito, a large and well-known flea market in the city, then you can't be careful enough. Its a great place to go to get good deals on all kinds of things- electronics, clothes, shoes, toys, appliances, household items, etc. There's also a lot of porn. And it doesn't look or seem dangerous when you're there, but any Mexican will tell you that it definitely is. DO NOT go alone, travel in a group if you can. I went with a large group, and we all hid our money in our shoes and wore cheap clothes - no jewelry, no visible watches or cellphones, etc. Keep all that hidden in order to not be made a target. Also be very aware of your surroundings. Its probably best to avoid this place all together if you're a tourist, but if yo're staying in Mexico City for a while and have some Mexican friends you can go with or at least any large group of friends, you'll be safer.
If you are obviously not Mexican, and especially if you don't speak Spanish, you will almost for sure get ripped off when you're shopping at markets or buying food or drinks off the street. This won't happen if you're in a restaurant, mall or chain store like Walmart where all the prices are set. There are a few things to keep in mind about this:
1. They will not charge you much more than what they would a Mexican, but it depends how naive/ignorant you seem. I had a few people try to get an extra 20-30 pesos out of me for something, but that is only the difference of $2 - $3 USD. It doesn't make such a huge difference for us, but it may to the people who are selling you the product.
2. Its less likely to happen if you speak their language
3. Its far less likely to happen to you if you're with a Mexican.
4. You can always try to haggle.. if they tell you something is 15 pesos and you say you only have a 10, they may accept that depending on the person and their situation.
While travelling in Mexico, beware of the prices. Almost everybody tries to rip you off as a tourist.
It took me a while to figure out the real prices as you will be offered a triple price because you come from a supposedly rich country. I was quite disappointed with that aspect of Mexico as you're perceived like a source of income and not someone who's an ordinary human-being having similar financial restraints and struggling with the challenges of everyday life like many Mexicans do.
As it comes to safety, if you stay away from dangerous neighbourhoods like Tepito and don't wander alone at night, you're totally safe. I travelled mostly using the metro, I walked on the crowded streets of Centro Historico, I took trains ( El treno legero to Xochimilco), I used ATMs, while going to Cholula from Puebla, I took a local minibus. Mexico has a high crime rate but I must admit that local authorities are struggling real hard to keep it low - there are cops everywhere on the street, at the metro and trains, you're searched before you board a bus.
My only sense of insecurity would be provoked by dishonest people perceiving you as a money machine. But after a while, I figured out the prices and I would be very careful before spending any money.
You will find traveling around Mexico many interesting and different things that you would like to buy, must of them - handcrafts.
Just be aware that the prices don't be so expensive, try to compare first with other producers and then make your choice, people tend to increase prices just beacuse - so just be resonable in the price.
At the pyramids outside of Mexico City you will have a lot of people bombarding you with items to buy. After you pass them a few will come up to you telling you that they in fact have "antiques". The clay pottery that they show you looks very authentic and for the most part they are items that you will not encounter in the markets. It is a huge tourist scam that they are pulling on you.
The pottery that they are showing you they have made and buried in some dirt in there back yard and then sold to you as origonal. I have been to the pyramids a half dozen times and I have never encountered a real antique there.
The only way to truly come across them is to endere yourself to a mexican familt and they can point you in the right direction of finding the true pieces of history.
I know that some of the pieces that you encounter there truly look authentic, I can assure you that they are not.
I have been all over Mexico's interior and have seen numerous burial sites, ruins and true antiques that I conside myself somewhat of an authority on knowing what is real and what isnt.