First, please drive defensively, the rules of the road - all those carefully painted lines, warning signs, blind curves, etc - do not seem to exist for many Mexicans. They will pass when they feel like it. So be quite alert! Also do NOT drive at night on lonely roads, just don't, pull off at dusk at any kind of lodging, start at dawn, whatever. The toll roads and big highways are ok, but not the little roads and byways. For instance, the road up to San Cristobal from Palenque can be dangerous at night, and I mean dangerous as in bandits armed with machine guns. I met some people two years ago who had had that experience on the night bus from Palenque (another NO NO; do not take local night buses on little country routes; the main ones are fine. ) - adios forever to that nice camera, that handy wad of cash - The banditos are strong, tough, well armed and could care less about some gringo tourists. During the day you will be fine, no problem, there is a lot of traffic, if sometimes careless traffic. But at night something could happen, and it is a happier journey if it doesn't. Plus, of course, the visibility is better on those dramatic drops and curves, or those lonely dark tree shaded back roads. Just please plan your trips wisely, and all should go well!
Taxco, Mexico has great shopping, picturesque plazas, and good restaurants, however the silver district has many crowded street jewelry stall where people are bumping against each other and it is difficult to know that your pocket has been picked. Don't keep cash in cargo pockets. The velcro closures are no match for the expert pickpocket.
i can't speak for oaxaca to acapulco, but i can speak about taking a bus from puerto vallarta to puerto escondido. we took the bus in increments. the roads were totally fine, but the bus took about twice as long as a car would have. also, we were on a bus ride for 5 hours one time, and it didn't stop once. we had to literally beg the driver to stop so my friend didn't end up having to pee in her nalgene bottle.
on other trips, the bus stopped for on-bus vendors and at stations where we could buy food. they are only there for a short time. we were also stopped by the policia where they got on the bus with guns and sniffed around our luggage for drugs and weapons. of course, my friend and i, the only americans, were targets. (it was kinda funny, they actually made my friend take her altoids out of the container because they looked like pills. we didn't know the word for breath mint so we described it as gum and had them smell it). they let her keep them.
so, i don't know if they stop cars as well, but you may have to bring bribe money if you think you may be cited for something ridiculous because you're out-of-towners. just a head's up.
we took an hour cab ride in mexico one time (cause we were just tired of being on a bus with a crazy driver who had us being thrown from one side of the bus to the other) and split among three people, the fare was SUPER cheap, surprisingly, for an hour ride. so if you find people going the same direction, i would definitely think about that as an option.
International travelers, please use caution and boycott Ana y Jose and S & S Hip hotels. Ocho Tulum was illegally seized by a powerful family out of Monterey Mexico. The owners of Ana y Jose and S & S Hip hotels are aligned with the scheme. Support safe tourism by taking a stand against corruption.
yeah, i have traveled all over and eaten street food everywhere. i do drink bottled water in certain countries, but mexico is the ONLY place i have ever been sick. meaning on the toilet for the three weeks i was there. it put a damper on my vacation. i guess i would advise being careful with food you know doesn't agree with you. maybe it was just the way my body responded, maybe it was just back luck. but just to be safe, for your son's sake, you may stick to restaurants. it's a shame bc the street food was really good!!!
the photos are of food NOT consumed on the street, and it was good. somehow, some restaurants (like the big touristy kind) don't give that same authentic home cooked meal. this is why i hit the streets in search of real mexican food that doesn't cater to the traveler but to the working class. the lengua and cabesa street tacos were the best!!!! you can decide if it's worth the gamble.
For the first time ever during our travels to many places, I got ripped off. I suppose it was bound to happen. It really made me angry too, and sort of made me not like Mexico.
We tried to avoid the vulture-like sales people all over town , and decided to go into a store to buy some souvenirs . We found some t-shirts , a doll, some other things and I took them to the cash register to pay. She started ringing them up and I handed her my credit card ( big mistake!) . While waiting I picked up this cheap little kids bracelet next to the cash register for $1, just for something to do. You guessed it...I bought it! Not only did it fall apart , but the woman at the register got very nasty with me and got to the point of threatening to call the police if I didn't pay it immediately! I told her I barely touched the thing. She insisted. So I said, fine, but now I don't want the other stuff any longer. She said too late and swiped my card through the machine!!!! I was really angry at that point, threw a dollar at her, ripped the card out of her hand and we left ( without the merchandise) . I called my credit card company as soon as we got back to the ship.
Our tour guide on the bus trip told us that tourism is one of the top 3 industries in Mexico. Let me tell you something, if THAT is the way they treat the tourists, I am surprised any come back!!
Ughh!! If anything makes me not wish to go back to Mexico this would be it!! The locals descend on any tour bus or tourist like vultures and just won't take no for an answer!!! The guy in the photo kept yelling "one dollar" when we got off the bus to Chichen Itza, and unsuspecting me walked over to pick up a piece of pottery. He then demanded $20 for it. I told him no, but he really didn't want to take no for an answer and I suppose if you touch something over there you bought it....I ended up putting it on the ground and walking away...I think he cussed at me....
There was worse to come, see next warning
Be careful when you withdraw money at ATMs in Mexico. In most other countries I've been so far, including my home country, the ATM gives out the card first, then the money, then the receipt. In Mexico, first comes out the money, than the receipt and in the end the card. It happened to me once that I took the money and the receipt and out of habit I thought I had everything and left. Thankfully someone handed my in credit card at the bank where I picked it up the next day.
It might not be like this anymore, it is a few years ago that I was in Mexico.
Don't let anyone convince you to put off your planned trip to Mexico. Yes, there are some very dangerous areas there....but the majority of the violence that's been reported in the media recently is drug gang vs. drug gang warfare. Like others have said....if you aren't involved in the narcotics business you'll probably avoid all of that drama. Very few tourists have been caught up in any violence down in Mexico recently. If I took the advice of all the paranoid people who informed us how dangerous one place or the other was I probably would have missed out on many great adventures.
You are experienced travellers....and Mexico is too fascinating to miss. Also, Mexico City is not so bad...I actully loved the place. Teotihuacan is a wonderful pre-spanish historical site to visit. I think its not to be missed if you find yourself in the Mexico City area.
Enjoy it...and don't miss out on Mexico!
(P.S. I just got back from Tijuana and northern Baja after a drive with my family.....no problems at all despite the daily news reports citing drug violence).
I tend to travel alone, and have pretty good street smarts- although I wasn't expecting what I encountered in the first 10 minutes of my trip.
I rented a car in Mexico City to head south for 2 weeks. After I I left the rental car co, and was heading out of the city, the police stopped me at an intersection (apparently the stop light at this busy intersection was down and there were at least 5 cops there directing traffic and just standing around). Being a blond female in a rental car- I apparently radiated, and they made me pull over for no reason except for that. Needless to say they insisted I ran a red light(!?!) and demanded my licence and passport. Of course I would not travel in Mexico with my passport so I gave them my licence after I realized pleading was in no way going to work . They proceeded to say I had to pay a 1000$ fine right then and there, or else , and I proceeded to say no way, and they brought it down to 500$ . Again I said no way, just give me a ticket, so they pulled over the remaining cops- one of which was their commander, and threatened/intimidated to arrest me if I did not pay immediately- so now I have 6 police officers surrounding me, etc...to make a long story short-
and here's a tip, Whenever I'm travelling abroad, I carry an old drivers licence, 90$ in cash (a lot of 5's so it looks like more) and an old credit card that does not work in a fanny pack (my real ID/credit cards and money are either in my boot or hidden in my unders). The way I got out of that issue was to open the fanny pack and make a big scene that all I had was what was in there and that my credit card has no pin- its only credit- (and if your a female alone: act scared and willing to give them everything in there- trust me, I worked in war zones, play the innocent scared little female card because attitudes will just get you hurt)....
Anyway, 90$ less and unhurt, I was on my way safe and sound...
But, My warning is NEVER trust any police in Mexico- the majority are more corrupt than the criminals there. and always have ready, and in the open something you CAN barter or give and keep your ID and real money hidden away
Otherwise, Mexico its a great country!!
When you are traveling by bus, it is not unusual to be stopped at a military checkpoint. These occurrences are rare, but we were stopped in the middle of the day somewhere in the state of Jalisco. One man in camo stood at the front of our bus with a gun as another walked around the bus "sniffing" for anything suspicious. He approached my friend, I assume because it was obvious we were traveling, and asked her to show him the contents of her purse. She was asked to open a small tin she had, which contained little white pills. He sniffed one with a curious look on his face. It took a little while to communicate that they were Altoids.
Don't step out into a cross walk and expect traffic to stop in Puerto Vallarta. You need to stay sharp and be vigilant. Tourists have been hit by buses, taxi's etc and killed. The streets are cobblestone and if you are not looking down you could easily trip or even step into a hole in the sidewalk (we saw tourists on crutches every trip we have made to Mexico. If you are going to be drinking and walking the streets be even more vigilant of watching your steps and waiting for traffic before stepping out into cross walks. We felt safe at night as far as crime goes but the driving is the real danger here.
ALWAYS BRING T.P. WHEREVER YOU GO. it is not uncommon for a hotel to sell you a room without providing toilet paper. if you get a room under any other circumstances, you may need to ask specifically for toilet paper. sometimes they look at you like you just asked them to loan you $100, then they have to walk two blocks to retrieve t.p. i don´t get it. even some restaurants don´t have t.p. just bring your own and you should be fine.....
about the bathrooms....well, don´t expect seat covers, let alone a seat. just hover and wash up afterward is the only advice i can give. of course not all of mexico is this way, but you will have to stay in a resort to bypass that inconvenience.
i was told by locals not to take overnight buses unless it´s first class. it´s very common for buses to be stopped, sometimes raided. take first class and you should have no problem, because they don´t make any stops.
also, don´t worry too much about military check points. it´s just routine, even though they wear intimidating camouflage and carry big guns.
The fact is, Mexican taxi drivers almost always try to rip off tourists. At first, I always got taxis from hotels or at taxi stands because I heard this was the safest way to get around. After having our hotel-recommended taxi driver pass us off to his brother, who didn't know how to get where we were going and refused to listen to my directions, I decided enough was enough. From that point forward, I always hailed taxis on the street. The days of this being an unsafe practice are over. When you get in a taxi, it's best to push for the driver to use the meter. This will usually save you about 50% of the cost of negotiating the same trip off-meter. If the driver refuses to use the meter, stand firm in negotiating a price. Estimate low, because he's likely to double or even triple the price that you would pay on the meter. If you agree on an off-meter price, don't tip unless you know for sure you're getting a good deal. And if you talk him down to a lower price, make sure you have small bills available to pay the fare! It's only polite!
If you are there over the weekend, do forget to check-out the rate. We paid about US$165 excl tax...more
Our travel agent told described the accomdations here as luxury but they were a bit less impressive...more
Clean well maintained and on a very nice private beach setting. Several restaurants on the property....more
More Regions in Mexico