Mexico City: Frequently Asked Travel Questions (and Answers!)
Mexico City is one of the most visited places in the world.
With more than 14,000 million visitors each year, there are thousands of museums, shows, attractions and landmarks from Mexican culture to entertain people with all sorts of interests. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Mexico’s culture and gastronomy, check out some of the most basic questions travellers ask about Mexico City.
What are the best & worst times of the year to visit Mexico City?
The best time would be between October and April, and the worst times range between May and September.
Why is this? Mexico City has a relatively short raining period that starts in April-May and doesn’t stop until August. Even though storms are very rare in the city it’s still best to avoid them because they tend to cause chaos and traffic. Another great reason to visit Mexico City between October and April is that they’re “calm” months, meaning not many people visit. On Christmas holidays most people from Mexico City leave to visit family, leaving the city relatively empty. One period you should avoid is Spring Break and Summer vacations, when people have free time but decide to stay in the city thus making it some of the most crowded moments of the year.
Do you use Uber or Taxis in Mexico City?
Uber is available and widely used in Mexico City, and it’s considered by many a better option than Taxis.
Not all Taxis are regulated by government and they can be insecure, besides they have pretty inflated rates compared to Uber. Whenever a Taxi driver spots a tourist he can take advantage and overcharge you for a ride. Because of this inconveniences with Taxis, Uber has become the safest choice along with some other transportation platforms. As a result of the growing popularity of Uber, Taxi drives have led protests and tend to get very violent when they see an Uber. A useful tip when riding on Uber (specially from and to the airport) is to try and sit on the front seat, so that people and specially Taxi drivers don’t realize you’re using Uber.
Can I store my luggage in Mexico City’s airport?
Yes, there are a few options to store your luggage inside Mexico City’s airport.
The airport has luggage lockers in both terminals, so it doesn’t matter if you have a domestic or international flight you can leave your belongings stored for a fee of $150 pesos a day (approximately $8 dollars). If you’re in a connecting flight and have a few hours to spend in the city, try to check-in your luggage with the Airline, some of them might have no problem even though it’s early.
Another good choice for people who’re looking to take a break in between flights in Mexico City are the new sleeping pods installed on Terminal 1. For a reasonable fee you can either book a pod to spend the night, take a nap for a few hours or just use their showers to get ready for your next flight. All services include use of lockers and bathrooms.
Can you use U.S dollars in Mexico?
Only on highly touristic sites.
Mexico’s currency is the peso, it has an estimate exchange rate of 18.5 per U.S dollar. While it can be accepted to pay for services and products in some areas of the country, this is very limited and it really depends on the establishment. If you’re visiting Cancun or another Mexican beach, you’ll probably be able to use dollars normally at restaurants, beach clubs and bars, however if you move from the touristic area you’ll need to pay using Mexican pesos. Any part of the country that doesn’t have a beach will probably not take your dollars as valid currency. The best thing you can do is go to a currency exchange office and buy some local currency. If you’re planning of paying with your debit or credit card you should have no problem as long as you stick to formal establishments.
Are there any pickpockets in Mexico City?
Sadly, yes. Mexico City has very high rates of pickpocketing and armed robbery.
You can follow some useful tips to avoid getting pickpocketed while traveling Mexico City. Try to stick to tourist areas or hire a tourist guide to go along with you on tours and visits. If you want to do it on your own ask about which areas of the city to avoid and stick to “nice” places at nighttime. If you travel in public transportation keep your belongings on a different place than your pockets or handbag, try to hide it for the duration of the ride. When going to restaurants or clubs don’t leave your belongings unattended and try to keep people at arm’s length. When walking among huge crowds hold tight to your belongings and always look up.
Do they speak English in Mexico City?
Yes, almost everyone related to hospitality services speaks at least a little English.
If you’re staying at a high-end hotel (or even a modest one), it’s almost mandatory for employees to speak English in order to offer a better service to international customers. The same goes for nice restaurants and establishments. However, if you choose to visit more traditional places you’ll probably find out nobody speaks English. A good thing about Mexicans, though, is that they always make an effort to serve people the best way and make them feel at home. If the language barrier gets you a little nervous you can always hire private tour guides who speak your language and can take care of everything you need.
As for museums and landmarks, most of them are adapted to show information in English and in some cases French and several other languages.
Can you drink alcohol in public in Mexico City?
No, in fact it’s one of the most common reasons people get caught by the police.
Drinking alcohol and consuming illicit substances on public roads is a felony, according to the Civic Culture Law of Mexico City. Such misdemeanor could result in police taking you to court, were you’ll be sentenced to either pay a fine or spend up to 36 hours in jail. If they catch you with more than just alcohol in your system then you’ll be charged for 2 different crimes.
While it is common for people in Mexico City to drink on the streets (as we mentioned it’s one of the most common things people get fined for), we highly recommend you avoid this practice. Some clubs and restaurants might offer to pour the rest of your liquor on a plastic cup before you leave the establishment so you can keep drinking, but you should either reject the offer or go straight to your transportation without taking a sip of the cup.
Can you go swimming in Mexico City?
Yes, even though Mexico City has no beach or major water bodies per se.
As you know, Mexico City is right in the center of the country and it has no beaches or lakes suitable for swimming. However, if you’re in the mood for a swim to cool off the heat of the summer, there are several options for you to have good time. If you’re staying at a hotel, look for one that has a pool so you can go straight from your room. There are also several rooftops around the city with bars next to the pool, where people go and spend the day partying. Most rooftops charge a cover for entrance, or you can make a reservation and make it a private experience for you and your party. For family friendly options, you can choose a water park to spend the day under the sun.
If you feel like having a more “natural” experience, or at least be in contact with gardens and natural water bodies, you can always drive to one of the neighbor cities and visit one of the many thermal water resorts. Hidalgo, Puebla, Morelos or Estado de México all have beautiful lakes, rivers and swimming parks and they’re just a couple of hours from the city.
Cash, credit or payment apps: What can I use in Mexico City?
You can use all of them, but it varies greatly depending on the location.
Cash is still the best way to pay all over the country, and of course Mexico City. If you want to travel less touristic places and you don’t want to worry about being able to pay, having cash at hand is the most comfortable option to pay for food, tickets and souvenirs.
However, we understand that you might be nervous about carrying big amounts of cash (even locals would be). That’s why credit and debit cards are welcomed in most establishments nowadays in Mexico City. Keep in mind that, when paying with card on any restaurant or store, you’ll be charged according to the exchange rate of the day.
As for payment apps, we must tell you this is not the most reliable option in Mexico City yet. While some big stores and restaurants are already receiving payments mostly on Samsung Pay, they’re still very few compared to the ones who accept cards. Even if some establishments accept Samsung Pay, you shouldn’t rely on this payment method when visiting Mexico.