Friday, 6 April 2018

MEXICO: Viva Mexico City, Gay Friendly, Plenty Of Museums, Pick-pocketing And Express Kidnappings But Dress Decently Like A Catholic Otherwise You Are Thrown Out Of Church.

Mexico City or Ciudad de Mexico is the capital city of Mexico, and the largest city in North America by population.

Mexico City is, and has always been, the sun in the Mexican solar system. Though much-maligned in the past, these days the city is cleaning up its act.

Revamped public spaces are springing back to life, the culinary scene is exploding and a cultural renaissance is flourishing.

On top of all that, by largely managing to distance itself from the drug war, the nation’s capital remains a safe haven of sorts. Far from shaking off visitors, the earthquakes of 2017 revealed a young society who attracted admiration through their solidarity.

A stroll through the buzzing downtown area reveals the capital’s storied history, from pre-Hispanic and colonial-era splendor to its contemporary edge.

This high-octane megalopolis contains plenty of escape valves in the way of old-school cantinas, intriguing museums, inspired dining and boating excursions along ancient canals.

With so much going on, you might consider scrapping those beach plans.

On the other hand, Mexico City is also home to large communities of expatriates and immigrants, most notably from the rest of North America (U.S. and Canada), from South America mainly from Argentina and Colombia, but also from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela.

From Central America and the Caribbean mainly from Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras; from Europe mainly from Spain, Germany and Switzerland, but also from Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania.

From the Middle East mainly from Egypt, Lebanon and Syria and recently from Asia-Pacific mainly from China and South Korea.

Historically since the era of New Spain, many Filipinos settled in the city and have become integrated in Mexican society.

While no official figures have been reported, population estimates of each of these communities are quite significant.

Mexico City is home to the largest population of U.S. Americans living outside the United States.

Current estimates are as high as 700,000 U.S. Americans living in Mexico City, while in 1999 the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs estimated over 440,000 Americans lived in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area.

Majority - 82% of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, higher than the national percentage, though it has been decreasing over the last decades. Many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city.

Many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist, Islamic and other spiritual and philosophical groups. There are also growing numbers of irreligious people, whether agnostic or atheist.

Mexico City is a destination for many foreign tourists. The Historic center of Mexico City - Centro Historico and the floating gardens of Xochimilco in the southern borough have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Famous landmarks in the Historic Center include the Plaza de la Constitucion or Zocalo, the main central square with its epoch-contrasting Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace, ancient Aztec temple ruins Templo Mayor or Major Temple and modern structures, all within a few steps of one another.

The Templo Mayor was discovered in 1978 while workers were digging to place underground electric cables.

The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysees in Paris.

This avenue was designed over the Americas' oldest known major roadway in the 19th century to connect the National Palace or seat of government with the Castle of Chapultepec, the imperial residence.

Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange and several corporate headquarters are located.

Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 28.8 km (17.9 mi) and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.

Chapultepec Park houses the Chapultepec Castle, now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone.

Another piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palace, a white marble theatre/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below.

Its construction began during the presidency of Porfirio Diaz and ended in 1934, after being interrupted by the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s.

The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe are also important sites.

There is a double-decker bus, known as the Turibus, that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.

In addition, the city has about 160 museums—the world's greatest single metropolitan concentration with over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls, all of which maintain a constant cultural activity during the whole year.

It has either the third or fourth-highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and perhaps Toronto. Many areas e.g. Palacio Nacional and the National Institute of Cardiology have murals painted by Diego Rivera.

He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in Coyoacan, where several of their homes, studios, and art collections are open to the public. The house where Leon Trotsky was initially granted asylum and finally murdered in 1940 is also in Coyoacan.

In addition, there are several restored haciendas that are now restaurants, such as the San Angel Inn, the Hacienda de Tlalpan and the Hacienda de los Morales.

Mexico City offers a variety of cuisines. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city.

Available are an array of international cuisines, including Canadian, French, Italian, Croatian, Spanish including many regional variations, Jewish, Lebanese.

Chinese again with regional variations, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and fellow Latin American cuisines such as Argentine, Brazilian, and Peruvian.

Haute, fusion, kosher, vegetarian and vegan cuisines are also available, as are restaurants solely based on the concepts of local food and slow Food.

Mexico City is known for having some of the freshest fish and seafood in Mexico's interior. La Nueva Viga Market is the second largest seafood market in the world after the Tsukiji fish market in Japan.

The city also has several branches of renowned international restaurants and chefs. These include Paris' Au Pied de Cochon and Brasserie Lipp, Philippe by Philippe Chow; Nobu, Morimoto; Pampano, owned by Mexican-raised opera legend Placido Domingo.

There are branches of the exclusive Japanese restaurant Suntory, Rome's famed Alfredo, as well as New York steakhouses Morton's and The Palm, and Monte Carlo's BeefBar.

Three of the most famous Lima-based Haute Peruvian restaurants, La Mar, Segundo Muelle and Astrid y Gaston have locations in Mexico City.

For the 2014 list of World's 50 Best Restaurants as named by the British magazine Restaurant, Mexico City ranked with the Mexican avant-garde restaurant Pujol - owned by Mexican chef Enrique Olvera at 20th best.

Also notable is the Basque-Mexican fusion restaurant Biko run and co-owned by Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso, which placed outside the list at 59th, but in previous years has ranked within the top 50.

Mexico's award-winning wines are offered at many restaurants, and the city offers unique experiences for tasting the regional spirits, with broad selections of tequila and mezcal.

At the other end of the scale are working class pulque bars known as pulquerías, a challenge for tourists to locate and experience.

The city is officially divided into 16 delegaciones or boroughs which are in turn subdivided into colonias or neighborhoods, of which there are over 1700, however it is better to think of the city in terms of districts to facilitate the visitor getting around.

Many older towns like Coyoacan, San Angel and Tlalpan got merged into the urban sprawl, and each of these still manages to preserve some of their original and unique characteristics.

Centro Historico - Where it all began. Historic city center that is focused around the Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitucion and extends in all directions for a number of blocks with its furthest extent being west to the Alameda Central.

Many historic colonial landmarks, and the famous Aztec Templo Mayor, can be found here. The Zocalo is the largest square in Latin America and the third largest in the world after Moscow’s Red Square and Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

There are a few other neighborhoods comprised in the Centro area such as Colonia San Rafael and Santa Maria La Ribera, see the Centro Historico page for more details.

Chapultepec - Lomas - Chapultepec is one of the biggest urban parks in the world. Its name in Nahuatl means grasshopper hill. The park hosts the the main city zoo, a castle now museum, lakes, an amusement park and many museums.

Lomas de Chapultepec is the wealthiest district in the city nearby Chapultepec, and is filled with walled off mansions.

Polanco - One of the wealthiest residential areas with some of the most expensive designer boutique stores in the city. Filled with embassies, upscale restaurants, night clubs and hotels.

Zona Rosa - Also known to tourists as Reforma district because it embraces Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, it is an important business and entertainment district.

It is widely known to be the gay center of town. It is also home to Little Seoul, center of the city’s Korean immigrant population.

Coyoacan - A colonial town swallowed by the urban sprawl, it is now a center for counter-culture, art, students, and intellectuals. Many good museums can be found here also.

Condesa and Roma - Recently reborn after decades of oblivion, and brimming with the city's trendiest restaurants, bistros, clubs, pubs and shops. The neighborhoods are on opposite sides of Avenida Insurgentes, around Parque Mexico and Espana.

San Angel - Trendy, gentrified area lined with cobblestone streets, upscale boutiques and many restaurants. It is a wealthy residential area as well, and known for its arts market.

Xochimilco - Also known as the Mexican Venice for its extended series of Aztec irrigation canals, all that remains of the ancient Xochimilco lake.

Xochimilco has kept its ancient traditions, even though its proximity to Mexico City has influenced that area to urbanize.

Santa Fe - A modern, recently redeveloped business district at the city's western tip that consists mainly of high rise buildings, surrounding a large shopping mall.

Del Valle - Middle class residential, business and shopping area in south central city.

Juarez - This area is the up and coming area in the Cuauhtemoc. It has had a cosmopolitan and intellectual reputation since its founding.

The area has suffered deterioration since the 1980s, due to the 1985 earthquake and other factors, but there have been efforts to return the area’s former prestige.

This including tourism promotion, historic conservation efforts and the urbanization of areas close to Paseo de la Reforma.

Tlalpan and Pedregal - Largest of the boroughs and Tlalpan is home of Ajusco, a volcanic mountain peak and National Park, one of the highest mountains near Mexico City.

The outer area of Mexico City includes:

La Villa de Guadalupe - Located in the borough of Gustavo A. Madero in the northern part of the city. Home to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, perhaps holiest Catholic site in the Americas. Draws pilgrims from around the world every day.

Ciudad Satelite - Residential and shopping area north of the city.

Interlomas Residential and shopping area at the West of the City

The greater Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the world's largest and the largest city by population in North America, with an estimated 26 million people living in the region.

It is shaped roughly like an oval of about 60 by 40km, built on the dry bed of Lake Texcoco, and surrounded on three sides by tall mountains and volcanoes such as the Ajusco, the Popocatepetl and the Ixtaccihuatl.

Mexico City proper with a population of 8.8 million by 2010, is in the Federal District, a federally-administered area that is, not part of any Mexican state which acts as the capital of Mexico.

The rest of the metropolitan area extends beyond it into Mexico State, which surrounds D.F. on three sides.

A large portion of Mexico City - urban population of approx. 20m is in Mexico State. Much in the same way that the city of Washington urban population 4,586,770 has grown far beyond the limits of the District of Columbia in the United States.

Hence, the creation of each city's respective metropolitan area in the 50's and 60's. The Federal District however is where most tourists will spend the majority of their time while visiting the city.

Mexico City is divided up into 16 delegaciones, similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into colonias or neighborhoods, of which there are about 250.

Knowing what colonia you're going to is essential to getting around, almost all locals will know where a given colonia is but note that there are some colonias with duplicate or very similar names.

As with many very large cities, the structure is relatively decentralized, with several parts of the city having their own miniature downtown areas. However, the real downtown areas are Centro, the old city center, and Zona Rosa, the new business and entertainment district.

The city is located 2,200m above mean sea level. Some people may have breathing difficulties at high altitudes and experience difficulty when breathing. The altitude is equivalent to more than 7,200 ft.

This is far higher than any metropolitan area in the United States. If you live closer to sea level, you may experience difficulty breathing due to altitude and pollution. Air quality has, however, been improved in the last few years.

Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city, it is huge. There is an enormous selection of venues: clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and variations and combinations thereof to choose from.

There is incredible variation, from ultramodern lounges in Santa Fe and Reforma, to centuries-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacan and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, Condesa and the Zona Rosa.

Also, when going out, check the date, since this is an important indicator of how full places will generally be and how long you might have to wait to get in. Salaries are usually paid twice per month: the 30th/31st-1st and the 14th-15th.

On or soon after these dates is when most Mexicans will go out, especially if payday coincides with a weekend. In the more expensive places, people might leave for Acapulco or vacations farther afield during the summer and long weekends.

Mexican weekends, in the sense of when it is common to go out drinking, are Thursday night to Sunday morning and sometimes throughout Sunday.

Mexico City ranks 8th in terms of GDP size among 30 world cities. More than a third of the total Mexican economy is concentrated here. The size of its economy is USD315 billion, that's compared to USD1.1 trillion for New York City and USD575 billion for Chicago.

Mexico City is the wealthiest city in all of Latin America, with a GDP per capita of USD25,258.

Mexico City's poverty rate is also the lowest in all of Mexico, which in turns ranks about a third of the way from the top in per-capita GDP among the countries of the world.

Mexico City's Human Development Index (2009-MHDI) is the highest in Mexico at 0.9327. It is home to the Mexican Stock Exchange.

Most of the large local and multinational corporations are headquartered here, mainly in the Polanco and Santa Fe districts.

Mexico City weather is divided in two seasons, dry season from November to April, and the rainy season from May to October. Spring months are warm, while the summer months can vary from light to heavy rains especially in the late afternoon.

Dawn in the Fall and winter get really cold, but with an amazingly clear sky. Temperatures range from 0°C in late October, November, December and January mornings, to 32°C in March, April and May during mid-day highs.

The city sits in a valley surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, which results in poor air circulation and a tendency for air pollutants to stagnate over the city.

Due to the extremely rapid pace of urbanization in the twentieth century little consideration was given to environmental planning. By 1987, air quality had deteriorated so much that one day thousands of birds appeared dead on the sidewalks of the city.

Environmentalists attributed this to air pollution. This shocking event encouraged authorities to implement measures to improve air quality.

Most heavy industries such as glass, car and steel factories and oil refineries were relocated outside of the city and unleaded vehicle fuels were introduced.

Today, the air quality is in much better shape. Ozone and carbon dioxide levels are falling. Although the smog layer is visible nearly every day, its effects in terms of breathing and eye irritation are barely noticeable and it should not be cause for concern for visitors.

Pollution is in maximum effect in the hot, dry season of spring, from late February to early May and there is a greenhouse effect that appears during winter from late November to early February.

When the index exceeds 170 points, an Environmental pre-contingency is issued and people are asked to refrain from performing open-air activities such as sports.

In the case of an Environmental Contingency, only vehicles with a zero or double zero emissions sticker can circulate.

The catastrophic earthquake of 8.1 magnitude on the Richter scale that took place on the morning of 19 September 1985, killing 9,000 to 30,000 people, remains fresh in the memory of the majority of Mexico City's inhabitants.

Since the city was established on the dry bed of lake Texcoco and several geological faults that originate in the Pacific coast reach the city, earthquakes are a common phenomenon.

Right after the 1985 earthquake, many constructions were reinforced and new buildings are designed to meet structural criteria by law and no major building collapse has happened since, even after several strong earthquakes.

You can check the latest earthquake activity at the National Earthquake Centre an institute of the National University (UNAM).

Should you happen to be in the middle of an earthquake, remain calm and follow some simple rules: if you are indoors, stay under the doorways, move away from objects that can fall.

Follow exit paths or Rutas de Evacuacion out to the streets; if you are outdoors, move away from slopes or electrical wires towards open areas or marked "safe zones."

With a population of more than 20 million in the greater metropolitan area, you can expect to find all kinds of people in Mexico City, in terms of racial, sexual, political, cultural and wealth diversity.

Citizens are mostly Mestizo or people of mixed European and Amerindian racial background and white.

Amerindian people constitute less than one percent of the city's population, but there are some who are still moving to the city in search of opportunities.

As elsewhere in Latin America, socioeconomic status tends to be highly correlated with ethnicity in Mexico City: by and large, the upper and middle classes have more European ancestry than the poor and the lower classes.

The city, as the rest of the country, has a very unequal distribution of wealth that can be characterized geographically, generally speaking, as follows:

The middle and upper classes tend to live in the west of the city concentrated in the delegaciones of Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, Coyoacan, Tlalpan, Cuajimalpa and Alvaro Obregon.

The east of the city, most notably Iztapalapa the most populous delegacion is much poorer. The same applies to municipalities of greater Mexico City such as Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Chalco, Chimalhuacan.

Although there are pockets of poverty everywhere and often side by side with the shiny-glitzy condos of the nouveau riche, like in Santa Fe in Cuajimalpa.

It is easily noticeable that as one travels east the buildings begin to look more shabby and the people look increasingly browner, a testimony to Mexico's heritage of racial and socioeconomic inequality.

Since it is a big city, it is the home of large foreign communities, like Cubans, Spaniards, Americans, Japanese, Chilean, Lebanese, and more recently Argentines and Koreans.

Mexico City has a number of ethnic districts with restaurants and shops that cater to groups such as Chinese and Lebanese Mexicans.

It is the temporary home to many expats too, working here for the many multinational companies operating in Mexico.

Foreigners of virtually any ethnic background may not get a second look if they dress conservatively and attempt to speak Spanish.

Mexico City is one of the most liberal cities in Latin America, and was the first jurisdiction in the region to legalize same-sex marriage in December 2009.

As such, this is generally a gay friendly city, particularly in the Zona Rosa District. Abortion on demand is also legal, as well as euthanasia and prostitution the latter allowed only in designated districts.

Although Mexico City is considered an expensive city compared to other cities in Mexico it is very cheap compared to other metropolises around the world like Paris or Tokyo.

Even so your trip budget will depend on your lifestyle and way of travelling, as you can find cheap and expensive prices for almost everything.

Public transportation is among the cheapest in the world and wouldn't constitute an issue for any budget range while there are many affordable places to eat.

On the other hand you can find world-class hotels and fancy restaurants with higher prices. A daily backpacker budget for transportation and meals should range between 70 to 150 pesos a day (USD4-9).

Using public transport and eating at street stands, while a more comfortable budget should range between 200 to 500 pesos a day (USD11-28) using taxis though taxi de sitio are more expensive and safer or Uber which is often preferred to taxis as a safer and cheaper alternative, especially at night.

Eating at decent sit-down restaurants. For those with more expendable cash, you can find plenty of outlets for your dollars, euros, pounds, yen etc.

The addressing system is fairly simple has the street name, house number, colonia or neighborhood, city, state and postal code.

Many are confused by the fact that the house number comes after the street name, unlike in the US and some other countries where the number precedes the street.

In Mexico City the street and neighborhoods have been named after an important person or a specific place like Porfirio Diaz Street and Santa Martha de Axtlahuacan Colonia.

A typical address could be something like this: Colima 15, Colonia Roma Norte, Mexico, Distrito Federal, 06760. The european house numbering applies generally, having ordered odd and even numbers on each side of the street respectively.

Although some compact flash cards can be found at several different locations, don't expect to find exactly what you are looking for. Look for stores such as Radio Shack, Office Depot, Office Max, Best Buy or Wal-Mart.

Prices tend to be on the high end, but they are still affordable. You could also try some of the places that are dedicated to selling photographic equipment, they are easily identified because you will see the street signs for well known brand names.

It is not unusual, however, for high-end camera retailers to offer few if any accessories.

You can print your photos at most of the major chains of pharmacies around town, look for Farmacias Benavides, Farmacias Guadalajara or Farmacias del Ahorro with a white 'A' inside a red circle.

Prices differ from store to store. Also, while near the Zocalo on the street Republica de Brasil, many people standing on the side of the sidewalk will verbally advertise imprentas.

They are offering stationery printing services, not photographic printing.

For people who love to do street photography, a good place to start is in front of the Bellas Artes square, during afternoons.

There is a smorgasbord of faces cutting across the square and perching on one of the benches for an hour will easily give you access to photography fodder.

Many street dwellers have learned to ask for money before allowing you to shoot them. Sympathize and accept it as it is worth it.

Keep in mind that some museums, like the Museum of National History in the Chapultepec, charge an extra fee for those with video cameras. Also in most museums, flash photography is not permitted.

Most travellers arrive in Mexico City by air, to the Benito Juarez International Airport, located in the eastern part of the city. The airport has two terminals, T1 and T2 being the latter mostly used for Sky Team airlines.

The two terminals are connected by a bus line and a light rail system, which is significantly faster than the bus. For some reason, you can only board the light rail if you have a flight boarding pass or ticket stub from your arriving flight.

Tough luck if you have an e-ticket and haven't printed your boarding pass or if you're travelling to terminal 2 to meet somebody. However, showing an expired boarding pass from past travels may work.

There are frequent flights to and from most larger cities in the world, as Amsterdam, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, Lima, Panama City, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Munich, Toronto, and Tokyo.

Some of the international airlines that operate regular flights to Mexico City include: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Avianca, British Airways, Copa, Cubana de Aviacion, Delta, Iberia, JetBlue, KLM, LAN, Lufthansa, TACA, United Airlines, and Southwest.

Some airlines will only let you board your flight to Mexico if you have a valid return ticket. Your carrier might not tell you this until you're just about to board.

If you plan on, say, driving out of Mexico, or leaving on a cruise ship, make sure you check this out well in advance.

One way around the problem is to buy a second full price refundable ticket that you don't intend to use and then get a refund as soon as you arrive or before you leave, as long as you have the original paperwork to show at the jetway.

In most major US airports, they'll sell you this'token ticket at the jetway. Airline staff in the boarding area help travellers with this problem every day.

There're no ticket sales offices at Benito Juarez, you'll have arrange your refund by phone. Make sure you'll have access to a phone that allows international calls.

Get a refund number from the phone agent, this being Mexico, everything always goes wrong, but never in your favour.

If you arrive on an international flight, you will go through Immigration, luggage retrieval and then Customs.

Make sure you fill in all forms prior to landing to make this an expeditious process. Sometimes, the airline will hand them out on the flight.

There is a USD300 duty allowance that include new clothing, tobacco and liquors. The Mexican customs law allows passengers to bring free of duties a laptop, an MP3 player, a digital camera, a tripod, a video camera, and used clothing.

Be careful with iPads, as they are sometimes considered laptops. If you have brought a laptop and an iPad, customs may consider this two laptops and refuse to allow entry with both.

You will also be required to fill out a Migratory Form for Foreign Tourist, Transmigrant, Business Visitor or Council Visitor which must be stamped by the customs officer, who will give you an absolute number of days for your visa for up to three months.

This form has a bar code on it and a blue stripe across the top saying Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Be sure not to lose this form as without it, you might not be able to leave the country.

If you lose or misplace it during the visit, you must visit the immigration office at the airport to fill out a new one. If you plead ignorance, they may let it go, but normally, there's a 440-peso fine.

After going through customs you will pick up your luggage, and most often you will need to show the security guard your luggage tag that matches the tag on your suitcases.

You will then line up for baggage screening where you will place your bags on a belt, and for your safety your luggage will be x-rayed.

At this stage, if you've exceeded the Baggage and Duty Free Allowance, the officers will charge duty on your excess possessions. For example if you have 3 expensive cameras, they'll charge duty on the 3rd camera.

They're particularly zealous about electronic components they don't recognise. Be prepared for this unpleasantness. If possible have a receipt or packing list and depreciate the value shown as much as possible.

Finally, before exiting to the arrivals hall, you will be directed to press a button that results in either a red or green light. The red means they will search your luggage, the green means you can go.

If you are taking a connecting flight to another location and the bags are already tagged for their final destination, you will drop them on a belt located to the right of the inspection tables.

If tagged to Mexico City only, you will need to check in again with the airline. Foreign travellers using connecting flights from Mexico City are sometimes required to pass through customs again when they reach their final destination.

The entire process, from when the plane arrives to when you are done with customs, usually takes about an hour. After completing customs, you will go through large doors to the waiting area for international arrivals.

Be prepared to see a lot of people in this area. It is a custom for families to pick up their loved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size.

In a fine bit of job creation, you can't use an airport baggage trolley to push your own luggage through the arrivals hall. Your trolley will be aggressively taken from you just outside the secure area.

There are carriers who will offer to carry your luggage. This is a service authorized by the airport and is safe--they will be uniformed with white shirts, navy blue tie and dark blue pants and will carry a wheelie or pick it nearby with the union logo on it.

There is no fixed price for this service, but 15-25 pesos should be fine, unless you are travelling in a group or have a lot of bags.

The airport offers competitive rates on changing your currency. When you arrive at the airport, there are several bank ATMs, bank offices, and currency changers.

If you change your currency at the bank, you will need to show your passport.

Some charge fees while other don't but your financial institution at home may charge a fee for using a foreign ATM/cashpoint or any ATM/cashpoint not part of their network.

Check with them. The converter near Gate E1, in the arrival wing, usually offers the best rate.

If looking for a cheaper mode of transport, take the Metro (Subway). Terminal 1 is next to the Terminal Aerea station on line 5. Looking towards the terminal exit, walk left inside the terminal building to the exit at the far end, then continue for 175 m (575 ft) on the left side of the taxi stand until you see the big orange M logo.

From Terminal 2, the Pantitlan station on lines 1, 5, 9 and A can be reached by walking 700 m (2.300 ft). Exit the terminal on the lower level and walk to where the ceiling ends.

Turn left, walk under the ramp and continue past the big parking lot. Turn right, then left at the first chance, and keep walking straight until you see the station at the end.

The station is a big lot of local buses, peseros and taxis going to various places in and around town. The metro has several stations at or elevated above ground level for each metro line so follow the signs.

Likewise you can also take the red Metrobus from Puerta 3 to the Hangares station of the line 5 metro.

Metro tickets cost MXN5, you can also buy a Tarjeta Distrito Federal for MXN10, a plastic card on which you charge as much money as you want and, unlike regular tickets, are also valid on the light rail and Metrobus.

Don't try paying with the MXN500 note you've just received at the exchange bureau. Note that the Metro is not optimal for travellers with wide luggage, as stations often lack escalators or wide gates, in addition to the fact that trains get extremely crowded during peak hours.

There is also a moderate risk of pick-pocketing so be aware of your belongings.

To get to the city centre from terminal 1, take line 5 two stops to Pantitlan from Terminal 2, walk to Pantitlan as described above and from there, take line 1 to, for example, Pino Suarez close to the Zocalo or Chapultepec, it takes 15 and 25 minutes respectively to these places.

If your arriving flight is in Terminal 2 you can take the light rail Aerotren or the airport shuttle to Terminal.

White shuttles with a white and red checkered design on the back provide free inter-terminal transport, you can find them at Puerta 6 in T1 and Puerta 4 in T2. There are also red buses that travel between the terminals, but charge a fee.

During rush hours, the first two cars are reserved for only women and children, and there is always a policeman checking that no man hops into those wagons.

It is not compulsory for women to travel separately if they are accompanied by men or if they don't wish to travel in those wagons.

Metro Bus #4 goes into town via San Lazaro Metro stop & TAPO bus station. The bus stops at Puerta 7 at Sala 'D' in Terminal 1 and Puerta 3 at the lower level under Sala 'L1' in Terminal 2.

One-way fare to/from the airport is 30 pesos. You need to buy a plastic farecard that costs 10 pesos from machines near the bus stops.

The Metrobus from the airport into the city may have an on-board conductor who accepts the $30 pesos fare in cash, but the smart card must by used for the Metrobus to the airport from inside the city.

Long distance buses or coaches from the airport go to Querataro, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Cuernavaca, Toluca, Veracruz and Cordoba.

The long distances bus terminal in Terminal 2 is located on the far right of the national arrivals floor, past the escalators which is on the opposite side of the building from international arrivals.

In terminal 1 the bus terminal is in an island in front of the building between puertas 7 & 8 in the middle of the fast moving access road.

To get there, go up to the upper level to the opposite side of the food court comidas rapidas from Bahia G - International departures & access to Hotel Sheraton and than out over the bridge, crossing over the access road, to the bus companies' check in desks.

Loading Platform in the island just down the stairs to the right of the check in desks.

These bus companies provide direct service from the airport to:

- ADO to Cordoba, Orizaba and Veracruz, Transfer to other buses going to Xalapa, or anywhere in that direction

- TNT Caminante to Toluca

- Flecha Blanca to San Juan del Rio.

- Estrella Roja to Puebla on alternate schedules between Puebla 'CAPU' (the main bus station) and their own terminal in downtown/central Puebla on 4a Ote.

- Flecha Roja to Pachuca

- Primera Plus to Queretaro. Transfer to other buses going to Leon, San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, or anywhere in that direction.

- Pullman de Morelos to Cuernavaca

Saves time in the extra trip to the bus station.

The airport offers a service of licensed and secure taxis known as:

- Confort.

- Excelencia.

- Porto Taxi Ejecutivo.

- Sitio 300.

- Sitio 300 Yellow Cab Aeropuerto.

These cabs are white and yellow with black airplane logos on the doors. You buy the ticket in the marked counters inside the airport. You can ask one of the porters who will take you and your luggage to the Taxi counter for Taxi Seguro or Boleto de Taxi.

Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from MX$N100-300 for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car and the zone of the city you are going to.

A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. Some ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans or SUVs or ejecutivo to single persons or small groups of 2 or with moderate amounts of luggage for 20% to 50% more than a sedan or ordinario.

So make a point to ask for a sedan or ordinario and if they say No Hay means there's none or are not cooperative with the request walk away to search for another company and one may miraculously become available.

An important tip is to first walk outside and see for yourself which taxis are plenty and available and only then go back in and pre-pay.

Which taxi operator to chose is anybody's guess so you don't want to be in a queue outside which doesn't move because there are no taxis available.

There are additional taxi stands or sitios surrounding the airport from the outside that are cheaper than the airport taxis which are mainly used by airport and airline employees and by others living and working in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Be aware that the airport is not located in the best area of the city, Colonia Penon de los Banos, so it is not recommended for tourists to walk outside the airport terminal in search for cheaper taxi service unless you have pre-arranged your service or are VERY familiar with the surrounding neighborhood outside the airport.

Despite this, alternative Taxi Sitios or sites can be found at:

Sitio 157 Associacion de Taxistas del Pueblo del Penon de los Banos, A.C., Cap Carlos Leon y Irapuato, Go past the bus companies' check in counters in the bridge from Sala 'G', above Doors 7 & 8 in Terminal 1.

Go down the stairs to the left at the other end of the bridge. They have another stand at Sinaloa the next side street by Marriott Courtyard Hotel

Sitio 300, A.C., Fundidora Monterrey y Matilde Marquez. Go past the aerotren entrance, in the bridge from above Doors 5 & 6 in Sala 'D' in Terminal 1.

Go down the stairs to the left at the other end of the bridge. They also have ticket booths for their more expensive taxis in both terminals.

Sitio 307 Guias Asociados Quetzalcoatl, A.C., Fundidora de Monterrey No. 89 - 1 PB In front of La Mansion Restaurant & Bar in the Camino Real Hotel. Go across the bridge to the hotel from above the Interjet check in counters at Sala 'B'.

The outside Sitios are set up for the airport and airline employees and anybody who live and work in the surrounding neighborhoods and are familiar with the area.

Once you've picked up your taxi ticket, join the melee' especially outside Terminal 2 in the taxi staging area. Join the queue of people carrying the same colour card as yourself, or ask the taxi marshals which line to join.

You may notice people moving past you. They're family groups boarding vans.

The Terminal 1 taxi boarding area is outside Puerto 10, to the right of international the arrivals halls or Puerto 2 to the left of the domestic arrivals hall, at opposite side of the building from international arrivals.

The different taxi company ranks are different distances from the terminal. If you're meeting somebody with mobility problems, check out in advance which cab company stand is nearest the terminal.

You can also use a pre-contracted van, it works like the airport taxis, but they offer greet and meet:

- Transfers USA, Airport.

- Uber, Uber works suprisingly well in Mexico City and to/from the airport. Prices are often cheaper than taxis.

When using the Uber app, you select which door or puerta and walk right outside to be picked up. Costs into the city are around $160. You will need a data plan to make use of it.

Toluca International Airport (Licenciado Adolfo Lopez Mateos), This is in the City of Toluca 50 km southwest of Mexico City.

Recently transformed itself from a general aviation airport into the hub of several domestic low-cost carriers such as Interjet and Volaris which serve destinations as Monterrey, Cancun, Guadalajara, Tijuana, and many other Mexican cities.

Toluca is served internationally by Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale and Houston as well as by Interjet from San Antonio.

Reaching the Toluca airport is very easy with the Caminante shuttles 70 pesos, but they have limited departures.

Caminante also has the biggest fleet of taxis at the best price and it also includes deluxe Mercedes Benz vans.

Depending on your overall trip, it might also be worth considering flying to nearby cities as Cuernavaca (CVJ) and Puebla (PBC), but reaching Mexico City from these places could be quite tiresome and expensive.

Although most of foreign travelers will reach Mexico City by air, it is also possible to arrive by bus. Greyhound offers several connecting routes from the United States to the border cities and it is possible to buy one single ticket from many major cities in the U.S. to Mexico.

Grupo Estrella Blanca, a partner with Greyhound offering service from the U.S. down to Mexico City and anywhere in between.

From Guatemala one can travel by Transportes Galgos, Tica Bus, King Quality or Linea Dorada to Tapachula where the traveler transfers to an OCC/ADO or FYPSA bus to continue to Mexico City.

Likewise one can also take take the Linea Dorada bus or a chicken bus to La Mesilla/Ciudad Cuauhtemoc and continue to Mexico City via Comitan and Tuxtla Guttierrez on OCC/ADO.

Or a shuttle van from Guatemala booked in Antigua or Panajachel to San Cristobal de las Casas and transfer to an ownard bus .

Traveling by bus in Mexico is comfortable compared to other countries, since many Mexicans used to travel by bus until the recent break up of the CINTRA monopoly that controlled both Mexicana and Aeromexico and introduction of several low-cost airlines.

There are four major bus station in Mexico City based on the compass directions:

Terminal Autobuses del Norte, Eje Central Lazaro Cardenas No. 4907, Colonia Magdalena de las Salinas Metro station stop Autobuses del Norte, Line 5, yellow.

Most buses departing to & from bordering towns with the U.S.such as Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Tijuana, Reynosa, even Ciudad Juarez.

Other destinations that depart from this terminal: Acapulco, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, Leon, Queretaro, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Hermosillo, Tijuana.

Overall, buses are bound to northern Mexico

Terminal de Autobuses del Poniente, Sur 122 y Rio Tacubaya, Del. Alvaro Obregon, Col. Real del Monte, Metro station stop Observatorio. Also known as Terminal de Autobuses Observatorio. also known as Terminal de Autobuses Observatorio.

Usually used for destinations in the western part of Mexico such as Colima, Manzanillo, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Toluca in the states of Colima, Jalisco, Michocoan and the western part of Mexico state.

Terminal de Autobuses del Sur or Taxqueña, Av. Taxqueña 1320, Colonia Campestre Churubusco Metro. Buses from here go south of Mexico City such as, Acapulco, Cuernavaca, Taxco and various places in Guerrero, Morelos & southern part of Mexico state.

Terminal de Autobuses del Oriente or TAPO, Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza 200, Colonia 10 de Mayo etro. Serving destinations in the eastern & southeastern states of Veracruz, Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tlaxcala, Campeche, Tobasco and the Guatemalan border.

Traffic in and around the TAPO area and any other bus terminal for that matter can get quite congested during peak/rush hours. Always give yourself an extra hour or so in travel time, including to/from, to be sure that you do not miss a bus or a connection.

The below are the major bus lines going between Mexico City and various destinations in the country. The same bus company can serve more than one of the above stations:

Grupo ADO, operates as ADO, ADO GL, AU, OCC or Omnibus Cristobal Colon, Platino, Estrella de Oro, and the Boletotal/Ticketbus booking site.

They operate mainly in Guerrero, Puebla, Veracruz, Chiapas, Tamaulipas, Tabasco, and the Yucatan Peninsula - Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Travel to/from Guatemala via Tapachula or Tuxtla Guttierrez and to Belize through Chetumal.

Estrella de Oro, subsidiary line of Grupo ADO. Operates mainly between Mexico City and various places in Guerrero, Veracruz and Hidalgo states.

Autovias, HDP, La Linea, goes from Mexico DF to the surrounding Mexico state and beyond to Colima, Guerreo, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan and Queretaro states.

Caminante. Travels mainly between Mexico City and Toluca.

Costa Line AERS. Serves Mexico state, Morelos and Guerrero. They also operate the Turistar, Elite and AMS bus lines.

Grupo Estrella Blanca. They also operate the Elite, TNS or Transportes Norte de Sonora, Chihuahuanese, Pacifico, Oriente, TF or Tranporte Frontera and Autobus Americanos bus lines. They also sell tickets for onward travel into the United States from the border on Greyhound Lines.

They operate mainly in Aguascaliente, Baja California Norte, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michocoan, Nayrit, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora & Zacatecas states and up to the U.S. border.

Estrella Roja. Operates mainly between Mexico City and Puebla

Grupo Flecha Amarilla, Primera Plus, ETN, Turistar Lujo. Aguascaliente, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Nayrit, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa & Zacatecas states.

ETN (Enlances Terrestre Nacionales), Turistar Lujo. a subsidiary brand of Grupo Flecha Amarilla.

Grupo Flecha Roja, Aguila. Operates mainly between Mexico City and various places in Mexico, Hidalgo and Queretaro states on the Flecha Roja brand and to additional places in Mexico, Guerro and Morelos states as Aguila.

FYPSA, operates mainly between DF, Mexico, Oaxaca and Chiapas states.

Omnibus de Mexico.

Grupo Senda, goes up to the north central parts of the country and into the U.S. state of Texas.

Autobuses de Teotihuacan SA de CV, Terminal Norte. Independent second bus to the piramides or the Teotihuacan ruins/pyramids, S Juan Teotihuacan, Texcoco, Pachuca, Tulacingo, and other places in the NE part of Mexico state and east to Tlaxcala and Puebla states.

Zina Bus, Excelencia, Excelencia Plus, goes from Mexico DF to the surrounding Mexico, Guerreo and Michoacan states.

The only train from Mexico City's Buenavista train station formerly served by long distance trains when they were operating is the Ferrocarriles de Suburbano going up to Cuautitlan as a commuter train. Plans are underway to expand the commuter rail system.

Long distance passenger train services ceased operating in Mexico over ten years ago with only the Chihuahua Pacífico route still operating between Chihuahua and Los Mochis, crossing through the Sierra & the Copper Canyon.

Mexico City is a huge place, but driving is definitely not a way to see it even if tourist attractions are scattered throughout the city.

A good way to plan your trip is to stop by Guia Roji to identify the location of the Colonias or neighborhoods, you intend to visit. You may also try Google Maps and Map24, to find addresses and even look for directions.

Mexico City has several public transport alternatives. Metro is reliable and runs underground, the city government operates the RTP bus system and Electric Trolley buses.

There are also plenty of franchised private buses which are less reliable and safe because of their driving habits. And finally thousands of taxis, many of them old Volkswagen bugs formerly painted in their famous green paint scheme and called verditos, or little green ones.

Now, these are simply vocho taxis in the maroon and gold colors now required of all taxis. Official taxis have a red box in the center lower area of their license plates that reads TAXI. Only use these taxis, sitio taxis or have a hotel call you a taxi for safety reasons.

Buscaturuta or Busca Tu Ruta, or Find Your Route, which serves all of Mexico, uses a Google Maps interface and allows you to search with incomplete addresses.

It will give you options for traveling by public transit, taxi, car, or bicycle. Via DF is only for Mexico City proper and requires complete addresses, including delegacion and colonia.

It's available in English, German, French and Spanish.

Officially named Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, but known simply as Metro, it is one of the largest and most used subway systems in the world, comprised by 12 different lines that measure more than 225.9 km and carry 7.6 million people every day.

You'll quickly see how busy it is, particularly during the day: trains are often filled to significantly over capacity, and sometimes it will be hot and uncomfortable.

Despite the close quarters, it's relatively quick and efficient, especially as an alternative to taxis during rush hours when the streets are essentially parking lots, and affordable tickets for one trip with unlimited transfers within the system cost 5 pesos.

Trains run every couple of minutes, so if you just miss it, you won't have long to wait until another arrives, and the Metro can be the quickest way to travel longer distances within the city.

Stations usually have food stalls inside and outside the entrances, and many have city-sponsored exhibits and artwork on display, so it's good even for a look around.

Operating hours are from 5AM to midnight on weekdays starts at 6AM on Saturday and 7AM on Sunday, so if your plans will keep you out beyond midnight, be sure to have alternate means of transport.

Although the Metro lacks informational signs in English, the system was originally designed with illiteracy in mind, so finding your way around should not be a problem.

Lines are defined by number but also by a color, and that color runs as a thematic band across the entire station and along the entire route, so you always know what line you are on. Stations are identified by name but also by a pictorial icon that represents that area in some way.

However, even with this user-friendly approach, entire maps of the Metro system are not posted everywhere that you'd like. They're usually only near ticket booths; there are no maps on the trains and only or two are posted per platform, so work out your route before going through the turnstiles, and have a Metro map on you.

Trains and platforms do have a line diagram with icons and transfer points for easy reference.

Some lines run through more tourist-related spots than others and will become very familiar to you after a while. Line 1 (pink) runs through many tourist spots, such as Centro Historico or Salto del Agua and Isabel la Catolica stations, the Chapultepec Forest or Chapultepec Station.

Condesa and Roma neighborhoods or Insurgentes and Sevilla stations and the Northwest Bus Station or Observatorio station. Line 2 blue runs through the Centro Historico - Allende, Zocalo and Bellas Artes stations and reaches the South Bus Station Tasquena.

Line 7 orange runs through many touristic spots such as the Chapultepec Forest or Auditorio Station and the Polanco neighborhood Polanco Station. Line 9 brown runs near the Condesa neighborhood Chilpancingo and Patriotismo.

Line 3 green runs near Coyoacan or Coyoacan and Miguel Angel de Quevedo stations and also near the University City - Copilco and Universidad stations.

If traveling to and from the airport, you'll use Line 5 yellow to connect to terminal 1 or Terminal Aerea station or 1, 5, 9, A to Terminal 2 Pantitlan station.

Line 6 red runs east-west to the north of the city and runs next to the Basilica de Guadalupe. Line 12 has Insurgentes Sur station, farther south on Insurgentes Avenue than Chilpancingo and Insurgentes stations.

Here are a few of the commonly-used Metro signs translated into English:

Taquilla - Ticket booth

Entrada - Entrance

Salida - Exit

No Pase - Do not enter

Andenes - Train platforms

Correspondencia - Line transfer

Dirección - Direction you are heading inside a line: one of the two terminal stations. Each platform has a large sign indicating which direction that train heads.

For example, if you are travelling on Line 1 from Insurgentes to Pino Suarez stations, you are heading in the direction of the Pantitlan terminus or Direccion Pantitlan. On your return trip, you would be heading in the direction of the Observatorio terminus or Direccion Observatorio.

As you enter a Metro station, look for the ticket booth. There might be a short queue for tickets, and to avoid having to always stand in line, many people buy a small handful of tickets at a time. A sign is posted by the ticket window that shows how much it would cost for any number of tickets.

Once you approach the agent, simply drop some money into the tray and announce how many tickets you would like. You do not need to say anything about where you are going, since fares are the same for everywhere in the system.

There are plastic Metro cards also that cost MXN10 and work on other public transit systems in the city, where you can put a desired amount of money and spend it at turnstiles.

Once you have your ticket or boleto it is time to go through the turnstiles but make sure to confirm your route on a map first. The stiles are clearly marked for exit or entry but if you are confused, simply follow the crowd.

Insert the ticket into the slot, it does not matter which direction is up or forward and a small display will flash, indicating you may proceed.

You won't get the ticket back. Frequent Metro users usually use Metro cards instead of tickets, so if you see any turnstiles marked with solo tarjeta meaning card only that means the ticket reader is broken, just move to another turnstile.

Line 12 accepts only Metro cards if you enter at a station belonging to this line, you can still enter another line with a ticket and freely transfer to Line 12 at a corresponding station.

Past the turnstiles, signs that tell you where to go depending on your direction within the Line are usually clearly marked, as are signs that tell you where to transfer to a different line.

There is no standard station layout, but they are all designed to facilitate vast amounts of human traffic, so following the crowd works well, as long you double check the signs to make sure the crowd is taking you in the same direction.

On the platform, try to stand near the edge. During rush hours when it can get pretty crowded, there is sometimes a mad rush on and off the train.

Although for the most part people are respectful and usually let departing passengers off first, train doors are always threatening to close and that means you need to be moderately aggressive if you don't want to get left behind.

If you're traveling in a group, this could mean having to travel separately. At the ends of the platform, the train is usually less crowded, so you could wait there.

But during rush hours some busier stations reserve those sections of platform exclusively for women and children for their safety.

While on the train, sometimes you will see a steady stream of people walking through the carriages announcing their wares for sale. Act as if you are used to them that is, ignore them, unless they need to pass you.

Most often you'll see the city's blind population make their living by selling pirate music CD's, blaring their songs through amplifiers carried in a backpack.

There are people who perform, such as singing, or repeatedly somersaulting shirtless onto a pile of broken glass and expect a donation.

There are also people who hand out candy or snacks between stops, and if you eat it or keep it you are expected to pay for it; if you don't want it, they'll take it back before the next stop.

It can be quite amusing, or sad at times, but don't laugh or be disrespectful, this is how they make a living. The best thing to do is observing how others around you behave, but you can usually just avoid eye contact with these merchants and they will leave you alone.

Since December 2013, such activities have been made illegal in the metro and the number of vendors decreased, although has not disappeared.

If the merchants weren't enough, the trains are usually just crowded places to be. You may not get seats if you are traveling through the city center during the day, and even if you do.

It's considered good manners to offer your seat to the aged, pregnant or disabled, as all cars have clearly marked handicap seats.

In keeping with the mad rush on and off the train, people will move toward the exits before the train stops, so let them through and feel free to do the same when you need to a con permiso helps, but body language speaks the loudest here.

You are warned, there have been incidences of pickpocketing. Keep your belongings close to you; if you have bags, close them and keep them in sight. As long as you are alert and careful you won't have any problems.

Women have complained of being groped on extremely crowded trains; this is not a problem on designated women's wagons, or any other time than rush hour.

If theft or any other sort of harassment do occur, you can stop the train and attract the attention of the authorities by pulling on alarms near the doors, which are labeled - senal de alarma.

When exiting, follow the crowd through signs marked Salida. Many stations have multiple exits to different streets or different sides of streets, marked with a cardinal direction and should have posted road maps that show the immediate area with icons for banks, restaurants, parks and so forth.

Use these to orient yourself and figure out where you need to go. A good tip is to remember what side of the tracks you are on, these are marked in such maps with a straight line the color of the metro line you are traveling.

There are two kinds of buses. The first, are full-sized buses operated by the City Government known as RTP and cost MXN2 anywhere you go. Make sure to pay with exact change as they don't give change back.

The second kind of buses are known as Microbuses or Peseros. These buses are private-run and come in small and bigger sizes, all rather ominous looking.

Peseros cost 3.00 pesos for shorter trips, 3.50 for 6-12 km trips and 4 pesos for 12+ km trips. Full-sized private buses are 3.50 pesos for shorter trips, and 4.50 for longer trips.

Both type of buses usually stop at the same places, which are totally random and unmarked stops just before intersections. Routes are also very complex and flexible, so be sure to ask someone, perhaps the driver, if the bus even goes to your destination, before getting on.

Also, though the locals hang off the sides and out the doors, it is generally not recommended for novices. Riding RTP buses is probably a safer and more comfortable way than the private franchised and smaller microbuses who are known to have terrible driving habits.

All buses display signs on their windshields which tell major stops they make, so if you want to take a bus to a metro station, you can just wait for a bus that has a sign with an M followed by the station name.

Buses can be packed during rush hours, and you have to pay attention to your stops, buses make very short stops if there's just one person getting off, so be ready, but they are very practical when your route aligns with a large avenue.

There's usually a button above or close to the rear door to signal that you're getting off; if there isn't one, it's not working, or you can't get to it, shouting Bajan in a loud and desperate voice usually works.

Mexico City Metrobus. Established in June 2005, the Metrobus operates in dedicated lanes along Insurgentes, Vallejo and Eje 4 Avenues. Line 4 runs through the city center and to the airport. Plans exist for additional routes.

It costs 6 pesos to ride, but a Metro card must be bought in advance at vending machines. There are stops approximately every 500m. Expect it to be crowded around the clock, but its a great way to get up and down these two major thoroughfares very rapidly.

While the Metrobus operates only in these lines avenues, you must check the bus’ billboard before boarding to see which is the last stop they will visit, for some don't go from end to end of the line. There are reserved areas indicated on the platforms for women.

Trolebuses are operated by the Electric Transport Services. There are 15 Trolley bus lines that spread around for more than 400 km. They usually do not get as crowded as regular buses, and they are quite comfortable and reliable.

They can be a little slower than regular buses, since they are unable to change lanes as quickly. There is a flat fare of 4 pesos, and bus drivers do not give out change.

The Tren Ligero is operated by Electric Transport Services and consists of one single line that runs south of the city, connecting with Metro station Tasquena Line 2, blue; alternatively you may see it spelled as Taxquena.

For tourists, it is useful if you plan to visit Xochimilco or the Azteca stadium. The rate for a single ride is 3 pesos, and while the ticketing system works very similarly to the Metro, the tickets are not the same.

You must purchase light rail tickets separately; they are sold at most stations along the line. The Metro card works for the light rail.

There are more than 250,000 registered cabs in the city and they are one of the most efficient ways to get around. The prices are low, a fixed fee of about 6 pesos to get into the cab, and about 0.7 pesos per quarter kilometer or 45 seconds thereafter, for the normal taxis like taxi libre.

The night rates, supposedly between 11PM at night and 6AM in the morning are about 20% higher. Some taxis adjust their meters to run more quickly, but in general, cab fare is cheap, and it's usually easy to find a taxi.

At night, and in areas where there are few taxis, cab drivers will often not use the meter, but rather quote you a price before you get in. This price will often be high, however, you can haggle.

They will tell you that their price is good because they are safe. If you don't agree on the price, don't worry as another cab will come along.

Although safety has in recent years substantially improved, catching cabs in the street may be dangerous. Taxi robberies, so-called express kidnappings.

This is where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their credit cards, do sometimes occur, but there are some general precautions that will minimize the risk.

Taxis have special license plates. The registration number starts with "A" for free-roaming taxis, and with "B" for base taxis, registered taxis based on a certain spot, called sitios.

Base taxis are safer. These plates are white and have a small green and red squares at the bottom corners.
The taxi license should be displayed inside the taxi; usually it is mounted somewhere above the windshield.

Check that the photo of the driver on the license is of the actual driver. Make a point of looking at it.
Look for the meter. Without it, they will be more likely to rip you off. All taxis in Mexico city have meters.

If you are nervous, take sitio taxis only. These may be a bit more expensive, but they are well worth the expense.

If you are safety-conscious or require additional comfort, consider radio taxis, which can be called by phone, and are extremely reliable and safe, although a bit pricier than other taxis. Most restaurants, hotels, etc. have the number for radio taxis.

Radio taxis will usually give you the price for the trip on the phone when you order them. Radio taxis charge more than regular taxis, but are available all night. Hotel taxis will be significantly more expensive than site or radio taxis.

As with absolutely everything else, risks are greater at night. At night, radio taxis are recommended.

Having a good data connection and tracking your route on google maps while in a taxi is a great way to know if you are being taken for a ride.

Different Taxi meters incredibly start at different starting points obviously because of taxi drivers fiddling around with the meter.

Catching a cab in the Centro area usually gives you a fair ride but many other places you could get ripped. Most taxi drivers don't speak english so knowing some spanish would be good.

Mexico City is so large, and many street names so common that cab drivers are highly unlikely to know where to go when you give only a name or address of your destination.

Always include either the name of the colonia or the district like Zona Rosa, as well as any nearby landmarks or cross streets.

You will probably be asked to give directions throughout or at least near the tail end of the journey; if either your Spanish or your sense of direction is poor, carry a map and be prepared to point.

The two most common recommendations for a safe cab riding experience are to make sure you take an official cab, and to notify a person you trust of the license plate number of the cab you are riding.

There is a free app available for iphone, android and Blackberry that allows you to verify if a cab is official by comparing the taxi license plate number with the government provided data.

That lets you communicate through facebook, twitter and/or email the license plate number of the cab you have taken or even communicate an emergency through these mediums.

The free service is called Taxiaviso. For those travelers that have the Uber app on their smartphones, they can also request a ride in Mexico City.

The Turibus is a sightseeing double-decker hop-in hop-off bus that is a good alternative to see the city if you don't have too much time. The one-day ticket costs MXN140, MXN165 on Saturday/Sunday and its main route includes the Zona Rosa, Chapultepec Park, Polanco, Condesa, Roma and the Historic Center.

There are 4 routes, one runs from Fuente de la Cibeles in Condesa to Coyoacan and Xochimilco. Your ticket is valid for all routes. Be prepared to spent a lot of time in traffic jams, hence start your tours early. Each tour takes quite a long time, between 2hr and 4hr.

If you get absolutely lost and you are far away from your hotel, hop into a pesero or mini bus or bus that takes you to a Metro station, most of them do.

Look for the sign with the stylized metro "M" in the front window. From there and using the wall maps you can get back to a more familiar place.

Driving around by car is the least advised way to visit the city due to the complicated road structure, generally reckless drivers, and the 3.5 million vehicles moving around the city.

Traffic jams are almost omnipresent on weekdays, and driving from one end of the city to the other could take you between 2 to 4 hours at peak times.

The condition of pavement in freeways such as Viaducto and Periferico is good, however in avenues, streets and roads varies from fair to poor since most streets have fissures, bumps and holes.

Most are paved with asphalt and only until recently some have been paved using concrete. Since the city grew without planned control, the street structure resembles a labyrinth in many areas.

Also, traffic laws are complex and rarely followed, so driving should be left to only the most adventurous and/or foolhardy. Driving can turn into a really challenging experience if you don't know precisely well where are you going.

There is only one company that has been able to map the entire city, Guia Roji. Shortcuts are complicated and often involve about six to eight turns.

Street parking or Estacionamiento is scarce around the City and practically nonexistent in crowded areas. Where available expect to pay between $12 to $18 pesos an hour while most of hotels charge between $25 to $50 pesos an hour.

Some areas of the city such as Zona Rosa, Chapultepec, Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa have parking meters on the sidewalks which are about $10 pesos an hour and are free on weekends.

It is possible to park in other streets without meters but is likely there will be a parking vendor or Franelero which are not authorized by the city, but will take care of your car.

Expect to pay between $10 to $20 pesos to these fellows, some of them will charge at your arrival, the best advice is to pay if you want to see your car in good shape when you come back.

Hoy No Circula or Today You Do Not Circulate is an extremely important anti-traffic and anti-pollution program that all visitors including foreigners must take into consideration.

When wishing to drive through Mexico City and nearby Mexico State with their foreign-plated vehicles, as they are not immune to these restrictions.

It limits vehicle circulation to certain restricted hours during the day depending on the last digit of your plate number, plates with all letters are automatically assigned a digit.

Currently, Mexico City, but not the State of Mexico, offers a special pass good for 2 weeks, that allows someone with a foreign-plated vehicle to be exempt from these restrictions.

Excellent details of how the program works for locals and foreigners can be explained by your travel or tour agent.

The visitor should take into consideration the following tips when driving: avenues have preference over streets and streets over closed streets. Continuous right turn even when traffic light red is allowed. Seat belts are mandatory for both front seats.

Police generally drive with their lights on, but if you're stopped by a police car, it is likely they will try to get money out from you. It is up to you if you accept to do so, the latest government sponsored trend is to refuse giving them anything.

Biking is probably the best way to get around, for trips of a reasonable distance of course. You can't get stuck in traffic.

So it might be the only form of transportation besides walking that will reliably get you to your destination on time. And you don't have to squeeze yourself into crowded trains or buses.

There is a public bike system called ecobici. For the longer, better priced membership you need to have a Mexican bank account, or someone with a Mexican bank account to sponsor you and put down the deposit.

It may be worth it to open an account with a bank that charges little or no fees to do so. Once you've done that, the fastest way to get started is to visit one of ecobici's offices.

On Sundays Paseo de la Reforma, one of the main streets of the city, is closed to cars and many people bike and walk there. The city sets up places where you can rent a bike for free. You can rent it for up to 3 hours and you need to leave your passport.

Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the pre-Columbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch since then. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro.

In addition, Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world, without taking into account art galleries, with New York #2, London #3 and Toronto #4.

Plaza de la Constitucion, commonly known as Zocalo in the Centro Historico or Historic Downtown is one of the largest squares in the world, surrounded by historic buildings, including the City Hall and the Cathedral.

La Catedral the biggest in the Americas. Containing many altars, its principle altar is made from solid gold.

Angel de la Independencia or simply known as El Angel is a monument in Reforma Avenue and Florencia Street, near Zona Rosa. This monument celebrates Mexico's independence in 1810.

Basilica de Guadalupe, Catholicism's holiest place in the Americas, and the destination of pilgrims from all over the world, especially during the yearly celebration on the 12th of December.

Located at La Villa de Guadalupe, it is the shrine that guards the poncho of Juan Diego that contains the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and is in the northernmost part of the city.

Ciudad Universitaria. The main campus of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Located on Insurgentes Sur Avenue, it is one of the world's largest universities, with more than 270,000 students every semester. In 2007 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage place.

Coyoacan, historic Colonial Arts district which was home to Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, amongst others.

Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi. The square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants much favored by tourists, and in these and in the square itself groups of musicians play folk music.

Most of these groups are mariachis from Jalisco, dressed in Charro costume and playing trumpets, violins, guitars and the guitarron or bass guitar. Payment is expected for each song, but it is also possible to arrange for a longer performances.

People set up lemonade stand style bars in the evening to sell you cheap cocktails while you listen. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands, but the neighborhood is a bit sketchy.

Ciudadela crafts market. The Ciudadela is a Mexican crafts market where cultural groups from around Mexico distribute their crafts to other parts of the country and the world.

Alameda and Paseo de la Reforma. Paseo de la Reforma or Reform Avenue is a 12 km long grand avenue and park in Mexico City. The name commemorates the liberal reforms of Mexican President Benito Juarez.

Cineteca Nacional or National Film Archive. It was the first to screen art films, and is known for its forums, retrospectives and homages. It has four screening rooms, a video and a film library, as well as a cafeteria.

Torre Latinoamericana for stunning views of the city. Its central location, height 183 m or 597 ft; 45 stories, and history make it one of Mexico City's most important landmarks. 80 pesos to go up.

Torre Mayor. It's the new and highest tower in town, and second highest skyscraper in Latin America highest is Chile's Gran Torre Santiago, and good for more impressive views of the city.

Mexico City US National Cemetery. 31 Virginia Fabregas, Colonia San Rafael. Open on weekdays except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM to 5PM.

The cemetery is the final resting place for 750 unknown American soldiers lost during the Mexican-American War between 1846 and 1848. Another 813 Americans are also interred here.

Mexico City is full of various plazas and parks scattered through every neighborhood, but the following are some of the biggest, prettiest, most interesting, or best-known.

Chapultepec Park and Zoo Paseo de la Reforma. Is a large park of 6 km² in the middle of the city which hosts many attractions, including the city zoo and several museums such as the Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology.

Children's Museum or Museo del Papalote, the Technology Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum also known as Castillo de Chapultepec, the former residence of the Austrian Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg. Nearby Metro station: Auditorio Line 7, Orange.

Xochimilco, a vast system of waterways and flower gardens dating back to Aztec times in the south of the city where tourists can enjoy a trip in the trajineras or vividly colored boats.

Trajineras pass each other carrying Mariachi or marimba bands, and floating bars and taquerias. Xochimilco is the last remnant of how Mexico City looked when the Spanish arrived to Mexico City in 1521 and it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987.

Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi, in Mexico City is surrounded by bars and restaurants that cater to Mariachi Band enthusiasts. It is where bands come to do public auditions outside, on weekend evenings, simply play for pleasure, or for whoever may pay them.

A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands. You can also find a great pulqueria here a bar that sells pulque, an interesting fermented maguey cactus drink.

Parque Mexico and Parque Espana are two adjacent parks in the Colonia Condesa, which used to be part of a race track. Now they are popular for an evening stroll, and sometimes house outdoor exhibitions or concerts, and are surrounded by cool cafes and bars.

Viveros de Coyoacan are a large expanse of greenery and trails that used to be divided into privately owned gardens and farm plots, but is now a public park popular with people joggers and amblers alike.

Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world, the most outstanding and popular are:

National Museum of Anthropology Chapultepec. One of the best museums worldwide over, it was built in late 1960’s and designed by Pedro Ramirez Vazquez. Notice the huge, impressive fountain in the courtyard.

It gathers the best collection of sculptures, jewels and handcrafts from ancient Mexican cultures, and could take many hours to see everything. They also have interesting international special exhibits.

The ticket cashier accepts cash only, and to pay by credit card there is an automated machine when you enter on your left,separate from the cashiers. There are also English tours in the morning, and you can ask the information desk on the schedule.

Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco has examples of modern, colonial, and pre-Columbian architecture, all around one square.

Museum of Modern Art Chapultepec. Here you will find paintings from Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, as well as a sculpture garden.

Dolores Olmedo Museum Xochimilco. An art philanthropist left her former home, the grand Hacienda La Noria, as a museum featuring the works of her friend Diego Rivera.

At least 137 of his works are displayed here, as well as 25 paintings of Frida Kahlo. The premises also feature beautiful gardens full of peacocks and a weird species of Aztec dog.

Fine Arts Palace Museum or Palacio de Bellas Artes Centro. A concert hall and an arts center, it houses some of Mexico's finest murals and the Art Deco interior is worth seeing alone.

Rufino Tamayo Museum Chapultepec. Contains the works of Mexican painter, Rufino Tamayo.

Jose Luis Cuevas Museum Centro. Opened in 1992 and is filled with about 1,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures from notorious artist, Jose Cuevas.

National History Museum in Chapultepec's Castle Chapultepec. The Museum's nineteen rooms contain, in addition to a collection of pre-Columbian material and reproductions of old manuscripts, a vast range of exhibits illustrating the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.

Museo Soumaya Polanco. A museum containing the art collection of Carlos Slim, the most renowned Mexican businessman and the richest man in the world.

It has a sizeable collection of paintings by Renoir, Monet, Dali and many others. The museum has an impressive architecture worth visiting.

Papalote, children's Museum Chapultepec. If you've got kids, they'll love it. Bright, colorful, and filled with educational experiences for children of all ages.

Universum or National University's Museum, Coyoacan. A science museum maintained by UNAM, the largest university in Latin America. Take some time to wander around the Campus.

Casa Mural Diego Rivera Centro. Contains murals of acclaimed artist, Diego Rivera.

National Palace Zocalo Centro. You can see some impressive Diego Rivera frescoes. You'll need to carry some sort of ID in order to enter the building.

San Idelfonso Museum Centro. There are some of Orozco's best frescoes. The temporary exhibitions are usually very good.

Franz Meyer Museum Centro. Display the collections of Franz Mayer, it holds Mexico's largest decorative art collection and also hosts temporary exhibits in the fields of design and photography.

Mexico City's Museum Centro. Great place to learn about Mexico City's eclectic history.

Templo Mayor Museum (Zocalo) Centro. Contains the ruins and last remnants of the Aztec empire. attached to the huge archeological site where the foundations of the temple were accidentally found in the 1970s.

San Carlos Museum Centro. The San Carlos Museum holds some of Mexico's best paintings and exhibit 15th and 16th century paintings.

National Art Museum Centro. The National Art Museum, houses a rich collection of Mexican art ranging from the 16th to the first half of the 20th centuries.

National History Museum Chapultepec. Displays a vast range of exhibits illustrating the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.

Frida Kahlo Museum, Coyoacan Also called Casa Azul, it is the former house of the painter since she was born to her death, and full of some of her works, and many of her personal artifacts.

Anahuacalli Museum, Coyoacan An impressive modern representation of Mayan architecture, it houses Diego Rivera’s collection of Aztec and other precolumbian cultures' sculptures.

Leon Trotsky Museum Coyoacan This was the house where Trotsky lived in exile during the last 1.5 years of his life, and was murdered by one of Stalin's agents. Guided tours are provided by members of the Workers/ Revolutionary Party.

As the world's second largest city, Mexico City offers something for everyone and for every budget. Attractions in Mexico City focus less on lazing on the beach, there are no beaches in Mexico City.

More on exploring the culture and urban culture of Mexico. The typical must-see sites for the foreign visitor are the sites of interest in and around Centro Historico and Chapultepec Park.

A visit to the ruins of Teotihuacan in the outskirts of the City and probably a visit to Xochimilco, though there are many other things to see if you have time to really explore.

Independence Day - In the evening of September 15th at 11PM, the President of the Country or the City Mayor salutes the crowds from the presidential balcony in the National Palace located in the Constitution Square Zocalo and shouts the famous Viva Mexico.

The crowd shouts back Viva. After each line. The Zocalo, as well as the rest of the city is decorated with ornaments and lights. This is an incredible expression of Mexican patriotism combined with a party mood.

Expect big crowds akin to Times Square on New Years Eve with a big revelery. Confetti eggs, spray foam, and socks filled with flour abound, so the revelry can get messy.

Crowds can turn hostile to obvious gringo visitors suspected of being from the US or Canada, but other travelers have had no trouble. Either way, pickpocketing is rampant so take only the cash you need.

Independence Parade. In the morning of September 16th starting at 11 AM, there is a military parade that runs across Paseo de la Reforma, turns right at Juarez Avenue which later becomes Madero Street and ends at the Zocalo.

Some 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers of the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force march through the streets displaying its equipment and weapons. There is also an airshow, some of which can be seen from the parade route. This does typically impact flight schedules on Sept 16th so be aware.

Day of the Dead November 1-2. Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates this day, Dia de los Muertos, in which people go to the cemeteries to offer tribute to their departed ones, and decorate their graves with marigolds and bright colors.

But this is not a sad celebration, on the contrary, people give family and friends candy treats in the shape of skulls and bones made of sugar and chocolate, as well as delicious bread called Pan de Muerto.

Don't miss a visit to a public market to find these delicacies, and watch out for the parades to and from the local cemetaries.

Wise Men's day January 6. Most Mexican kids receive toys from the Three Wise Men or Reyes Magos. This is a celebration that pays homage to the aforementioned Bible story.

To celebrate it the family gather to eat the Rosca de Reyes, a sort of bundt cake filled with prizes. The bundt cake has a tiny doll inside and whosoever receives a piece of cake with the doll inside must give a party for all the people present on a future date or in holy week).

Six Flags Mexico Carretera Picacho al Ajusco #1500 Col. Heroes de Padierna. Southwest of Mexico City, reachable by bus 125 from Copilco on Metro Line 3 or bus 13A from Barranca de Muerto on Metro line 7.

Tt is the largest amusement park in Latin America and the only Six Flags park outside the U.S., The Netherlands and Canada. The park is fitted with several million-dollar attractions, including Batman the Ride and not for the faint-hearted Medusa Roller Coaster.

La Feria de Chapultepec, Circuito Bosque de Chapultepec Segunda Seccion. Features the first roller-coaster in the country, a must-ride for roller coaster fans, and many other attractions nearby, including a train, paddle boats, and a zoo.

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Deportiva de la Magdalena Mixiuhca. Rio Piedad avenue and Rio Churubusco. The race track is next to the Palacio de los Deportes or Sports Palace. Metro Station Ciudad Deportiva Line 9 Brown.

Built in 1962, it was Mexico City's F1 racing track until 1992 when the Mexico Grand Prix was cancelled. Ayrton Sena and Alain Prost won the prix in this track in the late 80's and early 90's.

This 4.4km long race track still holds the NASCAR race every year and in 2007 it was one of the stops for the A1 - Grand Prix racing

Mexico City has plenty to offer. Soccer is a favorite sport and Mexicans go crazy about it. The city was host to two FIFA world cups, one in 1970 and the other in 1986. Another important sport in Mexico City is baseball, with many Mexicans playing professionally in the US.

The city has been the only Latin American host to an Olympiade in 1968, when the majority of the city's sport facilities were built.

Estadio Azteca Calzada de Tlalpan 3465, Colonia Ursula Coapa. The biggest soccer stadium in the world, built in 1966 for the 1968 Olympic Games with a full capacity of 129,300 seats. It's the home of one of the most famous soccer clubs in Mexico: Club America.

It also serves as venue for concerts and for the first NFL regular-season game outside the United States. To reach the Estadio Azteca, you can use the light rail train line that runs to Xochimilco and hop off at the Estadio Azteca station.

Prices for soccer usually start from 200 pesos up to 600 for field level seats. Beware of resellers, as they will often sell fake tickets.

Estadio Olimpico de Ciudad Universitaria Insurgentes Sur Avenue, Ciudad Universitaria. Simply known as Estadio de C.U. Located south of the city, this was where the opening ceremony of the 1968 Olympic Games took place with a full capacity of 72,000 seats.

It is home for the Pumas soccer team of the National University (UNAM). Today it is host to several sport games, mainly soccer and American football.

To reach the stadium by public transport you can use the Metro and hop off at the Universidad station Line 3, green, and hop in one of the free shuttle buses that run around the University circuit only in weekdays.

Foro Sol. Serves as baseball stadium, it is also a venue for many concerts.

Palacio de los Deportes Viaducto Piedad and Rio Churubusco. Metro station: Ciudad Deportiva Line 9. Built for the 1968 Olympic Games, with a full capacity of 22,000, it hosts several indoor sports. Venue for several concerts, circus, expos.

Arena Ciudad de Mexico Av. de las Granjas #800, Azcapotzalco. Metro station: Ferreria Line 6. Tren Suburbano station: Fortuna. Opened in February 2012, with a full capacity of 22,300, it hosts several indoor sports and concerts, it is the new home for NBA games in Mexico once a year.

It also hosts several concerts, shows, festivals and expos.

Estadio Azul— Host to the Cruz Azul soccer team. It is a smaller stadium with cheaper tickets thank Azteca and C.U.

Arena Mexico, is home to Mexican free wrestling, which is a favorite pastime of Mexicans due to its affordable and entertaining nature. It is mostly a show rather than a sport, but it has been very popular among foreigners lately.

Doctor Lavista 189, Colonia de los Doctores. You can enter through Avenida Chapultepec. It's very close to Zona Rosa and Avenida Insurgentes.

Hipodromo de las America, Industria Militar Avenue Colonia Lomas de Sotelo. Its a thoroughbred and quarter-horse race track.

There are races nearly every day, the complex has different zones for different budgets including the original club-house and grandstand, with seating for 20,000 persons and several restaurants. Betting starts as low as $10 pesos.

Interacttours Mexico City Tours. Offers culinary tours, cooking lessons, tours to markets aroud Mexico City, gastronomic tours, and small group tours to Aztec ruins and archeological sites.

Journeys Beyond the Surface is an alternative-travel agency offering customized day trips to help you get to know any aspect of Mexico City that interests you. They accompany you so you have a safe yet challenging day.

Their specialty is to take you to places that tourists generally do not get to see, to enable you to get a glimpse of what it is like to live in this city.

Mexico has very strict immigration laws. In order to work you should obtain a permit known as FM2 or FM3 which is very hard to get unless you're marrying a Mexican citizen or you are an expat working for a multinational company.

Most foreigners working without a permit perform jobs such as language teachers, waiters or salesmen. Others own a restaurant or shop.

If you're working without a permit and an immigration officer finds out, it could mean a fine, deportation or spending some time in a detention facility of the National Immigration Institute.

Mexico City is famous among Mexicans for its huge malls, streets like Presidente Mazaryk offer haute couture stores.

Polanco. Upscale shopping and dining district centered around Presidente Masaryk and Campos Eliseos streets. It also has several shopping malls.

Altavista. San Angel upscale shopping street.

Condesa. Trendy district full with alternative stores and boutiques.

Centro Historico. The city's oldest shopping district, you can find almost anything here. The old department stores are clustered around 20 de Noviembre street.

Pino Suarez. There is a lot of youth-minded fashion going on here. Most of it is a knock off of something else but at such low prices who can complain. There is a very large indoor market near the metro stop at Pino Saurez, on the pink line, that has a ton of clothing, shoes, and food vendors.

American-style shopping malls appeared in Mexico City by the late 1960’s and are now are spread all over the metropolitan area surpassing even the largest malls of the United States. Here you will find most of the fashion malls sorted by area.

- Reforma 222, Paseo de la Reforma 222, Juarez
- Plaza Insurgentes, San Luis Potosí 214, Roma
- Plaza Galeraas
- Parque Delta, Cuauhtemoc 462, Narvarte
- Metrópoli Patriotismo, Patriotismo 229, San pedro de los Pinos
- Parque Lindavista, Riobamba 289, Lindavista, Delegacion Gustavo A. Madero
- Plaza Lindavista, Montevideo 363, Lindavista, Delegacion Gustavo A. Madero
- Plaza Satelite, Circuito Centro Comercial 2251, Ciudad satelite
- Forum Buenavista, Eje 1 Norte 259, Buenavista, Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
- Mundo E, periferico Norte 1007, Santa Monica
- La Cuspide Sky Mall, Av. Lomas Verdes 1200 nearby Ciudad Satelite
- Antara Polanco; Ejército Nacional 843, Polanco
- Moliere dos22; Moliere 222, Polanco
- Pabellon Polanco; ejército Nacional 980, Polanco
- Magnocentro 26 Fun & Fashion, Magnocentro 26, Interlomas
- Parque Duraznos, Bosque de Duraznos 39, Bosques de las Lomas
- Paseo Arcos Bosques, paseo de los Tamarindos 100, Bosques de las Lomas
- Centro Santa Fe, Vasco de Quiroga 3800, Santa Fe
- Centro Coyoacan, Avenida Coyoacan 2000, Del Valle
- Plaza Universidad, Avenida Universidad 1000, Del Valle
- Galerias Insurgentes, Insurgentes Sur 1329, Del Valle
- Perisur, insurgentes Sur 4690, Jardines del Pedregal
- Galerias Coapa, Calzada del Hueso 519, Coapa
- Plaza Cuicuilco
- Plaza Loreto, Altamirano 46, San Angel
- Pabellon Altavista, Camino al Desierto de los Leones 52, San Angel
- Gran Sur, Periférico Sur 5550, Pedregal de Carrasco

Premium Outlets at Punta Norte, Northwest of Mexico City (State of Mexico) in the intersection of Periferico (Mexico Hwy #57) and the Chamapa La Venta highway, near Ciudad Satelite. You will need a taxi or a car to get there.

Las Plazas Outlet Lerma Mexico, Toluca highway Km. 50 in the intersection with Calzada Cholula in the City of Lerma, near Toluca. You will need a car to get there.

If you are looking for Arts and Crafts try these:

- Mercado de Curiosidades In Centro Historico.

-Mercado Insurgentes In Mexico City/Zona Rosa. The National Fund for the Development of Arts and Crafts (Fonart), Avenida Patriotismo 691, in Mixcoac, Avenida Paseo de la Reforma No. 116 in Colonia Juárez and Avenida Juarez 89 in Centro.

Mercado Artesanal de la Ciudadela Centro, Calle Baldera 6 and Enrico Martinez across from Alameda Park. Semi-covered market offers wide variety of artesanal crafts at low prices. A good place to buy souvenirs/gifts in bulk. Haggling will bear results.

Bazar del Sabado in San Angel. Every Saturday, artists show and sell their paintings in a beautiful, cobblestoned zone of the city. There are also stores where they sell handcrafts.

Although street vendors can be found almost anywhere in Mexico City, the following are more formal flea markets selling handcrafts, furniture and antiques.

Mercado de Artesanias in Coyoacan on Saturdays, featuring handicrafts from all over the country, and classes for kids.

Plaza del Angel in Zona Rosa

Mercado de Alvaro Obregon in Colonia Roma

Sunday art market in the Monumento a la Madre

Mercado de Antiguedades de Cuauhtemoc, near Centro Historico

La Lagunilla and Tepito near Centro Historico La Lagunilla has some of the best antiques, and is a maze of interesting thing, although it is a high crime area with 317 reported robberies in 2006.

Tepito is more for pirated CDs, stolen things, and knock-offs. This area is huge and it's very easy to get lost.

Shopkeepers are mostly friendly and will point you toward the nearest Metro station. For safety, visitors to this market should dress down, go with someone else, and arrive early in the day when it's less crowded. If you don't speak Spanish it's probably better to stay away.

If you're staying longer you may want to buy groceries and food at any of the hundreds of Supermarkets. These are some of the most common:

- Chedraui

- Comercial Mexicana

- Soriana

- Superama High end supermarket

- City Market High end supermarket

- Wal-Mart. Several throughout the city, including one near the airport. Stock just about everything, much like the supercenters found in the US. The most easily accessible one is right next to the Nativitas Metro station (Line 2) on the west side of the Calzada de Tlalpan.

Exit the Metro on the west side toward Calle Lago Pte. and make a left as you exit the station. The first thing on your left, just next to the station building, is the ramp going up to the Wal-Mart entrance. Visible from the train, impossible to miss.

For generally hard-to-find ingredients, such as vegetables and spices that are unusual in Mexico, try the Mercado de San Juan, Ernesto Pugibet street, Salto del Agua metro station.

You can even find exotic meats here, such as iguana, alligator, ostrich, and foie gras. Go to the cheese stand at the center of the market, and ask for a sample, the friendly owner will give you bread, wine, and samples of dozens of different kinds of cheese.

Al Mayak Cuauhtemoc Avenue and Guanajuato, Colonia Roma. Owned by Lebanese businessmen, they sell ingredients and foodstuff. They also sell sweets and dry fruit. As of 2010, this store closed its doors.

Supermercado Seul Florencia Avenue and Hamburgo Street, Zona Rosa.

Seoul Market Hamburgo 206, Zona Rosa.

Uri Market Londres 234, Zona Rosa.

Mikasa San Luis Potosi 170, get from Insurgentes Sur Avenue, between Medellin and Monterrey. Lots of Japanese food ingredients, candy and drinks

Kokeshi Amores 1529, Colonia del Valle, between Parroquia street and Felix Cuevas Avenue. Mostly Japanese food stuff but they also sell other Asian foods. They also sell Japanese dinnerware.

Super Kise Division del Norte 2515, Del Carmen, Coyoacan. South of the city, they sell Korean, Chinese and Japanese groceries.

Many food products in Mexico including milk are kosher compliant. If you're looking for specific products, try some stores in the Polanco neighborhood. At some Superama branches you would find kosher departments, especially the ones in Polanco, Tecamachalco and Santa Fe neighborhoods.

Although it is easy to assume that Mexico City is the world capital of tacos, you can find almost any kind of food in this city.

There are regional specialties from all over Mexico as well as international cuisine, including Japanese, Chinese, French, Polish, Italian, Argentinean, Belgian, Irish, you name it.

The main restaurant areas are located in Polanco, Condesa and Roma, Centro, Zona Rosa, along Avenida Insurgentes from Viaducto to Copilco and more recently Santa Fe.

For superb Mexican cuisine you can try El Cardenal at Sheraton Centro Historico, Los Girasoles - Tacuba 8, Aguila y Sol - Emilio Castelar 229, Izote - Masaryk 513 and, for something more affordable, Cafe Tacuba - Tacuba 28.

Another great experience is to dine in an old converted hacienda: try Hacienda de los Morales - Vazquez de Mella 525, El Bajio - Alejandro Dumas 7, El Parnita - Avenida Yucatan 84-E2, Azul Historico - Isabel la Catolica 30, San Angel Inn - Diego Rivera 50 or Antigua Hacienda de Tlalpan - Calzada de Tlalpan 4619.

There are Mexican chain restaurants that can be assumed to be safe and similar no matter where you are, including Vips, Toks, and the more traditional Sanborns, all reminiscent of Denny's in the United States.

You can expect to pay between $100 to $150 per person. If you're on a budget, you can also try one of the myriad comida corrida or set menu restaurants, frequented by many office workers. Most of these offer very good food, are usually safe, and should range between $35 to $60.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous type of food almost anywhere in Mexico city are fast food outlets, located on the ground floor of a street-facing building, or puestos, street stands located on a sidewalk or almost anywhere there is room.

These serve the usual tacos, burritos or tortas filled bread rolls similar to a sub or sandwich, and they can be very cheap $10 to $50. The Taqueria Aguayo in Coyoacan is a superb example.

If you want to stuff your face with lots of real Mexican food at cheap prices then head over to La Merced the central market, located on the pink line of the subway at the stop Merced.

There are several restaurants as well as stands serving up some delicious food. Huaraches, which are something like giant tortillas with different toppings/fillings, are popular here, as are alambres.

Another superb market is located a stone's throw from the Salto del Agua metro stop; Mercado San Juan Arcos de Belem.

It is full of food stalls offering all the Mexican favourites, but find the one opposite the small bakers, which is located by one of the rear entrances on Calle Delicias, which serves the Torta Cubana.

The people running it are amazingly welcoming and the food, especially the Cubana, is excellent.

If you want something safe and boring, most American fast food chains have franchises here. You'll see McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr, Domino's Pizza, TGI Friday's, Chili's, Dairy Queen, Subway, and Starbucks.

Reforma and Insurgentes Avenues have Starbucks around every other corner. These are all fairly affordable to Europeans/Americans and people from other richer countries.

El Globo, a French-style bakery, has locations throughout the city selling both French and traditional Mexican pastries, like orejas or little ears, eclairs, empanadas, and rosca during New Year's. It can't be beat for a quick snack or bagful of pastries to eat later.

Do not miss the chance to go to Pasteleria Madrid or calle 5 de Febrero, one block south off the main plaza in downtown Mexico.

This is a very old and typical bakery, they will usually have fresh bread twice a day, but if there are a lot of customers they will bake as many as four times a day.

Asian food restaurants are abundant, and the quality is good, and caters from cheap Chinese cafeterias to expensive and very good Japanese food.

Note that Korean, Japanese and Chinese are most common cuisines in Mexico City, while Indian, Thai and Indonesian can be harder to find. Most sushi places, however, put far too much rice on their sushi rolls and not enough fish.

Vegetarian or vegetariano alternatives are commonly available at larger restaurants, but don't expect much from street vendors. The magic phrases, for vegetarians or vegans, are sin pollo or no chicken, sin carne or no meat, sin huevo or no eggs and sin queso or no cheese.

If you can communicate this and then gesticulate to the menu, the waiter normally will give you suggestions. In regular restaurants, they will even try to edit an existing dish for you. Just make sure you are clear.

Chile Rellenos are a definite standard in any restaurant for the vegetarian. There are also now many vegetarian restaurants in the city and many more restaurants that are explicitly vegetarian friendly.

If you want to try the famous street food of Mexico City, there are at least two excellent and totally vegan options: Gatorta or tortas and tacos, Por Siempre or tacos. Both are in Roma.

El Moro Churreria, Eje Central Lazaro Cardenas 42, Cuauhtemoc, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de Mexico, D.F., Mexico. If you need a quick pick me up or food after going out, El Moro is a 24 hour restaurant that specializes in churros and Mexican hot chocolate.

Tips— Tipping or propina is expected, with 10% the standard for all restaurants. You can tip less or not tip at all for poor service.

In Mexico, there is no difference in prices if you sit inside or outside, it is the same if you eat at the bar or sit at a table.

El Jarocho - Centro Coyoacan is an amazing place to go for coffee. They also sell pastries and other food. This place is incomparable to Starbucks. There are several locations in Coyoacan due to its evergrowing popularity.

Please try:

- Tacos al pastor
- Tacos de cabeza de res al vapor (Cesos, ojo, trompa, cachete, maciza, lengua o surtida)
- Tacos de tripa
- Gringas
- Enchiladas Suizas
- Enchiladas de mole
- Pozole
- Quesadillas
- Sopes
- Tortas
- Sopa de tortilla
- Chilaquiles
- Huevos Rancheros
- Arrachera
- Micheladas
- Huaraches
- Alambres
- Tacos de suadero
- Tacos de canasta
- Enfrijoladas
- Tacos de barbacoa
- Migas

For a quick snack you can always try a tamal which is steamed corn dough with chicken or pork, bought on the street or specialized shops, accompanied by a cup of atole or hot chocolate corn starch drink, which is the breakfast of the humble on their way to work.

The typical Mexican place to go to drink is the cantina, a bar where food is usually free, and you pay for drinks, exact policies and minimums vary.

Cantinas serve a wide range of Mexican and foreign drinks, with prices usually reasonable compared to prices in the US, and you'll be continually served various Mexican food, such as tacos, you should ask for Botana.

If your tolerance for Mexican music or mariachi or otherwise, smoke-filled rooms, and lots of noise is low however, this may not be your kind of place. Cantinas are open moderately late, usually past midnight at the very least.

However some cantinas, like La Victoria, near the Plaza Garibaldi, are also open at midday for lunch.

In Mexico City you have an almost endless choice of options to party. Traveling by yourself at night in Mexico City is not a good idea, especially in Plaza Garibaldi where pickpocketers are ever ready to relieve you of your unguarded cash.

One of the ways you can check out the night life safely is by doing a Night Club Tour. These tours will typically take you to a few clubs and include transportation. Mexicans are for the most part very friendly and enjoy socializing.

In addition, there are bars that play a combination of Spanish and English-language rock, electronic music, and some Latin/Caribbean music. These bars tend to close around 3-4AM.

Club music mainly falls into three main categories, pop, rock and electronic music. The pop places generally play what's on the music charts, Latin pop, and sometimes traditional Mexican music, and are frequented by a younger audience, and are often more upper class.

The rock places play rock in the wide sense, in English and Spanish. Most people are at least over 18 in these places.

The electronica clubs, which attract everyone from Mexico City's large subculture of ravers and electronica fans, of all ages. Most clubs close late, 3-4AM at the earliest, and some are open until 7AM or 8AM.

The best bet used to be the Zona Rosa, which has a large number of street bars with rock bands playing and a large selection of clubs, especially strip clubs and gay bars.

South of Zona Rosa you can find the Condesa area, with many options of bars and restaurants. Another good area is Polanco, particularly a street called Mazaryk, where you'll find plenty of good clubs but it is best to make a reservation, Bolle club is one posh club on that street .

Be warned that entrance is judged on appearance and to get a table a minimum 2 bottle service is required, unless its a slow night US$80 per bottle.

Posh and upper scale night clubs can be found in the Lomas area, particularly the Hyde, Shine, Sense and Disco Lomas Clubs, but be warned some of these could be extremely expensive, where the cover charge could range from 250 pesos upwards and bottles start at 130 USD.

In addition, getting in could very difficult, as these are the most exclusive in town.

Gay friendly bars and clubs can be found clustered in the Zona Rosa, on Amberes street, and in the historic centre, on Republica de Cuba street. Both of these places are great for bar hopping, as most places don't have a cover charge.

The other common Mexican-style thing to do when going out is to go dancing, usually to salsa, meringue, rumba, mambo, son, or other Caribbean/Latin music.

This is considerably more fun if you're a somewhat competent dancer, but even complete beginners who don't mind making fools of themselves will likely enjoy it. Most dance places close late, 3-4AM is common.

The legal drinking age is 18. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public. This is strictly enforced and the penalty is at least 24 hours in jail.

Take an identification card such as a copy of your passport.

Embassy Suites hotel facing Cristobal Colon statue in Reforma.

Mexico City has hundreds of hotels and some sublets in all price ranges, though the district you want to stay in will be a good indicator of price and quality.

Zona Rosa is a tourist haven with a strong mid-range selection; the Polanco district is where high-end hotels thrive, and the Centro Histórico is home to plenty of budget hotels, sublet apartments and backpacker hostels.

A wide variety of hotels can also be found along Paseo de la Reforma. Local designers and architects are feeding a new generation of sublets where detail and variety are proving that globalization does not mean uniformity.

If you are on a low-budget, you can find hotels as low as USD7 if you take a room with a shared bathroom. Most are centred in the Centro Historico and are very decent.

Hostels are more expensive than getting your own private room with full facilities like a TV and restroom, but the cheap hotels are not listed on the internet and many foreigners jump into the hostels for a much worse value.

The hostels are a good place to meet people but you should only stay there if you don't mind noise and sharing a restroom.

There are plenty of other places to meet people besides hostels so be sure to look around before deciding to stay at one just because it has a sign in English.

If someone is calling you the country code is +52 then the area code is 55 then the eight digit phone number. If you want to make a long distance call out of Mexico, you should dial the prefix 01 for national calls followed by the area code.

If you are making an international long distance call, you must dial 00 followed by the country code, for example, if you're calling the U.S. you should dial 00+1 and the area code, if you're calling the U.K, dial 00+44 and the area code, and so on.

If you want to use your cellular phone you can get your phone unlocked before you go. When you arrive in Mexico City, you can purchase a Telcel or Movistar Sim (GSM) card, called a chip. Then you will get a Mexican Cell phone number. Remember this is a prepaid cellular option.

You get free incoming calls from inside the city, but the roaming charges can easily build up if you travel to other cities. People calling you from long distance will need to dial in this format: +52 (55) plus 8 or 7 digit phone number.

Mexico city, Guadalajara and Monterrey have 8 digit numbers, and 2 digit area codes. The rest of the country has 7 digit numbers and 3 digit area codes.

Calling from a Mexican phone either land or mobile to a Mexican cell phone is called¨El Que Llama Paga meaning only the person making the call pays for the air time, and thus requires the 044 prefix before the 10 digit number composed of the area code and the mobile number to be dialed.

Land or mobile to Mexico City registered mobile would be 044 55 12345678. If you are calling to a mobile with a different area code, i.e. Acapulco area code 744 then you use the prefix 045, then the three digit area code, the seven digit mobile i.e. 045 744 1234567. This might seem confusing at first but you get easily accustomed to it.

Another option is to buy a prepaid Mexican phone kit, they frequently include more air time worth than the kit actually costs, air time is called Tiempo Aire.

For Telcel these kits are called Amigo Kit for Movistar they are called Movistar Prepago and for Iusacell Viva Kit, then you can just keep the phone as a spare for whenever you are in Mexico; there are no costs in between uses.

These kits start at around 30 USD and can be purchased at the thowsands of mobile phone dealerships, or at OXXO convinence stores, and even supermarkets.

There are four main cell phone operators in Mexico.

Telcel The largest coverage in Mexico, now using 3.5G, 3G and GSM (HSPA+, HSDPA & EDGE) Will Have 4G (LTE)

Movistar A GSM & 3G (HSDPA) network with decent coverage in most of the country

Iusacell includes former Unefon network A CDMA (EVDO) and GSM-based 3G (HSDPA) and 3.5G (HSPA+) network with an average coverage in most cities and large towns.

Nextel iDEN push to talk, similar to Nextel offered in the U.S. by Sprint Nextel and Boost Mobile but has different owner.

AT&T recently acquired both operators, Iusacell and Nextel. So people with an AT&T line may call and use mobile internet at no additional charge.

Mexico City has amazing access to the internet considering the availability in the rest of Latin America. There are several internet cafes throughout the city, many of them in Zona Rosa. Price varies from 10 to 20 pesos an hour.

Look for the word Cyber or CiberCafe in order to find a place with internet access.

Hot spots for wi fi connection to the internet are available in several places around the city, particularly in malls, coffee stores and restaurants.

Most if not all of them are operated by the Mexican phone company Telmex through their Internet division Prodigy Movil.

In order to be able to connect in those places, the user must be subscribed to the service, or buy a prepaid card known as Tarjeta Multifon; visitors coming from the US can access the service using their AT&T or T-Mobile Internet accounts.

Cards can be bought at the Sanborns restaurant chain, Telmex stores and many stores that offer telephony related products.

Unfortunately there are no full-time English spoken radio stations in Mexico, however these are a few options to listen:

Imagen 90.5 FM Features a twice-a-day English news program at 5:30 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. with a summary of the most important news around the globe.

Ibero 90.9 FM University radio station that plays mainly indie-rock but also has cultural programs.

Alfa 91.3 FM Broadcasts English language hit pop music.

Beat 100.9 FM Electronic music station.

Mix 106.5 FM Hits in English from the 80s, 90s, and nowadays pop/rock music.

Universal 88.1 FM Old hits in English (70s, 80s).

With the exception of The News, you won't find newspapers in English or other foreign languages in regular newsstands, however, you can find many at any Sanborns store.

Many U.S. newspapers have subscriptions available in Mexico, including the Wall Street Journal , Today, the New York Times and the Miami Herald.

Some of the most read local newspapers include:

- The News, English-language daily published in Mexico City.

- El Universal, The online version includes a good English section.

- Reforma

- La Jornada, Renowned as politically left oriented.

- Milenio

Travel in Mexico City is generally safe. Areas around the historic center are generally well-lit and patrolled in the early evening. Much of your travel within the city will be done via public transportation or walking.

Mexico City is an immensely crowded place, and with any major metropolitan area, it is advised to be aware of your surroundings. Ask locals or hotel staff about places to avoid.

If a neighborhood is considered unsafe and dangerous, just don't go there. As simple as that.

Avoid walking alone especially if you are female traveler at night and call a taxi, never hail one out on the street to take you safely back to your hotel or place of residence.

Mexicans are usually very friendly and helpful but again, use your common sense and don't trust or follow someone if you do not feel comfortable with them. However if you are victim of an assault, do not resist and hand over your items.

Never try to start a fight or try to argue because even simple muggers may be armed and they will use their weapon if you do not cooperate.

Avoid getting drunk in public, this can be both dangerous and unrespectful and, on the other hand always keep an eye on your drink in bars and clubs, just as you would do in any city.

Taxi robberies, so-called express kidnappings, where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their credit cards, do occur, although safety in the city has improved in recent years.

95% of total kidnapping victims are nationals, so your odds of being taken are very slim, they are not targeting strangers, but again, always use your common sense.

The two most common recommendations for a safe cab riding experience are to make sure you take an official cab, and to notify a person you trust of the license plate number of the cab you are riding.

There is a free app available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry that allows you to verify if a cab is official by comparing the taxi license plate number.

With the government provided data and that lets you communicate through Facebook, Twitter and/or email the license plate number of the cab you have taken or even communicate an emergency through these mediums. The free service is called Taxiaviso

Protect your personal information. There are pickpockets in Mexico City. Purses and bulky, full pockets are quite attractive. Do not keep your passports, money, identification, and other important items hanging out for someone to steal.

Place items in a hotel safe with a proper locking mechanism, or tuck them away inside your clothes. The Metro subway system can get extremely crowded, which creates opportunities for pickpockets on cars that are often standing room only.

Watch out for small groups of interesting people playing magic tricks near the entrances to Metro stations as these can be a ruse to have tourists gather round while others in the troupe, acting as audience members, bump and push for a view of the magicians but in fact may be reaching into your bags or pockets.

Do not show money in front of others as this generally attracts pickpockets. Be vigilant when using ATM machines, be sure to hide your money safely away before leaving the ATM booth.

Use ATM's inside a secured place such as in a bank. In crowded public places such as the North and South long distance bus terminals, be sure nobody is following after you after you've withdrawn money from the ATM.

Do not leave anything of value inside your car, always use the trunk, even things that could be considered to hold something of value, for example, an empty gift box will attract unwanted attention to your car and might prompt a broken window.

Plan ahead, and know where you are going and how you will arrive. Mexico City is quite hospitable, and people who work for hotels and other hospitality-oriented businesses will help. This will help in avoiding confusion, becoming lost or stranded.

Ask a local for advice to get somewhere, though you should speak good Spanish to do this. In the Polanco, Sante Fe and Lomas districts, some police officers and many business people and younger people speak English, as it is common in these affluent areas for children to learn English in school.

One of the keys to maximize your safety is to blend in. Do not try to stand out or wear clothing that scream tourist. Take it easy and go with the flow. Just keep in mind the basic safety tips and enjoy your stay.

Police officers in Mexico get paid a third of what New York City police officers make, and some rely on bribes and corruption to make more money, however, never offer a bribe first since usually an officer will at least go through the formality of assessing a fine.

The historic center and other major sites often have specially trained tourist police that are more helpful than ordinary transit cops. Keep in mind that most locals will advise you to keep away from the police as much as possible.

The Mexico City Government recently opened a specialized prosecution office , Ministerio Publico for foreigners that find themselves affected by robberies or other crime situations. It is in Victoria Street 76, Centro Historico. Multilingual staff are available.

Don't forget that in case of any emergency or problem, your embassy is also there to help you, so don't hesitate to get in touch with them during your stay.

In case of emergency Dial 911 for all emergencies fire, police, and medical.

Some people may consider Mexico City to have a bad reputation, in terms of crime statistics, air pollution, and on more contrived issues, such as earthquakes.

However, crime and pollution levels are down over the last decade and you shouldn't face any trouble within the tourist areas.

As in any large city, there are areas that are better to be avoided, especially at night, and precautions to take, but Mexico City is not particularly dangerous.

When walking in the city you could be approached by people. Usually they are just trying to sell something or begging for a few coins, but if you aren't interested, it is not considered insulting to just ignore them.

Also, if someone of importance such as a police officer approaches you, they will definitely let you know.

If you do get approached by a police officer, understand that there are three different types: the Policia or Police, who are usually driving around the city with their lights flashing, the Policia Auxiliar with Blue uniform who are the Auxiliary Police, who are like security guards.

Policia de Transito Bright Yellow hat and vest or Traffic Police who simply direct traffic.

If you are cruising around town and don't want to look like a tourist, avoid wearing shorts. It gets hot here, but it is remarkable how few locals in the capital city wear shorts. Some churches won't even let you walk inside if you are wearing shorts.

Being a predominantly Catholic country, if you wish to avoid looking like a foreigner then always dress conservatively. In general, it is wise to ensure that your shoulders, collarbones and midriffs are covered, and that your shirt has sleeves.

The locals can disapprove of tourists wearing clothing considered more provocative, and avoiding this helps avoid negative reactions.

If you are visiting nicer areas of the city, such as the public parks or any museums or government buildings, proper expected dress by the locals for both male and females is to wear a collared shirt and slacks.

Young children less than 8 or 9 years old can get away with wearing tee shirts, however, they should not display anything that could be considered non-Catholic.

Generally, for museums and government buildings, the expected dress a button-front shirt with slacks for men and a blouse and skirt or slacks for women. Children in these places if they are allowed in will be expected to dress the same.

In the parks, the public is more forgiving, and you don't have to dress up or wear anything out of the ordinary but it is advised not to dress too lenient.

Sometimes, you will be permitted to underdress particularly in restaurants if it is demonstrated enough of your party has full or partial Spanish proficiency.

Mexicans may be used to seeing foreigners who do not speak the national language and speaking it may surprise or impress them.

At one time it was advisable to avoid wearing jeans in the city, especially in restaurants or areas where you are expected to dress nicely.

Jeans are sometimes associated with the poorer people towards the north of the country who perform manual labor and wearing them may stir negative connotations, especically if you are male and American.

Today, jeans are common and you should be alright to wear them in most casual situations.

However, there is a general class consciousness among the people of Mexico City that makes it a good idea to dress a bit more formally than you would in most areas of the United States.

Mexicans in general will kick you out of churches, museums, restaurants, etc. if you are not dressed properly.

Remember most Mexicans are very curious in regards of foreigners and are willing to help. If in need for directions or even if you are unsure on what to wear, try to ask young people, who may speak a little English.

Many locals not all of them, of course have very aggressive driving habits as a result of the frequent traffic jams in the city. Some traffic signals are more an ornament than what they were made for, such as Stop signs, although most people respect traffic lights and pedestrian ways.

When traffic is not present, particularly at night, locals tend to speed up so be careful when changing lanes.

Street names and road signs may not be present everywhere so it is strongly advisable to ask for directions before driving your car.

Sometimes potholes, fissures, and large-yet-unanticipated speed-bumps or topes are common on the roads, so exercise some caution. Even at a small crawl, these can damage a car, especially in city suburbs as well as the backroads between towns.

It should be avised that when driving, a fast succesion of white lines cutting the road perpendicular means a tope is approaching and you should slow down immediately and maneuver over the tope as slowly and carefully as possible.

When off the main roads, especially in the colonias, maneuvering in the narrow streets and alleys can be tricky.

Often a paved road turns to cobblestone in high-end neighborhoods or dirt if this happens, you've gone way off the tourist areas. Also, some colonia streets are blocked off behind gates and security guards may not let you pass if you are not a resident.

If you are driving through a housing development, you should beware of children, as they often run on the pavement as if they were in their backyard.

You should also be mindful of people on bicycles and motorcycles alike, because they tend to drive in the narrow spaces between cars. The best thing to do is to yield to them.

Trolleys have the right of way on their assigned lane, since they cannot switch lanes as easily.

Those who are used to having a berm or paved area to the side of the road will quickly notice that the berm is missing on many roads and freeways such as Viaducto and Periferico.

If you go off the side of the road, there will be a four to six inch drop off of the pavement. Driving in Mexico City should be avoided if at all possible.

Note that in high density areas such as Centro Historico, Mexico City, there is no street parking available during business hours.

Even the best of plans can go wrong when you arrive at your proposed exit at 104 kmh, and there is a detour onto some other road with no markings or road signs, with everyone going as fast as they can go.

At that point you may want to exit immediately and regroup before you end up kilometres from where you planned to exit. Maps and road signs likely will be lacking any usable information in a situation like this and your best bet may be to navigate by the seat of your pants a parallel route to the one you found closed.

Mexico City's alcohol laws are harsh; although in many nightclubs, bars and restaurants it is common for minors to drink without proving their age as long as they appear to be over 18.

It is also permitted for minors to drink alcohol if they are in the company of an adult who is willing to take responsibility. Drinking alcoholic beverages in the street is prohibited doing so can get you in trouble with the police.

Drunk driving is also strictly prohibited and strongly punished, though it seems highly common in any case. The police have incorporated random alcohol tests on streets near bars and clubs, and if you test positive, you could be arrested and spend 36 hours in jail.

The system is very efficient, and you will sometimes see a stopped car or truck with a policeman interrogating the occupants.

Smoking inside public and private buildings is strictly prohibited by law. Restaurants used to have smoking and non-smoking sections, but recent laws have banned smoking in any public enclosed space.

Fines can be steep, so if you want to smoke in a restaurant it is best to ask the waiter before lighting up. Of course, going outside is always an option.

Smoking light drugs, such as marijuana, is prohibited and offenders could be imprisoned if found in possession of more than one personal dose.

Being the national capital, Mexico City hosts a large number of embassies. A number of them are located in Delegaciones (Boroughs) Miguel Hidalgo & Alvaro Obregon surrounding Bosque Chapultepec, towards the west, and Cuauhtémoc which is zona rosa in a more central area.

They can be elsewhere in the area too. Some embassies are in a house located in a residential neighborhood and can be easy to miss while others are in bigger multi-story building along a busy road and easier to find USA, France, Canada, Russia, Cuba, etc.

Enjoy your stay in New mexico

Tourism Observer

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