What do you need to know before your stay in Mexico
Mexico has really entered the
Internet era. Even though few Mexicans own a computer, most of the
younger people frequent Internet cafés. There are a large
number of these cafes and it is very easy to find one in smaller
towns as well as places like Mexico City.
Most of the establishments have a High Speed Internet connection.
You won’t have to worry about accessing the Internet and the
cost usually doesn’t exceed 15/20 Mexican pesos an hour.
If you want to access your email, simply log on
to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) web mail access (be sure
to try this at home first to make sure it works before you start
your trip). You will need to know your user name and password.
If you are traveling with your PDA or your laptop, there are many
“hot spots” (WIFI accesses) available in Mexico.
Many hotels and restaurants provide either free or charged Internet
access. In addition, several international wireless connections
networks offer “hot spots” in Mexico.
: This network has about 2800 hot spots in Mexico
for 15 US$ for a month's subscription that gives you unlimited
access ! (click
If you move to Mexico, you will be pleased to know
that several ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have high-speed connections
as good as the European or American ones with subscriptions costing
about 100 Mexican pesos a month.
is a very important source of income in Mexico.
As per figures given by Alejandro Rojas, Secretary for D.F. tourism, Mexico has received the visit of 19 603 481 tourists in 2010. These 19,6 millions of tourists have spent an amount of 43 milliards of mexican pesos in the city of Mexico. Mexico city has been the main destination in 2010, even exceeding the tourists resorts of Cancun, Riviera Maya or Acapulco. He said that the travel of these tourists has created an employment of 891 810 people, 21 792 superior in number than 2009. The occupation rate of the hotels was 53% in Mexico City in 2010, much better than 2009 by 13%.
and Indian descent) are open minded and friendly. Indians are more
reserved and might be suspicious regarding foreign people visiting
Be patient ; Mexicans are not the champions of punctuality !
Overall, Mexicans are friendly and welcoming. In
all negotiations, stay polite and diplomatic. A smile never hurts
anyone! Bus transportation is an excellent way for meeting Mexicans.
They will be pleased to help you.
The number one rule for any trip is to respect the culture of the
country you are visiting. It is common sense. Wearing shorts or
sleeveless T- shirts is not appropriate while visiting churches
or mosques or temples. Learning a few basic words in Spanish will
help you to start conversations.
- ORIENTATION ?
Mexican cities are built with an American grid.
However, designations such as : “Street” or “Avenue”
is usually not posted on addresses and street signs. Streets are
referred to only by names, such as : « Porfirio Diaz 65 »,
« Insurgentes 4834”. Often, the name of the street is
given between (entre) such and such streets or at the corner (esquiña)
of another street. Ex: Juana de Arco, entre Lord Byron y Tolstoi,
or Zamora 36 esq Pachuca.
You could be given the directions by “cuadras”.
They are blocks.
The main routes, which cross the city, are not named with names
of avenues but have numbers coupled by compass directions : N for
Norte (North), S for Sur (South), Ote
for Orient (East) and Pte for Poniente (West).
It is not always easy to get oriented, especially
in Mexico City. Hopefully, there are
tall buildings you can use as landmarks, such as the “Gran
Hotel of Mexico”, the Pemex and Mexican Towers
and downtown, on Eje Central (the main route which cuts the city
in two parts), the Latino Americano Tower.
In every city of Mexico, the central place is called
International information for Mexico:
3212 (US$6 cost of the call). Consult the yellow pages in Mexico
Taking classes in Mexico could
be an excellent way to meet people and learn more about the local
life, while learning the language and the culture of the country.
Many students come to attend a short term Spanish
class, but the Mexican Universities also have classes that could
complete the programme you attend in your own country. To have a
long study stay in Mexico, you need a student visa.
Inquire with the Mexican consulate for the requirements :
Mexico is a safe country, overall.
You could take the subway at 11:00 pm and taxis without any trouble.
However, there has been an increase in crime involving pick pocketing
of foreigners. Tourists can be easy prey especially in the subway,
a taxi, in markets and on the streets after sunset. Just use your
common sense; don’t display your camera or wallet. Avoid carrying
all your money. Use the safety deposit box in the hotel. In Mexico
City, avoid carrying a credit card at night but keep enough
money to give to a potential assailant who would be neither nice
nor patient. It could be dangerous to fight back as the assailant
may be on drugs.
We advise single women not to go on isolated beaches. Call the
tourist police in case of trouble. Show your documents but
never leave them.
You should know about the political situation in
Chiapas and the existing tensions
between different communities. For a few years, there has been a
lot of tension in Oaxaca and Guerrero
areas. See the web site: www.sipaz.org
(in different languages).
The SIPAZ is a program of international observation created in 1995
to follow-up on the conflict in Chiapas
after the uprising of 1994. It encourages the search for peaceful
solutions and the construction of a culture of peace, dialogue and
tolerance between the political actors in Chiapas,
and more recently in the other regions (States of Oaxaca
Mexico has three time zones :
The zone between Mexico
City and Yucatán is
on Central Standard Time. Baja California South, Sonora,
Nayarit and Sinaloa
are on Mountain Standard Time and Baja California North is on Pacific
Mexico observes daylight saving
time in accordance with the USA and Canada, starting in 2007 at
2 a.m every year, on the first sunday in April to 2 a.m. on the last sunday
When entering Mexico, you are required to complete
a customs declaration form (which lists authorized products). After
completing the form, you’ll have to step up to a machine and
push a button. If a green light is displayed, you can pass without
inspection. If the light is red, your luggage will be searched.
Maximum amount authorized goods : 2 L of alcoholic beverages, 400
cigarettes and about 325 USD$ of other possessions. Warning : do
not cheat because you could have high fines if the custom officers
find non-declared objects.
The law concerning the use of drugs is very severe. Drug offenses
are punishable in Mexico from 2 to 8 years imprisonment
for transporting, possessing, purchasing and disposing (selling
or giving) narcotics with a fine from 3445 to 17225 Mexican pesos.
Be really on guard. Never take care of a bag or package for anyone.
Verify that labels on tickets correspond to labels put on luggage.
Certain medicines, as well as syringes, can be viewed as suspicious.
Carry with you the original boxes and prescriptions for all medicines.
Also, have the medical certificate or prescription with you for
Under the Mexican Penal Code, drug offenders are not eligible for
Mexican electric current is 110v/60hz
with American style plugs.
Mexican people are a multi-ethnic
group. The majority of Mexicans (60%) are ”Meztizos”
of mixed Europeans and Native American descent. There is a minority
of Indians with 57 different ethnic groups and about 100 different
operate Monday-Saturday from 9-10AM until 7- 8PM.
In the South of the country as well as in small towns, businesses
close from 2PM to 4PM for the “siesta” (nap) and open
again until 9PM. Some stores close on Saturday afternoon but you
can find a lot of stores open even on Sunday in big resorts and
shopping malls. Supermarkets and Department Stores welcome customers
every day from
9-10AM to 10PM.
Offices hours are
Monday-Friday from 9AM to 2PM and 4PM to 7PM (with Lunch break from
2 to 4PM).
Administration is usually closed to the public after lunch. The
Departments related to tourism are open on Saturday from 9AM to 1PM.
at 7- 8AM (9AM downtown) and close between 10 and 12PM. The closing
day (when there is one) is usually Sunday or Monday or Tuesday.
Coffee shops open every day from 8-10AM to 8-10PM. Bars open every
day with different schedules.
Markets open from
7-8AM to 7PM
Museums are closed
on Monday and are open Tuesday-Sunday at different hours (check carefully each museum). Some
are free one day a week. We can’t give exact schedules and
fees because they change several times a year. Usually the tarifs
are between $10 pesos and $100 pesos. Some are free.
The official language of Mexico is Spanish. There
are almost 300 different dialects, with half of them in State of
You will be spoken to in Spanish in most of the tourist areas.
About 5 million Mexicans can speak another language. 80% of Indians
are bilingual, 20% can’t speak Spanish and have trouble communicating
outside their ethnic group.
Even being close to the USA, English is not that
popular except in big cities and tourist resorts. It is recommended
to try to speak Spanish. And remember that being polite and respectful
towards the hosting people is the best way to be welcome. Mexicans
have a lot of pride in their heritage and language.
The “lavanderias” will wash, dry and fold your clothes
for 25-30 Mexican pesos/kg. You’ll have to pay extra for ironing.
There are self-service laundries in most of the tourist cities.
Print film is widely available throughout Mexico
Film processing is quite expensive so it is better to wait to do
it until you are back home. Bring extra memory cards for your digital
camera because they are expensive in Mexico
bring an extra battery for your camera. If you use rechargeable
batteries, insure that your battery charger is compatible with 110v/60hz
with an American style plug. Use discretion when photographing Mexicans
in traditional costumes. It is always best to ask their permission.
the metric system and decimal system. The distances are in kilometers,
the surfaces in hectares and the weights in kilos.
matters - Mexican law
In case of implication in an offense, all foreigners
are liable to the local courts and the punishments envisaged by
Mexican law. If the police decide that an offense has been committed,
they will turn the accused over to the Agente del Ministerio Publico,
the equivalent of a district attorney in the United States. The
Agente, or district attorney, conducts a preliminary investigation
to determine whether the case can be prosecuted. If he decides that
it can, he has 48 hours to notify the accused of the name of his
accuser, and the nature of the charges against him, take his preliminary
statement and inform him of his right to legal counsel. After that,
he will turn the accused over to a judge.
Once an individual has been assigned to a judge, that judge has
72 hours to decide if he will proceed with the case and arraign
the arrestee. It is at that point that the detainee will be asked
for a formal declaration of guilt or innocence. Once the accused
has been arraigned, the judge has a further 72 hours to decide to
issue a formal order of imprisonment or drop the charges and release
In case of arrest, you should inform your Consulate. Never sign
a document in Spanish unless you are fluent and you know full well
the possible implications of signing such a document.
with babies and children
ROBBERIES AND CRIMES
: Mexico is not a dangerous country for tourists but stay vigilant.
Don’t stroll alone by night in non-tourist areas. Never drive
after dark. Use taxis parked at reserved spots, especially at airports,
outside of discotheques and tourist areas. Crime is rising in Mexico
, Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez as well as purse snatching.
Be careful. Before leaving, inform yourself about the risks of danger
in some areas like Chiapas
Be aware of HURRICANES:
Thanks to the media, we can be warned. Follow the instructions -
American site : www.nhc.noaa.gov
Be aware of EARTHQUAKES:
Don’t run down the stairs or use the elevator. Stay away from
windows. Stay calm. Site of the seismological service of Mexico
Case of EMERGENCY
080 / Cruz Roja (red cross) 55 55 57 57 57 / Tourist hot line in
(52) 55 52 50 01 23 or 55 52 50 01 51 or from outside D.F
01- 800 903 9200. This service provides 24-hour help all year long.
It is easy to travel to Mexico
with children (no
problem in most hotels and restaurants). You can find baby food
in supermarkets in big cities as well as in pharmacies. Use powdered
milk with sealed bottles of water. Different sized diapers can be
found in pharmacies. Both babies and children could be more affected
than adults by altitude (Mexico City
is at 7347 feet (2240m) elevation). Heat, air conditioning, change
of food or a different rhythm in their sleep patterns can also affect
children and babies. They need time to acclimate. Take care of them
to avoid sunburn and dehydration. Be sure children and babies are
given plenty of water. In average or higher category hotels, you
most likely will be able to find high chairs and beds for babies.
If you want to rent a car with a child seat (extra cost/day), use
an international car rental company.
Parents who want to go out at night can easily find a baby sitter.
Just ask at the hotel desk. It is easy to find baby products but
if you are used to specific brands, bring along your diapers, lotions,
creams, baby food or medicines. It is not usual to breast feed in
public, but be discrete if you need to do it.
On regular international and domestic flights, babies up to 2 years
of age pay 10% of the fare (if they don’t have a seat) and
for children between the age of 2 and 11, the fare is 67% of the
regular fare. Be aware that with the new low cost carriers recently
launched in Mexico
, the rules are different. On
buses, children under 13 pay half price on long distance trips and
the little one who can sit on the lap of their parents will travel
What to see, what to do ?
Besides the obvious attractions like beaches and swimming pools,
there are many places to visit with children in Mexico
Amusement parks, aquatic parks, museums, zoos and aquariums in big
cities or tourist resorts like Merida
a few choices. You could also visit museums or sites especially
for children : La feria
in Mexico City
(the oldest amusement park in Mexico
(Museo del niño/ Children Museum) which is also
in Chapultepec Park, has 350 exhibits focusing on science, history
and art and filled with educational experiences for children of
all ages. The Yum-ka reserve, 18km from Villahermosa, the”
Zoológico Miguel Alvarez del Toro” in Tuxtla, the African
Safari Park close to Puebla
the “Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga” in Mazunte are other
good places to visit with children.
Smokers can choose between 30 Mexican brands of cigarettes, most
of them from mixed soft tobacco. Except for 2 brands, all cigarettes
are with filters. You can find all sorts of Virginia cigarettes
everywhere, even in the pharmacies. The “delicados”
and “faros” are the closest to the French Brown tobaccos.
Mexico produces excellent cigars in the San Andres Valley in Veracruz
State. The best ones are the Monte Cristo and the Ornelas, which
compete with Cuban cigars when you compare the quality/price ratio.
Casual clothes, if not eccentric,
will fit any occasion. It is common sense to wear swimming suits
only on beaches or at swimming pools. Shorts should not be worn
in holy places. Mexicans are sensitive to the way you are dressed.
Avoid provocative clothes.
There are more public toilets than before. They are usually clean. You should pay around $10. Use mainly the
ones in hotels, restaurants, bus stations and museums. It would
be wise to have toilet paper in your pocket since it is not always
supplied. The plumbing may not be designed to receive toilet paper;
in this case use the wastebasket where you are supposed to place
used toilet paper.
Be patient. Accept the differences
in Mexican culture, especially about schedules and time. For Mexicans,
relationships are very important. They don’t know how to say
“no” and they would promise you something even if they
know they won’t be able to do it.
Don’t refuse an invitation. That could send a wrong message.
In Indian culture it could be considered an insult. Don’t
hesitate to send your hosts a picture as a souvenir. They will be
happy you did so.
Bargaining is expected in craft stores and markets. However, don’t
forget that the sellers are poor. Tips are expected also-10-15%
is OK. Waiters won’t ask, but will be pleased to get tips.
|No comment has been yet posted on this page.|