Mexico usually will get a popularity for being harmful, particularly for foreigners. In spite of everything, TV exhibits (I’m taking a look at you, Narcos) and films are inclined to depict violence, drug cartels, and scams. This portrayal of the nation as an entire is disappointing to me as an American who lives in Mexico, as a result of it’s so removed from my expertise. Is Mexico Metropolis protected sufficient for solo feminine vacationers, although?
Mexico Metropolis is essentially the most populated metropolis in North America, at over 9.2 million residents. Take into account that New York Metropolis isn’t far behind, at 8.7 million. Like NYC, CDMX is numerous mega metropolis. So sure, there’s crime. Nonetheless, visiting it is extremely doable to do safely.
Listed here are some important suggestions for staying protected in Mexico Metropolis, significantly as a solo feminine traveler:
8. Get acquainted With CDMX’s neighborhoods
Being such a big metropolis, it may be overwhelming to start planning your journey right here. A lot of Mexico Metropolis’s most hip and touristy areas are situated subsequent to at least one one other, although, making it straightforward to get aware of them.
Some neighborhoods to contemplate staying in are: Polanco, Roma, La Condesa, Reforma, Chapultepec, El Centro Histórico, El Zócalo, Juárez, and La Zona Rosa. These embody a big space and are the place most of the fundamental points of interest are.
Coyoacán and Xochimilco are two different areas on the south facet the place you’ll discover plenty of issues to do and see. They’re each a bit removed from the opposite neighborhoods simply talked about, so you could need to cut up your journey by staying downtown for some time and in Coyoacán or Xochimilco for some time.
All of those neighborhoods are comparatively protected for vacationers, and I like to recommend sticking to them as a lot as doable. There are different areas of CDMX the place you’ll possible stick out like a sore thumb and due to this fact turn into rather more of a goal for petty theft. One to keep away from, for instance, is Tepito, which is a big market that I so want have been safer to go to. Nonetheless, many mates of mine have advised me horror tales about Tepito and to keep away from it in any respect prices.
A very good rule to go by in the event you’re uncertain a couple of neighborhood is to ask about it earlier than venturing there. Ask your Airbnb host, a neighborhood pal, or actually anybody from Mexico Metropolis if it’s protected. This offers you a way more trustworthy reply than any Google search, I promise.
In any of those in style vacationer neighborhoods, it’s necessary to keep away from strolling round at night time, particularly in El Zócalo and Centro Histórico. Equally, the canals of Xochimilco are pretty through the day however are inclined to get just a little seedy at night time.
7. No Spanish? No drawback.
Nicely, not precisely. Anytime you journey to a spot the place English isn’t broadly spoken, there’s a security threat. In spite of everything, in the event you don’t perceive what persons are saying to you or round you, you won’t be capable of acknowledge when hazard is current.
That stated, not being fluent in Spanish shouldn’t deter you from visiting CDMX, though figuring out some definitely helps.
There are methods to remain protected in CDMX in the event you don’t converse the language. Certainly one of them is to stay to extra touristy areas, just like the neighborhoods talked about above. There, you’ll discover that restaurant workers, lodge workers, and different service individuals know sufficient English to lend you a hand if wanted.
One other approach to recover from the language barrier is to arrange your smartphone with apps that may show you how to translate. Google Translate has a few options which might be game-changing: Certainly one of them is the digicam button, which lets you maintain your digicam as much as any signal, menu, or paper; then the app interprets the textual content to English. There’s additionally a dialog button that lets the app hearken to what an individual is saying after which translate it. Twenty-first-century expertise, child!
If you wish to attempt your hand at Spanish, there are just a few methods you possibly can put together forward of time. Whereas many individuals are inclined to lean towards apps like Babbel and Duolingo, I’ve discovered them to be useful just for absolute rookies. If that’s you, go for it! They will help you in constructing a primary vocabulary. If you wish to be taught extra about find out how to decide up a language extra shortly, although, take a look at Nathaniel Drew on YouTube. He has a number of movies about language studying which might be useful and informative.
Having just a few key phrases like thanks, please, can I’ve…? and assist me! go a good distance abroad. Exhibiting locals that you’re making an effort builds belief, and that may be useful for holding protected.
6. Navigate public transportation like a boss…
Earlier than I visited Mexico Metropolis the primary time years in the past, I had heard concerning the metro system — and let’s simply say I used to be fairly afraid to make use of it. I noticed movies on YouTube of extraordinarily packed practice vehicles and heard tales about ladies’s horrific experiences.
I don’t need to be part of perpetuating worry, although, particularly for solo feminine vacationers, as I do assume it’s doable to navigate CDMX’s public transport safely.
Should you’re a person, skip forward to the following paragraph. This one’s for you, girls. For the reason that Seventies, Mexico Metropolis has had particular practice vehicles and even whole buses which might be solely for ladies and kids. In most metro stations, you’ll see a Zona Rosa (pink zone) on one finish, the place you possibly can board ladies’s-only practice vehicles. Whereas these are extremely controversial as a result of some ladies consider it normalizes gender-based violence, they’re nonetheless a good way to remain protected whilst you navigate public transportation.
This would possibly go with out saying, however usually I like to recommend avoiding public transportation at night time in the event you can. That isn’t to say that Mexico Metropolis’s public transit is completely seedy at night time, however it is going to be harder to see the place you’re going, and it’s safer to simply use Uber to get round after darkish anyway. Even individuals who have lived in CDMX for a very long time select to do that.
Since Mexico Metropolis’s streets are inclined to get extremely congested, the metro is a viable possibility for getting from place to put shortly. It’s largely underground and consists of 12 strains. They run from the far north to the far south, and from the far east to the far west — so you may get nearly wherever utilizing the metro alone. The strains are color-coded and have both a quantity or a letter related to them.
The schedule for the metro is Monday via Friday from 5am to 12am, Saturday from 6am to 12am, and Sunday from 7am to 12am. To experience the practice, it’s a must to buy a metro card, which prices 15 pesos ($0.75 USD). From there, every experience prices 5 pesos ($0.25), and you’ll recharge your card at any station. That’s extremely reasonably priced as compared with different huge cities within the US and Europe.
All the time work out your route forward of time. I all the time use Google Maps, as a result of the general public transportation possibility tends to work flawlessly, even in Mexico Metropolis.
The bus system in CDMX has seven totally different strains, all numbered and coloured in an effort to be simply identifiable. Just like the metro, the metrobús can take you almost wherever you need to go within the metropolis. The buses function from 4:30am to 12am Monday via Friday and 5am to 12am on the weekends and financial institution holidays. You need to use the your metro card on the metrobús — simply make sure that it’s charged up beforehand.
A single experience on the metrobús prices 6 pesos ($0.30), besides when going to the airport, which prices 30 pesos ($1.50). The metrobús is totally different than different Mexico Metropolis buses as a result of it has mounted routes with already-established stops, in contrast to the combis (minibuses) which don’t have a longtime route. It is a nice possibility for getting round for first-time guests, or anybody who feels just a little iffy about public transport, as a result of you possibly can see the place you’re going, versus the metro which is underground.
Often known as the Xochimilco mild rail, this practice is one of the simplest ways to get to the well-known floating gardens there. It’s mainly an offshoot of the metro, working on a single line.
If you wish to go to Xochimilco, take the metro to a Tren Ligero cease, and switch to the sunshine rail. The Tren Ligero operates on the identical schedule because the metro however prices simply 3 pesos ($0.15) per journey.
Different public transportation choices embody the Trolebús and commonplace buses. The Trolebús covers extra floor and is cheaper than the metrobús, at simply 4 pesos ($0.20) per experience, however just like the metrobús, it operates on a fixed-stop, fixed-route system. The usual buses, nevertheless, are a distinct story. I don’t advocate utilizing them, as they are often unpredictable and observe totally different routes every time.
Keep on with the metro, the metrobús, and the Tren Ligero in the event you can.
5. …But when not, attempt Uber!
Particularly in the event you’re attempting to get round at night time, Uber is usually a superb transportation possibility. Whether or not you’re uncertain about public transit or simply on the lookout for a extra handy approach to navigate the town, Uber is surprisingly reasonably priced and straightforward.
Take into account that the visitors in CDMX is fairly intense, although, particularly throughout rush hour. Should you can keep away from touring within the early morning or late afternoon, please do. If not, Uber generally is a trouble in the event you completely must go someplace throughout that point. Whereas your experience will value the identical, the time it is going to take to get from place to put will improve exponentially.
In case your telephone doesn’t work in Mexico and also you don’t have a Mexican SIM card, taking an Uber is perhaps tough in the event you’re counting on Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, Mexican SIMs are comparatively low-cost and a fantastic possibility in the event you assume you is perhaps Ubering usually.
Foreigners who don’t converse Spanish are inclined to want Ubers. The taxis in CDMX usually don’t use meters, and the drivers not often converse English. That implies that it’s a must to negotiate a worth earlier than you get within the taxi, and doing so is hard if there’s a language barrier. Even in the event you do converse Spanish, the value you negotiate will nearly all the time be greater than it could value to take an Uber.
4. Petty crime and find out how to keep away from it
*sigh* Petty crime. Whereas the primary vacationer areas are typically protected to stroll round in, watch out for pickpockets: they’re all over the place, particularly in crowded areas. The Zócalo is very identified for having plenty of them lurking about, most of them teenagers and even kids.
One other place to be additional cautious is on public transportation. It’s pretty widespread for pickpockets to experience the metro and buses, on the lookout for alternatives.
You may keep away from being robbed by holding your valuables near you and avoiding carrying something in your again pocket or in your again. That is fairly commonplace recommendation, however you’d be stunned how many individuals get their telephone swiped out of their again pockets. Some individuals advise holding your issues in your entrance pockets, however I actually assume pockets must be averted in crowded areas usually, until they’ve zippers.
A cross-body bag is a superb possibility for holding your belongings near you whereas remaining hands-free — simply make sure that it has a zipper. These are additionally harder for pickpockets to get into and/or steal. You’ll find cross-body baggage that also have a little clasp by trying to find “theft-proof baggage” on Amazon. In fact, a cash belt is a certain approach to preserve your issues protected and safe. Nonetheless, they aren’t as handy as a cross-body bag.
One other trick to contemplate is to hold a dummy pockets with some expired playing cards and a bit of money in it. In case you are ever in a state of affairs the place somebody calls for your valuables, throw the dummy pockets away from you and run the opposite approach. I discovered that trick whereas serving within the Peace Corps, and I’ve seen it work with my very own eyes.
Should you do get pickpocketed, having journey insurance coverage offers you some peace of thoughts. World Nomads is the preferred firm, which you’ll learn extra about right here on the weblog.
3. You’re too vivid to get scammed
Like many locations, Mexico Metropolis has its fair proportion of scams. No want to fret although, as a result of they’re all very a lot avoidable.
One more reason to keep away from grabbing a taxi on the road is that CDMX has many faux ones that briefly kidnap individuals and take them to ATMs to withdraw cash. That is known as “specific kidnapping” and is widespread in lots of huge cities in Latin America. Even worse, these rip-off artists particularly goal foreigners, as a result of they assume they’ve more cash.
To keep away from these, I counsel avoiding taxis altogether in Mexico Metropolis. It’s safer to name an Uber. However in the event you should take a taxi, be sure you take an image of the license plate, or solely take taxis which have been vetted by lodge workers or mates. Generally if you may get a dependable taxi driver’s quantity, which could be a good way to get someplace safely.
Some ATMs have a scanning system inbuilt and/or they are going to eat your card. Whereas these aren’t quite common, they do exist. To keep away from them, solely use ATMs which might be inside banks. If have to withdraw cash, keep away from doing so at night time, and guarantee that no one is lurking behind you. If it feels unsafe, it most likely is.
Tour and rental scams
There are an honest variety of dodgy tour operators that lease gear to foreigners and later blame them for harm, anticipating them to pay to repair it. I’ve heard of this occurring in Mexico Metropolis with scooter, bike, and segway excursions. To keep away from that drama, do your analysis on any tour firm that you simply’re fascinated with. You’ll find loads of excursions on GetYourGuide, which is a good firm and tremendous straightforward to ebook via.
My lunch invoice was how a lot?!
A typical rip-off all through Mexico in eating places and bars is including mysterious prices to payments and bar tabs, or they are going to already add the tip to the ultimate worth with out making it very clear. The latter has occurred to me a bunch of occasions in San Cristóbal de las Casas, and I’ve had mates level out that I already paid the tip with out figuring out.
To keep away from this scan, simply preserve a cautious eye on the invoice earlier than you pay. Should you catch one thing, simply level it out to the waiter; they could act stunned however will possible repair it for you.
Sadly, most of the seemingly handmade souvenirs offered in Mexico Metropolis aren’t legit. Particularly across the Zócalo and Centro Histórico, you’ll discover plenty of these faux handicrafts at astonishingly low costs. A lot of them are made abroad (supposedly by slave labor) after which shipped to Mexico. They could look like from the identical neat artesanías you’d discover within the Mercado de Artesanías in Coyoacán, however they’re simply replicas.
If the value appears to good to be true, it most likely is. As an alternative of falling for these memento scams, take a look at artisan markets just like the one in Coyoacán, the place you’ll be capable of purchase straight from the artisans. Whereas I wouldn’t say that all of the souvenirs on the market within the historic middle are fakes, so lots of them are that it doesn’t appear definitely worth the threat.
2. Handle your tummy
Don’t by any means ever drink the faucet water in Mexico Metropolis, or wherever exterior your private home nation for that matter. In Mexico, even the locals don’t drink the faucet water. Everybody has garrafones, or huge water jugs, of their dwelling. Due to that, you don’t have to fret about ice or meals being ready with faucet water as a result of eating places and bars all the time make ice with filtered water.
So far as avoiding a meals poisoning catastrophe, you’re finest guess would possibly really be avenue meals. Whaaaaat? I do know it sounds unusual, however since avenue meals is made to order most of the time, you’re normally within the clear. For the reason that meals stalls are so small, you’ll be capable of watch your meals being ready as nicely. I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t give anybody a private account of the meat high quality in CDMX, however my carnivore mates have advised me that the least-sketchy meat is definitely at avenue taco stalls. Specifically, the meat that’s shaved off a giant spit (known as a trompo) is the freshest, as a result of it’s served proper after cooking. Who knew?
The most important threat for meals poisoning is recent produce that would have been washed with contaminated water, versus filtered water. In lots of circumstances, you gained’t know for certain if the fruit and veggies you’re consuming are all proper to eat. Don’t fret although, as a result of there are some indicators that a spot is A-OK. Eating places and meals stalls which might be very busy, have a line, and have a excessive turnover normally imply that they’ve common prospects that preserve coming again. That’s a fantastic signal that individuals aren’t getting sick from their meals.
You may as well take a look at a restaurant’s Google critiques to see if anyone has gotten sick there lately and complained about it. Generally these critiques will paint a grim image of a spot with out motive, however it’s higher to be protected than sorry.
1. Journey solo like a professional
Should you’ve made it this far, you’ve already heard almost the whole lot that you simply’ll hear from individuals who inform you it’s too unsafe to journey solo to Mexico Metropolis. It could shock you, however I really assume that Mexico Metropolis is without doubt one of the finest locations to journey solo. I’m somebody who very a lot prefers to see as a lot as I can whereas touring, and I like to take action by myself schedule. Since there’s a lot to see and do in CDMX, I felt like touring solo there was the one approach to go, and I had an exquisite expertise doing so.
That stated, listed below are a pair issues to remember:
The place to remain
You’ll see above that a few of the hottest neighborhoods for vacationers are additionally a few of the most secure. Any of these neighborhoods are high quality to remain in, however there are just a few that I feel are best-suited for solo feminine vacationers:
- La Condesa and Roma: There are plenty of foreigners who stay in these neighborhoods, so that you’re much less more likely to stand out. There are additionally a ton of Airbnbs which have gated entrances, which supplies some peace of thoughts. (Should you’re uncertain about that characteristic, simply ask your host about what the entry from the road is like.)
- Polanco: Equally, you’re more likely to be amongst different foreigners in Polanco. It’s some of the costly neighborhoods on the town, nevertheless, which may add up in the event you’re not splitting the associated fee with a journey associate.
- Reforma: Named for the lengthy, tree-lined avenue that runs via the neighborhood, this space is a superb possibility as a result of it’s so near points of interest. The avenue has an extended bike path and can be one of many metropolis’s most pedestrian-friendly areas. It’s well-lit at night time as nicely, so nighttime crime is comparatively low.
I really feel like nearly wherever you go as a solo feminine traveler, that is going to be a problem. In my expertise, there has not been a single place I’ve traveled to the place I haven’t been catcalled. Sadly, Mexico Metropolis isn’t any exception to that. When you can not management the actions of males on the road, you possibly can observe warning with the way you react.
I’m not a fan of websites that inform ladies to decorate a sure approach or stroll a sure approach to keep away from avenue harassment, so I can’t be telling anybody what to do with their physique. Nonetheless, in case you are catcalled on the road, it’s finest to disregard it as a lot as doable. Particularly in a overseas atmosphere, sticking up for your self might flip harmful. In my expertise residing in Mexico, it’s all the time been higher for my very own psychological sanity to simply ignore them and carry on strolling.
Like I discussed above, there are measures in place on Mexico Metropolis’s public transport that can let you experience in female-only areas. That stated, in the event you do find yourself on an everyday practice automotive or on a co-ed bus, there’s a threat that you can be harassed, pickpocketed, and even grabbed. Attempt to keep away from taking public transit throughout essentially the most crowded occasions: from 7am to 9am and from 5pm to 7pm. This manner, you would possibly be capable of get a seat and keep away from brushing up towards strangers.
Relationship apps and socializing
I do know lots of people like to make use of courting apps like Tinder and Bumble to satisfy individuals whereas they’re touring solo. Apps could be a good way to get to know a brand new metropolis from a neighborhood’s perspective, and it may be enjoyable to satisfy individuals this manner. Nevertheless it’s necessary to train plenty of warning whereas doing so in Mexico Metropolis, similar to it’s wherever else.
My rule of thumb for that is: if I wouldn’t be fascinated with assembly this individual in my very own metropolis, I most likely gained’t be into it right here. That’s to say, if there are crimson flags, don’t ignore them. In spite of everything, the way in which somebody comes off of their profile may very well be completely totally different from who they’re in individual.
Should you do need to meet up with somebody whereas visiting CDMX, achieve this in a public place. Let your pals again dwelling know the place you’re going and what the individual’s title is. It’s not bizarre to ask somebody’s full title earlier than assembly up with them. In the event that they make it bizarre that you simply requested, that’s a crimson flag.
All the time make it crystal clear what you’re on the lookout for. Should you’re simply trying to make mates, say so up entrance and stand your floor. I’ve made mates this manner, so it’s positively doable! Many apps even have a selected characteristic for assembly new mates, so reap the benefits of that!
The identical guidelines apply wherever else relating to solo touring and socializing as a girl in a overseas place. Should you drink, achieve this responsibly and by no means depart your drink unattended. All the time have an escape plan if issues get bizarre (I left the fuel on the within the condominium, gotta go!). Be sure that to maintain your telephone charged, so you may get an Uber dwelling. Most of all, don’t really feel obligated to say “sure” to individuals and conditions that make you uncomfortable.
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Mexico Metropolis is an unimaginable place to go to and shouldn’t be on anybody’s “too harmful” checklist. With the following tips, you possibly can take all of the precautions essential to have a protected journey and reap the benefits of the whole lot this unimaginable metropolis has to supply. Keep in mind, there’s extra to Mexico than meets the attention, and also you by no means know what journey lies across the nook!