Mexico usually will get a popularity for being harmful, particularly for foreigners. In spite of everything, TV reveals (I’m you, Narcos) and flicks are inclined to depict violence, drug cartels, and scams. This portrayal of the nation as a complete 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. Needless to say New York Metropolis isn’t far behind, at 8.7 million. Like NYC, CDMX is various mega metropolis. So sure, there may be crime. Nonetheless, visiting it is vitally attainable to do safely.
Listed below are some important ideas for staying protected in Mexico Metropolis, notably 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. Lots of Mexico Metropolis’s most hip and touristy areas are situated subsequent to 1 one other, although, making it simple to get acquainted with 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 essential sights are.
Coyoacán and Xochimilco are two different areas on the south facet the place you’ll discover quite a lot of issues to do and see. They’re each a bit removed from the opposite neighborhoods simply talked about, so you might need to break 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 attainable. There are different areas of CDMX the place you’ll probably stick out like a sore thumb and subsequently grow to be way 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 had been safer to go to. Nonetheless, many buddies of mine have informed me horror tales about Tepito and to keep away from it in any respect prices.
An excellent rule to go by when you’re not sure 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 provides you with 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 beautiful throughout the day however are inclined to get slightly seedy at night time.
7. No Spanish? No downside.
Effectively, not precisely. Anytime you journey to a spot the place English isn’t broadly spoken, there’s a security threat. In spite of everything, when you don’t perceive what individuals 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 mustn’t deter you from visiting CDMX, though figuring out some actually helps.
There are methods to remain protected in CDMX when 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 employees, resort employees, and different service folks know sufficient English to lend you a hand if wanted.
One other method to recover from the language barrier is to arrange your smartphone with apps that may assist you translate. Google Translate has a few options which might be game-changing: Certainly one of them is the digital camera button, which lets you maintain your digital camera 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 know-how, 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 novices. If that’s you, go for it! They’ll help you in constructing a primary vocabulary. If you wish to study extra about methods 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 in another country. Exhibiting locals that you’re making an effort builds belief, and that may be useful for protecting 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 prepare vehicles and heard tales about girls’s horrific experiences.
I don’t need to be part of perpetuating worry, although, particularly for solo feminine vacationers, as I do suppose it’s attainable to navigate CDMX’s public transport safely.
For those who’re a person, skip forward to the following paragraph. This one’s for you, girls. Because the Seventies, Mexico Metropolis has had particular prepare vehicles and even complete buses which might be completely 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 girls’s-only prepare vehicles. Whereas these are extremely controversial as a result of some girls 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 typically I like to recommend avoiding public transportation at night time when you can. That isn’t to say that Mexico Metropolis’s public transit is completely seedy at night time, however it will likely 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 choice 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 will get virtually anyplace 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 by Friday from 5am to 12am, Saturday from 6am to 12am, and Sunday from 7am to 12am. To experience the prepare, 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 may recharge your card at any station. That’s extremely reasonably priced compared with different massive cities within the US and Europe.
At all times determine your route forward of time. I all the time use Google Maps, as a result of the general public transportation choice tends to work flawlessly, even in Mexico Metropolis.
The bus system in CDMX has seven totally different strains, all numbered and coloured with a view to be simply identifiable. Just like the metro, the metrobús can take you almost anyplace you need to go within the metropolis. The buses function from 4:30am to 12am Monday by 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, not like the combis (minibuses) which don’t have a longtime route. This can be a nice choice for getting round for first-time guests, or anybody who feels slightly 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 prepare is one of the best 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 embrace 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, nonetheless, are a unique story. I don’t advocate utilizing them, as they are often unpredictable and observe totally different routes every time.
Follow the metro, the metrobús, and the Tren Ligero when you can.
5. …But when not, attempt Uber!
Particularly when you’re making an attempt to get round at night time, Uber is usually a wonderful transportation choice. Whether or not you’re not sure about public transit or simply on the lookout for a extra handy method to navigate town, Uber is surprisingly reasonably priced and straightforward.
Needless to say the site visitors in CDMX is fairly intense, although, particularly throughout rush hour. For those who can keep away from touring within the early morning or late afternoon, please do. If not, Uber generally is a trouble when you completely need to go someplace throughout that point. Whereas your experience will price the identical, the time it can take to get from place to put will enhance exponentially.
In case your cellphone doesn’t work in Mexico and also you don’t have a Mexican SIM card, taking an Uber may be difficult when you’re counting on Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, Mexican SIMs are comparatively low-cost and an incredible choice when you suppose you may be 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 hardly ever converse English. That implies that it’s a must to negotiate a worth earlier than you get within the taxi, and doing so is difficult if there’s a language barrier. Even when you do converse Spanish, the value you negotiate will virtually all the time be greater than it might price to take an Uber.
4. Petty crime and methods to keep away from it
*sigh* Petty crime. Whereas the primary vacationer areas are usually protected to stroll round in, watch out for pickpockets: they’re in all places, particularly in crowded areas. The Zócalo is particularly identified for having quite a lot of them lurking about, most of them teenagers and even youngsters.
One other place to be additional cautious is on public transportation. It’s pretty frequent for pickpockets to experience the metro and buses, on the lookout for alternatives.
You may keep away from being robbed by protecting 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 shocked how many individuals get their cellphone swiped out of their again pockets. Some folks advise protecting your issues in your entrance pockets, however I truthfully suppose pockets must be prevented in crowded areas typically, until they’ve zippers.
A cross-body bag is a good choice for protecting 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 could find cross-body luggage that actually have a little clasp by trying to find “theft-proof luggage” on Amazon. After all, a cash belt is a positive method to maintain 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 manner. I realized that trick whereas serving within the Peace Corps, and I’ve seen it work with my very own eyes.
For those who do get pickpocketed, having journey insurance coverage provides you with 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.
Another excuse to keep away from grabbing a taxi on the road is that CDMX has many faux ones that briefly kidnap folks and take them to ATMs to withdraw cash. That is known as “categorical kidnapping” and is frequent in lots of massive 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 when you should take a taxi, ensure you take an image of the license plate, or solely take taxis which were vetted by resort employees or buddies. Generally if you will get a dependable taxi driver’s quantity, which will be a good way to get someplace safely.
Some ATMs have a scanning machine in-built 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 ensure that no person is lurking behind you. If it feels unsafe, it in all probability is.
Tour and rental scams
There are an honest variety of dodgy tour operators that hire tools to foreigners and later blame them for injury, anticipating them to pay to repair it. I’ve heard of this taking place 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 all for. You could find loads of excursions on GetYourGuide, which is a good firm and tremendous simple to e-book by.
My lunch invoice was how a lot?!
A standard rip-off all through Mexico in eating places and bars is including mysterious fees 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 instances in San Cristóbal de las Casas, and I’ve had buddies level out that I already paid the tip with out figuring out.
To keep away from this scan, simply maintain a cautious eye on the invoice earlier than you pay. For those who catch one thing, simply level it out to the waiter; they may act shocked however will probably repair it for you.
Sadly, most of the seemingly handmade souvenirs bought in Mexico Metropolis aren’t legit. Particularly across the Zócalo and Centro Histórico, you’ll discover quite a lot of these faux handicrafts at astonishingly low costs. Lots of them are made abroad (supposedly by slave labor) after which shipped to Mexico. They may seem 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 in all probability 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 immediately from the artisans. Whereas I wouldn’t say that all of the souvenirs on the market within the historic heart are fakes, so lots of them are that it doesn’t appear definitely worth the threat.
2. Care for your tummy
Don’t by any means ever drink the faucet water in Mexico Metropolis, or anyplace exterior your private home nation for that matter. In Mexico, even the locals don’t drink the faucet water. Everybody has garrafones, or massive 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 wager would possibly really be road meals. Whaaaaat? I do know it sounds unusual, however since road meals is made to order most of the time, you’re often within the clear. Because the meals stalls are so small, you’ll be capable of watch your meals being ready as effectively. I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t give anybody a private account of the meat high quality in CDMX, however my carnivore buddies have informed me that the least-sketchy meat is definitely at road 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 largest threat for meals poisoning is recent produce that might have been washed with contaminated water, versus filtered water. In lots of circumstances, you gained’t know for positive 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 often imply that they’ve common prospects that maintain coming again. That’s an incredible signal that individuals aren’t getting sick from their meals.
You too can take a look at a restaurant’s Google opinions to see if anyone has gotten sick there just lately and complained about it. Generally these opinions 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
For those who’ve made it this far, you’ve already heard practically every little thing that you simply’ll hear from individuals who inform you it’s too unsafe to journey solo to Mexico Metropolis. It might shock you, however I really suppose that Mexico Metropolis is likely 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 alone schedule. Since there’s a lot to see and do in CDMX, I felt like touring solo there was the one method to go, and I had a beautiful expertise doing so.
That stated, listed here are a pair issues to bear in mind:
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 nice to remain in, however there are just a few that I believe are best-suited for solo feminine vacationers:
- La Condesa and Roma: There are quite a lot of foreigners who dwell in these neighborhoods, so that you’re much less prone to stand out. There are additionally a ton of Airbnbs which have gated entrances, which gives some peace of thoughts. (For those who’re not sure about that function, simply ask your host about what the entry from the road is like.)
- Polanco: Equally, you’re prone to be amongst different foreigners in Polanco. It’s one of the costly neighborhoods on the town, nonetheless, which might add up when you’re not splitting the fee with a journey associate.
- Reforma: Named for the lengthy, tree-lined avenue that runs by the neighborhood, this space is a good choice as a result of it’s so near sights. The avenue has an extended bike path and can also be one of many metropolis’s most pedestrian-friendly areas. It’s well-lit at night time as effectively, so nighttime crime is comparatively low.
I really feel like virtually anyplace 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 is not any exception to that. Whilst 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 web sites that inform girls to decorate a sure manner or stroll a sure method to keep away from road harassment, so I cannot be telling anybody what to do with their physique. Nonetheless, if you’re catcalled on the road, it’s finest to disregard it as a lot as attainable. Particularly in a overseas surroundings, sticking up for your self may 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 may will let you experience in female-only areas. That stated, when you do find yourself on a daily prepare automobile or on a co-ed bus, there’s a threat that you’ll be harassed, pickpocketed, and even grabbed. Attempt to keep away from taking public transit throughout essentially the most crowded instances: 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.
Courting apps and socializing
I do know lots of people like to make use of relationship apps like Tinder and Bumble to satisfy folks whereas they’re touring solo. Apps will be a good way to get to know a brand new metropolis from a neighborhood’s standpoint, and it may be enjoyable to satisfy folks this fashion. Nevertheless it’s necessary to train quite a lot of warning whereas doing so in Mexico Metropolis, similar to it’s anyplace else.
My rule of thumb for that is: if I wouldn’t be all for assembly this particular person in my very own metropolis, I in all probability gained’t be into it right here. That’s to say, if there are purple flags, don’t ignore them. In spite of everything, the best way somebody comes off of their profile might be completely totally different from who they’re in particular person.
For those who do need to meet up with somebody whereas visiting CDMX, achieve this in a public place. Let your mates again dwelling know the place you’re going and what the particular person’s identify is. It’s not bizarre to ask somebody’s full identify earlier than assembly up with them. In the event that they make it bizarre that you simply requested, that’s a purple flag.
At all times make it crystal clear what you’re on the lookout for. For those who’re simply seeking to make buddies, say so up entrance and stand your floor. I’ve made buddies this fashion, so it’s positively attainable! Many apps even have a selected function for assembly new buddies, so make the most of that!
The identical guidelines apply anyplace else in relation to solo touring and socializing as a girl in a overseas place. For those who drink, achieve this responsibly and by no means go away your drink unattended. At all times have an escape plan if issues get bizarre (I left the gasoline on the within the condo, gotta go!). Be sure to maintain your cellphone charged, so you will get an Uber dwelling. Most of all, don’t really feel obligated to say “sure” to folks and conditions that make you uncomfortable.
Pin me for later:
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 make the most of every little thing this unimaginable metropolis has to supply. Bear in mind, there’s extra to Mexico than meets the attention, and also you by no means know what journey lies across the nook!