Before arriving in Mexico City you will hear a lot of; ‘you cannot go alone, especially as a young female’ or ‘Mexico is extremely dangerous, be careful’. While yes parts of Mexico are dangerous other parts are completely safe. On getting here I have been very cautious, wearing my bag on my front (which many Mexicans do), being weary of talking to strangers, watching my belongings and locking them up in the hostel. Mexico city like any other is very busy, crowed and suffers from petty crimes such as pickpocketing. As a tourist the risk is higher. If you are alone or with friends or family the same crimes may occur. Being female and alone does not increase your risk. In fact for me it decreased it as I was more aware of these things and more careful. There are lots of police around in Mexico city which makes one feel more protected. If you are thinking of going to Mexico City alone but hesitant about it – do not be. I met other solo travelers as well as couples and friends. In addition, my Spanish is very poor slowly getting there but I have still a mange to get around by my self. So to all those travelers out there considering Mexico City do not be discouraged by what you hear. Take the leap of faith and experience Mexico for yourself.
While here I have discovered the corruption apparent, like the stolen goods shops, people charging you to park in places which they do not own and governmental monopolies. Such as every petrol station is owned by the government and called Pemex, here staff are employed to fill up your car with petrol and clean the windscreen. However, they are not paid a salary at all. The money they earn is from tips alone. So when one fills up their car they must pay the government for the petrol and then a tip to the worker. Things like this are so different to other societies. It has been fascinating and daunting to learn about. Also alongside this unfair phenomenon are beautiful, historic, cultural sites of wonder. For example, the pyramids, the museums, galleries and great food.
Tip tips for traveling in Mexico City:
–Try to arrive during the day, so you can take the bus in the light and don’t have to find your hotel in the dark. I did arrive at night and took an official taxi from the airport to the hotel with no trouble (only issue being it was more expensive than the bus – still cheap compared to London).
-If you do need a taxi get your hostel to call one or use the stands at the airport. If you grab one from the street it could be a pirate taxi, without a licence.
-Make sure to have change (6 pesos) for any bus rides. Buses do not give change. You can also buy a rechargeable card for transport.
-Just be generally street wise as you would be normally.
-Money exchange, best to find am official place (El banco) ask the hostel where the nearest one is.
-Organised day trips to the pyramids are the easiest way to get there. You can use the metro but getting back may be tricky. They are very cheap and include a guide. While sometimes these feel like tourist traps, when they are only £20 for the tour guide, transport and free tequila you can’t go wrong.
-Be ready for an adventure, anything goes in Mexico. The traffic, way of life, people and culture is so much fun to be emersed in. Everyone is very friendly, welcoming and helpful. I asked muchas people for directions and advice. Everyone attempts to understand your limited Spanish or English and tries their best to help.