We began 2022 with a one-week vacation in Mexico City. There was so much to see that even a week felt insufficient. As North America’s most populated city, you definitely will need to know where to go. The city’s population alone is 21.9 million in compare to Los Angeles, CA. at 3.91 million. Luckily my boyfriend and I had friends who helped us navigate around the city during our trip. We couldn’t have done it without their assistance. Here are some things I learned.
Health & Safety
In any city, you must keep your wits about you, especially a big city like Mexico City. Whenever we were out and about, I rarely wore jewelry, and my purse was always inside my long cardigan or, at the very least, in front of me. Some areas, such as downtown Polanco and Condesa neighborhoods, I felt very safe walking around during the day and night.
Covid protocols are strictly followed in Mexico City. Every main attraction, restaurant, or Uber either took our temperatures, sprayed us down with sanitizer, had an extra layer of protection between passengers, wore masks inside and outside, or did all of the above. When it comes to Covid, I felt more secure in Mexico City than in California.
Further protecting our sanity, we purchased health insurance for the trip. IMG’s Patriot Platinum Group costs $40 for both of us, covering theft, natural disasters, and more. We didn’t have to use it, but it gave us peace of mind knowing we were covered abroad.
The last advice based on recommendations from our local friends is to avoid drinking tap water. Throughout our trip, we only drank filtered water (including washing our toothbrush). It may seem extreme to some, but I didn’t want to get sick.
Mexico City has an elevation of 7315.36 feet (or 2229.72 meters) in comparison to Los Angeles at 284.93 feet (or 86.85 meters). It was in the back of my mind before our trip that there was a possibility it could be a problem, however, I underestimated how much it would affect me.
On our first day, my night ended with a throbbing headache and vomiting whatever food I had left in me. The only thing I could do was go to the bathroom and then get back into bed. I was hurting.
Luckily, my boyfriend found a local app called Rappi and ordered Tylenol and food for me that night. Throughout the rest of our trip, we pretty much ordered all of our necessities through the app and had them delivered to us for a reasonable price.
I took Tylenol that night and immediately fell asleep. I felt completely back to normal the next day as if nothing had happened. Therefore, if you’re prone to altitude sickness like me, be sure to bring the right medications.
Airbnb offers a variety of options for finding accommodation at an affordable price. I suggest staying as close to downtown as possible in Condesa (near Parque Mexico) or Polanco (near Av. Pdte. Masaryk), especially if this is your first time exploring places to stay in Mexico City.
When we were looking for accommodation, we had no idea where was “safe” to stay, so we thought anywhere in Polanco would be fine. It wasn’t. Later, a local friend informed us (after we had booked everything) that we were in a sketchy part of Polanco, and that he had been robbed there once. We decided to stick with it, despite what he said, since our plans were pretty set. Despite the location not being the best, the airbnb experience was pretty good; we had extensive security in our building and had a decent view of the city from our apartment. While I wouldn’t stay there again since it was too far from the main attractions, for my first time being in the city, it was perfect.
It would be helpful to know a few Spanish terms so you can communicate with the locals. Our experience was that most restaurants and tourist areas spoke English. Apart from that, we had to speak Spanish.
There are a few ways to get around the city. You can take Uber, a taxi, or the metro.
Uber is the safest and most reliable form of transportation in Mexico City. We were informed by our friends that this is the best way to get around, and now I totally agree. Also, we find that it is affordable, as it costs us around $3-6 per ride in comparison with $16+ for an Uber in California.
Taxis are also available. However, avoid hailing one from the street because you might get scammed. To be sure, have a hotel staff member order one for you.
Metro is also available in Mexico City. It’s a gender-segregated area, so it’s safe for women, but I personally didn’t want to be separated from my boyfriend. Thus, we bypassed the metro altogether.
In case you plan to rent a car, be aware that drivers here are very aggressive. LA drivers seem aggressive, but they are nothing compared to those in Mexico City. It’s a totally different story.
During January, the temperature rose to the 70s in the day and dropped to the 40s at night. We experienced a drizzle once while there, but it was mostly pleasant. I wore long sleeves everyday with jeans and a light sweater that I could easily take off and put back on.
Foods & Restaurants
A trip to Mexico City would not have been complete without food, and we dined at plenty of top-notch restaurants. Reservations were required at most restaurants. There are also Michelin-starred restaurants like Pujol that require reservations two months in advance. While I was disappointed that we couldn’t go, I will keep it in mind for when we return to town.
Here are a few restaurants I recommend:
Galanga Thai House
Galia La Condesa
There are a lot more places to eat that we didn’t have time to visit. See my Mexico City Guide here.
Sights & Museums
Mexico City had a lot of museums and sights to see. Some of them are free, but the ones that charge fees require cash. Only cash is accepted, and they prefer exact change.
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Basilica De Guadalupe
Outside Mexico City:
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Av. Pdte. Masaryk
The Angel of Independence
Mexico has been a unique experience for us, and we would like to visit the country again in the future.