Mexico typically will get a fame for being harmful, particularly for foreigners. In any case, 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 secure sufficient for solo female travelers, although?
Mexico Metropolis is probably the most populated metropolis in North America, at over 9.2 million residents. Understand that New York Metropolis just isn’t far behind, at 8.7 million. Like NYC, CDMX is a various mega metropolis. So sure, there may be crime. Nevertheless, visiting it is rather doable to do safely.
Listed below are some important ideas for staying secure 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. Lots of Mexico Metropolis’s most hip and touristy areas are situated subsequent to 1 one other, although, making it simple to get accustomed to 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 lots of the primary sights are.
Coyoacán and Xochimilco are two different areas on the south facet the place you’ll discover a whole 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 secure 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 subsequently change into 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 have been safer to go to. Nevertheless, many buddies of mine have instructed me horror tales about Tepito and to keep away from it in any respect prices.
A superb rule to go by in case you’re not sure a couple of neighborhood is to ask about it earlier than venturing there. Ask your Airbnb host, an area pal, or actually anybody from Mexico Metropolis if it’s secure. This offers you a way more trustworthy reply than any Google search, I promise.
In any of those fashionable 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 downside.
Effectively, not precisely. Anytime you journey to a spot the place English isn’t extensively spoken, there’s a security danger. In any case, in case you don’t perceive what individuals are saying to you or round you, you won’t have the ability to 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 secure in CDMX in case you don’t converse the language. One among them is to stay to extra touristy areas, just like the neighborhoods talked about above. There, you’ll discover that restaurant employees, lodge employees, and different service individuals know sufficient English to lend you a hand if wanted.
One other option to recover from the language barrier is to organize your smartphone with apps that may show you how to translate. Google Translate has a few options which might be game-changing: One among 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 know-how, child!
If you wish to strive your hand at Spanish, there are a number of 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 will help you in constructing a fundamental vocabulary. If you wish to be taught extra about how one can decide up a language extra shortly, although, try Nathaniel Drew on YouTube. He has a number of movies about language studying which might be useful and informative.
Having a number of key phrases like thanks, please, can I’ve…? and assist me! go a great distance out of the country. Exhibiting locals that you’re making an effort builds belief, and that may be useful for preserving secure.
6. Navigate public transportation like a boss…
Earlier than I visited Mexico Metropolis the primary time years in the past, I had heard in regards to 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 automobiles 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 suppose it’s doable to navigate CDMX’s public transport safely.
In the event you’re a person, skip forward to the subsequent paragraph. This one’s for you, women. For the reason that Seventies, Mexico Metropolis has had particular prepare automobiles and even complete buses which might be solely for girls 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 prepare automobiles. Whereas these are extremely controversial as a result of some ladies imagine it normalizes gender-based violence, they’re nonetheless a good way to remain secure whilst you navigate public transportation.
This may go with out saying, however basically I like to recommend avoiding public transportation at night time in case 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 principally underground and consists of 12 traces. They run from the far north to the far south, and from the far east to the far west — so you will get virtually wherever utilizing the metro alone. The traces 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, Saturdays from 6am to 12am, and Sundays and holidays from 7am to 12am. To journey the prepare, you need to buy a metro card, which prices 15 pesos ($0.75 USD). From there, every journey prices 5 pesos ($0.25), and you’ll recharge your card at any station. That’s extremely inexpensive compared with different large cities within the US and Europe.
At all times work out your route forward of time. I at all times 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 traces, all numbered and coloured with a purpose to be simply identifiable. You will discover a map online as nicely. Just like the metro, the metrobús can take you just about wherever 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 should use your metro card on the metrobús — simply be certain it’s charged up beforehand.
A single journey 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 fastened 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 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 prepare is one of the simplest ways to get to the well-known floating gardens there. It’s principally 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 normal buses. The Trolebús covers extra floor and is cheaper than the metrobús, at simply 4 pesos ($0.20) per journey, however just like the metrobús, it operates on a fixed-stop, fixed-route system. The usual buses, nevertheless, are a special 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 case you can.
5. …But when not, strive Uber!
Particularly in case you’re making an attempt to get round at night time, Uber is usually a superb transportation choice. Whether or not you’re not sure about public transit or simply searching for a extra handy option to navigate town, Uber is surprisingly inexpensive and simple.
Understand that the visitors in CDMX is fairly intense, although, particularly throughout rush hour. In the event you can keep away from touring within the early morning or late afternoon, please do. If not, Uber is usually a trouble in case you completely should go someplace throughout that point. Whereas your journey will value the identical, the time it should take to get from place to put will improve exponentially.
In case your cellphone doesn’t work in Mexico and also you don’t have a Mexican SIM card, taking an Uber could be difficult in case you’re counting on Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, Mexican SIMs are comparatively low cost and a terrific choice in case you suppose you could be Ubering typically.
Foreigners who don’t converse Spanish are inclined to favor Ubers. The taxis in CDMX typically don’t use meters, and the drivers not often converse English. That signifies that you need to negotiate a value earlier than you get within the taxi, and doing so is hard if there’s a language barrier. Even in case you do converse Spanish, the value you negotiate will virtually at all times be greater than it will value to take an Uber.
4. Petty crime and how one can keep away from it
*sigh* Petty crime. Whereas the principle vacationer areas are typically secure to stroll round in, watch out for pickpockets: they’re in every single place, particularly in crowded areas. The Zócalo is particularly identified for having a whole lot of them lurking about, most of them teenagers and even younger youngsters.
One other place to be further cautious is on public transportation. It’s pretty widespread for pickpockets to journey the metro and buses, searching for alternatives.
You’ll be able to keep away from being robbed by preserving your valuables near you and avoiding carrying something in your again pocket or in your again. That is fairly normal recommendation, however you’d be shocked how many individuals get their cellphone swiped out of their again pockets. Some individuals advise preserving your issues in your entrance pockets, however I truthfully suppose pockets must be prevented in crowded areas basically, until they’ve zippers.
A cross-body bag is a good choice for preserving your belongings near you whereas remaining hands-free — simply be certain it has a zipper. These are additionally harder for pickpockets to get into and/or steal. You will discover 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 positive option to maintain your issues secure and safe. Nevertheless, 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 scenario the place somebody calls for your valuables, throw the dummy pockets away from you and run the opposite means. I realized that trick whereas serving within the Peace Corps, and I’ve seen it work with my very own eyes.
In the event you do get pickpocketed, having journey insurance coverage offers you some peace of thoughts. World Nomads is the preferred firm, which you’ll be able to learn extra about here on the blog.
3. You’re too brilliant to get scammed
Like many locations, Mexico Metropolis has its justifiable share 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 referred to as “specific kidnapping” and is widespread in lots of large cities in Latin America. Even worse, these rip-off artists particularly goal foreigners, as a result of they assume they’ve extra money.
To keep away from these, I recommend avoiding taxis altogether in Mexico Metropolis. It’s safer to name an Uber. However in case you should take a taxi, ensure you take an image of the license plate, or solely take taxis which were vetted by lodge employees or buddies. Generally if you will get a dependable taxi driver’s quantity, it may be a good way to get someplace safely.
Some ATMs have a scanning machine 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 must 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 a good variety of dodgy tour operators that lease tools 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 considering. You will discover loads of excursions on GetYourGuide, which is a good firm and tremendous simple to ebook by.
My lunch invoice was how a lot?!
A standard rip-off all through Mexico in eating places and bars is including mysterious expenses to payments and bar tabs, or they are going to already add the tip to the ultimate value 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 rip-off, simply maintain a cautious eye on the invoice earlier than you pay. In the event you catch one thing, simply level it out to the waiter; they may act shocked however will possible repair it for you.
Sadly, lots of the seemingly handmade souvenirs offered in Mexico Metropolis aren’t legit. Particularly across the Zócalo and Centro Histórico, you’ll discover a whole 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 could 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 a substitute of falling for these memento scams, try artisan markets just like the one in Coyoacán, the place you’ll have the ability to purchase immediately from the artisans. Whereas I wouldn’t say that all of the souvenirs on the market within the historic middle are fakes, so a lot of them are that it doesn’t appear well worth the danger.
2. Handle your tummy
Don’t by any means ever drink the faucet water in Mexico Metropolis, or wherever outdoors your house nation for that matter. In Mexico, even the locals don’t drink the faucet water. Everybody has garrafones, or large 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 at all times make ice with filtered water.
So far as avoiding a meals poisoning catastrophe, your finest wager may truly be road meals. Whaaaaat? I do know it sounds unusual, however since road 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 have the ability to 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 buddies have instructed me that the least-sketchy meat is definitely at road taco stalls. Specifically, the meat that’s shaved off an enormous spit (referred to as a trompo) is the freshest, as a result of it’s served proper after cooking. Who knew?
The largest danger 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 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 normally imply that they’ve common clients that maintain coming again. That’s a terrific signal that individuals aren’t getting sick from their meals.
You can too try a restaurant’s Google evaluations to see if anyone has gotten sick there lately and complained about it. Generally these evaluations will paint a grim image of a spot with out motive, however it’s higher to be secure than sorry.
1. Journey solo like a professional
In the event you’ve made it this far, you’ve already heard almost every part that you simply’ll hear from individuals who let you know it’s too unsafe to journey solo in Mexico Metropolis. It might shock you, however I truly suppose that Mexico Metropolis is among 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 option 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 number of the hottest neighborhoods for vacationers are additionally a number of the most secure. Any of these neighborhoods are positive to remain in, however there are a number of that I believe are best-suited for solo feminine vacationers:
- La Condesa and Roma: There are a whole lot of foreigners who reside 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 offers some peace of thoughts. (In the event you’re not sure about that characteristic, 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 probably the most costly neighborhoods on the town, nevertheless, which may add up in case you’re not splitting the fee with a journey accomplice.
- 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 a protracted 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 virtually 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 is not any exception to that. Whilst you can not management the actions of males on the road, you possibly can apply warning with the way you react.
I’m not a fan of websites that inform ladies to decorate a sure means or stroll a sure option to keep away from road harassment, so I can’t be telling anybody what to do with their physique. Nevertheless, 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 at all times 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 assist you to journey in female-only areas. That stated, in case you do find yourself on a daily prepare automotive or on a co-ed bus, there’s a danger that you can be harassed, pickpocketed, and even grabbed. Attempt to keep away from taking public transit throughout probably the most crowded instances: from 7am to 9am and from 5pm to 7pm. This fashion, you may have the ability to get a seat and keep away from brushing up in opposition to 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 might be a good way to get to know a brand new metropolis from an area’s viewpoint, and it may be enjoyable to satisfy individuals this manner. Nevertheless it’s necessary to train a whole lot of warning whereas doing so in Mexico Metropolis, identical to it’s wherever else.
My rule of thumb for that is: if I wouldn’t be considering 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 crimson flags, don’t ignore them. In any case, the best way somebody comes off of their profile could possibly be completely totally different from who they’re in particular person.
In the event you 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 crimson flag.
At all times make it crystal clear what you’re searching for. In the event you’re simply seeking to make buddies, say so up entrance and stand your floor. I’ve made buddies this manner, so it’s positively doable! Many apps even have a particular characteristic for assembly new buddies, so make the most of that!
The same rules apply wherever else relating to solo touring and socializing as a girl in a overseas place. In the event you drink, achieve this responsibly and by no means depart your drink unattended. At all times have an escape plan if issues get bizarre (I left the gasoline on within the house, gotta go!). Make certain to maintain your cellphone charged, so you will 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” listing. With the following tips, you possibly can take all of the precautions essential to have a secure journey and make the most of every part 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!
Concerning the creator: Emily is a Mexico journey fanatic based mostly in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. She is a part-time freelance author for BMTM and part-time doula.