Mexico City: The Big Enchilada

A lot of what many people seem to focus on about Mexico's enormous capital is crime and pollution. But as most visitors will tell you, this rep is blown way out of proportion. In fact, what we've found is that this city holds some of the most amazing architectural, archeological, and artistic treasures in the world, not to mention a superb dining scene and knock-yer-socks-off nightlife in neighborhoods like Condesa, Roma, Zona Rosa, and Polanco. And don't miss artsy, exuberant Coyoacán (where you can visit Frida Kahlo's house) and the awe-inspiring Aztec ruins just north of the city at Teotihuacán.

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  • I'm Canadian, and always wanted to visit Mexico City ever since I learned in grade school that there are nearly as many people living there in one city than in my enormous country. I'd read about the overpopulation, the smells, the smog and the shady cabbies, but I'm pleased to report that I was so impressed with this fantastic cosmopolitan city. However, lock your goods up in a safe in your hotel! My boyfriend had his iPod stolen right out of his bag and there was nothing he could do about it. Don't break the law. There's a plaza full of mariachi musicians near the Centro (go!) where you can drink tequila and pay a nominal fee for your own personal band, but the second we stepped off Plaza territory the corrupt cops were waiting for us--we ended up paying them $500 pesos which went straight into their own pockets. I wasn't letting my boyfriend go to Mexican jail. Apart from these stories, though, I think the bad reputation Mexico City has developed is a bunch of business storytelling from the U.S. Mexico City has more museums than any other city on earth, absolutely INCREDIBLE street food--best I've ever had--plenty to see and do, and much if it is free of charge. The metro costs only about $0.30 Cdn. to ride as opposed to the $3 ripoff I pay home in Toronto. The service was better in Mexico City!

    • What were the cops charging you'll with ? I have been to MEX, but I admit I was never alone, always a local friend and old classmate of mine.
    • FYI...Plaza Garibaldi is one of the most dangerous spots in Mexico City. Everyone should avoid it...and as for "street food," it also is to be avoided. It's salmonella city!

      Don't mean to be so negative. I lived in Mexico City for nearly 20 years and I happen to love it and write about it all the time. Just need to be careful and smart!

      It's a wonderful city - if you know how to make it work.

    • Cass everything you say is true but your story about what happened after you stepped off plaza territory (i think its called Garabaldi) does not make me want to "go!"  I can beat up most men but how am i supposed to protect myself against a bunch of corrupt cops?

  • David: You are absolutely right on! Everyone concentrates on the crime, pollution and stupidly still the water. However, it's a city of 28 million people with a very wealthy upper class and well to do middle class. I agree with you on every single point. Recently took two of my friends to Mexico City and to San Miguel de Allende. They have been to Europe 30 times including Paris, Germany, Provence, Prague, Spain, name it. However, they were never in Mexico. I kept insisting that they come and they agree with us, it's one of the world's great urban destinations.
  • Interesting item I just came across on eTurboNews:

    Mexico City on Tuesday introduced free insurance for tourists in a bid to bring back visitors scared away after the swine flu epidemic broke out in Mexico in April.

    The Tourist Assistance Card would be the first free cover for tourists in the world, said Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard as he handed out the first cards to a handful of foreign tourists.

    "It aims to place our city where we want to be," Ebrard said, three months after hotel occupancy sunk to record lows as the city shut down to contain the outbreak.

    Tourists who show they are staying at one of the city's 460 hotels will have access to medical assistance, not only for A(H1N1) symptoms, but also for accidents or other illnesses, ambulance transport, hospitalization and medicines, Ebrard said.

    The cover, administered by the Mapfre company, also includes dental care, repatriations, legal assistance after robberies, lost luggage and delayed or canceled flights.

    The sprawling Mexican capital hosts some three million international and four million national tourists each year.

    Hotel occupancy sunk as low as 10 percent in April and May and is currently at 59 percent, according to industry groups.

    Despite a peak in southeast regions, officials say A(H1N1) is now under control in Mexico, which has reported 138 deaths and some 14,800 cases.
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