8 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Mexico City This Year
I recently visited Mexico City this past weekend or as the locals call it DF short for Distrito Federal, and I was wonderfully surprised to say the least.
It’s crazy to think that I have lived and traveled around the globe and visited so many different places, yet I still have not gotten the chance to visit this absolute gem of a city just south of the United States until right now. I guess that is largely due to the fact that for the majority of my life, Mexico has always been portrayed as either tourist infested Cabo or Cancun (read: Spring Break style partying and drinking till dawn) or dangerous crime ridden cities crawling with drug cartels. You know, the like--no in between. If you know me, you know that I definitely am not the partying and drinking till dawn kinda gal (I like to be comfortably in bed by 9pm--call me a grandma), and I did not want to put my life in danger either. So that’s why I stayed away from Mexico and never really considered it as a place to travel to.
But if there is something that my recent constant travels have taught me, it is that most of the time our ignorance based on what the popular media portrays is often what stands in between some of the best travel experiences. So when I randomly stumbled across an insanely cheap ticket, I didn't even think twice and just bought it. Hey that's why I work all the time, to afford this spontaneous (sometimes expensive) lifestyle.
Better to see a place once than hear about it a thousand times, right? So so right. Only I will definitely be returning to Mexico more than once!
When I landed in Mexico City on a Friday night (just an hour after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake), I honestly did not know what to expect out of the city. Before I visit a place, I usually do a quick sweep of the city on Instagram to see what the city is like through the eyes of the locals or those who have just visited. I’ll be honest and say that I was not nearly as impressed as I was with other cities I had looked up before. But after experiencing one of my most favorite trips so far this year, here are 8 reasons why you NEED to visit Mexico City this year (reasons that you won’t find on Instagram!):
1. The people are incredibly nice
Now I have experienced quite a variety of the spectrum when it comes to the hospitality of the people in a new city I visit. Everything from the not so pleasant street walkers of New York City to the incredibly friendly and happy humans of Copenhagen. I even come from an island myself, so I have a pretty good judgement on what good hospitality is like. All I have to say is that the people of Mexico City were honestly some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Arguably nicer than those that I met in Copenhagen. They were so willing to help all the time. Each time my Uber arrived (I ubered everywhere during my trip), the Uber driver got out and opened the car door. If not, when we entered the car they immediately greeted me and asked me how my day was going. Even in the tourist areas, when they realized that I was not really interested in buying anything from them they still wished me a good day instead of harassing me to buy something. Every place I went to, whether it be a restaurant, a bar or a popular attraction, I was always greeted with so much kindness and hospitality unlike any place I have been to before!
2. Everything is so cheap
Let me just say that I felt soooooo rich during my trip to Mexico City which is pretty unusual as I am always on a budget when I travel. College student struggles. Am I right? The conversion rate comes out to about 1 USD = 18.66 MEX, which is the usual the USD is usually a pretty strong currency. But what made it so great was the fact that everything was sooo incredibly cheap in MEX! A Taco Al Pastor? Anywhere from 12-15 pesos! Even at 15 pesos that is only a whopping 80 cents! A roundtrip bus ride to another city? A whopping 104 pesos ($5.50 USD). Excuse my exclamation points, I still can’t get over how cheap everything was. Even at the fancy restaurants, I still spent less than I normally would in the US for a meal that was fit for a king! Let’s just say if you’re on a tight college student budget like I was, Mexico City is the perfect place to go to without breaking the bank.
3. There is something for everyone
There is such a wide variety of things to do Mexico that you granted to never get bored. In fact, I feel the need to keep returning because there was so much I wanted to do, but I did not have nearly enough time to do all of it. Whether you’re an art junkie, or a museum lover (there were tons of museums all over the city), a foodie, a history buff, and the list goes on--you are sure to find something to do in DF. In fact enough things to continually come back! I know that’s what I’m doing!
4. It will change your mind about Mexico
One of the biggest reasons why you NEED to visit Mexico City this year is this. Before visiting, I ignorantly only had the limited perspective that the media fed me, especially regarding it’s political climate and ongoing crime, which is unfortunate if that is all you will ever know about this city. Mexico City has definitely been one of the most culturally rich places I have ever visited in my life and is a world away from what the popular media tells you. I did not at any point feel threatened or unsafe during my trip at all. It is a bustling metropolitan and is way more modernized that you could have ever imagined. Everything I once thought about Mexico was definitely proven wrong after this trip.
5. The art scene is phenomenal
This was perhaps one of the most shocking things I came to learn about Mexico. Never would I have ever thought that Mexico City had such a well-documented, thriving art scene. Contemporary art galleries can be found all over the city. Not only that, but DF also has incredible street art. One of my favorite things about the art scene in DF was definitely the architecture. It was such an incredible sight for the sore eyes. The architecture all throughout the city was astounding (my favorite? Castillo de Chapultepec), comparable to the architecture in Barcelona. Lots of gothic influence everywhere! Mexico City is also home to one of the best artists of her time: Frida Kahlo. Her blue house can be found just 30 minutes away from the city center in Coyoacan.
6. The food is some of the best in the world
Would this really be a Paula blog post if I didn’t mention food? Haha. On a more serious note, Mexico City has some of the best cuisine in the world. My favorite? The street food scene. Now, I’ve been to Asia and places like the Philippines where street food is a staple of any foodie adventure, but I think Mexico City’s street food scene might actually beat that. And the best part? It is ridiculously cheap! My favorite part of my trip was definitely the tacos al pastor we found on the street corner near the Centro Historico. I’m honestly still drooling over the thought of it.
7. There is always something going on
Other than all the reasons I have listed above, one of the biggest reasons why I think I loved this trip so much was the fact that there was literally something going on each day that we were out and about. On Saturday, the city was still celebrating Lunar New Year so when we stopped by Barrio Chino there was a FULL ON festival! Fortune cookies, dragons, pork buns, performances and all. So not what I was expecting in Mexico of all places! Another day when we made our way to Xochimilco, they were celebrating Carnaval and there was a huge festival filled with lots of street vendors, performances and even a parade of Los Chinelos (most popular in Xochimilco and Milpa Alta). When we made our way to Coyoacan that night, there was a full on (basically) Jazz festival going on--although I think that’s just a typical Centro Coyoacan night. Point is, Mexicans loveeee celebrating, so you are bound to run into some kind of festival during your visit!
8. There are so many ancient ruins nearby
Last, but certainly not the least: Mexico City is soooo close to so many ancient ruins! I have always wanted to visit one of the ancient world creations and Teotihuacan was so accessible! From the bus station it was only an easy hour and a half bus ride from the city. I’ve never used to be a huge history buff, but after seeing so many ancient wonders, I was so stoked to be able to see one of the largest, most influential, and certainly most revered cities in the history of the New World (that flourished in Mesoamerica's Golden Age). It is still absolutely astounding to me that being in Mexico City is just a bus ride away to a completely different world.
Bonus: IT IS SO INCREDIBLY CHEAP TO FLY TO MEXICO FROM THE US!
Now, I listed this as a bonus because it obviously depends on where you are coming from. But nevertheless, I am sure the tickets would still be cheap. My ticket in particular (leaving from LAS) only cost me $170 RT (before I added some extras). That’s right, you read that right. My ticket was only a whopping $170 ROUNDTRIP. I travel all around the U.S. quite often throughout the year, and I think the closest domestic flight I got to that price was a RT to Seattle--which is honestly not too far away. I still find it crazy even after my trip that I paid less for an international flight than I would for a domestic flight.
I guess this marks the beginning of more adventures to Mexico!
Who’s coming with?!
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Til’ Next Time,