After spending a year in Malaysia we made a quick trip back to the U.S. to get our vaccines, and now we are traveling again! We decided to make Mexico our next destination and start our Mexico adventure in Mexico City. We’ve been to Mexico City twice before so we thought we knew what to expect. But last time we were here was over 10 years ago. Our experience is 2021 was very different! Here are 5 surprises in Mexico City that we weren’t expecting.
(Click the link below if you would prefer to watch a video with the same information: 5 Surprises In Mexico City)
Surprise #1: The Prices
Cheap: Transportation In Mexico City
One of the surprises in Mexico City for us was how cheap it was to get around. The cost of a metro ticket? 5 pesos. That’s about US$0.25. To a local Mexican who travels on the metro a lot, that can add up. But for us as tourists, it was cheap. Mexico City’s metro is one of the cheapest in the world. And it’s super easy to use. You just go up to the ticket window, get your ticket, put the ticket into the turnstyle, and then you’re free to travel anywhere on the system. It’s a flat 5 pesos no matter how far you’re going our how long it takes.
Expensive: Transportation Out Of Mexico City
So getting around the city was cheaper than we thought. But getting out of the city was more expensive than we thought it would be. It was about $35 for us to take a bus to a town an hour and a half out of Mexico City. That was round trip, for two people, but still, that seemed expensive to us.
Expensive: Mid-range Restaurants
Something else that cost more than we were expecting were the prices at the restaurants. Here’s just one example: We went to a chain restaurant you can find all over Mexico City called VIPs because we wanted to eat something healthy for a change. We each got a salad, a bowl of soup, and a lemonade. And it was really good food, don’t get me wrong, but the bill came to 461 pesos. That’s about US$23. Is that price outrageous? No, it’s not outrageous, but we thought prices at a midrange restaurant like that wouldn’t be that high.
Cheap: Street Food
But not all food in Mexico City is expensive. The little family-run taco stands on the streets are very reasonably priced. We also got 5 huge churros for only about US$1.50.
Cheap: Our Accommodation
Another good surprise when it comes to cost was the price of our accommodation. We paid US$33 for a huge room at Posada Vienna Hotel. The room had two beds, a huge living room and sitting area, and a very large bathroom.
Our Total Spending
So here is a breakdown of our spending by category for our one week in Mexico City (per day, for two people):
- US$33: Accommodation
- US$32: Food
- US$7: Transportation
- US$12: Activities
- TOTAL: US$84 per day for two people
Surprise #2: It Felt Safe
The next thing we found surprising is that we felt very safe here. Mexico can have a bad reputation for crime. But we never felt unsafe in Mexico City. There are plenty of police around. We talked to a few police officers and they were very friendly.
Just like any big city in the world, there are safer areas and less safe areas. And crime can happen even in the safe areas. We saw families walking around together, and people using their cell phones didn’t seem worried. After traveling for three years now the biggest red flag for us is when the local people start telling us that it’s dangerous here and that we should leave. That didn’t happen here.
The security situation in any place in the world can change quickly, so be sure to get the latest information on safety and security before making a final decision to travel somewhere.
Surprise #3: It Was Easy To Escape The City
The third thing that surprised us was how easy it was to escape the big city atmosphere. Mexico City is the 5th largest metropolitan area in the world. Almost 22 million people live here. But to us, it didn’t feel that big.
Some Neighborhoods Feel Like Small Towns
Our hotel was in a quiet neighborhood, with buildings that were only maybe 2 or 3 stories tall, with trees lining the streets. It was a very peaceful neighborhood.
And then you have Chapultepec Park. This is a beautiful park. This is a huge park. It’s double the size of New York City’s Central Park. When we were in this park we almost forgot that we were in one of the world’s biggest cities. You can see the sky scrappers in the background, but other than that it almost felt to us like we were in a wilderness in Montana.
Leaving Mexico City
And finally, in about an hour or two you can take a bus to get completely out of Mexico City and into one of the surrounding villages or national parks. We chose a day trip to Cuernavaca to be our break from Mexico City. And how lovely it was, a great place to spend the day. We enjoyed just walking around the town, taking in the architecture, the ambiance, the laid back vibe, the lack of hustle and bustle. The cathedral in Cuernavaca was definitely a sight to see. This cathedral towers over the town and is one of the highlights of the city. The main plaza or the zocolo in Cuernavaca was also very pleasant.
Surprise #4: We Didn’t Get Sick
We got so sick the two previous times we came to Mexico City in 2009 and 2010. In 2009 we basically saw Teotihuacan and then spent the rest of the time in our hotel room. But everything went well this time, delicious food and no food poisoning.
Surprise #5: We Could Live Here
So would Mexico City be our top choice for a city to move to? Probably not. If we had to chose between Mexico City and Kuala Lumpur, we would probably go with Kuala Lumpur. But if somebody told us we had to live in Mexico City for some reason, and we had no choice, we think we would be perfectly happy living here. There is so much more to do here than what we actually did. And one of the biggest surprises in Mexico City is that we want to come back before it’s time for us to leave Mexico.