Discover Mexico City through the accompanying persons programme or with one of the many excursions available.
10 interesting facts about Mexico
- Mexico is the most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world.
- Texas was a Mexican province which declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, resulting in war with the United States (1836-1838).
- The National University of Mexico was founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain and is the oldest university in North America.
- One unusual Mayan weapon was a “hornet bomb,” which was an actual hornet’s nest thrown at enemies during battle.
- The descendants of the Aztecs speak a form of the Aztec language called Nahuatl. Many of its words, particularly for types of food, passed into English...such as tomatoes (tomatl), chocolate (chocolatl), and avocados (ahuacatl).
- Mexico introduced chocolate, corn, and chilies to the world.
- The Caesar salad is named after Caesar Cardini who prepared the salad in his Caesar's Palace Restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.
- Mexican children do not receive presents on Christmas Day. They receive gifts on January 6, the day on which Mexicans celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men.
- Because it is built on a lake, Mexico is sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches a year as pumps draw water out for the city’s growing population.
- Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stands for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity, and the right red stripe represents the blood of the Mexican people.
According to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), certain foreign nationals who intend to stay in México fewer than 180 days for the purpose of tourism or 30 days for business can fill out a tourist card (FMT) at the border or upon landing at an airport for a nominal fee and presenting a valid passport.
This service is available to citizens of: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Island, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Persons coming from other countries must contact a local Mexican embassy/ consulate in order to find out what the requirements are for citizens of their country, and may have to apply for, and obtain a visa prior to travel.
The immigration officer at your point of entry into Mexico can also request that you show that you are able to support yourself financially and that you possess a round trip ticket.
Should you require an invitation letter, please contact Mr Alonso Tapia indicating the name of your current place of work and your country of origin.
Alonso Tapia: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official Name: United Mexican States
Political Capital: Mexico City
Political System: Representative, Democratic Federal Republic
Population: 111,211,789 (July 2009 estimation)
Total Area: 1,972,550 square kilometers
Altitude: Between 2,240m to 3,700m. The altitude increases from north to south of the city.
Currency: Mexican Peso (Mex $)
Religion: Mainly Catholic
Official language: Spanish, but there are many indigenous languages that are spoken throughout the country
Time Zone: GMT -6 (regular time); GMT -5 (daylight saving time)
National Day: September 16th
The Mexican currency is the Peso ($ or MXP). It is issued in bills of $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1,000 pesos, and in coins of ¢10, ¢20, ¢50 (cents) and in $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 pesos.
The most commonly used credit cards are Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available 24 hours a day and can be found in shopping areas and at banks.
Foreign currency can be changed at the airport, banks, hotels and some other places.
Banking hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm.
An official taxi also has the license plate number printed on the roof, trunk and both doors.
The taxi driver’s license must be visible in the taxi – this is an official card that identifies him by his name and photograph.
In Mexico City you can enjoy a wide variety of traditional Mexican dishes as well as cuisine from around the world. The choice is endless; from the most exclusive restaurants to simple, traditional “fondas”.
When seeking traditional Mexican or Spanish food, we recommend the downtown Historic Centre where the colonial atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop for enjoying breakfast or dinner.
The Condesa neighbourhood is home to a large choice of restaurants, particularly Argentinian, Colombian and Italian as well as modern “fusion” establishments.
If you are looking for something more traditional, the markets in Xochimilco and Coyoacán offer Mexican favorites that can’t be beat.
Meals and Dishes
It is quite common for most visitors to try different foods here, so if you are a gastronomic adventurer you will love Mexico City!
- Quesadillas: Corn tortillas filled with cheese, vegetables, chicken or beef. Cheese and Squash blossom quesadillas, or those made with Huitlacoche (an edible fungus that grows on corn) are not to be missed.
- Tacos: There are many types and you can eat them anytime and almost anywhere. Tacos de Canasta are small corn tortillas filled with beans, potatoes or meat piled in a large basket that keeps them warm. There are also the traditional Tacos de Suadero (small tortillas filled with fried beef) and Tacos de Carnitas (typically larger and filled with fried pork).
- Tamales: Traditional for breakfast or dinner, Tamales are eaten throughout Latin America. Mexico City tamales are made from cornmeal and small amounts of hot peppers, chicken or pork, and wrapped in corn husks. They are often accompanied by Atole, a hot, sweet pre-Hispanic beverage also made with corn or rice.
- Tortas: Sandwiches made with white rolls and stuffed with cheese, eggs, beef or chicken.
- Pan Dulce (Sweet Pastries) Entering a Mexico City traditional bakery is an experience all of its own and a tempting one at that; there are seemingly countless options: shell-shaped “Conchas”, elephantine “Orejas”, “Cuernitos” (croissants), “Churros” (fried-dough bars sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon) and many kinds of pastry slices with cream fillings.
In Mexico, tap water is potable, but generally not recommended for drinking. Hotels usually give guests one (large) bottle of drinking water per room per night. Bottled water is also readily available in supermarkets and at tourist attractions. Tap water in Mexico City, however, is safe to drink as well as in Monterrey, and several other major urban centres.
Health and Medicare
Medicine in urban areas is highly developed and the public hospitals are considered as good as those in the USA, and just as crowded. It is recommended to use private hospitals if possible, to receive a faster and more efficient service.
In remote areas, consider carrying a first aid kit. Aspirin, and other related items are sold without the need of a medical prescription.
The weather in Mexico is mild during the winter and warm and dry during April and May. The rain season starts in May and ends around October. Mornings and evenings, especially in winter, can be cold.
The time of day in Mexico City corresponds to GMT -6 and daylight saving time is observed in the summer. Most shopping centres and other businesses are open from 9am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday.
Most museums and other attractions are open from 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday, the latter often offering free admission.
Most public transportation systems operate from 5am to midnight.
Mexico voltage is 120 V; 60 Hz. Any electrical equipment you carry with you that operates at the higher (240v) rate will need to be dual-voltage (e.g. hair driers). A lot of electrical equipment, for example: video cameras, digital cameras, and laptops that operate on 12 volts via a product-specific adaptor work with dual voltage. Check the adaptor and the device instructions to be sure. When shopping for electrical appliances, do remember to check the voltage of the item against the acceptable voltage in your home country.
Just like in any other great city in the world, remember to:
- Watch your belongings and keep valuables hidden
- If you want to take a walk or exercise, ask at your hotel for a safe route
- Walk on busy, well-lit streets at night
- If you bring your own car, check the “Hoy No Circula” program regulations
- On the streets, do not accept or pay for unrequested services
- Report any incidents to a police officer, regardless of his or her division