Useful local information (we thank CICLing site for this data, www.cicling.org)
Currency and credit cards. Mexican peso is a bit less than US$0.10.
Payments are usually accepted only in pesos (no dollars, no Euros). There is
money exchange in any bank office (numerous in the city). Major credit cards
are typically accepted (sometimes except for American Express, while Visa
and MasterCard are the most accepted) in restaurants, supermarkets, and most
shops (not in taxi!), so you do not need to exchange too much money for
pesos. In the city, there are many cash machines (including in any bank
office) where you can get cash from your credit card (Visa and MasterCard
are the most accepted). For currency, usually the best exchange rates are at
the Airport; there is usually no commission.
Taxi. Taxi in Mexico is cheap and very frequent in nearly any place of
the city. To any place you need to go, you probably better go by taxi.
Within the city, you would probably pay from US$3 / 30 pesos to US$8 / 80
pesos and save a lot of time. You should either ensure that the driver has
turned on the taximeter (often not used after 10 pm) or agree the price in
advance. You do not need to give tip to the driver. Taxis waiting near
hotels can be expensive, but you can take any taxi passing by the street.
On the other hand, taxis in Mexico are considered not completely safe,
at least in the night (though other transport would hardly be much safer),
so you might prefer to walk to an authorized taxi site to get a safer taxi
there (more expensive), or call a taxi from the hotel (much more expensive).
Also, sometimes the drivers do not know the city well, so make sure the
driver knows the place and how to get there (usually the drivers are honest
enough not to fool you about the route, but they might just not know the
Mexico City only: Subway. Subway is cheap: subway costs US$0.2 / 3
pesos, tickets are sold at the entrance.
Buses and especially microbuses are also quite frequent and cheap. Bus
costs from US$0.25 / 2.50 pesos to some US$0.4 / 4 or more pesos depending
on the distance. You pay directly to the driver when getting in, there are
no tickets to buy. The entrance is from the front door, exit from the rear
door. There are no fixed stops for microbuses: to take one in the street,
you should signal it with your hand; to get out of the micro, you should ask
the driver to stop or press a bell button usually located above, or near to,
the rear door. I do not recommend using a bus unless you know how to go; use
For Mexico City only: Recently a special bus line was launched called
"Metrubus". It is convenient if you know the route; otherwise Subway or taxi
are simpler. To use Metrobus, you need to buy a special plastic card (ask at
the bus stop how to buy it), which can be then re-charged in a special
machine at the bus stop. You cannot pay at the bus itself.
Food. Food in Mexico is extremely spicy, which can seriously affect you
if you do not get used to it. We recommend you to either eat in restaurants
or buy food in supermarkets. If appropriate, ask for European-type food; in
a restaurant, ask specifically for a food that is not hot ("no picante" in
Spanish). I do not recommend you the food sold in the street (tacos, tortas,
quesadillas); if you want to try it then do it on the last day of your trip.
In restaurants, the waiters expect to be tipped with 10% of the price (the
tip is not included in the price).
Water in the city water supply is not potable. Potable water is sold
in bottles in shops, supermarkets, and in the street.
Phones. Street phones require a special phone card (tarjeta telefónica in
Spanish), which can be bought in most shops or booths in the street selling
newspapers or sometimes food. The card can cost US3 / 30 pesos, US5 / 50
pesos, or US10 / 100 pesos (some phones accept credit cards). You may want
to buy such a card in advance (perhaps at the hotel counter), in case of
emergency. Street phones usually permit international calls.
From the conf
place, you can make a local call for free (contact the organizers) or a
cheap international call by Internet; there is also a normal "street phone"
in the conf building.
For international calls, you can buy a callback / virtual card service
in Internet, or simply make all your calls via Internet from the conf site.
You can get your own account (e.g., Skype), or you can use my personal
account (at the conference). A call to a European capital from a street
phone is some $2.5/min (from the hotel probably more), and via Internet some
$0.026/min, which is 100 times less expensive.
Electricity. 110 V, American type (flat) plug. Adapter for European type
220 V plugs can be bought in a supermarket. In the hotel there may be (or
may not be) 220 V outlets.
Museums. The museums typically work from 8 am to 5 pm. After 5 pm, you
will probably find everything closed. In many museums and archeological
zones, on Sunday the entrance is free. Also, in some museums there are
discounts for students and teachers. Specifically, please bring with your
(valid) Student / Professor / Teacher ID, and have it with you at all
Security. The following recommendations are usual for any travel. We do
not recommend you to walk alone in the nighttime. You should avoid carrying
with you in the street any valuable objects (even those that do not have
commercial value but are valuable for you personally). Avoid wearing any
golden jewels, or better no jewels at all. If you are assaulted, it is safer
not to resist to a violent robber. Local police is often of no help. Avoid
carrying with you a credit card with large credit line (consider using two
cards: one with your main account -- leave it in the hotel -- and one with a
small sum for one-day use).