The price range for a double
room at a middle class hotel is around 50 US$. We preferred not to stay
at too cheap places for reasons of safety and hygiene. I booked most of
the hotels in advance via the internet. It depends on the season if advance
reservation is required but we wanted to make sure we knew where we would
rest our heads, and it was convenient to be able to tell the taxi drivers
just where we wanted to go. The disadvantage with booking in advance was
that we were already fixed in our travel itinerary. The reservation itself
usually was no problem. Many hotels request at least a one-day deposit
for any length of stay by traveler's check or wire transfer, which I was
trying to avoid as it would have been to inconvenient and expensive to
do this for every hotel we wanted to stay at. For all the reservations
I made, it was sufficient to e-mail or fax my credit card number as a guarantee,
one hotel was even satisfied with a simple e-mail confirmation. Only one
problem occurred when a hotel charged my account immediately - five months
before our arrival - and it didn't even say on their website that advance
payment would be required!! When I complained I was told that advance payment
was common practice in Mexico and that they would refund if I cancelled
in time. Well, I wondered if that would really work out... Eventually I
did cancel and after some misunderstandings and delays from the bank, I
did get my money back after several months, not to speak of the difference
in the exchange rate...
The hotels we stayed at:
Another hotel recommended
Two hotels we planned to
stay at and which looked good:
More Hotel links:
The Mexican bus system is
surprisingly well organized. The busses were very punctual and it was easy
to find your way around. There were airport-like security checks. It is
advisable to travel first or luxury class and to make reservations a day
or two in advance whenever possible as sometimes busses can fill up quickly.
Most cities have separate bus stations for the different companies. I bought
a good travel guide which lists the connections from city to city and this
was a great help.
For the first eight days
we had a bus or minivan with chauffeur, which cost us 175 US$ per person.
Renting a car is very expensive in Mexico, which was one of the reasons
why we didn't take a rental car for the second week. Another reason was
the heavy Mexican traffic, especially in the large cities. And another
good reason, which we found out later, is the high toll which is charged
on the motorways and which seemed to us pretty unbelievable!
The best option for transportation
in the cities are taxis. Taxi fares are typically only a few dollars, so
it's a comfortable and fairly inexpensive way of travelling. Bargaining
should be attempted, but tips are not required.
We got ourselves vaccinated
against Hepatitis A&B (this should be done at least six months in advance)
and Typhoid fever (10 days in advance) and we brought some medication against
Montezuma's Revenge, and this came in handy in some cases. In Mexico there
are pharmacies at every corner and you can fill up your supply cheaply.
Malaria vaccination is advisable for some regions, for example there is
no risk of malaria in areas above 1000 m. There is some risk in Oaxaca,
but Oaxaca city is at 1500 m altitude.
Food and Water
To avoid Montezuma's Revenge
drink only hot beverages (such as coffee or tea), canned or bottled beverages,
beer and wine. It is wise to request your drinks without ice (sin hielo).
Don't brush your teeth with tap water. Avoid any raw food like salads,
uncooked vegetables and fruit, unpasteurized milk and milk products, raw
meat, and shellfish. If you peel fruit yourself, it is generally safe.
Food that has been cooked and is still hot is generally safe. The only
eateries that still may be unsafe are the roadside vendors. At the chain
restaurants VIPS and Sanborns you can eat everything, including fresh salads
and fruit without problems.
There are money exchanges
everywhere and the procedure is easy. You only have to produce your passport.
Usually both traveler's checks as well as cash in US dollars are accepted.
Not all the banks change traveler's checks, or if they do it often takes
longer. For cash you get a better exchange rate. At the time of our stay
one dollar was worth approximately 9 pesos.
I found Mexico to be quite
expensive, at least compared to German standards. Eating at restaurants
costs about the same, maybe it is slightly cheaper, but drinks are often
even more expensive. For a dinner for two we usually spent around 160 pesos
plus 10-15 % tip, which should be left on the table. At the chain restaurants
VIPS and Sanborns you can pay with a traveler's check.
Internet cafés are
frequent and inexpensive. Taxis around town usually cost 15 - 40 pesos.
Hotels are cheaper than in Germany, but not the international chains.
We heard that it is advisable
to take only taxis dispatched from official sites (sitios) and not the
green VW Beetles and to avoid displays of wealth in order to be on the
safe side in Mexico City. Trying to be sensible we didn't have any safety
problems during our entire trip. Nevertheless we did pass some areas, especially
in Mexico City and in Acapulco, which we were glad to get out of and we
were careful to hold on to our belongings.
The time difference between
Central Europe and Mexico City is seven hours.
International phone calls,
even with a phone card, are very expensive due to a luxury tax. With a
30 pesos phone card (Ladatel) it seems like we were able to talk only for
one or two minutes, and we were cut off when still 10 pesos were left on
the card! Those we could use only inside Mexico.
Entrance fees to museums
or archeological sites are usually around 35 pesos. There is a free entrance
on Sundays and holidays!
During our entire trip we saw
only one cockroach!