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lauriannem

Feb 3, 2003, 12:03 PM

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What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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Hi everyone

I would really appreciate any ideas or insights you have on this. I am a US Citizen but currently live in Cancun. I would like to spend a few days in Mexico city and have a few friends I would like to visit with. The hotel that I am looking at is called La Catedral and is located near the zocalo and catedral, pretty busy area but I am told fairly safe. I will spend some time alone and would like to know what are the best precautions I should take. I know the obvious, dont wear jewelry, dont carry too much money and of course, try to leave the blinking tourist sign at home! I wondered if I should take day tours so I am in a group?

Honestly, I am not a nervous traveler and have traveled quite a bit in my life. However, friends here in Cancun have kind of put the fear of God in me about doing this trip.

Your thoughts?

Gracias,

Laurianne



jennifer rose

Feb 3, 2003, 12:20 PM

Post #2 of 11 (1583 views)

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Re: [lauriannem] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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You sound as though you’re well aware of the potential and know how to take the necessary precautions. If you’ve traveled a lot, and if you’ve familiarized yourself with the appropriate codes of conduct in big cities, you are most likely going to fare very well. You live in Mexico already, so you should be somewhat more savvy than many tourists on their first trip to D.F.

Whether to take group day tours really does depending upon what you’re planning to visit and whether you prefer the company of others. Sometimes there is the benefit of having transportation all planned out for you – say, taking a trip to the pyramids. If you’re only going to the National Anthropology or around Chapultepec or over to Xochimilco, you can do just as well by yourself.

I just plain don’t like the hustle-bustle of the Metro or buses, although both have their fans. I’d recommend taking only authorized cabs – those parked at your hotel or radio taxis. Paying for a taxi is still cheaper than paying for an organized tour.

On this site, at http://www.mexconnected.com/mex_/areas1.html#DF, is a collection of articles about Mexico City.

The best advice that I can really give is to know where you’re going – or at least act as if you do.


Ed and Fran

Feb 3, 2003, 5:27 PM

Post #3 of 11 (1551 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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Actually all of Jennifer's advice is not only correct, but applies equally to men or women traveling alone in Mexico City.

I would make one comment, where you said "I’d recommend taking only authorized cabs – those parked at your hotel or radio taxis." I'd point out that just because a taxi is parked in front of a hotel doesn't make it either authorized or known. It's worth checking with the doorman/concierge to make sure it's a taxi that frequents that stop.

My personal favorite radio taxi service is TaxiMex (hope I got that right), because they have coverage over all the city, not just a local sitio. When you call them they try to locate one of their cabs in your area. Anyway I've been very pleased with their service. I don't have the phone number handy but suspect that someone here can provide it.

Enjoy the trip.


mrkstvns

Feb 3, 2003, 9:36 PM

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Re: [Ed and Fran] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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Hmmm. Interesting perspective.

I like subways, and personally, I feel that Mexico City's Metro ranks among the world's best, though I try to avoid it during peak hours.

The subway goes everywhere a tourist wants to be and you never have to worry about whether the driver is going to rob you, nor do you get stuck in traffic. Besides, it's cheap.

Best,

Mark


lauriannem

Feb 4, 2003, 2:53 PM

Post #5 of 11 (1511 views)

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Re: [mrkstvns] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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Thanks for the safe travel ideas. It really seems that the people in Cancun have all either had bad experiences or know someone that has so it does have me concerned. Does anyone know the hotel Catedral or that area? Is that a wise choice for being centrally located and somewhat safe?

Thanks so much!
Laurianne

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Ed and Fran

Feb 4, 2003, 7:53 PM

Post #6 of 11 (1505 views)

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Re: [lauriannem] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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Does anyone know the hotel Catedral or that area? Is that a wise choice for being centrally located and somewhat safe?

I haven't stayed there just because we normally stay at a small hotel nearer the Alameda park, but the Catedral has been recommended several times by other posters on these forums. I have walked by it and it looks fine from the outside. Very centrally located. Should be safe assuming you take the normal precautions.


lauriannem

Feb 5, 2003, 10:36 AM

Post #7 of 11 (1483 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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What is the hotel that you stay in there? The friend that I am going to visit works at the new Sheraton Centro Historico which just opened on Ave. Juarez, right next to the part. Cant afford the Sheraton but something nearby would be perfect!

Thanks!

Laurianne


Ed and Fran

Feb 5, 2003, 4:05 PM

Post #8 of 11 (1481 views)

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Re: [lauriannem] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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We normally stay at the Hotel Fleming on calle Revillagigedo, about 2-3 blocks south of the park. I recall they were building a new hotel at the intersection of Revillagigedo and Juarez, so that's probably the Sheraton.

I don't remember exactly what we paid last time but I think teh rates were running between $30-$40 a night. You might ask your friend to drop over there and check what the current rate is.

We found the Fleming through a recommendation on this forum.


lauriannem

Feb 6, 2003, 1:08 PM

Post #9 of 11 (1457 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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Hi

Would this hotel be at all close to the Polanco section of town. I spoke with my friend yesterday and he advised me to stay there. He said the Catedral would be too noisy. How is the noise at the Hotel Fleming. (sorry no question marks to be found on this computer!)

He also invited me to stay with his family. It is a lovely invitation but I think I would like to be more central, especially if I will spend time alone sightseeing.

Thanks for the info!

Laurianne


raferguson


Feb 6, 2003, 2:51 PM

Post #10 of 11 (1459 views)

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Taxi safety

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The Cathedral hotel is in the central historic district. This is, I believe, kind of a middle-of-the-pack neighborhood in terms of crime, neither the worst nor the best. I would not call it a safe neighborhood, but I am not sure that any part of Mexico City is safe.

I have a little essay on safety in Mexico City below.

MEXICO CITY TAXI ROBBERIES

For tourists, perhaps the most serious crime problem in Mexico is taxi
robbery in Mexico City. This problem is more or less unique to Mexico
City, so many tourists are not aware of the problem. The governments
of the US, UK, Canada, France and Australia warn travelers of taxi
robberies. I have also read several first person accounts of taxi
robberies, via the internet and in the media. Taxi robberies in
Mexico City have been covered in US and Mexico media, both TV and
newspapers. Basically, anybody who knows Mexico knows that taxi
robberies are a problem in Mexico City, and takes certain precautions
to prevent themselves becoming a victim. The exact recommendations may
vary, but it is unwise to ignore the problem and pretend that "It
can't happen to me."

A taxi robbery generally works something like this: The victim or
victims get into a taxi, usually a green VW beetle taxi. After a few
blocks, the taxi stops, and one or two armed men enter the taxi and
rob the victim. In many cases, the victim is held for hours while the
robbers use the victim's ATM card to get more money. This is
sometimes called a "fast food" kidnapping. In a few cases, the victim
is held overnight to allow withdrawing more money the next day. The
taxi driver is part of the gang, and may have stolen the taxi. In
some cases, a waiter or hotel employee may also be part of the gang.

In one article that I read, the robbers found out that they were
robbing a reporter. While he was being held at gunpoint on the floor
of the taxi, they told him not to write anything bad about Mexico! An
American resident of Mexico City was killed in a daylight taxi robbery
in December 1997. An American reporter was shot in a taxi robbery
April 20, 1998. The personal accounts that I have read indicate that
a taxi robbery, even if you are unhurt, is a very traumatic
experience.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from taxi robberies? Use the
official sitio taxis at the airport and bus stations. Buy a ticket at
the window, and take that ticket to the official taxi stand. If there
is no taxi stand (sitio) where you are, call a radio taxi. Get the
taxi number so you get into the correct taxi. According to an article
about taxi robbery in the November 1998 issue of US/Mexico Business,
radio taxis have become so popular that it is difficult to get a radio
taxi after dark on a weekend. Generally, the roving taxis are the
problem, not the ones that work from official taxi stands, which
should have a supervisor with a clipboard logging taxi departures.
You can use the metro (subway), but pickpockets and robbers are a
problem.

I was in Mexico City in January 2002, and I was very satisfied with
the radio taxi company "Radio Servicios Moviles de Transporte", and
got their card, which showed numbers 5771-4012, 5771-0130, 5760-4696
and 5551-7710. One of the taxi drivers told me that the company was
founded more than 30 years ago, partly at the instigation of the then
US ambassador, because American visitors were being robbed in those
days also. If you call yourself, you will need to give your location
and what you are wearing. I am not sure if their dispatchers speak
much English, I did not put them to the test. They will give you the
color of the taxi and it's unit number. One time they asked me to
move to the other side of the street to simplify a pickup, I did, and
the taxi was there in five minutes. These taxis are not marked.

There are many other radio taxi services. The US government suggests
the following phone numbers. 5271-9146, 5271-9058, and 5272-6125.
You can ask your hotel for a recommendation.

The Canadian government in their March 1998 advisory said that you
should leave your credit cards and ATM cards in the hotel safe, to
minimize the risk that you will be held prisoner while the robbers use
your cards. (The current warning is worded more mildly). The current
Australian government also advises you to leave your credit cards in
the hotel safe. Only carry the cash that you will need that day. Some
people, including the French government, say you should carry 20 or 30
dollars US, to prevent a robber from becoming angry with too small an
amount. Consider using your ATM cards only at ATM machines inside a
bank or other commercial facility during regular banking hours, as
recommended by the US government. Even the Mexican government
recommends that you not carry your ATM card with you unless you plan
to use it.

If you are robbed, comply and hand over your valuables immediately.
This will greatly reduce the risk of violence. Your life is worth
much more than your camera or your credit cards.

Official statistics show that crime in Mexico has doubled since the
start of the economic crisis in 1994. However, I should note that
victim surveys and many government crime statistics indicate that
crime rates in Mexico City are similar to or lower than rates in urban
areas in the US. In private correspondence with a university
professor working in statistics, I have been told that Mexican crime
statisics are a little primitive, and are not really worthy of
confidence. I have seen few crime statistics for visitors and
tourists, just overall statisics or surveys of residents. There
is some information to indicate that crime in Mexico is more
likely to include violence or threats of violence than in the USA.

In a brief visit to Mexico City in July 1999, my friend Miguel, a
lifelong resident of Mexico City, said that he felt that the crime
situation was exaggerated. When I was with him, I did get into a
couple of roving taxis, somewhat against my better judgement. I still
feel that roving taxis should be avoided, and I did avoid them for the
rest of our time in Mexico City. I also carefully reviewed the ID for
the driver before I got into a tourist taxi outside a museum. We did
see one noteworthy thing on that trip, relating to the police. There
was a police car, running red lights and siren, so overstuffed with
police officers that neither of the rear doors could close. It looked
a lot more like the Keystone cops than a professional police force. Of
course, the Mexican police are often critized for being ineffective
and corrupt.

Should you go to Mexico City? Of course, the decision is yours. There
are lots of things to do in the largest city in the world, but it is
not a place to relax and let down your guard. Mexico is a big country,
and most areas of Mexico are much safer than Mexico City. If you do
decide to go to Mexico City, read the various government travel
advisories before you arrive, and practice security while you are
there.

Richard Ferguson

December 1, 2002


There are several web sites with security information for travelers
and tourists. The ones that I am aware of are listed below. I urge
people to review the information on these web sites, compare the
recommendations of the various countries to each other, and compare
the various government recommendations to any personal opinions
expressed on the internet. The government web sites include security
and other travel information for virtually all the countries in the
world, including each other.

USA - http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html

UK - http://193.114.50.10/travel/default.asp

Canada - http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/graphics/cosmos/cntry_e.htm

Australia -http://www.dfat.gov.au/consular/advice/advices_mnu.html

The French government has a web site with security information, in
French. http://www.diplomatie.fr/voyageurs/etrangers/avis/conseils/

The Mexican government has their own web site on tourist security -
www.safemexico.com

The following web sites offer personal views on security.

Mexico Mike gives his views about security in Mexico at
www.mexicomike.com


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


Abq

Feb 8, 2003, 7:14 PM

Post #11 of 11 (1423 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] What is the safest way for a single woman to travel in Mexico City?

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I'm a female who just recently traveled alone to Mexico City. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Zocalo. The location was fantastic and I felt quite secure. Price including tax was about US $70 a night through the Holiday Inn web site. Mind you, I'm a semi-budget traveler, but when I visit any large city, I'll pay extra for convenience and safety.

The hotel called via radio for cabs and I had no problems with the driver's price or service. I'm not near ready to try the subways.

The city is incredible and I'll be back. My advice-- take only risks you are comfortable with. Enjoy your trip!
 
 
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