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First trip to Mexico City with young kids- Criticize my plans

First trip to Mexico City with young kids- Criticize my plans

Old Sep 24, 15, 2:42 pm
  #1  
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First trip to Mexico City with young kids- Criticize my plans

I will be traveling early next year to Mexico City for 5 nights with my wife and two kids (ages 4 and 2). While we've traveled internationally with the kids before, this will be our first trip to Mexico City and visiting a new culture (I don't count places like Cancun, Cabo since most of our time was spent at a resort, not touring). I've planned out things to hopefully be as simple as possible, but would appreciate any suggestions or criticisms of points I may have overlooked.

Day 1: Flying Volaris or Interjet from TIJ-MEX. We'll either use the Cross-Border Express bridge or use Nexus to drive across. Bring $200 cash across to exchange into pesos at TIJ airport. Aim to arrive at airport 2.5 hours before flight leaves to allow for filling out tourist card, changing money, relaxing in VIP lounge before flight.

Use Sitio taxi to travel from airport to Hampton Inn Centro Historico (Should I request a Sedan if the 2 year old can fit on our lap even though there would be 4 of us? How much more would a SUV/van be?) I considered using Uber but I'm not sure whether I'd be able to get wifi to request a car at the airport.

Day 2: Bring stroller for 2 kids to wander around the Centro Historico, visit Museo del Templo Mayor, Constitution Plaza.

Day 3: Take taxi from hotel to Chapultepec Castle, Zoo, and Anthropology Museum (would these be too much for one day?). Walk to one of the many nearby hotels to call for a taxi back to the hotel.

Day 4: Hire a driver for trip to Teotihuacan. I considered the bus tours but I'd prefer to be there before all the buses get there and I'd like to avoid the mandatory stops at tourist traps. I've heard this can be done for less than $150.

Day 5: Open day to return to anything we want to see again. I'd like to visit the Desierto de los Leones National Park but don't know how to get there economically with two kids without renting a car.

Day 6: Fly from MEX-TIJ.

Are there any other good family attractions or things that I should be aware of? What would you do if you were taking a family trip there?
Big4Flyer is offline  
Old Sep 25, 15, 2:30 pm
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I'm not a local, but I've been travelling for work down to Mexico City quite often over the last few years, and have sometimes brought my kids (though they are slightly older than yours.)

The taxi companies in MEX are as crooked as they come, so beware. Make sure you specify first and clearly exactly what you want and where you are going before you pay at the kiosks, because otherwise they will automatically book you the most expensive vehicle and fare. And even though you've asked for a standard taxi, they may try to give you a hard sell that there are none available and you'll have to wait an hour for one so wouldn't you prefer to ride on this big, beautiful (and much more expensive) Suburban that's sitting right here ready to go?

Both Uber and Cabify work just fine in Mexico City, and are very popular because they are pretty transparent and honest services. With Cabify, at least, you can order one via their website ahead of time (several days or even weeks) so you don't even need to be fumbling around trying to find wifi. Plus you can give the driver specific instructions ahead of time, so you can tell them your flight details and where you want to be picked up. I usually have them meet me upstairs in the international departures level in Terminal 1 at the last door (F3 or F4 I think), as it is much less chaotic than the Arrivals level.

Strollers may prove to be an issue because of the state of the sidewalks. I know that the Templo Mayor doesn't allow strollers, so prepare accordingly.

Your Day 3 is a bit much, depending on what you want to see. I've been 4 times to the Anthropology Museum and I still haven't seen the whole thing. You can spend an entire day just in the Aztec room alone. The zoo is big and can be very crowded on weekends. I've not been to the Castle yet.

Teotihuacan by car is a good option. I've done it both on a bus and also hired a car and guide from Royal Cars and it was absolutely worth it. Those guys at Royal Cars are fantastic, and I highly recommend all of their tour options.

Keep in mind that most museums are closed on Mondays, so make sure you plan around that.

There's also almost always some big protests going on either at the Zocalo main square or down Avenida de la Reforma. Ask your hotel's concierge about where protests are expected that day, so you don't get stuck.
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Old Sep 25, 15, 2:36 pm
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I enjoyed using the hop on hop off bus around central Mexico City. I'd imagine it would work ok with a stroller. Something to consider to get from one sight to another.

You'll get a better exchange rate just withdrawing money from an ATM rather than exchanging cash. Not a big deal, though.
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Old Sep 25, 15, 2:55 pm
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I'm not quite sure what Vasco means when he says airport taxis are crooked. There are several, and they all have a very clear price list posted - in general, they charge roughly the same, with a small variation. I've had good experiences with Sitio 300.

That said, don't tip the driver or the guys who put your luggage in. On the ticket you'll get from the kiosk in the terminal, it says this quite clearly - but sometimes they'll try to extract a tip from you if they think you're a foreigner who doesn't know any better.

When it comes to getting around the city, public transportation is actually quite efficient - and insanely cheap. I haven't done it with children, though, so that may make things a bit difficult. If you don't travel in rush hour (when it can be insanely crowded), you might find the subway and buses to be a neat cultural experience. Just make sure you have exact change for the big green buses.
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Old Sep 26, 15, 9:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
I enjoyed using the hop on hop off bus around central Mexico City. I'd imagine it would work ok with a stroller. Something to consider to get from one sight to another.

You'll get a better exchange rate just withdrawing money from an ATM rather than exchanging cash. Not a big deal, though.
Thanks for the suggestion Doc, I'd looked into this and the reviews were mixed, with many saying the bus was crowded and they were stuck in traffic for a significant part of the time. Was this your experience or do you think some seasons/days of the week would make it more enjoyable than others?
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Old Sep 26, 15, 9:41 pm
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Well, my timing was VERY atypical. I was there when the swine flu had Mexico City kind of shut down, so maybe the reviews reflect more typical times.
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Old Sep 27, 15, 8:46 am
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Possibly the nicest bus system in Mexico City is the Metrobús system (English language site version).

See http://stopandmove.blogspot.com/2011...-pictures.html for more information.
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Old Sep 28, 15, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
I'm not a local, but I've been travelling for work down to Mexico City quite often over the last few years, and have sometimes brought my kids (though they are slightly older than yours.)

The taxi companies in MEX are as crooked as they come, so beware. Make sure you specify first and clearly exactly what you want and where you are going before you pay at the kiosks, because otherwise they will automatically book you the most expensive vehicle and fare. And even though you've asked for a standard taxi, they may try to give you a hard sell that there are none available and you'll have to wait an hour for one so wouldn't you prefer to ride on this big, beautiful (and much more expensive) Suburban that's sitting right here ready to go?

Both Uber and Cabify work just fine in Mexico City, and are very popular because they are pretty transparent and honest services. With Cabify, at least, you can order one via their website ahead of time (several days or even weeks) so you don't even need to be fumbling around trying to find wifi. Plus you can give the driver specific instructions ahead of time, so you can tell them your flight details and where you want to be picked up. I usually have them meet me upstairs in the international departures level in Terminal 1 at the last door (F3 or F4 I think), as it is much less chaotic than the Arrivals level.

Strollers may prove to be an issue because of the state of the sidewalks. I know that the Templo Mayor doesn't allow strollers, so prepare accordingly.

Your Day 3 is a bit much, depending on what you want to see. I've been 4 times to the Anthropology Museum and I still haven't seen the whole thing. You can spend an entire day just in the Aztec room alone. The zoo is big and can be very crowded on weekends. I've not been to the Castle yet.

Teotihuacan by car is a good option. I've done it both on a bus and also hired a car and guide from Royal Cars and it was absolutely worth it. Those guys at Royal Cars are fantastic, and I highly recommend all of their tour options.

Keep in mind that most museums are closed on Mondays, so make sure you plan around that.

There's also almost always some big protests going on either at the Zocalo main square or down Avenida de la Reforma. Ask your hotel's concierge about where protests are expected that day, so you don't get stuck.
Thanks for all the great advice, I will contact Royal Cars to get a quote, and Cabify seems like a great option from the airport.

Thanks for letting me know about the sidewalks and strollers. We have an Osprey kid-carrier backpack, do you think that would be a better option?

Also, is the Anthropology Museum interesting for kids at all or would time be better spent at the zoo/castle to keep them engaged?
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Old Sep 29, 15, 8:09 am
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Originally Posted by Big4Flyer View Post
Also, is the Anthropology Museum interesting for kids at all or would time be better spent at the zoo/castle to keep them engaged?
It depends on the kids, but I think they would find some things of interest in the museum. It's got lots of cool artifacts, reconstructions of ancient cities and temples, the "Aztec Calendar" - which is absolutely massive.

In any event, I think the museum is really one of the city's must-sees, so I'd recommend going even if you have to bribe the kids with ice cream or something after.

Perhaps they have English-language guided tours of the highlights? I've never taken a tour there, so I can't speak to that.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Big4Flyer View Post
Thanks for all the great advice, I will contact Royal Cars to get a quote, and Cabify seems like a great option from the airport.

Thanks for letting me know about the sidewalks and strollers. We have an Osprey kid-carrier backpack, do you think that would be a better option?

Also, is the Anthropology Museum interesting for kids at all or would time be better spent at the zoo/castle to keep them engaged?
I can't imagine a four-year-old and a two-year-old staying engaged for a long time at any kind of museum, but you're the adults, and you deserve to do some things that you like to do as well, not just kid stuff.

My parents took us places starting when we were infants, and there were two rules: no whining and no running around. So there were a lot of times when we were bored, but we just learned to put up with it.
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