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any advice for students travelling around mexico on a budget

any advice for students travelling around mexico on a budget

Old May 25th, 2002, 05:30 AM
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any advice for students travelling around mexico on a budget

We are off to mexico at the end of june for six weeks and would be grateful for any advice you could give us about where to go (especially the 'real' mexico), cheap accomodation (beach huts etc), internal travel, etc, etc.
we are flying in to mexico city and hope to travel down to cancun but have no set plan (would it be wise to have a plan and book accomodation before we go?).
We are also thinking about going to the copper canyon, would you recommend this?
Also what is Baja California like, i have heard that it is a bit isolated and very quiet?
Is it worth spending time in mexico city, and is it safe for four girls?

We are so excited about going, any tips to make our travels more memorable would be very much appreciated. Thanks Katie x
Old May 25th, 2002, 01:32 PM
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We loved Mexico City - loads of things to do there, great people watching all over the place. It's also quite inexpensive for food, I thought. You do have to watch yourselves and exercise caution, but I wasn't particularly worried about my safety when we were there.

Buses in Mexico are relatively inexpensive. You can catch first or second class buses (plus some real luxury lines like ETN). Internal flights are expensive. Mexico City to Cancun is a fairly long haul and we flew there. Some of the west coast beaches would be less of a distance to travel, but if you've got 6 weeks, you can take your time.

I like some of the colonial cities in Mexico - Morelia, Guanajuato, etc., as well as Oaxaca. No beaches, of course, but really fascinating. They are easily reached from Mexico City - just 4 hours by bus to Morelia.

I wouldn't book accommodation in advance. Even in the winter (high season), it's easy enough to find places and you'll probably get better deals negotiating in person than booking in advance.

Can't advise you on the Copper Canyon - I'd love to see it myself.
Old May 25th, 2002, 02:47 PM
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susan gave you good advice and i agree that you don't need to make reservations. however, i would have a kind of general plan about the places you most want to see (not that you can't stray from it) Mexico is a huge country and if you're busing around, it can take quite a long time. For instance, I would choose either the Cancun area or the Baja but not both.
Personally, I like the upper Baja (La Paz, Todos Santos) but not Los Cabos _ if you are looking for ``real Mexico'' that isn't it. (Neither is Cancun, but you might be ready for a couple of days of nightclubs, and if you don't like it, there are really great beaches nearby at Tulum, Akumal and Isla Mujeres)

I liked Copper Canyon a lot but it's best if you can stay there a few days and do some hikes into the canyon. Creel is where I based myself and it had a couple nice inexpensive hostel type hotels. the train was OK, and passed through some beautiful areas, but unless you are a train freak i think you get a better feel for the area from just hiking into it. I wish I'd had time to go to Batopilas but didn't.

As for interior mexico, there are so many great cities to see, and good bus service between them all. Within a few hours of Mexico City are Morelia, Puebla, Cuernavaca, Guanajuato, San Miguel, Zacatacesa, Taxco, Queretaro and more I'm probably missing. Oaxaca is a little further but might be my favorite city in all of Mexico. I don't think you can go wrong in any of them; there is much to see and do and i found the interior very safe and friendly.

Have a great trip.
Old May 25th, 2002, 05:55 PM
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For travelers on a budget, youth hostels seem pretty inexpensive, although I haven't tried them yet myself:
Old May 28th, 2002, 09:28 AM
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My daughter spent a semester studying in Oaxaca and absolutely loved it. Their were 14 students from various colleges in the program. They did long homestays followed by independent study, during which they had a budget of $15 a day from the program for food and accomodations. She mostly stayed in Oaxaca City, with little trips to Chiapas and other rural areas. The budget was not hard to stick to. The thing to remember is if one place is very icky, you can usually find another, much nicer, that for some reason costs no more. So don't feel you have to accept accomodations that are really substandard just because you are on a budget.
Old May 28th, 2002, 10:00 AM
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I've been to Mexico City twice. It is as safe as you are. It helps if someone in your group speaks a little spanish. Use the metro to get around (try to get a hotel near a metro stop). There is so much to do there, that's free or almost free. The pyramids, Xochimilco, the Virgin of Guadalupe, National Cathedral, Museums galore, and Bellas Artes (for ballet folklorico). Lot's of nightlife in La Zona Rosa. Look for ads for "Ladies Night..where the ladies get in free."
Bus travel in the interior is very cheap. Try to travel during the day. It is not uncommon for buses to get robbed. Last time I was in Mexico my girlfriends and I rode the bus to Acapulco. We stayed at the HoJo Oceanfront for very, very cheap and it was cute. We hit a ladies night every night. Way back in 1996 ladies got in free to the clubs and they drank free. There are some really beautiful people in Acapulco. I took $300 for a 10 day trip to Mex. City and Acapulco. I didn't bring home any souvenirs, but I had a lot of fun.
Other advice. Always travel w/ at least one other person. Ride in metered taxis whenever possible, otherwise get a price quote upfront. If it's unreasonable, tell them you'll wait for the next taxi. Your biggest problem will be getting rid of those that want to hang onto you (primarily beggars, salesmen, and drunk/horny men). The children are the hardest to shoo away, because you feel like such a jerk. Do not buy quarters or other change from people. You cannot exchange American coins for pesos anywhere. I learned that the hard way. Be smart and you'll be safe. Have fun! By the way, I'll be in Cuernavaca 6/15-7/15. Come visit.

Old May 29th, 2002, 09:23 PM
Jim & Loida
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We have travelled from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara, Morelia and Guanajuato by bus and can tell you that it is a very nice way to go. It is relatively cheap and if you take the higher class of bus company (ETN)it is luxurious. The seats fully recline with a footrest, movies are shown and they even give you a sandwich and drink when you get on board. Most of the population uses the bus system and consequently the bus terminals are huge, similar to international airports.
We can recommend the Hotel San Francisco in Guadalajara, inexpensive and close to the big Cathedral. In Morelia, we have stayed twice at Villa Capri, a very nice hotel in a very nice city, price last January was 250.00 pesos. Guanajuato is loaded with hotels, some are expensive. We can't remember the name of the hotel we stayed at there but it was a very simple, cheap place near the center of town. Our first trip to the interior was two years ago when we went to Morelia for three days with a day trip to Patzquaro. Patzquaro is a pretty place with a lake nearby with an island in the middle with a huge statue of national hero Sn. Morelos at the top. It's worth the boat trip over. This year we went to Guadalajara and Guanajuato and loved it.
All of these places are a pleasant change from the the hustle of the resort towns. Food is cheaper and better, people are friendlier and the weather is perfectly mild. I would agree with one of the other writers that you should only bus during the day, although arriving somewhere at 6 or 7 at night would probably be OK. The main reason for that would be to allow time to find a place to stay.

Have fun!
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 08:23 AM
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Some good advice here on budget travel. A good site to see bus schedules and prices is www.ticketbus.com.mx
The site is in spanish but very easy to use an provides excellent information.

Old Jun 7th, 2002, 10:06 AM
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Katie, Mexico is HUGE so I would pick a few regions to visit, as others mentioned above.

Personally, I am a big fan of the Pacific coast (Puerto Vallarta and surrounding smaller towns both north and south on the coast). La Paz is a nice place (visited once) but getting to the Baja is pretty out of the way for this particular trip. And it IS a desert! Places like Cabo and Cancun are MUCH more expensive to visit and low cost accomodations few. Cancun is a LONG bus ride from DF.

Bus is the way to travel about. But again I'd encourage you to spend more time in fewer places. This not only saves money (and boredom) on bus fare but makes for a more relaxing trip and allows you to really SEE and get to know the towns you visit.

A couple specific hints, with 4 people traveling together, getting nice simple family-run inexpensive hotel rooms would be better, safer, easier, and just as cheap as "youth hostels" in most places. Although hostels exist the system is not as wide-spread in Mexico as in other places like Europe.

I would not make advance reservations except the first couple nights when you land. I don't know where you're traveling from, but arriving Mexico City without a hotel destination might be a bit overwhelming.

If you aren't already reading & posting there, also go to www.lonelyplanet.com onto their BB called Thorn Tree. It is more specific to the budget, backpacking, youthful style of travel than Fodors (no offence anyone ;-)
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