“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– Saint Augustine
Each time I visit or re-visit a place, I take it as an opportunity to learn and discover more. My most recent trip to Mexico gave me exactly that.
I traveled to Mexico earlier this year to attend the 2017 AICI International Convention, which was held from May 18 to 21. I flew in via Hong Kong, with an 8-hour layover at LAX. While many may dread long stopovers during overseas trips, I actually see them as opportunities.
I chose to spend my 8-hour stop visiting a childhood friend, Anna, who now resides in Orange County. She and I have been friends since I was three years old, and we practically grew up together. It was so much fun because I got to meet her kids, and also spend time with her mom, Tita Gloria, who has been like a second mom to me over the years.
Anna drove me back out to LAX after dinner, and I flew off to Mexico from there. I arrived at Mexico City International Airport at 5:30 AM the following day. Once there, I was picked up by the car service of my hotel, the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton, and we drove through the highly congested streets of Mexico City.
Because I was in Mexico for a conference, I had to follow a pre-set itinerary. First on the list was an exam for my Image Consultant Certification. The days that followed were dedicated to the conference. Then, on our final day in the city, we got to enjoy a full-day city tour.
If I had more time to explore, there are several places that I would have liked to see and experience more of. Still, as I always do, I made the most out of the opportunity I was given. And what a fantastic one it was, indeed.
I will share more about the conference and our day tour in separate posts. For now, let me leave you with recommendations for where to eat and where to shop (some of my favorite activities!) when in Mexico City.
My Must-Try Restaurants in Mexico
1. El Mexicano
For delicious food and great ambiance, this is the place to be. This restaurant serves traditional-style Mexican food, and a wide array of drinks. Servings are big enough to share, too, making it a good place to consider when you are vacationing as a group.
2. Nonna Cucina
While in Mexico, I stumbled upon a really good Italian restaurant called Nonna Cucina. They offer quaint, alfresco sidewalk seating, which is perfect for evening meals. They serve traditional Italian food made with fresh ingredients, accompanied by a nice selection of wines.
A Mexican institution, Sanborns is a restaurant that you can find inside a department store. The chain was established in the early 1900’s and now has over 150 outlets all over Mexico! They serve traditional Mexican food here, and the enchiladas are a must-try.
4. Miraluna Restaurant
If you are looking for a place to eat that offers the perfect mix of taste, excellent service, and value for money, Miraluna is it. Apart from their traditional Mexican fare, you can also browse through souvenirs and trinkets when you come here.
For more suggestions on where to eat, check out this list of hot new restaurants in Mexico City.
Places to Shop In Mexico City
We Filipinos love shopping for pasalubong, tokens from our travels to take back to our loved ones at home. For me, here are some of the nicest places to shop in Mexico City.
El Palacio de Hierro
El Palacio de Hierro, whose name translates to The Iron Palace in English, is a major department store chain in Latin America. Its flagship store is found in Polanco, Mexico City. They carry most everything you would look for, from clothing to homeware to toys. Brands you will find here are a mix between high-end local names from Mexico, and well-loved international labels.
Antara Polanco is a beautiful open-air shopping complex, which was designed by a renowned Mexican architect. If privacy and exclusivity is your thing, then you will like it here. The stores are mostly composed up of upscale designer brands and boutiques, so be ready to spend when you come to this mall.
Centro Sta Fe
The largest commercial center in Latin America, Centro Stands Fe is home to large department stores, a cinema complex, a supermarket, and several other shops and boutiques.
Avenida Presidente Masaryk
If you’re up for a walk, take a trip down Avenida Presidente Masaryk, and entire avenue lined with high-end shops, restaurants, and even evening hang-out spots.
Plaza Reforma 222
This is a great place to hang out if you have some idle time. The complex has a food court, movie theaters and several shops.
Souvenir Shops near Teotihuacan Pyramids
If you find yourself visiting the Teotihuacan Pyramids, be sure to check out the various souvenir shops in the area. You’ll never know what treasures you might find there. Their tequila is a must-buy! Be sure to enjoy a taste while you are there. Other things you can buy from the shop are dolls, hats, silver, and fine stones.
On a side note, I also enjoyed buying colorful souvenirs, including my favorite bell collection at a Souvenir shop near the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe.
For those of you who are thinking about coming to Mexico, here are some essential travel tips.
1. A visa is required for entry if you are a citizen of certain countries. These are valid for up to 6 months. You can check here if you need to secure one for your trip.
2. When applying for a tourist visa to Mexico, you need to present following:
- Your Passport, valid for at least 6 months
- A completely filled out application form
- 1 passport size photo
- Your return ticket
- Cash payment for the application fee
- Proof of sufficient funds amounting to US$50 for each day of your stay
3. The application cost and the processing time for tourist visas to Mexico varies depending on your country of origin. Make sure to give yourself sufficient time to complete this requirement before your trip.
4. You will be asked to complete an entry form at immigration upon your arrival. The top half will be surrendered to the officer on duty, while the bottom half stays with you. Be very careful not to lose this, because you will need it when it is time for your departure.
5. From the airport, you may choose to take one of these authorized taxi services to get around: Yellow Cab Aeropuerto, Transfers-USA, Nueva Imagen, Porto Taxi, Sitio 300, Comfort, and Excelencia. Another option is to book an Uber. These are the most convenient and safe options.
6. The local currency is the Mexican Peso. All major restaurants, stores, and hotels accept credit cards, but you also want to be sure that you have some cash on hand while you are there.
7. Mexico weather is generally warm and humid, but it does get cooler from December until about February.
8. Spanish is the predominant language spoken here, but many do speak and understand English as well.
9. Savor local cuisine while you are there. The exquisite flavors and aromas that the country has to offer is an experience that should not be missed.
10. Opt to stay for about a week so that you have enough time to really immerse yourself in the country and its culture. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
I hope you can take the time to read my other posts about my trip to Mexico, too:
Always remember, travel enriches life. It teaches us to enjoy moments, to say goodbye to stress and embrace joy instead. Experience has taught me this, and I’m happy that I get to share my journeys with you now, too. Anytime you need help and tips finding worry-free, budget-friendly places to see, I’m here to help!