This past week I had time off of work and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I was browsing flights online (which is my activity I do when I’m bored), and I saw a deal for roundtrip flights to Mexico City for $180 (via VivaAerobus, from Las Vegas).
I pondered over whether I should impulsively make an international trip or not. Making small talk with my friend Caleb, I mentioned how cheap flights were and to my surprise he said he would go. We bought our plane tickets the next morning. Then the day after, we were off to the airport.
Highlights of What I Did in Mexico City:
Frida Kahlo’s House. If you’re interested in art, this is a cool stop. The house is painted bright blue, and the inside has a courtyard full of fountains and plants. Not only did they have many of Frida’s paintings, but there was also a display of her famous dresses and her pottery collection. My favorite part of her home was the artist loft that overlooked her courtyard.
The Saturday Market. Another cool stop for those interested in art and handmade goods. The entire court square was filled with paintings and sculptures by local artists. The artists were there as well to answer questions. Me being the jewelry junkie that I am, I went straight for the metalworker and handcrafted jewelry stands. I scored a pretty glass ring, and the artist even explained her process of making it.
Lucha Libre Wrestling. First of all, I’m not into sports and Lucha Libre is obviously well rehearsed and fake. That said, drink a few beers and go with a crew from your hostel and Lucha Libre is a good time. It was fun to cheer and boo along with the rest of the crowd. It’s like a mix of American WWE meets acrobatics meets ballet. Even though it is clearly fake, it still takes a lot of talent to do all the flips and kicks that they do. Lucha Libre is definitely entertaining to watch.
Teotichuacan. We made a day trip out of the city to visit these pyramids. Honestly, it was crowded and there’s not many information kiosks to provide context (unless you hire a guide). I’ve never seen pyramids before, so it was pretty cool. And I did enjoy climbing to the top of Pyramid of the Sun. However, if you’ve already seen ruins elsewhere and you’re not a history buff, you can probably skip this one.
Street Tacos. The food alone is a reason to visit Mexico City. We tried out several different street taco stands a day until finally we found one close to the last hostel we stayed at. Those street tacos were pure perfection, and I just kept going back to that stand over and over again. The campechano tacos were my favorite, a mix of chorizo and beef. Sooo good.
Reuniting with Abby. If you read my Montenegro post from last year, you know that myself and a girl I had met at my hostel rented a car together, and drove to the mountains for several days of hiking and car camping. The girl I traveled with in Montenegro was named Abby, and through the power of Instagram I discovered that we were coincidently both in Mexico City and the same time. Caleb and I moved to her hostel, and I got to hang out with her for the last two nights of the trip.
How I pulled off a Mexico City trip for $400.
I stayed in Mexico City for 4 nights. Once you subtract $180 for the plane tickets, now we’re looking at $220 for accommodation, food, sight-seeing, and everything else. This seems pretty cheap, but I’m used to spending $30 a day while traveling internationally. My Mexico City $55 a day average was actually pretty high for me.
I do think that a $30 a day budget in Mexico City is possible. I overspent when it came to drinking alcohol. Mixed drinks cost about $2.50 to $3.50. That’s still half the price of at home, but it’s pricey when trying to stick to a budget.
I also spent more on souvenirs (mostly clothes and jewelry) than I usually would if I was long-term traveling.
Ways I Saved Money in Mexico City.
- Public Transportation. Mexico City has an extensive bus and subway system, and I could get anywhere I needed to go. I bought a metro card at the airport and loaded $5 onto it. That was more than enough money to get me through my entire trip, and I still had money left over on the card. I did take an Uber to the airport for my flight home. Even then, it was only $5 for a 20 minute ride.
- Street food. Another fantastic way to save money and eat authentically. Street tacos were so delicious and cheap. One of my favorite street carts sold 5 tacos for $1.50. Cheapest dinner ever.
- Hostels. Hostels in Mexico City run anywhere from $8-$15, so you can definitely find something within your price range. Additionally, Mexico City has a lively traveler scene. It was easy to meet people in the evenings who wanted to go out or have some dinner together. Caleb and I had a fun time going to Lucha Libre with a group we met at the hostel.
- Avoiding organized tours. Caleb and I did a few things self-organized instead of as tours, like Lucha Libre and Teotichucan. Doing Lucha Libre self-organized was half the price of what the hostel offered. Teotichucan was one-fourth of the price of an organized tour. If you want to make things easy on yourself and you don’t mind spending money, by all means do an organized tour. Just know that it’s not difficult to do it by yourself.
All in all, Mexico City surprised me with how green it was (trees and parks everywhere) and how friendly and helpful locals were. I’m stoked that I could pull off a last minute trip for such a reasonable price.