Travel: Making for Mexico

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The Independent Online
Outward bound: there has never been such an excellent range of flights to Mexico, such low fares, and so many stopover possibilities. The best deals we have tracked down this week are as follows:

Non-stop: British Airways to Mexico City from Gatwick (switching to Heathrow from the end of March). Through Trailfinders (0171-938 3366) you will pay pounds 389 (including tax) until the end of March and between 11-30 April. You must stay at least a week and no more than six months. You can change the date of the return flight once, in Mexico, for a charge of pounds 75. Children under 12 pay half fare.

Via the US: from Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester, through Quest Worldwide (0181-546 6000) you pay pounds 369 for a Virgin Atlantic/ Continental flight via a city such as New York (Newark) or Houston. The fare is available until 31 March and between 14-30 April. You must stay at least one Saturday night, and a maximum of one month. The child fare is half-price, if two adults are travelling together. A similar deal is available on American Airlines through discount agencies. With this fare, you can change your return date once in Mexico City for a charge of $100

Via Amsterdam: from one of 20 points in the UK - from Aberdeen to Sheffield: pounds 391 on KLM through Trailfinders. This is available until the end of March. You must stay between one week and three months. You can change your return date once for free once you're in Mexico.

Children travel for two-thirds of the adult fare when travelling with an adult.

Charter flights: there are now numerous charters, mainly from Manchester and Gatwick, to the Mexican resorts of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. (Note that many of these stop to refuel en route.) Charters are mostly sold as part of package holidays, by operators such as First Choice (0161-745 7000), Airtours (0541 500479) and Thomson (0990 502580). Some flights may have space for "seat only" customers; expect to pay around pounds 250 return to Cancun, and slightly more to Puerto Vallarta.

Getting around: specialist travel agents such as Journey Latin America (0181-747 3108) and South American Experience (0171-976 5511) can sell flight tickets both to and within Mexico; air passes on Aeromexico and Mexicana are excellent value.

To reach Oaxaca from the capital, you can fly in around an hour or take a bus on a journey of about nine hours. The overnight train takes 14 hours (on a good day).

Red tape: visitors require a tourist card, which is issued free by the airline when you embark, or at the frontier if you enter by land. If you arrive by land from the US, it will be assumed that you are a day-tripper and no tourist card will be offered; you must ask for one.

More information: Mexican Ministry of Tourism, 60 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DS (0171-734 1058). Note that this office takes a substantial siesta, closing each day from 1.30pm to 3pm.