Mexico: survival guide

Getting there

The only airline that links the UK direct with Mexico is British Airways (0345 222111), which has three non-stop flights each week from Heathrow to Mexico City. Through specialist discount agents such as Journey Latin America (0181-747 3108), South American Experience (SAX, 0171-976 5511) or Steamond (0171-730 8646), fares for this service have varied over the past year from pounds 300 to pounds 500. At present the fare is around pounds 445.

Flights to Mexico City connecting elsewhere in Europe have two advantages: they are normally rather cheaper, and they are accessible from more UK departure points. For example, Air France operates from Paris with connections from Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh for pounds 435 return including tax, through SAX.

Reaching Mexico via a connection in the United States tends to be more expensive, not least because airport taxes are high. The advantages of travelling via Houston with Continental Airlines is that you reach a wide range of destinations in Mexico, from Veracruz to Guadalajara, for around pounds 465 including tax.

Finally, visitors to Baja California may find a flight to Los Angeles or San Diego most appropriate. Through Trailfinders (0171-937 5400), these cities are served on Virgin Atlantic for pounds 323 return including tax (Virgin does not fly to San Diego, but a connecting flight is thrown in free). Bookings are heavy at this fare. An alternative is on American Airlines from Gatwick to San Diego via Dallas for pounds 311, based on weekend travel, available from Major Travel (0171- 485 7017).

Departure tax of around 100 pesos (pounds 9) is payable locally on all flights from Mexico.

Organised holidays

Many tour operators offer beach holidays on the Yucatan Peninsula (around Cancun) and at Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific. For example, two weeks at the Puerto Vallarta Holiday Inn with Thomson costs less than pounds 1,000 at any time in the next year apart from Christmas and summer holidays, while Sunworld (0113-255 5222) offers a fortnight at the Tucancun Beach Resort in Cancun for pounds 889 in November or April. Both these examples are all-inclusive, and are based on charter flights from Gatwick or Manchester.

More adventurous travellers can choose from dozens of trips. For example, Explore Worldwide (01252 319448) offers a 16-day Sierra Madre trek for around pounds 1,140, including flights from London.

Getting around

Each of the two domestic airlines has an office in London: Mexicana Airlines (0171-267 3787) and Aeromexico (0171-823 5231). They operate flights within the country at fares that are comparable with flights in Britain; Mexico City to Guadalajara, at 350 miles the same distance as London to Edinburgh or Glasgow, costs $122 (pounds 80) one way.

A complex system of air passes can reduce fares for overseas visitors still further. Cities are divided into zones and fares are computed from these. A return flight from Mexico City to Guadalajara costs $120 (pounds 78).

Trains are cheap but not necessarily cheerful; the journey from Nuevo Laredo, on the Texan border, to Mexico City costs about pounds 8 and takes 24 hours. Buses tend to be faster and more comfortable, and accordingly cost more: about pounds 20 for the 16-hour journey from Nuevo Laredo to Mexico City.

Pounds or pesos?

In terms of carrying the bulk of your funds, neither is appropriate. Sterling is not easily understood or exchangeable in Mexico, and the local currency, the peso, suffers from high inflation (35 per cent last year) and consequently devalues regularly.

At present pounds 1 equals 12.40 pesos. US dollar bills and travellers cheques are the most easily negotiable forms of currency.

When changing money or receiving change, beware of old pesos; the new variety was introduced in 1993, at a ratio of 1:1,000. Most of the old coins and notes have been phased out.

Leading credit cards are widely acceptable, but incur a tax of 6 per cent.

Health precautions

Protection against hepatitis, polio, typhoid and yellow fever is advised. Malaria may be a risk in isolated low-lying areas. Call the Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad on its premium-rate number, 0891 224100, for an up-to-date health brief.

Climate

November to April is the most favourable time, to avoid rain and the worst of the summer heat.

More information

The Mexican Tourist Office (0171-734 1058) is on the second floor of 60 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 3DS.

The most up-to-date guidebook at present is the Mexico & Central America Handbook (Footprint, pounds 14.99).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference