/ / /

A First-Timer's Guide to Mexico City: Taking On Teotihuacan

March 22, 2013 at 3:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

We don't hear too much about Mexico City these days, even though it's a totally doable flight and an easy trip from most major US Cities. So this week we're changing that, and clueing you in to the must-dos for a first timer's trip to La Ciudad de los Palacios (The City of Palaces), AKA Mexico City.

Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza are probably the two most famous pre-Hispanic historic sites within easy tourist reach in Mexico. While Chichen Itza is over on the Yucatan Peninsula and more accessible via Cancun, Teotihuacan is just north of Mexico City and therefore perfect for a day trip. You can rent a car and/or hire a driver to get you there, but there are also several reputable tour companies that can do the trick for you.

Wayak Tours, which operates out of the Mundo Joven Catedral hostel just off of the Zocalo, is a good one. In addition to Teotihuacan, they’ll take you to Tenochtitlan as well as the Basilica de Guadalupe, where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to the Spanish.

Once you get to Teotihuacan, you’ll understand why UNESCO put the site on its watch list for places which may be in danger. The site was originally listed by UNESCO in the 1980s, but not a lot of renovations or upgrades have taken place since then. While the Pyramids are still breathtaking, they’re also crowded and sometimes have lines of people backed up, all waiting to climb.

Though climbing the Pyramid of the Sun doesn’t take as long as you might think—it’s about the steepness, not the distance—you should still give yourself at least an hour or two in case there are lines, or you want to take breaks along the way. Traditional climbing etiquette here is that you go up on the right side and down on the left. The top offers spectacular views for photos, but be careful if you're posing with your back to the landscape; there are no railings or other barriers to keep people from falling.

If you’re not in great shape or want less of a challenge, the smaller Pyramid of the Moon is also a great climb with good views of the scenery and the ruins.

Like other tourist sites, Teotihuacan has plenty of vendors hawking their wares. But don’t expect any of them to have bottles of water or anything to eat, so you should bring everything you need with you or else be prepared to stop at one of the restaurants along the road. Most of these eateries are moderately priced but make their money from souvenirs, and you’ll have to walk through a few rooms’ worth of stuff before you get to the restaurant section.

If it’s gifts you want, Teotihuacan can definitely hook you up, since vendors there sell everything from musical instruments to dolls to hats (good if you forgot one on a sunny day, but you may have to make some fashion concessions). Vendors may follow you and try to ask you questions, but a firm, simple “No, gracias” is enough if you’re not interested.

This should be obvious, but remember that you will get some exercise at Teotihuacan. Even if you don’t climb the pyramids, the archaeological site is huge and not all flat. Wear sensible shoes and plenty of sunscreen. And make sure you take a ton of photos, even if you’ve seen the pyramids in photos or in the movie "Frida," they’re still pretty freaking spectacular in person.

This is the last story in our series on Mexico City, but you can always read the full collection of stories to prepare for your next trip.

[Photos: fklv & detritus]

Comments (0)

Post a Comment

Join the conversation!

Not a member? .