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Travelling around in Mexico

Air

The cost of internal flights has risen in recent years, but for many flying is still the only option in a country this big and this hot. The two principal airlines Aeroméxico(00-52 1334000 www.aeromexico.com) and Mexicana(00-52 44309 90 www.mexicana.com.mx) offer a safe and reliable network of scheduled flights between all major towns. Several regional carriers have also sprung up, but their timetables are susceptible to teething problems and safety records are questionable.

Rail

The privatised the Mexican rail network has succumbed to a fate even worse than that of the Britain 's under Railtrack. Passenger services are virtually non-existent and consequently most people travel by bus.

Bus

Buses are the most popular means of transport in Mexico, but catching them is far from an exact science. Hundreds of companies form a network of routes that criss-cross the entire country ranging in comfort from deluxe coaches to bone-rattling rural minibuses. Aside from ringing around the companies to see who's offering what, the best bet is head down to the bus station and try out your Spanish. Long distance travel is generally divided into three classes: deluxe, first and second. On arterial routes you'll usually find an express service which is well worth the few extra Pesos. During public holidays and fiestas buses get very busy, so it's worth booking in advance.

Road

Driving in Mexico is not for the faint-hearted. Of the country's 150,000 miles or so of road less than half is paved, the remainder is best described as 'lunar'. Extortionate tolls are levied for use of the expressways and as a result they are little used. Traffic drives on the right and distances are measured in Kilometres. The speed limit on motorways is 100kmph but it is regularly flaunted. This is not the case in urban areas(which vary between 30-40kmph) where speeding will result in a hefty fine.

In a breakdown complimentary help comes in the form of the Green Angels( Angeles Verdes). Driving at night is not recommended as roads, and traffic, are often poorly lit. It's worth filling up with petrol whenever possible as petrol stations are sporadic - take plenty of cash too because they won't accept credit cards.

Car Hire

Car hire in Mexico is expensive, even by European standards. All the main international companies are well represented at airports, resorts and in cities. You must be over 21 years(some companies insist on 25) and have a UK driving license. Full insurance is recommended. The following are internationally reputable companies; Avis(00-525 282 1112 www.avis.com.mx), Budget(00-525 271 4322 www.budget.com.mx), Europe Car(00-525 559 8394 www.eurpoecar.com), and Hertz(00-525 762 8977 www.hertz.com).

Taxi

An increasing number of robberies are taking place inside taxis(especially in Mexico City) and consequently they shouldn't be hailed on the street. The safest way is to ignore the metered white and yellow Volkswagens and phone for a sito (radio cab) or better still a turismo taxi. The latter will have an English speaking driver, will probably be parked outside your hotel and you'll have to negotiate a price before you leave. If the only option is a Volkswagen check that the meter is running and make sure that you can see the driver's ID photo and number.

Boat

Ferries run services in Baja California and in the Yucatan(connecting the mainland to the Caribbean islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres).

 



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Mexico
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