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Mexico City, DF

Shopping in Mexico CityThe Zona Rosa, off Paseo de la Reforma and encompassing calles Amberes, Génova, Hamburgo, Niza and Londres (M: Sevilla or Insurgentes, line 1) has long been a tourist shopping destination. In more recent years nightlife has become the bigger draw, but during the day the Zona Rosa offers a pleasant atmosphere for exploring men's and women's fashion boutiques and shops selling handicrafts and antiques.

Plaza del Angel, on Calle Hamburgo between Florencia and Amberes, has the biggest concentration of antique shops in the city. Collectors and sellers from around the metropolitan area converge on the plaza's Saturday antique market; if you're looking for things to do this weekend, Saturday is the best time to go to browse for high-quality items.

A more exclusive shopping area is the Polanco neighborhood (M: Polanco, line 7). Cartier, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton and other chic fashion retailers line nine blocks of Avenida Presidente Masaryk between Avenida Moliere and Avenida Tennyson, a stretch that is Mexico City's version of L.A.'s Rodeo Drive with plenty of fun things to do.

Spreading east from the eastern end of Chapultepec Park is Colonia Condesa (M: Juanacatlan, line 1), a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood filled with browsing opportunities. Some of the trendiest boutiques are concentrated near the intersection of avenidas Michoacán and Atlixco and along Avenida Tamaulipas. Avenida Michoacán also has retail outlets selling clothes, CDs and other merchandise.

Condesa's tree-shaded Parque México, with twin fountains and winding, bench-dotted walkways, is a pleasant spot to take a shopping break. The park is encircled by Avenida Amsterdam, a wide, lushly landscaped boulevard lined with handsome Art Deco-style homes and sprinkled with cafés and places to eat. Stop for coffee at Milo's, Av. Amsterdam #308, a casual bistro with sidewalk tables. Chocoholics will want to make a beeline for Tout Chocolat, Av. Amsterdam #154, where the decadent confections include brownies, salted caramel chocolate candies, mezcal-flavored truffles with sea salt and a rich, not-too-sweet, cinnamon-infused cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

East of Condesa across Avenida Insurgentes is Colonia Roma (M: Insurgentes, line 1), another trendy neighborhood known for its shops and local restaurants. The city's young hipsters flock to the 180 Shop , Av. Colima #180 (a block south of Plaza Río de Janeiro), for backpacks, skateboards, designer sneakers and cool clothes from up-and-coming young designers.

Hundreds of shops and vendor stalls line avenidas Juárez and Francisco I. Madero in the vicinity of the Zócalo. From the Zócalo west to Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas, every other side street is closed to traffic and paved with brick tiles. Government-run FONART stores sell a variety of arts and crafts from all over Mexico—rugs, glassware, folk art, pottery—at reasonable prices. A centrally located store, Tienda Juárez , is at Av. Juárez #89 (between Calle de Balderas and Avenida Humboldt), just west of Alameda Park (M: Hidalgo, line 2).

The Mexican restaurant chain Sanborns has numerous locations throughout Mexico City, including the flagship location in the House of Tiles and several along Paseo de la Reforma and in the Zona Rosa. Almost all branches have an attached store that is a convenient place to pick up toiletries and English-language publications, as well as quality craft items and ceramics. Many also have a pharmacy and an ATM.

The suburban shopping malls are inconvenient for tourists on vacation because it's necessary to drive to get to them. If you love mall shopping, however, there are several that are just as nice as what you'll find stateside, and you can always hire a driver to take you there and wait while you look around.

Centro Santa Fe is on the city's southwestern outskirts at Av. Prolongación Vasco de Quiroga #3800, about 17 kilometers (10 miles) from downtown Mexico City. To get there, take Avenida Constituyentes to Paseo de la Reforma/Mex. 134-D/Mex. 15-D (toll), then take the exit marked “U Iberoamericana/Comercio Santa Fe.” It has nearly 300 stores, movie theaters, restaurants and play areas for kids.

Another big mall is Centro Comercial Perisur , one of the city's oldest. It's located in the southern suburb of San Angel, close to where the Periférico expressway crosses Avenida Insurgentes Sur (just south of the National University of Mexico). Centro Comercial Oasis Coyoacán , Av. Miguel Angel de Quevedo #217 (M: Miguel A. de Quevedo, line 3), is in the southern suburb of Coyoacán. This open-air mall has a food court and sit-down restaurants in addition to the usual mall franchise stores.

México está en los mercados. The soul of Mexico City can indeed be found in its markets; more than 300 of them operate in government-owned buildings, and this doesn't include the innumerable tianguis, open-air set-ups that operate on the same day every week. A trip to a market is one of the top things to do in Mexico City.

Foodies should head to the San Juan Market (Mercado de Curiosidades San Juan; the official name is Ernesto Pugibet), 4 blocks south of Alameda Park at Calle Ayuntamiento and Avenida Dolores (M: Salto de Agua, line 8). In business more than 150 years, it sells produce, fruit, cheeses and seafood—the fresh fish market is huge—as well as lots of imported items and exotic culinary products. Freshly butchered meats range from turkey, rabbit and goat to crocodile and armadillo. For tourists this a great lunch stop; numerous food vendors dish up all sorts of authentic specialties, from pozole to tortas. It's open daily 7-5.

The city's biggest food market is the La Merced Market , about six blocks southeast of the Zócalo between Anillo de Circunvalación and Calle Rosario (M: Merced, line 1). The huge building is divided into sections focusing on specific items or foodstuffs. Here vendor after vendor sells nothing but nopal (cactus pads) or chicharrónes (fried pork rinds). Other areas specialize in wedding decorations, cooking utensils, shoes and clothing. It's definitely not a tourist attraction, but the sheer scope of the commerce (mountains of candy, enormous bags of potato chips) makes it one of the fascinating and fun places to go for a full immersion in local culture. It's open daily 8-7; go during the day, as the neighborhood gets sketchy after dark.

Two blocks south of Mercado de la Merced on Calle Fray Servando Teresa de Mier (M: Merced, line 1) is Mercado Sonora , otherwise known as the “witchcraft market.” Stalls sell a mishmash of lotions, potions, colorful candles, charms, amulets, aromatic soaps and herbal remedies all touting success in business, good health, luck in love or stress reduction. There's a huge variety of medicinal plants, along with exotica like dried rattlesnake and starfish that are reputed to help relieve various ailments. You'll also find more utilitarian items like pottery, piñatas, toys and party costumes. It's open daily 10-7.

The Mercado Insurgentes de Artesanías y Platería fills an entire block in the Zona Rosa along Calle Londres between calles Florencia and Amberes (M: Insurgentes, line 1). This neighborhood crafts market has a maze of stalls selling everything from baskets and textiles to silver, pewterware, jewelry, sombreros and souvenirs. Bargaining is expected and good buys are possible, but most vendors speak little English so it helps to know some basic Spanish phrases if you plan on haggling. It's open Mon.-Sat. 10-7, Sun. 11-4.

Handcrafted items from all over the country are sold at the Mercado de la Ciudadela , about 5 blocks southwest of Alameda Park along Calle Balderas, between calles Ayuntamiento and Emilio Donde (M: Balderas, line 1). Covered booths display everything from leather moccasins, Talavera pottery and custom-made stringed instruments to copper and glassware. Some of the coolest items are vibrantly colorful, hand-carved wooden masks. If you travel to just one crafts market, make it this one. Most stalls have fixed prices. It's open daily around 10-7. There's a nice little plaza across the street from the market.

The La Lagunilla Market is two blocks east of the intersection of Lázaro Cárdenas and Paseo de la Reforma, bordered north and south by Calle Libertad and Calle López Rayón and east and west by avenidas Ignacio Allende and Comonfort (M: Lagunilla, line 8). A triple-domed building of enormous proportions, Lagunilla is especially busy on Sunday, when vendors from all over the city set up tables or booths to sell furniture, antiques, used clothing, vinyl records, old books, elaborate wedding dresses and housewares. You won't find souvenirs here, and watch out for pickpockets.

Silver fanciers should visit Tane , at the corner of Avenida Presidente Masaryk and Calle Edgar Allan Poe in the Polanco district. Jewelry, candelabras and museum-quality reproductions are all expensive but exquisitely crafted.

Mexican artists exhibit and sell their work at El Bazar Sábado (Saturday Bazaar) in San Angel. It takes place Saturdays from 10-7 in a beautifully renovated 18th-century mansion at Plaza San Jacinto #11 (M: Miguel A. de Quevedo, line 3), but usually spills out of it as well.

The emphasis here is on art and features works by a tightly knit group of contemporary artisans, some of them U.S. expats. Paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, garments, rugs and high-quality jewelry are sold; prices are high, but so is quality. Search out the animalitos, bizarrely carved and painted wooden creatures for which Oaxaca is famous, and “Tree of Life” candelabras exploding with flowers, animals and other figures.

Gilded statues of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe and other Mexican patron saints are exquisite examples of handiwork and command high prices. More affordable merchandise—and a greater chance to bargain—can be found outside the bazaar, where merchants offer wooden toys, decorative gourds and beaded bracelets. Local artists exhibit their work, and the lively scene frequently includes dancers and other entertainment and things to do.

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Mexico City, DF

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Travel Information

City Population

8,851,080

Elevation

2,240 meters (7,347 feet)

Tourist Protection

Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR) headquarters, Presidente Masaryk #172; phone (55) 3002-6300 (English spoken). Persons needing legal assistance should contact this department at the Ministry of Tourism.

Police (emergency)

Dial 060 and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator if you need immediate assistance.

Police (non-emergency)

In general, the police in Mexico City should be contacted only as a last resort. If your car is stolen, however, you must report it to the police, as you will be liable for any subsequent crimes in which the vehicle is involved.

U.S. Embassy

Paseo de la Reforma #305 (M: Sevilla or Insurgentes, line 1); phone (55) 5080-2000. The embassy is open for general business Mon.-Fri. 8:30-4:30; closed U.S. and Mexican holidays. There is a protection officer on 24-hour duty to advise you in the event of robbery, assault, major loss, accident, illness or death; Mexican law takes precedence in such instances. Information regarding attorneys and translators also can be obtained.

Canadian Embassy

Calle Schiller #529, just north of the National Museum of Anthropology (M: Auditorio, line 7); phone (55) 5724-7900. Open Mon.-Fri. 8:30-5; closed Canadian and Mexican holidays.

LOCATEL

Phone (55) 5658-1111. This government-operated agency can help coordinate a search for missing persons or lost, stolen or towed vehicles; the hotline is answered daily 24 hours. The LOCATEL office is in the southern suburb of Churubusco at Calle Heroes del 47 #113, 3 blocks south of the National Museum of Interventions; phone (55) 5484-0400.

Consumer Protection Offic

Contact the Consumer Protection Office (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, or PROFECO) if you feel that you've been cheated or ripped off regarding a service or purchase; phone (55) 5625-6700 or 01 (800) 468-8722 (toll-free long distance within Mexico).

Hospitals

The ABC Medical Center (Centro Médico ABC) is several blocks south of Chapultepec Park at Calle Sur #116, at Avenida Observatorio (M: Observatorio, line 1); phone (55) 5230-8000. All major credit cards are accepted. The Mexican Red Cross (Cruz Roja) is located at Calle Luis Vives #200, between Avenida Ejército Nacional and Avenida Homero (north of Chapultepec Park in the Polanco neighborhood). It is open 24 hours; phone (55) 1084-4505.

Local Phone Calls

All calls made from landlines are charged as local calls. Prior to Jan. 1, 2015, there was a separate price structure for long-distance calls (designated by the acronym LADA, or larga distancia). There also are no long-distance cellphone charges; dialing either a local cell number or a long-distance cell number from a landline is charged as a local call. Calls made to a cell number must include the prefix 044.

Publications

The News is an English-language newspaper published Monday through Friday in Mexico City. Major U.S. newspapers are available at many newsstands the day after they are printed.

Visitor Information

Av. Presidente Masaryk #172 Mexico City, DF . Phone:(55)3002-6300

Currency Exchange

The rates charged by banks and casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) don't differ that much, so currency exchange is a matter of convenience. Most banks exchange currency Mon.-Fri. 9-noon, but you may have to wait in line; exchange houses often are open weekdays until 5 and may be open Saturdays as well. Exchange houses and ATMs are concentrated along Paseo de Reforma, in the Centro Histórico and in the Zona Rosa. The Sanborns chain of restaurants also provides ATMs.

Staying Safe

Street crime—from relatively benign offenses like pickpocketing and purse snatching to dangerous armed robbery—is an ever-present risk. No part of the city is immune, even the upscale Polanco neighborhood and other areas frequented by tourists. One way to avoid being mugged or robbed is not to wear expensive jewelry or watches.

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