A Buck or Less in Mexico City

At the end of each country section in The World’s Cheapest Destinations, I have a paragraph on “what you can get for a buck or less.” It’s not meant to be comprehensive, but just a sampling of what one U.S. dollar will buy you in that destination.

So on that note, here’s what you can get for a dollar or less in Mexico City. Most of these don’t cut it too close since this current rate of 13.5 to the dollar is not likely to last. (Mexicans often use the dollar sign in front of peso prices,┬áso in that pic to the left it means 4 pesos, not 4 dollars.)

I said in the last post I would talk about the metro, so let’s start with that. It’s a mere two pesos to ride the metro anywhere on the system. At the usual exchange rate that would be under 20 cents. At the current exchange rate, you can buy six subway tickets for a buck and still have change left over for some Chiclets from a street vendor. You buy the tickets from an attendant at some stations, an automated machine at the others. It’s as crowded as Toyko’s during rush hour though, with an equal amount of shoving and elbowing, so try to travel outside the commuting hours.

The local buses are the same price—two pesos. Most tourists don’t mess with these since you kind of have to know the routes, but you can hop on one going down the Paseo de Reforma and it’s a straight shot anywhere along that long avenue, from near the center all the way to the Museum of Anthropology and the city’s largest park. One comes by about every 30 seconds it seems.


A fresh hot tamale
Two or three tacos
A loaded-up tostada from a market stall
A beer in a convenience store
A bootleg DVD on the street (two for 25 pesos)
Two or three pastries in a pastry shop
A cup of coffee
A kilo of fruit that’s in season
A glazed clay whistle in the shape of an animal
Admission to many museums
An hour of Internet access
A 50/50 poly/cotton dress shirt

Plenty of things are free here of course, including the Palacio Nacional with a famous Diego Rivera mural that covers multiple walls. You can rent a bike for free if you go to the right spot and hand over I.D. (It’s a subsidized government program.)

Even in the swankiest neighborhoods you can find cheap restaurants and stalls. Just two blocks from a bunch of high-end hotels and a Bentley dealer I sat down and stuffed myself with three tacas al pastor, a quesadilla, and two beers. A gracious waiter made sure all was well the whole time. My bill was 62 pesos, or about $4.60 at today’s rate. I felt so good afterward that I went and treated myself to a shoeshine—for $1.50.

Free bikes for rent - Mexico City

Free bikes for rent - Mexico City

  1. gary

    Nice articles on the DF, Tim. Thanks for sharing them with us, and a BIG thanks for the fine prizes from your Magic Bus drawing.

    Safe travels, and have a great time!


  2. Marilyn Terrell

    Great to know, thanks Tim!

  3. Kyle

    Free bike rental? Where the hell is that?

  4. Jakob Malik

    Wow nice find! I’ve always want to spend less when I travel so that I still have money left to travel to other places. With the best strategies and plans, a cheap holiday can be your best holiday. Thanks for your cheap holiday tips.

  5. tim

    Kyle, I took that photo at the end of Parque Mexico in the Condesa neighborhood, but I passed three other places with free bikes for rent. One is on the Paseo de la Reforma near the U.S. embassy. At each one, there’s a map showing every place where they are available. These pictured above are cruisers, but the ones on Reforma were mountain bikes—including a helmet. Very cool! You just have to leave a passport or local ID.

  6. Catherine Bardrick

    As a resident of Mexico City, I can gladly confirm that all is true… plus cinema is 23 pesos on Wednesdays.. a little over a dollar but not by much… compared to 13 pounds for a cinema tkt in London it is excellent value….plus all museums and galleries are free on Sundays

  7. tim

    Thanks for the note Catherine. And to add to that, new adult movies from the U.S. or UK are usually in English, with Spanish subtitles. (Animated ones are usually dubbed.)

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