The origins of Mexico City date back to 1325, when the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan was founded. It was later destroyed in 1521 by Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes. The city served as the capital of the Vice-royalty of New Spain until the outbreak of the Independence War in 1810. The city went through several more transitions of power until the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
Mexico’s culture and history is rich and diverse, ranging from archaeological wonders of the Aztec, Mayan, and Olmec world and remarkable pieces of art by Frida Kahlo and Diego Luna, to incomparable food and advancements in technology!
With a population of more than 20 million in the greater metropolitan area — and Mexico City proper having an estimated population of 8.9 million — you can expect to find all kinds of people. There are many large foreign communities, including Lebanese, Cuban, Spanish, American, Japanese, Chilean, and more recently Argentinian and Korean. Mexico City has a number of ethnic districts with restaurants and shops that cater to these groups. Mexico City is also one of the most liberal cities in Latin America.
At its center Mexico City is 2,230 meters (7,316 feet) above mean sea level, although some areas can reach up to 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). Some people can experience difficulty breathing at high altitudes.
Mexico City is at a high elevation, so the weather is mild year-round. In August the average high is 23°C (74°F) and the average low is 12°C (54°F). Average humidity is 66 percent. The rainy season runs from June to October, with the greatest rainfall taking place in July.
You can find almost any kind of food in Mexico City. In addition to the local foods, there are many international cuisines available, as well as recognizable fast-food chains. You can find more information on food in Mexico City here.
Tap water in Mexico City is not drinkable, but bottled water and beverages are safe. However, keep in mind that ice cubes are likely made with tap water.
It is customary to leave a tip as a thank you to waiters, valets, and other service providers. In restaurants, bars and cafes, you usually tip at least ten percent of the total of the account; if the service was very good, you can leave up to fifteen percent. Some restaurants or bars include the tip in the final bill, so be careful not to overpay.
Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso (M$). See up-to-date currency rates here.
Exchange houses are your bet option to buy pesos. You will usually find a currency exchange office at international airports throughout Mexico; You can identify them by the “change” announcement. You will need to present your passport to exchange the money. The exchange rate is usually shown as buy or buy, which indicates how many pesos you should receive for each dollar.
One of the easiest ways to buy pesos is to use an ATM. You will often receive better exchange rates, although you will have to pay a commission for the service. Do not accept help from people outside of the bank. Credit cards provide one of the best exchange rates, and although you will not receive pesos directly, your monthly balance will reflect the exchange rate you received when shopping with your credit card.
Not all banks provide the service of exchanges of pesos and dollars, some require you to have an account with them. Check in your hotel, so that you are told which is the nearest bank that serves tourists to make exchanges. Here you will also need a valid passport to make the exchange.
Although bigger restaurants and stores may accept credit cards, smaller locations or street stands will only accept cash. Find more information about banks and money here.
The norms in Mexico for proper behavior are similar to those anywhere; be courteous and respectful in both language and gestures.
Photography: The city can be paranoid about cameras and especially about tripods. You might be asked to delete pictures, even if they were taken from a public space. You are not allowed to use a tripod in any ticketed place, such as museums, the metro stations, architectural ruins, etc. You will be politely asked to hold your camera in your hands.
It is best to always carry your identification in a secure location.
Mexico City has several public transport alternatives. The city government operates the Metro (M$5 one way) and Metrobús bus rapid transit system, which are cheap and reliable but can be very crowded during rush hour. It also operates a light rail line, RTP bus system and electric trolleybuses. Regular RTP routes cost M$2 anywhere you go, while Express RTP routes cost M$4 and the Ecobús costs M$5.
Official taxis have a red box in the center lower area of their license plates that reads TAXI. Only use these taxis. The prices are low, a fixed fee of about M$8.6 to get into the cab, and about M$1.14 per quarter kilometer or 45 seconds thereafter. If you have a smartphone and internet access, the ridesharing services Uber and Cabify can also be used.
Keep in mind that transportation will be provided for all official FIRST Global activities over the course of the event.
Arena Ciudad de México (Mexico City Arena) is an indoor arena that opened in 2012 in Azcapotzalco, Mexico City. Serving as a venue for concerts, sports, theatre, and other events, the arena has a maximum capacity of 22,300. You can find their website here (in Spanish).
Please be advised that we do NOT recommend that teams travel around this area on their own.
From the Ángel de la Independencia (Angel of Independence) monument that celebrates Mexico’s independence in 1810, to the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), there are a variety of landmarks, parks, and museums to immerse you into Mexico City. You can find a list of popular attractions here.
See information from the Mexico Embassy in your country as to specific requirements for passports and visas.
When your tickets are purchased, you must check with your airline to see what their baggage allowances are. Many airlines now charge for checked bags, but most airlines allow one carry-on bag and one hand bag (usually a purse or backpack).
If you choose to bring liquids (ie: toothpaste, liquid soap, hairspray, juice, water, etc.), you can pack those in your checked baggage or your carry-on. However, when you leave the United States, you cannot pack those in your carry-on unless the liquids follow the United States Transportation Security Agency (TSA)’s “311 rule” (~3 ounces, per 1 item, per 1 person) which means that liquids must fit in a quart-sized bag and are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Therefore, when flying back home from the United States, you will not be able to bring a water bottle past TSA security. However, you will have the opportunity to buy water and other liquids and snacks after you go through security.
Check with the airport where you will be flying from to see how many hours before your departure time you should arrive. The general rule of thumb is 3 hours for international flights.
Airport security can seem daunting at first, but it is a really simple process. Generally, your bags will be put through a scanner, and you will have to go through a metal detector. You will have to take jackets, belts, shoes, and other metal objects including jewelry and put it through the scanner as well.
An agent may have to pat down an area on your body (such as your arm or your knee) if something shows on the scanners. If this happens, they will inform you of the location and you are free to request that it is done in private, and/or someone of a different gender to make yourself comfortable. Additionally, if you are uncomfortable with going through the scanner, you can request a private pat down. Bags are sometimes randomly checked. These things may seem challenging, but it’s important to remain calm and polite at all times.
If you have a layover at an connecting airport, go straight to your new gate before going to the restroom or getting food. If it’s a long layover (a few hours), make sure to monitor your flight status, and still find your new gate.
All passengers entering Mexico can carry a maximum of 300 dollars in merchandise, in addition to their personal belongings. In case of exceeding this amount, you will have to pay an extra charge and your luggage will be subject to review by Mexican Customs authorities.
On the flight, the attendants will give you your destination country’s customs and immigration forms. Make sure to bring a pen with you!
Fill these forms out on the flight so you won’t waste time once you land. Know what you are bringing, how much money you have (cash), and the address of the place you are going to (we will provide this to you as the games get closer). Every person needs to fill out an immigration form, even children.
Once you land, just follow the signs to immigration and wait in the line. Afterwards, go to baggage pick-up to retrieve your luggage, airport personnel will scan your bags and then you’re all set!
Once teams have registered and travel arrangements have been made, we will provide the plan for team transportation from the airport.
You do not need any additional vaccines to come into Mexico. However, check with your country’s health department to make sure there aren’t any immunization requirements to come back to your country, or any additional vaccines required for your layover country.
If you are planning on bringing a credit card, make sure to call ahead of time and let them know you will be traveling so the company does not think your charges are fraudulent. Similarly, if you are bringing a cell phone, you may need to purchase an international plan in advance. However, there will be WiFi at the event venue and your lodging accommodations, so you will be able to use applications like WhatsApp and WeChat on your WiFi-enabled phones.