Mexico vs. Colombia: Which Should You Visit?

I love Latin America.

The people, the culture, the nature, the language; all of it is amazing.  

We spent almost all of 2017 (and the beginning of 2018) traveling in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico, and I hope that we can return someday to see even more of both South and Central America.

Unfortunately, what many people have to base their opinion on when deciding where to travel in Latin America is what they see in the media.

While there certainly are places that you probably shouldn’t visit in both Mexico and Colombia if you value your life, the reality for both countries is much different than what you might expect.

So, let’s take a look at traveling in Mexico vs. Colombia to see which option might be better for you.

 

Tourist Attractions

Although I don’t feel the need to seek out every tourist attraction that a city or country has to offer, I do enjoy seeing the sites as time allows.

If there’s one thing missing for tourists in Colombia, it’s probably a wide range of true tourist attractions as compared to other countries in Latin America. Some of the most popular are…

While there are certainly other things to do, these are the ones I found that most people tend to visit.

 

 

If tourist attractions are your thing, you won’t be disappointed in Mexico.

Some of the most popular are…

  • The beaches and islands of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc.)
  • Mayan ruins like Coba, Chichen Itza, and more
  • Underground Cenotes
  • Colonial cities like Taxco, Puebla, and San Miguel de Allende
  • Laguna Bacalar
  • Boat cruises and scuba diving
  • Many national parks

I had to really limit myself on the Mexico one just because there’s so much to see. For me, their list of tourist attractions beats Colombia’s any day. 

Mexico vs. Colombia Tourist Attraction Winner: Mexico

 

Ease of Tourism

Because of the sheer volume of tourist attractions in Mexico, there are a ton of different choices for all types of travelers. Whether you want to do everything on your own or do an organized/prepaid tour, there are always options available to you.

Since Colombia is still in the earlier stages of its tourism industry, everything can be just a little bit more difficult to figure out. There isn’t always a ton of information about what to do, and there aren’t many of easy options for organized tours if that’s what you’re looking for.

Mexico vs. Colombia Ease of Tourism Winner: Mexico

 

Infrastructure

Latin America isn’t exactly known for having the easiest infrastructure to navigate, but I found Colombia and Mexico to both have pretty good infrastructure for whatever you need.

In the bigger cities, you can almost always find nice grocery stores, access to public transportation (Mexico City and Medellin both have metros), modern highways, shopping malls, taxis, Uber, and options for quality healthcare.

Mexico vs. Colombia Infrastructure Winner: Tie

 

Nature and Hiking

Both Mexico and Colombia are beautiful countries with a lot of nature to see.

However, what I found in Colombia (at least in Medellin) was that the nature was a bit difficult to access if you didn’t have a car. With that said, there are plenty of really nice places around the country for you to enjoy. Whether you visit Santa Marta, Jardin, or Salento, there’s a lot of beautiful scenery.

The main advantage that Mexico has is that the country is significantly bigger than Colombia, so there are just more options. We swam in cenotes in Tulum, spent days on the beaches of Playa del Carmen, relaxed at Laguna Bacalar, and hiked near active volcanoes in Izta-Popo National Park. Overall, the nature in Mexico is way more varied, interesting, and accessible than it is in Colombia.

Mexico vs. Colombia Nature and Hiking Winner: Mexico

 

girl on water swings in laguna bacalar

 

Nightlife

Colombia is famous for their nightlife scene. No matter what city you’re in, you can find wild bars, clubs, or parties to go to. This is especially true in the cities that tourists tend to go to, Medellin and Bogota.

Poblado has the best nightlife in Colombia, but you can find one just as good in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Additionally, Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, so you can find whatever you’re looking for there as well. They also have a much better rising craft beer scene in Mexico City, which I enjoyed taste testing during our trip.

Both countries have great nightlife, but Mexico just comes out ahead on this round. 

Mexico vs. Colombia Nightlife Winner: Mexico

 

Safety

Both countries have been plagued by drug violence over the years.

However, Colombia has managed to reduce it significantly (at least anywhere that you will likely see), and there’s no question that it’s an incredibly safe country for you to visit as long as you’re smart.

On the other hand, Mexico is still fighting its war on drugs. With that said, the violence tends to be concentrated in specific areas of the country that you can easily avoid. We never felt the least bit unsafe at any point during our two months in Mexico, even while visiting a city (Taxco) in one of the states (Guerrero) that the United States has on its no travel list.

In both countries, common sense prevails. If you’re seeking drugs, prostitutes, or any other nefarious activities, all bets are off.

Mexico vs. Colombia Safety Winner: Colombia

 

Food

I love food, and it’s one of the most important things to me when I’m traveling.

There’s a lot of good Colombian food (bandeja paisa, anyone?), and there’s also quite a few different international options for you if you’re in the bigger cities. Even in the less touristy neighborhood of Envigado in Medellin, there were definitely some really good restaurants.

However, for me, Colombian food doesn’t come close to Mexican food. Being from the United States, I’ve always enjoyed Mexican food, so it was pretty great to be able to get really amazing and cheap Mexican food wherever I went. There’s also a ton of really great options for international food as well in Mexico City, which sealed the deal.

Mexico vs. Colombia Winner: Mexico

 

shrimp tacos in playa esmeralda

 

Overall Winner of Mexico vs. Colombia

There’s really no question for me when it comes down to which country I would recommend visiting. Although I loved the time that I spent in Colombia, Mexico is the clear winner for me.

Whether you’re a long-term traveler or someone looking for an easy 10-day trip, Mexico has it all.

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m an imbecile?

Let me know in the comments!

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Portland Inspiration Album

Just some of my favorite pics from my week long trip to inspire you to plan a trip to Portland, Oregon! Enjoy the delicious eats, beautiful scenery, and unique PNW vibe 🙂  

Flying into the PNW

Tonkatsu Ramen from Marukin

 

The Voodoo Doll from Voodoo Donuts

International Rose Test Garden

International Rose Test Garden

 

Hoyt Arboretum

Pad Thai from Baan Thai Restaurant

Council Crest View Point

Burgers and truffle fries from PDX Sliders

Old Salmon River Trail in Mount Hood National Forest

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Old Salmon River Trail in Mount Hood National Forest

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The Reggie from Pine State Biscuits

Oceanside Beach

Oceanside Beach

Oswald State Park

Pittock Mansion View Point

Pittock Mansion

Lunch at Breitenbush Retreat

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  breitenbush hot springs

Breitenbush Hot Springs

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  Oregon really has it all. The amazing hikes, the beautiful beaches and coast, and of course a vibrant city with a delicious food scene and wild nightlife. If you’ve been considering a trip to Portland, book it! Just one week was all it took for me to completely fall in love with the city. Love, Di

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Breitenbush Review: The Clothing Optional Hot Springs in Portland

Breitenbush is a clothing optional hot spring and lodge about two hours outside of Portland. The whole wellness industry is big here, and you’ll find centers for it scattered all around the city. Most of them involve paying a set fee for a sauna and hot tub soak, massages, acupuncture, yoga or all of the above, and Breitenbush is no different.

The retreat center has a large lodge, hiking trails in the scenic Mount Hood National Forest, multiple hot springs, massages, yoga classes, a meditation sanctuary, and cabins for overnight stays all spread across their remote piece of land. It sounded so very “Portland” to me that I just had to go check it out for a day, and of course write this Breitenbush review to tell you all about it!

 

lodge at breitenbush

 

Costs and Reservation

Breitnebush offers a sliding scale of payment, which means that a day pass can cost you anywhere from $20 to $35. They’ll just ask you on the phone and you can pick what you’d like to pay. I also had to pre-order any meals I wanted for $15 each. I opted for lunch only (served from 1-2), but they also have breakfast and dinner daily.

The actual reservation process is pretty old school. It’s still not possible to make one online (but you can check availability here) so you’ll have to call during business hours to lock in your slot and pay with a card over the phone.

 

river at breitenbush

 

Getting There

Breitenbush really prides itself for being off the grid, so they have no wifi or cell service and getting there can be a little tricky. The drive is two hours from Portland, and the retreat sits just outside the tiny town of Detroit, Oregon.

When I made my reservation, Breitenbush sent multiple emails that stressed that the backroads are treacherous and if I tried to use GPS I was doomed to be lost in them forever… but that’s not the case. All you have to do to get there is plug “Detroit” into your GPS, and once you arrive you can follow the signs for a few miles until you arrive at Breitenbush. Easy.

 

What to do at Breitenbush

The most popular activity at Breitenbush is definitely soaking in the clothing optional hot springs. They have four man-made spiral pools on one side of the land, and three natural pools on the other with varying heat levels. The last one is the hottest, and also requires absolute silence.

I enjoyed soaking in the springs for a couple hours during my trip, especially when a family of five deer came and ate in the field right in front of us. It was cool to connect with the wild so closely, and I won’t deny it’s an extremely unique experience. The view from all of the springs are beautiful, but the last silent pool was definitely my favorite.

 

breitenbush hot springs

 

Because I arrived around 11:30am, I only had about an hour before it was time for the 1pm lunch in the cafeteria (or you can opt for silent eating in the library as well). I felt like I was back in school lining up and hitting the buffet, but honestly the all-vegetarian food was really good. The menu is ever changing but I thoroughly enjoyed the falafel sandwich, salad, and basil lemonade.

After lunch, I went on a short hike on the trails and then soaked the hot springs again.

Around 3:15 I decided I was done, hit the showers, and packed up to leave. However, heading out at 4 pm was a mistake because I reached Portland juuuuust in time for that rush hour traffic. I’d recommend timing your departure either earlier or later to make sure you miss it.

 

sandwich and salad for lunch at breitenbush

 

So, Would I Go Back?

Honestly… no. I really wanted to love it and feel ultra-relaxed, but the truth is I just wasn’t a huge fan.

I like wifi and meat, I suck at yoga, and I get bored in quiet places. I know there are plenty of people who are into meditation and getting unplugged to find their inner self, but the vibe just wasn’t for me. It was kind of relaxing, but by the afternoon the pools were starting to get cloudy (ew) and I was definitely ready to go after only four hours at the lodge.

If Daniel had been there though, I think I might have enjoyed it more. I’m glad I went, but I also thought $40 payment was a bit steep and think there’s other, better things to do in Portland for the price (like go for a free, easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest and then use that money on dinner, drinks, or a million other things).

 

river at breitenbush

 

Breitenbush Review

Honestly, I know that there are plenty of people who love this place and I really get why they do, but the Breitenbush retreat isn’t for everyone. It has its pros: nice mountain views, delicious food, and natural hot springs, and some cons: far from Portland, kinda pricey, and no wifi or cell service.

You all know yourself best, and know if you’d enjoy the place or not! If you’re interested, give it a try and let me know what you think!

All my love,
Di

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Old Salmon River Trail: An Easy Hike in Mount Hood National Forest

If you’re looking for an easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest, the Old Salmon River Trail is a great choice.

When my sister and I went visited Mount Hood in late March we thought we would be able to hike anywhere, but we were so wrong. The snow was still packed in on almost all of the trails! Unfortunately we were not prepared for snowshoeing or winter hiking, so we had to return to the Zig Zag Ranger Station and the trails at the start of the forest, where the snow was melted.

We asked for an easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest, and the ranger recommended Old Salmon River Trail. It’s almost two miles out and back (four miles total) and has very little incline. It’s also located in a surreal and stunning moss covered forest along the banks of the wild and rushing Old Salmon River.

This hike does NOT have views of Mount Hood, but if you’re in the park on a rainy or cloudy day and want to experience the classic PNW atmosphere, this is a great choice for any and all skill and fitness levels. The best way to get there is to just plug the “Old Salmon River Trailhead” into your GPS, or stop by the Zig Zag Ranger Station that’s just a minute or two up the road for directions.

If you’re still on the fence, check out my photos below to see why you should add this easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest to your Portland to-do list!

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

The Old Salmon River Trail is beautiful, easy, and a great hike during the spring or fall when options in Mount Hood National Forest are limited from the snowfall. Explore the trail, enjoy the scenery, and comment below to let me know what you think!

All my love,
Di

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Hiking in Mexico City: Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

If you’re looking for hiking in Mexico City, Cumbres del Ajusco National park will definitely be on your radar. Although I personally prefer hiking in Izta-Popo National Park because I enjoyed the erupting volcanos, during a long-term stay, Cumbres del Ajusco is worth visiting as well. Here’s is everything you need to know to get there!

 

 

Why Go to Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

There are a few reasons. First, Ajusco is the 4th tallest mountain in the country (Izta and Popo come in at third and second). Second, the park is cool because it was created in 1936 and is the third oldest national park in the country (only Desierto de Los Leones and Izta-Popo national park are older).

Finally, it’s unique in that it actually makes up half of the Mexico City Federal District! I was pretty surprised that one of the biggest and most polluted cities in the world was actually half national park…

 

How to Get to Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

So, you have two options. The first is to take an uber. This is what we did, and I though it would be super easy, right? Wrong! First of all, the driver had no idea where we were going (whyyyy pick up ride then?!) and didn’t know how to use GPS somehow… so we stopped and asked for directions multiple times despite me begging him to use my phone instead.

ANYWAY. If you choose to take an uber and your driver knows where to go, there’s still the issue of traffic. The ride will take you anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half depending on what time of day you go, so waking up super early will be your best bet.

When you go, make sure you use this address in your GPS: Cerro Pico del Águila km 21, Col. Héroes de 1910

The cost to get to the park from Mexico City by Uber should be around 250 pesos. We paid 220, but if you get stuck in a lot of traffic, I think the price can go up.

The other way to get to Cumbres del Ajusco National Park is by bus. Go to the Universidad Station and ask for the one going to San Miguel Ajusco. The trip costs 7 pesos per person and the ride will take about an hour and a half.

From San Miguel Ajusco, you’ll need to get a taxi to the trailhead. That will be about another 15 to 20 minutes, and will probably cost around 100 pesos because most drivers will be stuck doing a round trip. Make sure you put the above address in your GPS again, because there’s no real official entrance to the park (that I know of anyway) or trailhead, so your driver probably won’t know where to go unless you show him.

So basically, if you add up the taxi to the bus station and the taxi to the trail, the costs come close to just taking an Uber. The prices are similar but an Uber is faster, so that’s what I recommend.

 

 

Hiking up Cerro Ajusco

Yes! You made it to the park! When you’re getting dropped off, you’ll pass the GPS pin on your phone and see nothing but forest on the side of the road, just ask your driver to keep going a minute or two further until you get to the restaurants. There will be a couple on the right side of the road, and one on the left. There will also be a big sign with a map of the park on the left as well.

If you’re facing the restaurant on the left side of the road (or if you come from the other direction and my instructions are confusing, just make sure you’re facing the side with only one large restaurant and not a few small ones). Go to the left of the restaurant and you will see a trail leading into the woods.

Take the trail for a few minutes and it will come out onto a road. Keep walking up it and go through a gate and through a playground. Here you will come to a sketchy bridge. Cross it, and take the trail to the left.

Once you’re on the trail to the left, you’re good to go! It’s pretty well maintained, you’ll probably see a few other people on it, and anytime it splits there’s usually markers pointing you in the right direction.

The trail stayed flat for about 45 minutes, then started to go sharply uphill. The climb was really tough actually, especially in the high altitude (the park is at 12,795 feet). We decided to stop and just enjoy the view about halfway up instead of finish the climb. It really was beautiful, on one side the park stretched out, and on the other was Mexico City. Try to get there early if you can, we went in the afternoon and the skyline was pretty much totally covered in smog unfortunately.

If you do decide to go all the way to the top of Cerro Ajusco, it will take you about three hours (depending on how fast you hike) and then a couple more to get down. Definitely pack some snacks, enough water, and sunscreen!

 

 

What else to do in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

So, this section is pretty much only for people driving in their own cars. Just from looking around google it seems like there is more to do in the park if you go to the right places, like ride bikes, go on a horesback ride, rent cabins, etc. I can’t find much info on where that’s located, but if you search in Spanish you may have better luck, or just drive through the park and stop where ever looks interesting! We only got to see a small piece of it, but there’s definitely more to do if you have the time.

 

Lunch in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

Ok, back to the hike. Once you get back down to the road, eat at the restaurant where you started! The food is really good, and really cheap. I had a beef sope and barbacoa taco, and Dan had three tacos. Each item was only 25 pesos. When we were there the sun was shining and groups were day drinking, it was a super relaxed atmosphere. Too bad we had such a trek back home, otherwise I definitely would have stayed for a few more beers!

 

 

Getting Back to Mexico City

Ok, this is where the transportation gets kind of annoying. Theres basically no way to get back down the mountain because there’s no service to call an Uber, and no taxis driving by.

We asked the waiter what we should do, and he told us his dad would give us a ride! So, that was nice. We paid him 100 pesos to drop us off at the bus station.

From there, it was a 1.5 hour bus to Mexico City, and then a 20 minute Uber back to our apartment. The taxi plus bus plus Uber combo to get home took over two hours, and only cost four pesos less than the entire Uber trip on the way out… yeah.

I’d suggest skipping the bus and trying to get a taxi or Uber straight from San Miguel Ajusco back to the city.

 

Hiking in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

I kind of have mixed feelings about hiking in Cumbres del Ajusco. The nature was really nice and the views were beautiful. However, the transport situation was annoying at times, and definitely long. If you have a car, this is a perfect day trip from Mexico City, otherwise, visit at your own risk!

All my love,
Di

PS explore my Mexico page for more Mexico City inspo including hiking, weekend trips, craft beer, and evening acitivites from my month in the city.

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9 Evening Activities in Mexico City Perfect for any Budget

Yes, you know all about the day trips and awesome parks in Mexico City, but where can you spend an evening here?? As a digital nomad, it can be really hard to find destination recommendations that aren’t aimed at traditional vacationers with all day to kill.

Luckily, I’m here to help. I spent one month living and working here, and this is my list of the top nine evening activities in Mexico City!

 

1. Check Out Biblioteca Vasconcelos

Time: Open until 7:30 pm
Cost: Free Entrance

 

Girl in Biblioteca Vasconcelos

 

This was the very first place I went in Mexico City. After seeing the amazing pictures online, I knew I had to get there.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos is perfect if you love photography, or just getting off the beaten path in a new city. Spend time admiring the views from every floor, snapping some insta worthy shots, or just sitting quietly with a book to read. The library also has gardens surrounding it that you can check out on a sunny day, and balconies on the top floor with expansive views of the city.

 

side view of the book shelves at biblioteca vasconcelos

 

This is possibly the most unique building I’ve ever seen, and it felt just like stepping into a sci-fi movie one thousand years in the future. For digital nomads, Biblioteca Vasconcelos is a must see evening activity in Mexico City.

 

2. Visit the Basilica de Guadalupe

Time: Open until 9pm
Cost: Free Entrance

The Basilica of Guadalupe is a major Catholic site in Mexico City. Your probably weren’t expecting a church on my list of evening activities in Mexico City (lol of course you were) but if you’re at all religious or interested in history or spirituality, this is a must-see. Even if you’re a firm atheist, it’s still an interesting stop just for the sheer importance of the site to the Catholic community.

What makes this church so special? In 1531 the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a Mexican man, now Saint, named Juan Diego. The four apparitions occurred on a hill near this spot, and the Basilica was built as a shrine to commemorate it. It even holds Juan Diego’s cloak, which miraculously bears the image of Mary that is now famously known as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

There are now two Basilicas on the site (one old and one new), and both are currently open for exploration, prayer, and meditation.

 

3. Take a Cooking Class

Times: Chosen around your schedule
Cost: Around $50 to $80 usd per person

If you have room in the budget, this is a delicious and educational way to spend an evening in Mexico City. I mean, we all know Mexican food is one of the best cuisines in the world, so what better way to enjoy it than by learning all the techniques you need to make it at home? While researching it for my to do list, I found a few different class options you can check out here and here.

 

4. Take in the View at Torre Latinoamericana

Time: Open until 10pm
Cost: ~100 pesos per person

This famed tower was once the tallest in Mexico City, and is one of the most beautiful evening activities in Mexico City. Come for dinner, drinks, or just the view. You can buy tickets in the lobby for 90 pesos to head to the observation deck, or you can go to the restaurant, one floor lower, for free.

If you don’t want a whole dinner, you can just get a beer and still hang out at the bar for a bit and snap a few photos of the view. Just make sure you go on a day without smog!

 

5. Try Craft Beer at a Local Brewery

How convenient, I have a guide right here that doesn’t just list the best breweries in Mexico City, but ALL the breweries. It was actually pretty difficult to make because the craft beer scene in Mexico City is up and coming, and there’s not a lot of info from the breweries online yet.

My favorite brewery on the list is HOP 2, but I really enjoyed our visit to La Graciela and The Tasting Room as well. There are a bunch of breweries spread out across the city, so head out for your thirsty Thursday and try some beers you won’t be able to get anywhere else.

 

 

6. Wander the Quaint Neighborhood of Coyoacan

Time: Always Open
Cost: Free

This neighborhood is so cute, and great to explore day or night. Some people actually think it’s more lively in the evenings, and I have to agree.

Daniel and I went around 4:30pm and spent a few hours here. There is a large market, two beautiful squares, an ornate church, tons of hip bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops, and side streets lined with brightly painted houses and green leafy trees.

If you go, I recommend checking out Los Mercaderes Coyoacan for beautiful bottles of mezcal or tequila, grabbing a beer at the cool La Calaca Bar, and walking through the large Viveros de Coyoacan park.

 

7. Go to a Mexican Wrestling Match

Time: 7:30pm on weekdays, 8:30pm for the Friday matches
Cost: Tickets range from 100 to 420 pesos per person

Yes! Lucha Libre, or Mexican wrestling, is such an big part of Mexico’s culture in the city. There are matches every Friday, and you can buy tickets directly at the box office before they start. However, if you can’t make a Friday show or want to see more than one, there are sometimes fights during the week as well.

I definitely can’t guarantee it, but check out this calendar of events on Ticketmaster to see if any are coming up. If you can, choose one at Arena Mexico which is the main stage.

Daniel and I went to a Friday match and had soooo much fun. Even if you’re totally not into wrestling and don’t speak Spanish (check and check) the wild atmosphere and sheer absurdity of the event will get yelling and cheering along with everyone else.

 

Wrestling Match in Arena Mexico

 

8. Cheer on Club America at a Soccer Game

 

Time: Weekday matches start around 8:45pm
Cost: Tickets range from 150 to 1,000 pesos

Like the Lucha Libre events, these are totally dependent on schedule. Don’t look too far in advance though. Daniel and I checked the schedule a month before we arrived in Mexico City, and saw nothing listed. A few weeks later when we arrived, there were two games added in during our stay. They play at the famous Estadio Azteca, which is the biggest stadium in the country.

Unless it’s a really big match you can buy your tickets right at the stadium and have fun cheering on Club America, Mexico City’s official team. If you’re lucky enough to catch a game, it’s an awesome way to spend an evening in Mexico City!

 

9. See the Ballet Folklorico

Time: See the schedule here
Cost: Tickets range from around 360 to 1500 pesos

The ballet is a great evening activity in Mexico City because not only do you get to see a show, but it’s also located in the beautiful Palacio de Belles Artes. The building looks gorgeous day and night, and has a museum you can visit as well on your night out. If you want to learn more about the culture of Mexico, or just enjoy a good show, definitely try seeing the Ballet Folklorico after work.

 

If you’re looking for a fun evening activities in Mexico City, look no further. This list has something for every interest and every budget. If you’re a digital nomad in Mexico City and have more evening destinations to add to the list, please comment below and let me know!

All my love,
Di

PS for more things to do in Mexico City check out the rest of my articles here

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