Punting down the canals of Xochimilco was something we had been looking forward to a lot. The reality was something a bit different…
The basic concept of Xochimilco is brightly coloured boats punted down canals by boatsman hired by the hour. For a price you can choose to stop at orchards, floating gardens or a distant animal sanctuary. Alternatively just relax, and enjoy the view go by.
The best part of the experience is mariachi bands who will hook their boat to yours and play you a tune for an agreed price. Other than this we weren’t impressed by the polluted waters and pushy boatsman of Xochimilco. Our experience included being made to pay double the recommended going rate in return for a trip cut short by half an hour.
In Xochimilco’s defence the atmosphere may be different during the weekend when the area adapts a fiesta vibe and is more frequented (that said do not go during spring break). More visitors in the weekends may mean more opportunity to negotiate a better price from a larger amount of boatsmen.
Xochimilco provides appealing photos but we would not recommend this attraction to a budget traveller unless you have a good command of Spanish. Consider the price of Teotihuacan which is under half the amount for a full day. In our opinion there are much better options for budget travellers in México City.
Getting there and away:
• Take the blue Metro Line (2) to the last stop: Tasqueña (10 pesos).
• Here you need to switch lines to Tren Ligero. This is a different company to the normal metro so you need to buy a card (10 pesos) and fare (3 pesos per trip). You can share one card between two people.
• Take this train to Xochimilco station.
• When you exit the station there are blue signs directing you to the canals/ docks. Total time from Central México City: 1 – 1.5 hours.
• Read a guide book for up to date hiring prices. Weekends may be more crowded but should offer more boatsman to choose from/ haggle between. We visited on a weekday when under 10 boats were operating. This resulted in us paying 700 pesos for two hours (NB: we were able to get this down to 600 pesos after our boat arrived back half an hour early).