Visiting Oaxaca

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Mexico City & Oaxaca with Kids

July 2008

We're taking our kids (ages 6 and 2 1/2) to Mexico City and Oaxaca in early July. We'd love recommendations of kid-friendly sights, activities, restaurants, hotels/apartments (with pool), tour guides, babysitters and anything else that would enhance our trip! And, just in case...we would appreciate recommendations for English-speaking doctors, too. Thank you. Eden

A few years ago we went to Oaxaca and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, and absolutely loved it. It is a few blocks from the main downtown area, so it's close to everything, but not in the middle of it, in a nice quiet area. It has a nice park across the street. It has a small pool, great for small kids, and the whole hotel is very kid-friendly. Service was excellent, and not pricey. Toni

About Oaxaca -- which is such a beautiful city! -- I would recommend staying close to the downtown area. Everything is easy to reach on foot! There's the Casa Oaxaca hotel, which is very nice, and a little expensive. The Camino Real is also nice, and they have deals sometimes. They also have a nice tour company that operates from the hotel, and you don't have to stay there to go out with them. We've stayed at simpler hotel downtown where the rooms cost around 50 dollars, but I am having a hard time finding anything online right now.

My husband and I recently took my sister, and we learned once we were in Oaxaca that she had a really hard time with Mexican food. Even caldo de pollo, a basic chicken and vegetable soup, felt too foreign for her tastes! Oaxaca is, as I am sure you know, a fabulous place for Mexican food. The market is so good!

It felt a little sad for us to look for American flavors, but we found some pizza and pasta that she liked, and we ordered extra every time we went. So, we might go to eat in the morning, and plan on heading out for the afternoon, we'd order a pizza to be made for dinner when we came back. It was really helpful for us! You might be able to get sandwiches or something from your hotel if you plan on heading to the pyramids.

Have a great trip! anon

Searching for a short term family stay in Mexico

April 2007

I am looking for a family stay situation in a Spanish-speaking country. Mexico is close, so that would be a relatively easy choice for us, but I am open to other ideas. I've heard good things about Guanajuato, but I am open to suggestions regarding cities as well. My 3-year-old has been in a bilingual classroom for a year now, and I would like to cap off a year of Spanish with a one-to-two week trip for the two of us this summer. The kid is 3 years old, though, so I don't think that a language school/hotel stay situation is what we are seeking. I'd really like to arrange a homestay with another family with kids, because playing will be a lot of what my child does on this vacation. Really, I'm trying to create almost an exchange-student situation. Has anyone had any luck arranging this sort of thing? Any agencies you would recommend? Any families you would recommend? Locations? I really want to make this happen, but I don't know anyone who has done what I am wanting to do. Ann

i HIGHLY suggest oaxaca. its in southern mexico and very beautiful. there's a great zocolo, a couple of very cool markets and the best part is that there are many interesting places to visit that are perfet for day trips. monte alban is a local ruins site, plus there are three close by villages that make the famous black pottery, green pottery and gorgeous woven rugs. the food is exceptional. its the chocolate center of mexico and the place that mole hails from. lots of good vegetarian options too if thats a cosideration. as far as places to stay you might want to contact a language school because they have contacts with local families willing to host. when i was there i studied at instituto cultural de oaxaca. could be a good place to start. have fun!

Planning a trip to Oaxaca in July

June 2006

We are planning a nine day trip to Oaxaca in July. We're a family of four, with two kids ages 12 and 15. We've found a lot of contradictory (and odd) information on Oaxaca in tour books and on the Internet. Any information of Oaxaca- where to stay, where to eat, where to take day trips, what vaccinations are good to have, etc.- would be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to email at the address below as we may not get the information in time otherwise. Thanks!!! - Rob

My husband and I went to Oaxaca about 4 years ago now and had a wonderful time! We didn't rent a place, but stayed in a great little hotel called Los (Las?) Golondrinas. It had the most beautiful courtyard and breakfasts outside. I think we paid $28.00 per night for the nicest room! It had nooks with hammocks around the grounds to read, as well. So sweet. I also could not resist recommending a restaurant there. El Topil. They had awesome mole and sopas in a homey atmosphere. Anyway, again, no info on rentals, but have a wonderful time! Oaxaca lover

Travel to Oaxaca from Mexico City

April 2006

I am going to Oaxaca with an adult friend and my 2 kids (age 16 and 10) this summer. We are planning to fly to Mexico City, stay for a few days, and then take the long distance bus to Oaxaca. We would appreciate any advice or comments regarding safety and comfort. We heard that the long distance buses are quite good. We are concerned with ways to store luggage. Do we have to keep an eye on them? Is it easy to take the subway with your luggage in Mexico City? Please fell free to email me with your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

First of all, congratulations on your choice to go to Oaxaca. It's a beautiful place to go. About traveling by bus, try to choose one of the ''pricey'' bus-lines. There's one that's called ETN, which is super comfy, great service, but I'm not sure if they go to Oaxaca. You can tell by the price and aspect of the bus line if it's going to be a comfortable trip. I've traveled by bus a lot around Mexico, and I recommend it highly. By the same token, if you are traveling on a decent bus, you don't have to worry about keeping an eye on your luggage. I can assure you that people won't mess with it. Larger suitcases go in the bottom of the bus, so if it's a direct trip, you know that your stuff will be safe there. Smaller stuff can go on the bus with you, on the overhead racks, so again, no problem. Now, about taking the ''metro'' with luggage, for safety reasons I'd try to avoid that. Just get a call-in taxi service from your hotel, or take an authorized taxi from the airport if you're going directly to the bus station. Enjoy your trip, and please feel free to email me if you have questions. (By the way, if you haven't booked your hotel, I highly reccommend the Holiday Inn Express). toni

This isn't quite on point, but just wanted to put in a plug for Oaxaca as an excellent place for vacation with kids, transport to and from being the only hassle. I took my kids ages 5,7 and 9 two years ago at Easter, having been there several times pre- kids, and it was the best trip we have ever taken. Last summer we were in Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, and neither was anywhere near as good a destination for kids.

My recommendation would be to fly directly to Oaxaca from Mexico City without stopping! Mexico City is frighteningly crowded and so spoiled aesthetically that the great museums and sites hardly seem worth it. Oaxaca has incredible archaeological sites, a beautiful newly redone museum, a delightful town square to stroll in. Many of the stone facades and streets have been refurbished and the unusual, varigated pale green of the stone is so beautiful. There is much that is old, but also much that is new in a contemporary, artistic vein. And although there are tourists, the life of the town is local and full of interest. The markets go on and on, the villages nearby are fascinating, many craftspeople and artists . . . the people are incredibly friendly and helpful, despite significant poverty in the area. You do see some heartbreaking situations, but my children were moved and interested, and it was good for them to learn. We recommend Hotel de al Parra close to the main square as a lovely, family owned small hotel with a tiny pool, but big enough to cool off in.

A caveat about food and water. You can't be too careful. Brush teeth with bottled water only, don't lick your lips while showering, wash hands with antibacterial gel soap all the time, drink Pepto Bismol before every meal. Even in nice restaurants and hotels. One sick kid and you are stuck days. In San Miguel de Allende last summer we all got Salmonella poisoning and amoebas, landing my 10 year old in a local hospital -- an experience not to be repeated. Turns out summer is ''salmonella season'' with rainshowers that wash animal feces into stagnant pools between cobblestones and the like -- the sun heats it up and it's not a pretty scene. Oaxaca is much cleaner than San Miguel, but still . . .

With four of you, if you decide not to fly, I would suggest looking into having a private car (SUV) drive you to Oaxaca. CHeck with your hotel in Mexico City what the cost would be with one of their regular drivers. THen, you can stop at the ruins outside of MExico City on your way in or out, and have the comfort and safety of your own vehicle and driver, with potty stops and snacks on your own schedule.

I haven't taken busses in Mexico for 20 years, but back then even the ''first class'' busses (make sure you go ''first class'') were overbooked. I stood from Oaxaca to San Cristobal once -- despite having a prepaid seat/ticket. We have friends who were on a bus that was held up by a man who shot a hole through the roof and took everyone's jewelry, including her wedding ring -- they were on their honeymoon. I am sure these experiences are not the rule, but they can happen. THe good thing is that these ''crimes'' and mishaps are about money (a bribe might have gotten me a seat on that bus) and virtually never involve personal harm.

Good luck! Ready to move to Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a great town. I lived there for a month about 4 years ago. Taking the bus from Mexico City was no problem, but you want to make sure you get a 1st class bus- these are the ones with bathrooms, they usually have refreshments for sale, and movies like on a plane (the one I was on played something in English with Spanish subtitles). They store your luggage underneath the bus and give you claim check tickets. I have no experience with the subway system in Mexico City, but cab rides are pretty cheap, and then you wouldn't have to drag your luggage on the train. Most travel books recommend for safety that you take the ''official'' taxis- companies that are registered. Have a great trip! Laura

Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right way to reply to a posting, but here's my reply to the question about ''Travel to Oaxaca'':

We (adult couple) were just in Mexico City, Oaxaca (city) and Puerto Escondido (the beach in southern Oaxaca state) for three weeks in February. We loved all three places! We think these areas would be a great place to take kids about the ages of yours, especially the beaches in southern Oaxaca.

The subways in Mexico City are great, 20 pesos (under 20 cents) will get you anywhere in the city, and you never wait more than a couple of minutes. We took them a lot in the day. I don't know if they are so safe at night. However, they have signs posted, ''no luggage'' and we didn't see people with luggage on them. It's not like BART, more like the San Francisco or Oakland buses. The seats and aisles aren't spacious so there is really no where to put luggage. Also, you walk through long passageways from one train to another, and up and down a lot of stairs/escalators which would be hard to navigate with luggage. There are buses from the airport into Mexico City. Also jitney type buses in touristy areas/main streets. Also, cabs aren't really that expensive; if you have four people it is probably your best deal and the easiest way to navigate with kids. You can get guidebooks on Mexico from the library which will give you all the details.

The bus Mexico City to Oaxaca is supposed to be OK as there are good highways now, and the buses are very comfortable. But, we took a $12 van from Oaxaca to the south coast beaches and we were motion sick the entire way, as well as scared to death. A six hour ride on a road like the road up Mt. Tam with a driver who passed on blind curves! We flew back.

Save your money on other things. We found hotels for $29 a night in Mexico City & about $35/night in Oaxaca, basic but decent. They may be more expensive in the summer. Oaxaca has a big dance festival in July and gets booked up and I understand that everything is much more expensive then.

I'm sure you will have a great time! karen

Hotel in Oaxaca for family with 9-year-old

Jan 2003

We will be staying in Oaxaca next month for 2 weeks and would like to balance visits to see artisans in outlying villages with tearing around doing what a 9 year old boy would like to do. Would anyone recommend a hotel with a pool over a more picturescue B in their experience? Has anyone taken the bus to Huatulco and felt it was worth it? Any insights would be extremely appriciated. Patti

Some hotels with pools in Oaxaca that I have visited include (in order of price--all are going to be US-style prices, I think): 1. Meson del Angel, which is about 20 minutes walk from the center and consists of several buildings spread out among lawns. They have a delicious breakfast (probably daily, but I used to go on Sundays) and a nice pool. 2. Hotel Victoria, up on the hill with a great view, nice big pool and good dining room. 3. Camino Real, right downtown, very fancy, excellent (pricy) food, lovely pool. In all cases I have eaten and swum, but not stayed at these hotels. (At the first two, you can sneak in to swim and they're quite hospitable, as long as you act like a guest and buy some drinks). At #3, I never swam there, it's very fancy and I just went there for drinks or lunch and to enjoy the scene.) There are some pretty good websites to search for info.

The bus to Huatulco is long and the road is windy. If you want to go thre, you might consider renting a car (similar to US prices) for more independence, or a splurge on the plane tickets - it's pricy, but brief and spectacular, and you spend two more days of your vacation in the pool or ocean rather than on the bus. Also, in my experience Huatulco and the entire coast are far hotter and more buggy than the city, so when I've gone there, despite the beach and natural beauty, I'm always ready to go back up into the city in the mountains! Nicole

June 2001

I thought I'd share a little info about our recent experience. We took our then 6-month-old to Antigua, Guatemala and Oaxaca, Mexico this past January. It was a wonderful trip and our daughter loved it--Mexicans are baby-crazy and she was showered with constant, loving attention everywhere we went. Oaxaca is a fairly sizable urban center, but the old part of the city is filled with colonial churches and ruins, and the outlying lands are filled with Mixtec ruins and artisan villages. With friends, we rented a big house that we found through the Internet--a great experience, believe it or not. The place was huge, lovely, and was staffed by a cook, cleaner, gardener, and a young kid who ran errands and generally helped out. There were four bedrooms and three full baths, and it was relatively inexpensive. You can get more info here: Our flight was not direct, however: I believe you will have to go through Mexico City to get to Oaxaca. Darcy