Getting around in Mexico City is not that hard. The subway works well and is inexpensive, as is the Metro Train that relieves some of the areas with the most traffic.
Getting to Xochimilco, a suburb of Mexico City and UNESCO World Heritage site, is fairly simple and cheap, and I was really surprised to see it featured on so few travel blogs and see a grand number of exactly two foreign tourists there. So if you’re looking for a fun day trip (or even half day trip!) from the capital, seek no more: go trajiner-ing on the Xochimilco canals.
To get there, you need to ride metro line 2 to the South its end (Tasqueña) and subsequently take the tren ligero (light rail) to Xochimilco – this second phase takes about 45 minutes. When we went, we had to take a substitution bus that was free. Once in Xochimilco, tourism department guides will be there to direct you to the trajineras, the typical boats that take you for a tour of the canals.
Tours can last anywhere from 40 to 120 minutes, and you can pay an individual ticket or, of you are a large group, rent a whole boat, which is more convenient (we opted for a 80 minute tour, were the only passengers on our boat, and paid 500 pesos each). In both cases, you get a boatman who will likely only speak Spanish but will be more than happy to tell you about Xochimilco and its canals.
Half the fun is watching the other boats. Many Mexicans go to Xochimilco in large groups, especially to celebrate birthdays, picnic all day long, drink beers, and buy souvenirs. Smaller boats will circulate trying to sell stuff or services – ranging from mariachi bands to flower crowns to food to booze to flowers and plants. If you want to buy anything, you just let them know and they will come closer and stay beside your boat while they prepare your food / fix your drink. (You can also pack your lunch or buy something in town before boarding your trajinera). Birthday celebrations will have banners the passengers brought from home.
Xochimilco is one of the most fun, colourful, and loud things you can experience in Mexico City. I was unconvinced when Tim proposed Xochimilco as a day trip but it quickly turned into one of my favourite parts of the trip. The town itself is beautiful and we randomly ended up being there on a holiday, so there was a carnival-like colourful parade going on (it was 30 April)!