A trip to Xochimilco can go one of two ways. It can either be a boring tourist trap where you sit on a boat in the hot sun for a few hours. On the other hand, it can be an amazing day spent with friends boozing and cruising along an ancient waterway. I’ve had both experiences, but when you get it right, Xochimilco is an absolutely roaring good time. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a day in Mexico City. Day drinking, lazily floating along the river, and surrounded by music, good vibes, and people having fun. What more do you need?!
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Things To Know Before Going to Xochimilco
There are a few essentials you need to have before heading to Xochimilco. The most important is a squad. Each boat can fit around 12-15 people, and you’ll want to have as close to that number as possible. You’ll be on a boat for several hours. A variety of human energy is absolutely necessary so things stay lively and spiced up. Next up, booze and cash. It’s a lot more fun if people are pitching in for mariachi bands and shots of tequila along the way.
Xochimilco is also one of the few things that I’d recommend going when it’s most touristy. The weekends are prime time for a day out on the river. Tourist crowds can be annoying, but the energy at Xochimilco is electric and palpable on the weekends. The more people there are, the better.
Sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water are also essential in case you get a particularly hot day. There’s always shade on the boat, but basking in that sizzling Mexican sun hits different when you’re a little buzzed.
There’s not much else that you need to know before going. The routes are basically pre-set, so you can do a circuit of around two hours all the way up to around six hours if you want to make it to the Island of the Dolls. There’s not much customization otherwise. The boat captains know what they’re doing, so just trust them and go along for the ride.
How To Get To Xochimilco
The easiest way to get to Xochimilco from downtown Mexico City is by Uber. If you’ve squadded up like I’ve suggested, then the cost shouldn’t be too bad. On average, it cost about $200 pesos (about $10 USD) for the ride from downtown Mexico City. Split four ways, that’s $2.50 USD each. Another option is to book a tour to Xochimilco. If you don’t have your own group, it might be worth booking a tour. You might actually end up saving money as opposed to booking all your own transportation and a boat for yourself. Here are a few Xochimilco tour options from GetYourGuide.
Oh, and before you take to the trails, make sure to have good travel insurance handy while you’re off adventuring across the world. I use SafetyWing to keep me covered throughout my travels for as low as $40 a month.
How Much Does A Trip to Xochimilco Cost?
The standard rate for renting a boat and hiring captain in Xochimilco is 500 pesos per hour, or about $25 USD. Luckily, that’s for the entire boat. The more people that you get on board, the lower the costs go per person. The first time I went to Xochimilco, there were just four of us. We only booked the boat for two hours because we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and it worked out to 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) per person, not including the tip to the driver at the end. The second time I went, I wrangled together a group of 10 people, and then picked up two more local Mexicans once we arrived to the port.
We reserved the boat for five hours, splitting the 2500 peso cost 12 ways. For five hours on the boat, it worked out to be cheaper than my first visit to Xochimilco. This is why having a squad is crucial. It makes it a lot more fun and also a lot cheaper. You’ll have more money to go towards important things like beer and tequila.
You can bring your own booze on the boat to further save money. However, if you don’t, never fear. There are dozens of smaller boats floating through the canals with beer, tequila, cocktails, food, and more. Of course, it’ll be a little pricier than if you were to buy it at an Oxxo, but it’s still not too expensive.
The only other thing you could possibly spend money on at Xochimilco is mariachis. On average, a song will cost you 150 Mexican pesos. That’s about 10-20 pesos per person on your boat if you split the costs. Asking for multiple songs might also bring down the cost per song. This is Mexico. Bargaining is always possible. Bring cash because obviously none of the boat vendors or mariachis take card.
How To Have A Good F’in Time
Now that you’ve got a squad, a boat, a captain, and lots of booze, you are ready for an excellent day at Xochimilco. Bring the energy and be open to whatever surprises await along the canals of Xochimilco. Keep those feet dancin’ and the Coronas flowing. You have to be actively trying to be boring if you’re not having a good time at Xochimilco. Disfruta la vida weyyy!
Also, be sure to check out my complete itinerary for backpacking in Mexico with 77 jam-packed pages covering over 33 different destinations in this amazing country!
My Complete Mexico Backpacking Itinerary
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