WHERE IS SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE? San Miguel is located in Guanajuato State in Central Mexico, approximately 1 hour from Leon Airport (BJX) and approximately 4 hours from the Mexico City Airport (MEX). To learn more about transportation, please visit the Getting to SMA section of our for helpful travel information.
DO I NEED A PASSPORT TO TRAVEL TO MEXICO? YES! As of 2007, all Americans traveling to Mexico must present a valid passport upon arrival in Mexico and upon return to the US.
IS SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE SAFE? YES! San Miguel is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico, with lower incidents of violence than virtually any other area of Mexico, including the resort areas of Cancun and Cozumel. We've heard several people refer to the city as "Mexican Disneyland" because it is so idyllic and friendly. We encourage you to visit this site for lots of great information about safety in Mexico. Now, although San Miguel is very safe, we still urge you to employ the same common sense you would use in any city. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times, and stay alert when walking through the city at night.
WHAT ABOUT ZIKA? San Miguel de Allende is Zika-free!
WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE? Days should be sunny and warm (75F-85F), while most nights will be cool and clear (55F-65F). Note that the altitude – 6,400 ft – can make some evenings quite chilly. Wear layers! September is also the end of the rainy season, so while we're certainly optimistic about a dry weekend, overnight or flash rains are not uncommon.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK? As noted, the weather should be sunny and warm (70F-85F), while most nights will be cool and clear (40F-6oF). However, note that the altitude – 6,400 ft – means that you’ll need hats/sunscreen during the day, and layers at night.
WHAT KIND OF SHOES SHOULD I BRING? San Miguel de Allende is not a stiletto-friendly town. It is built on a hill, and you'll find yourself walking up and down some gentle slopes as you wander through the city. The streets and sidewalks are also cobblestone, so consider your Loubs warned!
WILL THE FOOD/WATER MAKE ME SICK? San Miguel is a gourmet foodie’s paradise (one of our favorite culinary cities in the world!), but you should still keep a few basic precautions in mind if you wish to avoid “Montezuma’s Revenge.” Do not drink the tap water. Bottled water is cheap and plentiful, and avoiding dirty water is the single most effective way of preventing illness. Note that some high end hotels/B&B’s effectively filter the tap water provided on premises. Always check with your hotel before imbibing. Use caution when eating street food. San Miguel has a vibrant street food tradition – tasting tacos (David's meal of choice) and tamales from a street cart is simply one of the best ways to experience true Mexican cuisine. However, please keep a few things in mind before embarking on your culinary adventure:
Be very careful to avoid vendors without many customers. Crowds indicate a popular, vetted vendor and a rapid food turnover.
Give the “establishment” a cursory once-over before ordering – cleanliness is key!
Avoid pre-made juices, cold unsealed drinks, and ice, as they may contain unfiltered local water
Peel and/or wash any fresh fruit or veggies before consumption
Take it slow. If your belly isn’t used to spicy Mexican flavors, you may experience discomfort and other “issues” unrelated to food-borne illness. Be nice to your tummy and introduce strong flavors and spicy food gradually.
Bring back-up meds: It’s almost impossible to predict when and how you could get sick from food/beverage abroad – but it does happen, in spite of the best prevention efforts! Medicine is readily available and safe in Mexico, but we encourage you to bring your own stash of antacids, anti-diarrheals, and even antibiotics.
CAN I USE MY PHONE IN MEXICO? Most carriers will charge a roaming fee if you use your cell phone while in Mexico – although T-Mobile recently announced free international calls to/from Mexico for its customers (read more here). Verizon also offers extremely cheap international plans to Mexico (read more here). We used this on our trip to Mexico and it was only an additional $2 per day for our normal text, talk and data plan. Sprint and AT&T also have similar daily/weekly "global passes" for purchase, though we are less familiar with their options. Alternatively, consider installing Skype and/or WhatsApp on your phone, turn off the Data, and rely on calling/texting using Wifi. Most hotels, cafes and restaurants throughout SMA offer free wifi. We highly recommend reading this article for great overview of phone/coverage options abroad.
WHAT KIND OF MONEY DO THEY USE IN MEXICO? The Mexican currency is the peso, which trades at approximately 18 pesos to one US dollar. San Miguel is an extremely well developed city, with numerous ATMs available in the main Centro area. Money Changers are also available in banks, though ATMs generally provide the best exchange rates. In addition, most major U.S. credit cards are accepted by most hotels, restaurants and vendors in San Miguel – and you’ll incur no additional fees for using your card in Mexico. However, be sure to notify your bank of your travel plans! Otherwise, your bank may put a security block on your card.
WHAT ARE TYPICAL TIPPING PRACTICES IN MEXICO? In San Miguel, there is no better way to say “thank you” than with a little dinero. Tourism is the city’s main industry, and therefore many San Miguelitos rely on tips to supplement their livelihood. A tip is always very subjective, but here are a few general suggestions: – Airport/hotel baggage handlers: $1 USD per article of luggage – Taxi driver: Not expected – Waiters: 10-15% of tab – though service is often already included, check the bill before tipping. – Maids/cleaning staff: $1-2 USD per day per guest On a related note, we discourage our guests from giving tips or cash “donations” to beggars, street children, or anyone else who has not actually provided you with a service of some kind.
ARE ELECTRICAL OUTLETS THE SAME IN MEXICO? Yes. Outlets in Mexico are type A/B – the same as the US.
I DON'T SPEAK SPANISH. WILL THAT BE A PROBLEMO? No! Although Spanish is the national language of Mexico – nearly everyone in San Miguel speaks some English. In fact, approximately 20% of the population are American expatriates! You should have very little trouble finding an English speaker if you need help. If you can say "margarita", you'll be just fine!