In the spirit of adventure, I traveled to Teotihuacan on the bus and navigated the site without a guide. Sure, I could have purchased a tour from Mexico City, but I decided to live a little. Most of the tours were all day affairs that included a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady Guadeloupe, and I had zero interest in visiting what I couldn’t grasp to be more than a beautifully designed building. Furthermore, I was having problems with Mexico City’s altitude and smog, so I needed the freedom to walk at my own slow pace.
The site opened at 9 AM, and I wanted to get there early before the influx of tourists and the unbearable sun (there’s hardly any shade there). I took the Mexico City Metro to the bus terminal first thing in the morning. I left my Airbnb, and stopped by a vendor for a breakfast pastry on my way to the metro station. I took line 3 north to the La Raza stop, and transferred to Line 12 and got off at the Autobuses del Norte stop. Once I exited, I crossed the street to the bus terminal. All the way to left near gate 8 was a ticket booth selling tickets for to Teotihuacan. I purchased a roundtrip ticket for 100 pesos (about $5 USD). The ticket agent directed me to gate 8, and told me to take bus number 7.
Past gate 8, I went through security check. Outside, I found the line for bus number 7. It was pretty much the only line with non-locals in it. Looking for the tourist (i.e. white people) has been my go-to survival tip for travel. If I’m not exactly sure where to go, I go where they go.
I handed the driver my ticket, and got on the first bus to Teotihuacan, which is about an hour outside of CDMX. The entire process was pretty simple, and the bus arrived on the southern end of the pyramids at Puerta 1 right after opening. It made a few stops along the way to pick up other travelers, but didn’t stop longer than a minute.
I purchased my ticket at the gate for 70 pesos (about $3.5 USD), and walked inside. There were guides outside offering their services for the day, but I chose to wing it. There were signs providing information about each area, and there was also free wifi so I could google any topic of interest (or check social media).
The site is quite easy to navigate. The main attractions are along the Avenue of the Dead. There four main attractions are the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, Quetzalcoatl Palace, and the Teotihuacan Museum. I visited on a Monday, so the museum was closed. That wasn’t a big deal to me since I had visited the Anthropology Museum the day before in Mexico City, and learned quite a bit about Teotihuacan already. The Pyramid of the Sun was the tallest pyramid at the site, so my plan was to get there first before the sun became unbearable.
I won’t even pretend this wasn’t rough for me. Like I mentioned earlier, I began having problems with the altitude and the smog on the day before. I would walk around the corner, and could barely breathe. I just couldn’t get enough oxygen in my system, and I got really dizzy. I spent the rest of that day relaxing because making it to Teotihuacan was nonnegotiable for me. This was supposed to be the highlight of my trip, and I needed to be well enough to make it.
I climbed the 240+ steps to the top of the pyramid with three small breaks. The view was beautiful, and well worth my panting. Sitting at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, I realized that my energy was dwindling. It was around 11:00 AM, and the sun was starting to really beam. I brought an umbrella to block the sun, but felt too weak to hold it up. I decided that I didn’t have enough energy to make it to the Pyramid of the Moon and the Palacio de Quetzalpapálotl, and all the way back to my departure gate on the other end of the site.
I mentally prepared myself for the climb back down, and decided that it was best for me to head back home. Somehow, I made it to the departure gate after walking ever so slowly. When I finally got to the bus, I collapsed into my seat and fell asleep. When I woke up, we had arrived back at the bus terminal in Mexico City, and everyone was getting off the bus. I threw my backpack across my shoulders and headed back across the street to the metro station to make it home.
Teotihuacan did not go as planned, but it was still an experience that I would recommend to everyone. With or without a guide, there was so much to see and so much to learn.