Mexico City’s Xochimilco canals have been a must-visit for decades. Not only are the canal trips unique in the world, but they offer a glimpse into the ancient past with more charm than most trips could fit into a couple of weeks.
Most passengers will book trips of two to three hours. A four-hour trip is not unheard of. The rate is mx$500 per hour, and that’s up to the limit of 18 passengers. Even if it looks like passengers and operators are haggling, the price is fixed.
Most international visitors will arrive to the Xochimilco Light Rail station from Metro Tasqueña. The trip is fast and efficient.
Anyone who looks lost will likely be approached by one of the runners from the closest boat launches. This happens in many parts of Xochimilco but especially outside the station. Don’t be alarmed. Their job is to guide passengers to the launch, and they can answer some questions. But each of them is paid by a particular boat launch.
Xochimilco Boat Launch Tips
- If you have a boat launch in mind, you can walk or take a taxi from the light rail station.
- We’ve listed all of the presently operating Xochimilco Boat Launches here.
- Remember, the Historic Center of Xochimilco is a destination in itself. 17 original barrios each have unique and interesting histories. They’re walkable, and among the most charming places in Mexico City.
- Most trajineras, the actual canal boats, are designed for up to 18 passengers. Smaller parties can find the few smaller boats (for six to eight passengers) also plying the same canals. The prices are the same.
Beyond the Xochimilco Boat Launch tips, it’s important to review the local regulations. The boat and tour operators are required to adhere to a strict set of rules. Visitors and patrons are too. Here’s a summary of all of them. It should make your visit easier and safer.
- Max capacities of 18 passengers on board boats are strictly enforced. This includes children under four years of age. Passengers may not move to another boat during the trip.
- If passengers do not wish to wear a life vest, they must sign a release card with the operator or authorized personnel.
- Alcohol is limited to one bottle of liquor per boat or three bottles/cans of beer per adult passenger.
- Passengers should remain seated and are prohibited from jumping or walking to other boats.
- Hands and feet must also remain in the boat.
- Loud music is prohibited as is equipment for loud music. Only PA systems & speakers available from the operators is permitted.
- Lashing together or otherwise interfering with the passage of boats is prohibited.
- Only authorized restrooms can be visited. Operators should be consulted and will advise passengers as to the approach of authorized rest rooms.
- All types of trash and litter must remain on the boat. Operators will advise as to the proper disposal of trash.
- Visibly intoxicated persons will be reported to the Tourism Desk at each boat launch.
- Operators reserve the right to interrupt or cancel any tour. Refund will be refused and they may report unruly or intoxicated passengers to the appropriate authorities.
Photos: Luz Tovar/Secretaría de Cultura CDMX.