Guadalajara is the often overlooked cultural center of Mexico, and is the birthplace of many traditions that the world associates with the country. Mariachi music and tequila both originate from the state of Jalisco, and as a strong Catholic state, Guadalajara is home to several impressive places of worship, along with a variety of museums, which provide enough to keep even the most avid history expats entertained. There is also a World Heritage Site in Guadalajara in the form of the Hospicio Cabañas, which is one of the oldest hospitals throughout North and South America.
Living in Guadalajara will introduce you to eccentric coffee shops, fashionable restaurants, suburbs that contain markets and small shops with traditional folk-art and Mexican souvenirs. The street food on the sidewalk offers exciting dining wherever you are in the city, and the authentic taste of Mexico can be found here at any time of day.
Guadalajara is served mainly by Libertador Miguel Hidalgo International Airport, which mainly hosts flights from the US. Most hotels in the city will offer pickups from the airport that are usually cheaper than taking a taxi, or a bus from Terminal 1 of the airport which goes straight into the historic center of Guadalajara.
Most of the popular tourist attractions within the city center are within walking distance, so the easiest method of getting around Guadalajara is on foot. There are also frequent bus routes from the outskirts of the city to the city centre, though the signs for these bus stops are not always clear.
Speaking to people who know the area can help you find your way in this city. There is also a basic subway network in Guadalajara with one line running from the north to the south of the city, and one going from east to west. This is an inexpensive way of getting around the city, but is only convenient if the stops match your destination.
For expatriates wanting to drive, there are a couple of important things to bear in mind. Firstly, Mexico drives on the right. Secondly, if you are entering Mexico on a permanent resident visa, you will not be allowed to import your own foreign-plated vehicle. Temporary visa holders can apply for a Temporary Import Permit for moving to Mexico with their own vehicle.
Residents of Guadalajara tend to be very welcoming to expats, tourists and foreigners, and will usually be very helpful if you are lost, or need some advice. However, the usual precautions should be taken as in any other large city. There is a danger of purse snatching, particularly in busy tourist areas. Outdoor restaurants are also a place to be wary, particularly if anyone accidentally spills a drink on you, as this can be a deliberate distraction.
The police throughout Mexico are very strict about illegal substances, so never carry anything which may cause you problems. The emergency phone number is 066, so you can call this if you come across any issues. There is also a specific number for tourist safety which is 01800 36 32 200.