Earth : North America : Mexico : Northern Mexico : Chihuahua (state) : Juarez
A passport is required to enter the United States. Juarez is part of Mexico's zona frontera, and no visa or passport is required to enter from the United States. Pedestrians are rarely stopped or asked for identification. Vehicles may be stopped at random: usually indicated by a red light at the border crossing. Your vehicle may be searched if stopped, and the most serious matter is to carry a firearm or ammunition without a permit to do so: even one spent shell casing may result in serious charges.
Highways exiting Juarez have checkpoints that do require foreigners to present a visa. If you do not have one, you may fill out a tourist card at the checkpoint.
Near the Stanton Street bridge in downtown El Paso, most visitors that come for a single day choose to park on the US side of the border and walk across the bridges as to avoid dealing with traffic, lack of parking in the city center, and long waits for vehicles reentering the United States. Parking is generally $3.00 U.S. near the bridges. Be aware that the Stanton St. bridge, and the more westerly Paso del Norte bridge, allow auto traffic only northbound, into the US. However, pedestrians can use both bridges in both directions.
Abraham González Airport (IATA: CJS, ICAO: MMCS) offers flights to several destinations in Mexico, including Chihuahua, Monterrey, and Mexico City. El Paso International Airport (IATA: ELP) is the most convenient airport for U.S. travelers .
Juarez is a large Mexican city located in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. While you are in Mexico, you are nowhere near the tropical Mexico with beautiful beaches and Aztec and Mayan culture many people expect. Juarez is home to the Mexican vaquero (cowboy) culture and you will be more likely to encounter people resembling cowboys than any other vision of a Mexican one might have. However, Juarez is rich in the northern culture of Mexico, and most travelers will find this more charming and realistic than the culture they experience at many other locales that are not off the beaten path in Mexico.
In past years, criminal activity in Juarez, as well as the city and state of Chihuahua, in general, was extremely high and something to worry about, but not anymore. There had been revelations of police corruption in the area and some incidents quite violent in nature as they pertained to the border area's prevalence in illegal drug trafficking. Juarez experienced over 1600 murders in 2008 and 3010 in 2009 and 2010 (out of a population of 1,500,000) connected with drug trafficking. However, the city has been able to turn this around remarkably fast since 2011. Massive purges of corrupt officials took place as well as direct and decisive actions by the federal government to catch and imprison high level criminals by bringing the Mexican army into the city. Juarez is safe; it is safer than many U.S. cities, especially for tourists.
Foreign visitors should not have much to worry about as long as they follow common sense; if you avoid venturing out alone into suspicious areas of the town, particularly after dark, making obvious your personal wealth to strangers, and staying well clear of any illegal activity, particularly involving drug purchase/smuggling, you should be fine. Just remember that Mexican police are notoriously lacking in concern for those whose activities are considered "high-risk." The US Border Patrol can also be quite mercurial about these matters, and neither American nor Mexican prisons are very enticing places to spend one's vacation.
There is a public bus system in Juarez; however, it is not very easy to use and is often overlooked by tourists. In general, buses have their final destination on a board in the front window. They make frequent stops, and often run in close succession to one another; if you miss a bus, another of the same route is likely to appear in a matter of minutes. Many routes continue to run overnight, if you have no choice but to use them, exercise extreme caution on buses at night and buses that go into poorly policed barrios of the city (especially to the west and south). In recent weeks, buses have been targeted in attacks, mainly aimed to collect protection money for route operators.
Uber came to Juarez in 2017 and can be summoned using the same app as in the US. Taxis are abundant and inexpensive, but always ask for the ride fee and if possible ask two different drivers to get the best fare. Taxis are not metered, and initial fares may be given based on one's perceived ability to pay (a tourist or wealthier Mexican may be quoted a higher fare). However, most sites of touristic interest in Juarez can be reached by walking in the historic center. Upon arrival in Juarez, it is likely that most foreigners will received by a plethora of taxi drivers offering to drive them to the market. While the market cannot be seen from the border crossing, it is a relatively short walk: after crossing the Santa Fe street bridge, walk down Avenida Juarez to 16 de Septiembre, turn left and then walk about seven blocks (street blocks are much smaller in Juarez than in neighboring El Paso).
Driving in Juarez, while less chaotic than in Mexico City, is not recommended for a casual visitor. While the lack of high-speed freeways means many accidents that happen in the central parts of the city are relatively minor, fender benders in Mexico may involve frustrating red tape. If you drive in Juarez, make sure you have Mexican automobile insurance as not having Mexican insurance may result in criminal charges and a visit to jail.
Most larger businesses have parking lots with attendants that will ask for a nominal fee (25 US cents, or two to three pesos). Watch where you park; cars that are illegally parked on streets may have their license plates removed by a transit cop. The idea is to ensure you will pay the fine before leaving the country (and your plates should be returned after doing so). If this happens to you, the ticket should indicate where to pay your fine, should you chose to do so (you should be able to re-enter the United States in any event, but you may face some added complications with a missing plate).
Juarez is unlike many border towns in that it is a major city with over a million inhabitants. However, most foreign tourists will still enjoy the same elements of stereotypical Mexican culture that they do in other border towns such as Nogales, Tijuana, and Nuevo Laredo.
Typical Mexican souvenirs such as blankets, pottery, and trinkets themed in Mexican culture.
Make sure to haggle as it will be expected. If you act uninterested, or begin to walk away, you should get quoted a lower price. The merchants speak English and are constantly encountering Americans so you will not seem very foreign to them if you are not Mexican yourself. Goods may range from kitschy trinkets to high quality artesan-made glassware, pottery, jewelry, leather goods, and woven cloth. Most markets also have good food and drink, and musical entertainment.
If one cannot live without US-style retail, Juarez has many shopping areas featuring familiar retailers such as Home Depot, Sears and Wal-Mart. Most US (and even some Canadian) banks have branches in Juarez as well.
Don't forget the "burritos."
Be aware that you can't drink in public places or in the street.
Juarez has its fair share of local and international hotels. However, many travellers will find it easier (if the lines to cross de border are short, if not, you will be at least an hour in the line, you choose), and much safer, to spend the night across the Rio in El Paso, as it is a large American city with all the usual American services.
Juarez is being patrolled day and night by local Police officers. The new local police sheriff has established several changes inside the corporation which have led to a safer and more trustworthy Police service.
Do not be caught with any type of weapon in Mexico. This can include a small pocket knife or even ammunition or bullet casings. American motorists have been jailed for driving into Mexico with spent ammunition casings in their car trunk.