Difference between revisions of "Tijuana"

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* Drug-dealer informants - In many bars and on the street, it is common to be offered illegal narcotic drugs for sale. Some of these peddlers work with the police. They sell someone the drugs, then tell the police that person is carrying. The police shake the person down for cash, and confiscate the drugs, which they presumably return to the original peddler, who goes looking for another victim.
* Drug-dealer informants - In many bars and on the street, it is common to be offered illegal narcotic drugs for sale. Some of these peddlers work with the police. They sell someone the drugs, then tell the police that person is carrying. The police shake the person down for cash, and confiscate the drugs, which they presumably return to the original peddler, who goes looking for another victim.
* Knives - Be aware, while in the United States it is usually legal to carry certain kinds of knives, this is not the case in Mexico. Carrying any kind of knife is Illegal. It is considered possession by the Police and legal system and you could very likely be taken to jail if you are carrying even a small pocket knife. It is best to offer the Police some money as it will cost you more if you are taken to jail and forced to pay the bail. If you cannot afford to pay the bail you will be taken to a Mexican prison where you could remain indefinitely for doing something you may not known was a crime.
* Strip clubs - There are a numerous clubs on Revolucion that offer nude dance shows. As you walk down the street, barkers will try to entice you to come in; if you are not interested, simply smile and walk on. If you do walk into one, most likely you will soon be approached by one or several ladies who will ask you to buy them a drink. Keep in mind that their "mixed drinks" are often nothing but soda or juice, but you will be expected to pay a ''ladies' drink'' price, whether they ask for beer, real mixed drinks, or non-alcoholic drinks.  These drinks will typically cost you between $8 and $10, and the ladies get a commission for each drink you purchase for them.
* Strip clubs - There are a numerous clubs on Revolucion that offer nude dance shows. As you walk down the street, barkers will try to entice you to come in; if you are not interested, simply smile and walk on. If you do walk into one, most likely you will soon be approached by one or several ladies who will ask you to buy them a drink. Keep in mind that their "mixed drinks" are often nothing but soda or juice, but you will be expected to pay a ''ladies' drink'' price, whether they ask for beer, real mixed drinks, or non-alcoholic drinks.  These drinks will typically cost you between $8 and $10, and the ladies get a commission for each drink you purchase for them.

Revision as of 17:35, 11 September 2013

Tijuana is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.

Tijuana is the dominant focal city of Northwestern Mexico, in Baja California, Mexico. It is located right across the border from San Diego, California, USA. Due to its Pacific coastal location, the climate is very moderate for most of the year, with average temperatures during the daytime ranging from 68ºF (20°C) in January, to 86°F (30°C) in August. The rainy season is short (and tame, with yearly averages close to only 10 inches/ 254 millimeters of rainfall), and encompasses late winter to early spring. Tijuana has a population of around 1.3 million people according to the last census, including its surrounding suburbs 1.7 million. The city has grown from a small border town with a salacious reputation during the Prohibition Era in the United States into a large, modern city with a sizable middle class and ever expanding housing estates. Tijuana's proximity to the United States, along with Rosarito, has made the two adjacent cities a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers from San Diego.

Street Scene on Avenida Revolución


Tijuana has a mild climate due to its closeness to the Pacific Ocean, with low humidity and pleasant temperatures year-round. The average temperature is 70F.


  • Zona Centro — The old downtown including Avenida Revolución
  • Zona Rio — Downtown (Business district)
  • Playas - Beaches and hills West of downtown
  • Zona Norte - red light district
  • Zona Libertad - Bedroom zone east of River
  • Zona Otay - Bedroom zone behind (east) of Airport
  • 'Zona Universitaria Technologica - urban zone
  • Zona Camionera - Zone near bus station
  • Zona San Francisco - sprawling suburban zone on perimeter of city.
  • Zona Santa Fe - canyon to rosarito
  • Zona CUT - hills west of downtown
  • Zona Diaz Ordaz - busy main throughfare zone south of Zona Rio.


Tijuana is by far the largest urban center of Northwestern Mexico, and is also its westernmost city. Tijuana and its U.S. neighbor San Diego form the largest metropolitan area on the U.S.-Mexican Border with a combined population of 4.5 million people. The two cities enjoy substantial social, economic, and cultural interactions.

Tijuana's environment is shaped by the agreeable climate of the Pacific Ocean and is adjacent to the wealthiest and most populated section of the United States with which Mexico shares a border. It has a sizable middle class and is home to numerous manufacturers taking advantage of NAFTA. Despite (or perhaps because of) declines in tourism due to violence associated with the drug trade during 2008-2011, the social, cultural, and musical culture of the city have continued to develop, allowing the city to attract artists from all over North and Central America. Tijuana is home to every class, from the working class to the wealthy, from junkies to businessmen. Tijuana is particularly notable for the influence of fashion and trends introduced by chicanos of the United States, including the development of a localized Spanglish. Tijuana is a major transit point for undocumented immigration into the United States, as well as a common destination for any illegal Mexican immigrants deported from the West Coast of the United States. As such, some areas are swollen with poor people with no roots in the city, who inhabit illegal but albeit tolerated shantytowns. In sharp contrast to these shantytowns lie housing estates for the upwardly mobile, from maquiladora families, university students, to high class businessmen, reflecting Tijuana's status as one of the wealthiest cities in Mexico.

Tijuana has a growing cosmopolitan character, although lacking the scale and diversity seen in Mexico City. The city is home to many people who have migrated from within Mexico, along with native Mexican Indians, Asian residents (predominantly Chinese diaspora families, and Korean and Japanese factory managers), as well as many US citizens (predominantly Mexican-Americans including "cholos" and ex-cholos, with a sprinkle of retired American folk, though Rosarito is attracting more retirees in the past decade, cheaper life seekers, and Americans escaping law enforcement), and South Americans from Argentina and Uruguay, among others.

Frequent English-speaking visitors to Tijuana use the term "gringo-friendly" for a shop, bar, or restaurant in which a non-Spanish speaking customer will be at ease. A place is gringo-friendly if the staff here is accustomed to dealing with American tourists, if they speak English and have English-language menus. Places that are not gringo-friendly may require use of Spanish, and patience. Just because a place is not gringo-friendly does not imply that the people there will not be friendly or that tourists will not be welcome.

While the Mexican peso is the legal currency, US dollars are widely used and accepted, even by locals. Tijuana observes daylight savings time (DST) the same way as the USA does. Money changers on the US side may offer better rates when buying pesos and worse rates when selling pesos.


Spanish is the dominant language in Tijuana, as it is in much of Mexico. However, English is spoken by almost everybody in the city's tourist hot spots (such as Avenida Revolución), as well as by taxi drivers and the Americans who live in the city. Having someone with you who can speak Spanish will be helpful when going away from Avenida Revolución.

Get in

Most tourists enter Tijuana through the border crossing at San Ysidro, which is reportedly the busiest border crossing in the world. The crossing can be made by car, bus, or on foot.

Every visitor who plans to return to the United States must have a passport. A passport card will work too for U.S. citizens. Although technically illegal, American citizens can visit Tijuana and re-enter the United States with just a driver's license with little hassle from immigration officials.

By plane

From the Tijuana International Airport (From Mexico)

Tijuana-General Abelardo L. Rodtríguez International Airport (IATA: TIJ, ICAO: MMTJ) is served by the major airlines, Aeromexico, Aeromexico Connect, Aereo Calafia, Interjet, Volaris, and VivaAerobus. Carriers such as Viva Aerobus, Volaris and Interjet offer low-cost products similar to U.S.-style low cost carriers. Previously international services were very limited until 2007, when Aeroméxico begin services to East Asia adding Tijuana as a stop on its Mexico City-Tijuana-Tokyo (Narita) flagship route. In 2008, this route was augmented by a Mexico City–Tijuana–Shanghai (Pudong) flight. The flights serve as routes not only as flights between four of the world's most populous cities, but also as the link for the significant East Asian-Mexican community in the northwestern areas of Mexico.

The airport is located parallel to the USA-Mexico border line, 6 miles (10km) east of downtown Tijuana and the San Ysidro International Border Crossing, and one mile (1.6km) west of Otay International Border Crossing. The airport is used as a transit point for travelers wishing to visit San Diego and L.A. as well.

To get from the Airport to your destination you have several options:

  • You can take an authorized taxi cab, sedan or van, at the Airport. Buy the ticket in one of the booths at the exit of the airport.
  • You can prebook transportation to have it assured at the moment of your arrival. Some of the companies offering this services are Discovery Mundo y Cucapah Tours.
  • Volaris Airlines offers shuttle services [19] to the Greyhound Station (120 W Broadway) and the Santa Fe Depot (train station at Broadway & Kettner) in downtown San Diego and to Ensenada (Blvd. Costero #609-8, Zona Centro)
  • Aeromexico Airlines offers onward shuttle services up to several cities in the U.S. State of California with Intercalifornias bus lines and to Mexicali and Ensenada with EcoBaja Tours
  • You can take public transportation from the Tijuana airport all the way to city downtown. Go outside the airport and take the blue and white bus, heading west. It has the legend: “Centro” or “Plaza Rio”. US Dollars will be accepted.

There's also an airport bus station in the lot east of the terminal building, just outside the arrivals exit. The same bus companies such as Greyhound/Cruceros-USA, InterCalifornias, ABC, Grupo Etrella Blanca, etc., mentioned under the By Bus header (below) also serve the airport. From here passengers can get a bus to San Diego, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Mexicali, Ensenada, Guyamas, Tecate, Rasarito, and other places on both sides of the border. U.S. bound buses cross into the U.S. at San Ysidro/'La Linea Internacional' to the next stop at E San Ysidro Blvd (behind McDonald's, just north of the American border inspection station). The buses have a dedicated lane in the long line of vehicles waiting to cross which allows them to bypasses the traffic congestion waiting at the American border inspection station and drops passengers off into the building for inspection. See By Bus below for links and list of bus companies serving Tijuana from Mexico and the U.S.

From the San Diego Airport

San Diego International Airport (IATA: SAN) [20] is 15 miles north of the international border and can be used as a transit point for travelers wishing to visit Tijuana. You can take public transportation from the San Diego airport all the way to downtown Tijuana and it will only cost you $10. Go outside the airport and take the airport express bus, which is route 992. Buy a $5 day pass from the bus driver, which will also cover the trolley. Take this bus to the first stop on Broadway. From here, you should see the American Plaza Trolley station. Walk over to the west side, and you will catch the Blue Line to San Ysidro. The day pass you bought from the bus driver will work on the train, which could help you to catch a train that's just arriving at the American Plaza Trolley station. The San Ysidro exit is the last stop on the Blue Line. Everyone will get off the train. Follow everyone to the left towards the McDonalds building and go past the building to the parking lot behind it, before turning right onto a narrow sidewalk and up a hill to a ramp that leads to the border gate. Go through a one-way gate, which leads down into the Mexican immigration and customs office. There are the more expensive yellow taxis driven by taxi drivers in yellow shirts. The fare for these taxis is $5 USD to revolution avenue. Sometimes a taxi driver will ask you to pay $6, but you can always get these taxis for $5 or even $3.

If you've been to Tijuana a few times before, then go to the right after the first one-way gate. This will take you to a small market and here you can catch the lower-priced taxis which are usually orange and white and called either "Taxi Libre" or "Taxi Economico." These cost $3 USD to get downtown and the prices are all listed on various boards. The taxis (in sedans or mini-vans) of various color combinations are operated on a fixed route like buses.

If it's during the day then you could walk to downtown. Follow the signs that say to Centro. You'll walk across a long bridge, and generally head toward the Revolution Arch.

By car

While in the San Diego area, take I-5 or I-805 to south. Either park at the border and continue on foot or drive into Mexico. Driving from the US to Mexico often requires no stopping, but inspections driving south have become more frequent as authorities attempt to stop firearms trafficking into Mexico, resulting in long wait times during periods of heavy traffic. See this YouTube video on the recent revisions to the southbound crossing. However, driving from Mexico to the United States will result in a long wait, even more so during evening rush hour or on holiday weekends.

If you are driving to Mexico, obtaining Mexican insurance with legal defense coverage is highly recommended, and can be bought immediately before crossing the border, or even online before your trip.

When coming into the US, the Otay Mesa and Tecate border crossings, also nearby, may sometimes be less congested. To get to the Otay crossing can be a little scary (not good for Gringos at night) and the border agents here don't seem as pleasant as the ones at the San Ysidro crossing.

If the pedestrian line returning to the US is long, it may be faster (in some cases) to take advantage of the numerous van and bus lines that cross the border. You will undoubtedly encounter agents for these services when approaching the pedestrian line back to the U.S., who will ask for $5 to $10 per person to let you board the vehicles which are already in line. Generally, the closer the vehicle is to the front of the line, the more they will charge.

Border Wait Times

Driving or walking, 1/2 - 2 hours. If you are driving and stay at a fancy hotel or eat at a fancy restaurant, ask them for a "Fast Pass". If you find the fast pass lane you will save a lot of time (driving) [21].

6-29-12 Update

The Fast Pass has worked well. Businesses in Tijuana buy them to give to their customers. Mostly used for medical tourists, hence it mostly functions as a medical line. Make sure and take a taxi to figure out the driving route first. Tell him you want to see and learn the route to the fast pass gate. Get the drive down before you attempt it yourself. There is only one Fast-Pass entry and it's on a one way street. It is always wonderful to legally "cut the line" at the border. With the border upgrades at San Ysidro, traffic patterns continue to change on the Mexican side of the border. It is not uncommon for the "fast pass" to only allow access to the Ready Lanes or the SENTRI lane.

You can also use the Ready-Lanes. These are entered from the right side of the Port of Entry and are used for those returnees that have an RFID enabled entry card (US Passport Card, newer Permenant Resident cards, Border Crosser cards, SENTRI cards, and enhanced driver's licenses).

Then the regular lanes. Let's just say, keep that empty Starbucks cup handy. It's a long wait

By foot

Many people drive to the border, park on the US side, and walk across. There are many lots available for this, which charge $4-$10 a day. While there are many taxis waiting to take you to Avenida Revolucion, it's only about a fifteen minute walk; follow the other tourists.

The San Ysidro border crossing is being upgraded therefore the pedestrian route may change quickly. If you've crossed before, read about the crossing elsewhere, or have mapped your route on Google Maps, you will find the reality quite different. Basically, look for the McDonald's at the end of the Trolley Line (at left if facing south) go to the side street between two buildings (McDonalds on one side & Mercado Internacional on the other) towards a parallel street (E San Ysidro Blvd which is also the bus station too) in the back. Make a right towards the walkway behind the Mercado building and go up the hill, which goes by the historic customs/train station to the gate. The walkway continues down into the Mexican border inspection station. See this YouTube video as the author made the walk over from behind McDonald's/Mercado Internacional into Mexico.

By bus

The main bus station is 9k SE of el Centro (old downtown) at Calzada Lazaro Cardenas 15751, Fracc. Chapultepec Alamar, Delegacion Mesa de Otay which is just south of the airport (8.5km from the airport terminal). The main bus station can be reached by bus from Calle 3 or by taxi from the city centre and has direct coaches to most major cities in Mexico. The following bus companies operate buses to/from the central bus station and the airport. (Note: The 800 toll free numbers are for calling from within Mexico unless stated otherwise. Other numbers are regular or local numbers. From outside Mexico you will have to call the regular numbers):

  • ABC (Autobuses de la Baja California), [1]. operates mainly along the Baja California Peninsula. They have buses running from the main bus station, the airport and the 'Zona Viva' station
  • Autobuses Aguacaliente, +52 664 621-2955, [2]. travels to Ensenada and Mexicali on two separate routes. They also have an additional office at Calzada Lazaro Cardenas, No 14924'H, Esq, Calle Segunda, Fracc. Contreras, La Mesa
  • Grupo Estrella Blanca, +52 55 5729-0807 (toll free: 800-507-5500 (Mexico)), [3]. They operate the TNS, Pacifco, Chihuahuanese, & Elite brands going to other northwestern cities in Mexico and to Mexico City in the mainland. Their buses are at the main terminal, the airport, and the 'La Linea' Terminal (see below). They also have less frequent presence at the old bus station (central camionera antigua), downtown..
  • Greyhound, Crucero USA, 731 E San Ysidro Blvd (Behind the McDonald's building from the trolley plaza), +1 619 428-1194 (toll free: 1-800-231-2222 (USA number)), [4]. Goes up to San Diego via San Ysidro (just over the American border) from the Tijuana central bus station and airport. Passengers transfer buses in downtown San Diego to get to additional (U.S.) cities.
  • Peninsula Executivo, 0800-027-3646, [5].
  • TAP (Transportes y Autobuses del Pacifico), +52 33 3668-5920 (toll free: 01 800 00 11 827), [6]. goes to other northwestern cities in Mexico all the way to Mexico City in the mainland from both the main bus station and 'Terminal Zona Viva' (see below)

There's also another (smaller) 'Terminal de Autobuses por la Linea' (or 'Terminal Zona Viva') near the main border crossing w/ San Ysidro addressed at Via de la Juventud Ote 8800, Plaza Viva, Zona Centro 22000. However the main entrance is facing Av Frontera between Av de la Amistad and Via de la Juventud southwest of the big roundabout at Av Frontera and Av de la Amistad. The below are additional bus companies serving the 'Terminal Zona Viva'. There's a line of local buses in front of the station (going to various parts of the city), across the street, along Frontera and a taxi stand for the cheaper white & orange 'Libre' taxis along Frontera towards Via de la Juventud (right turn if coming out from the station)

  • Estrellas del Pacifco, Via de la Juventud 8800, Plaza Viva, Col. Centro, +52 664 683-50-22. They also have their own terminal at the southwest corner of the intersection of Ing. Juan Ojeda Robles & Carretera Tijuana-Tecate (Hwy 2). They travel mainly in Baja California Norte, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua & part of Jalisco
  • Autotransportes de Aragon.

A number of smaller companies have their own terminals in downtown (Zona Centro) and/or at the intersection of Ing. Juan Ojeda Robles & Carretera Tijuana-Tecate (Hwy 2) in Col. Gpe. Victoria in the SE part of town. They are:

  • Autotransportes de Guasave, Ing. Juan Ojeda Robles 15419, Col. Gpe. Victoria (just west of the intersection of Ing. Juan Ojeda Robles & Carretera Tijuana-Tecate (Hwy 2)), +52 664 682-2404 or 607-1719 (toll free: 800 633 9396 (Mexico)), [7]. Travels east to Nogales on Hwy 2 and then down to Guadalajara on Hwy 15 stopping at several cities along the Hwy 2/15 corridors.
  • ACN (Autobuses Coordinados de Nayarit), Ing. Juan Ojeda Robles 114B, Col. Gpe. Victoria (Northwest corner of the intersection of Ing. Juan Ojeda Robles & Carretera Tijuana-Tecate (Hwy 2)), +52 664 299-04-87 or 607-1350, [8]. Goes from Tijuana, east to Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit, & Jalisco.
  • InterCalifornias, Ave Paseo Tijuana 9030, Col. Zona Rio, +52 664 683-62-81, [9]. goes up to Los Angeles, San Fernando, Bakersfield, Fresno, and San Jose/Stockton (route splits/joins in Madero) in the U.S. State of California.
  • Mexicoach, Terminal Turístico @ Av Revolucion 1025, Col. Centro (along Av Revolucion between Calle 6a & 7a), +52 664 685-1470 (Mexico) or +1 619 428-9517 (USA), [10]. Mexicoach buses leave from the parking lots on the US side, cross into Mexico, and drop you off at their own bus station on Revolucion Avenue in the middle of the downtown tourist district. These buses run during the day, every day, and costs $5 one way or $8 roundtrip. The parking lot at Mexicoach is about $7/day. From their own downtown terminal they also have buses going down to Playa Rosarito as well.
  • Transportes Suburbaja, Central Camionera Anitigua (Old Bus Station) @ Av Francisco Madero 111, Col. Centro (Ave. Madero esq. Calle 1a), +1 52 664 688-0082. runs frequent buses to Playas Raosarito and over to Tecate. Makes multiple stops along the route to pick up and drop off people. There are also some infrequent services by Grupo Estrella Blanca to/from the old bus station as well.
  • TUFESA, [11].

U.S. bound buses cross into the U.S. at the main border crossing at San Ysidro/'La Linea Internacional'. The buses have a dedicated lane which allows them to bypass the long lines to cross into the U.S. Passengers are dropped off into the customs building for inspection once the bus gets next to the building. Upon clearing U.S. immigration & customs, passengers are picked up at the San Ysidro bus station on E San Ysidro Blvd (behind McDonald's & Mercado Internacional to the right after getting out of the inspection station) for the onward trip north. If the passenger only paid to get to San Ysidro there is a trolley [22] going up to downtown San Diego via Chula Vista and National City ($5); local bus routes #906/907 for travel within the immediate area between here and the Iris St Trolley Station (connection to other routes); and taxis at the plaza just outside the immigration/customs inspection station. From the Otay de Mesa crossing SDMTS #905 goes from the American side of the border over to Iris St. Trolley station.

If going further south of from border there are immigration checkpoints 30-50km along the southbound roads. Be sure to have all documents ready or take the time to get the required FMM card when crossing the border going south.

Get around

Cabs are abundant throughout the city. If you are walking into Tijuana via the San Ysidro border crossing, you will be immediately confronted with a massive array of yellow cabs waiting to take you into downtown. This group of cab drivers are conveniently located, but be sure to negotiate a price before jumping into a cab. You should pay no more than $3 in normal traffic to get from the border to the downtown area.

Throughout the city, cab drivers stand on the sidewalks and solicit customers. It is almost impossible to avoid them, so finding a cab should never be a problem. Solid yellow cabs do not have meters, so agree with your driver in advance what the cost will be. 'Taxi Libre', white with orange stripe, cabs have meters and are cheaper than yellow cabs, though you might have to remind the driver to use the meter.

Be aware that when taking a Yellow Cab to a specific location, the drivers may tell you that the restaurant or bar you asked for is closed, and conveniently offer an alternative. This is almost always untrue, and the taxi driver is attempting to divert you to a business where he will receive a commission for delivering passengers. The driver may alternately tell you that "company rules" say that all rides to a given area can only take passengers to certain businesses, to achieve the same result. Taxi Libre drivers do not engage in this practice, as they are independent contractors, and do not have the commission structure that Yellow Cabs do.

Other cabs of different color combinations are actually routed colectivos running on a fixed route like a bus


Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)
Walk to USA sign in Tijuana
  • Avenida Revolucion in the Zona Centro - the main tourist area
  • Bullfights - Tijuana has one bullring, which is open during the summer months, and has bullfights most Sundays. It is located in the Playas de Tijuana, adjacent to the US border. It is the only seaside bullring in the world. The older and more historic bullring near the city center has been partially demolished by the owner of the property in the past year, citing failed business practices of the bullring. However, there is a strong movement within the city to designate this site a historical monument, rebuild the bullring and have it serve as a municipal arena. Official bullring schedules and pricing are available at [23].


Tijuana is on the ocean, but is not known for its beaches, for boating, or as a seaside resort, mostly because its strip of ocean is foggy all year round, very similar to San Francisco in weather. However, it is in cabbing distance of Rosarito - the trip will cost $20, while Mexicoach will bus you there for around $10. Ensenada is further down the coast but easily accessible by car or bus.

  • Visitors to Rosarito and Ensenada should note that the main road is a toll road, with small sedans and trucks being tolled at 27-30 Mexican Pesos or $2.18 - $2.41 USD. Either currency is accepted generally.
  • Visit the historical centers such as the Preparatoria Federal Lazaro Cardenas which is famous for being the central base of liquor contraband during the Al Capone days.
  • Visit the world famous Zona Norte "Red Light District". Tourists, American Military, and locals alike have been venturing to this area for decades. Be aware that this is a dangerous area, relatively speaking, but perhaps one of the safest areas in the city due to a large police presence. Visitors should take caution just as they would visiting any high-crime area of a major city.


Tijuana has many souvenir and trinket shops near the border and on Revolucion, there is not much in the way of discounted items in comparison with US. Silver and leather products are allegedly cheaper than in the US. Many of the items sold in the souvenir shops are actually purchased in the San Diegan swap meets and brought into Mexico and resold to tourists.

  • Alcohol sold in Mexico (of non-US origin) is cheapest at the duty free stores. Examples are rum, tequila, and vodka from Mexico and the Carribbean of local reputable brand names. at prices similar to or even less than the headache-inducing unknown and dubious quality brands in the US. There is a 1 liter duty free allowance to take back to USA.
  • Cuban cigars are mostly fake, with the majority being of Mexican origin with a "Cohiba" or "Montecristo" brand name added. However, La Casa Del Habano [24] on Avenida Revolucion is a licensed dealer that sells genuine Cubans.
  • Silver bracelets and necklaces are common, but may be fake. Don't pay more than than four dollars for fake jewelry.
  • Vanilla is a bargain but highly diluted. Good place to buy is in any super market.
  • Traditional Medicine or herbal medicine is still practiced in Mexico and can be found in markets. It is very similar to traditional Chinese medicine


Apart from the abundant, over-priced tourist traps, local cuisine ranges from world-class restaurants to locals-only eateries and street vendors selling tacos. Travellers' diarrhea is a risk anywhere, but will probably not be a concern. Some streetside taco stalls do not wash their dishes and vegetables. In many sit down restaurants, musicians will wander in and play for tip. A good price for a song is $1 USD per musician per song, but most musicians will try to charge $2 USD per musician per song. For example, if there are five musicians in a band then a good price is $5 USD.

If cuisine is an important factor in your visit to Mexico, be sure to check out the more locals filled taco shops, where you will be able to enjoy the best carne asada tacos in the world and for better price. Also delicious are Churros made by street vendors, and the "hot dog" imitations sold as well. Be sure to avoid vendors that are not being patronized by locals.

However, American establishments such as McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Carl's Jr. (As Carl's Jr., not Hardee's) are in many parts of the city. However there are some local chains, such as Cafe Sanborns, that prove to be more popular and interesting than the American ones.


  • Café La Especial, Av. Revolucion 718, in the heart tourist district. Down the stairs in a pedestrian alley. This inexpensive restaurant is the opposite of the noisy, over-priced tourist traps that line Revolucion. Standard Mexican dishes served in a very relaxed, quiet environment. Gringo-friendly, though very popular with locals.
  • Bol Corona , Any cab driver can direct you to one of the many franchises of this Tijuana establishment near the city centre. Bol Corona was founded in the 1930's and popularized the then little known "burrito" among the American tourists seeking haven from prohibition laws in the United States. Featuring very inexpensive yet high quality Mexican cuisine, Bol Corona is a must. Several franchises have opened on the San Diego side of the border as well.
  • Birriería Guadalajara Pues Avenida Constitucion, between Calle Primera (First Street) and Callejon Coahuila (Coahuila Alley), Zona Norte. This restaurant serves awesome birria de chivo. Birria is a dish made from roasted goat with consomme poured over the meat, and is accompanied by onion, cilantro, limes and tortillas.
  • Taquería "El Takerito" It is an authentic "taquería" (taco shop) on Díaz Ordaz Blvd., and located on one of the most crowded intersections of the city (5 y 10). It is not close form the border but any cab driver knows how to get to 5 y 10. They claim to have the best tacos in town at a very cheap price. (Expect to pay around USD 0.60 per taco).
  • Taco Beel Art 123 Fuente Mexico, on the walk to the Arch from the border. The restaurant is famous for housing a chihuahua reminiscent of the Taco Bell mascot on a platform just above the door. There appears to be 2 adjacent places with this name, which is not part of the US chain of a similar name, but one doesn't look very open as of early 2010. Offers $1 (US) beers (Corona, Pacifico, Tecate) and 3 tacos for $1 (various flavours). English in menus, mostly populated by locals.
  • El Mazateño on Avenida Tecnológico a few blocks away from Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana and right across the street of Unidad Deportiva Reforma. You will find a wide variety of sea food and fish tacos at an excellent price. Expect to pay around $2 US for fish tacos to $10 US for a dish.


  • Caesar's hard to miss on Avenida Revolucion in Zona Centro. Reputedly the birthplace of the famous Caesar's salad, in 1924. It is still served there according to its original recipe, mixed and served at your table in accordance to tradition. It has been recently remodeled (october 2010) and all decoration is similar to the original of the 1930's.
  • Chiki Jai, corner of Revolucion and 7th in Zona Centro. Unpretentious, non-touristy quasi-Spanish taberna that has been open since 1947. Filled with bullfighting memorabilia, it is a slice of Spain in the heart of Tijuana. Their sangría and tapas have a good reputation.
  • Sushi House, Zona Rio, right by the Office Depot on Paseo de los Heroes.
  • La Cantina de los Remedios, Zona Rio, northeast corner of the Abraham Lincoln traffic circle on Paseo de los Heroes. Vast liquor selection, all of which is visible on the immense shelving along the wall behind the bar. Great menu of traditional and modern Mexican cuisine. Two features are of special interest - first are the quotations and pithy sayings in Spanish along all the ceiling beams. The second is the extensive use of Loteria cards to decorate the ceilings as well as the backs of the menus. Both are great for practicing Spanish while enjoying your meal.
  • Negro Durazo, Seafood - Located near the Otay Mesa border crossing. Popular with families.
  • Los Arcos - Popular local place with tasty lobster, mussels and fish platters. No English menu, but if you ask for Cesar, he can help you order. Owned by other members of the Sinaloa drug cartel but more mainstream than Negro Durazo.
  • Albahaca - Restaurant inside Hotel Ticuan. Good mix of continental and traditional Mexican cuisine. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week. The omelets are great at breakfast, and at dinner the "Filet with Three Sauces" is excellent.


  • Cien Años, Zona Rio, on a side street off Paseo de los Heroes, across from the big Pockets billiards bar (another place to visit). Open for lunch and dinner. Very famous. Supposedly every recipe on the menu is over 100 years old (hence the name "Cien Años", one hundred years). Some recipes supposedly date back to Aztec times. Menu includes a number of items such as corn fungus, and bone marrow soup. Gringo-friendly but Spanish is useful. Restaurant is small, with beautiful decor, and a relaxing atmosphere. Prices range from moderate to expensive.
  • La Diferencia, Blvd. Sánchez Taboada No.10611-A Zona Río, between Blvd. Abelardo L. Rodríguez & Escuadrón 201. Excellent and innovative Mexican dishes, and great tamarindo margaritas. Moderately expensive by Tijuana standards but well worth it (~$95 for 2 people, incl. margaritas, wine, appetizer, entree & dessert). Highly recommended.
  • Villa Marina - Seafood, located in Zona Rio
  • Italianissimo - , Blvd. Agua Caliente No. 10556-9AR, Centro. Com. Rocasa. Italian cuisine, a classic restaurant in Tijuana. Dishes from all regions of Italy. Moderate to expensive.
  • Villa Saverios .- Escuadrón 201 3151 , on the corner of Blvd. Sanchez Taboada" (664 686 6502) [25]. Opened daily 1PM-2AM. Anywhere from $5 to $20 meals. Owned by the same founder of the other italian restaurant chain in Tijuana, Guisseppis, this Tuscany style mansion/restaurant has excellent Italian food and atmosphere, aimed at both middle and high class customers. It's also a favorite because of it's unique menu which blends both Baja and Mediterranean flavors in it's food and wine selection. It is in the so called restaurant district on Blvd. Sanchez Taboada, right besides La Espadaña, T.G.I Fridays , La Diferencia and Cheripan. There are two other Saverios in the city; both are smaller café style ones.

There are many other great restaurants in the city, ranging from mexican to asian food. The city is also full of sushi bars, something that has caught on in recent years. Another favorite is chinese food, and thanks to a large chinese population in Baja, the locals tend to say that it's the best chinese food in México or the region.


Beers, margaritas and tequila are available at numerous establishments starting at 10 to 15 pesos. Tourist places typically charge up to $5 per beer.


Migrant Houses

Migrant houses offer free or very cheap accommodation for anyone regarded as a migrant. Some are said to also accept backpackers.

  • Ejercito de Salvacion (Salvation Army) (men only), Aquiles, +52 664 683-2694.
  • Casa del Migrante (men & women), Av Hidalgo Int. #401, Col. Centro, +52 664 554-2662.
  • Casa del Migrante en Tijuana (men only), Calle Galileo 239, Col. Postal CP22350, +1 52 664 682-5180, [12].
  • Casa Beato Juan Diego (men only), Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas, Fraccionamiento Murua (near bus terminal), +52 664 621-3041.
  • Casa Madre Asunta (women and children), calle Galileo 2305 Col. Postal, phone (664)6830575
  • Casa YMCA (children only), Boulevard Cuauhtemoc Sur 3170, Colonia Chula Vista, phone (664)6861359 and (664)6862212


Although travel guides and taxi drivers insist that there is no cheap accommodation to be had in Tijuana, there is if you know where to look. Most of Tijuanas budget haunts are located in 2nd and 3rd Street, while the more outlying ones are probably less safe and certainly more difficult to reach. A number of them in Centro also rent by the hour too.

  • Hotel Morelia, Calle 3a No 8310 (Btwn. Madero & Negrete), +1 52 664 685-3361. spacious rooms with shared bathroom from M$125 pesos. Safe location. A pleasant place to stay cheap in Tijuana, right in the midst of it all, but reasonably quiet. Only stay here if you need budget accommodations within the vincinity of Revolución and do not bring any valuables. Also note that the hotel does not require a deposit for the key, so if the clerk asks for a deposit, he is looking to pocket extra money from you. Do not bring any valuables, because the hotel clerk may steal it from you.
  • More cheap hotels can be found within the turf of the drug vendors (around 5 de Mayo and Baja California) West of the red light district (Zona Norte) where you can stay for around M$100 pesos per night (and it's surprisingly safe as long as you stay away from drugs, do note that it's a notorious place for getting pinned by police officers because of all the drugs in the area so make sure you don't carry any)


  • Hotel Astor Tijuana, Blvd Insurgentes 1000-14, Fracc. Los Alamos, +1 52 664 621-2611/2612 or 621-3234, [13]. They offer affordable, comfortable, clean and functional rooms equipped with general amenities. Astor staff offers attentive friendly service. The Restaurant serves traditional International Breakfast. WiFi connectivity is available. Located in the 3rd stage in Zona Rio, only minutes from the Tijuana World Trade Center. Central Station , American Consulate and Tijuana International Airport.
  • Hotel Nelson, Av Revolucion 720, Zona Centro 22000 (Av Revolucion & Calle 1a (Articulo 123 Fuente Mexico), at the big arch), +1 52 664 685-4302. At the north end of Zona Centro, directly adjacent to the large arch spanning Ave. Revolucion, is the Hotel Nelson. It is reasonably-priced and clean, and has a bar as well as a restaurant downstairs. The major drawback would be traffic noise from the myriad bars and clubs along this tourist-oriented street



  • Grand Hotel Tijuana, Blvd. Agua Caliente #4500 Col. Aviación, C.P. 22420 (The prominent twin towers along Blvd Agua Caliente at Av Emilio Carranza next to a golf course), +1 52 664 681-7000 (toll free: 01 800 0266007 (Mexico) or 1 866 472-6385 (USA)), [14]. A more luxury hotel is the Grand Hotel Tijuana. The Grand Hotel Tijuana is one of the most prominent feature in Tijuana's skyline, having (2) 33 story twin towers. It features several bars and restaurants, and an in house shopping mall. Adjacent to the hotel is the Club Campestre de Tijuana, Tijuana's oldest and most prestigious country club, which features an 18 hole golf course in very good shape designed by Allister McKenzie, who also designed Augusta National Golf Club(site of the masters professional championship).
  • Marriott (formerly Hotel Emporio), Blvd. Agua Caliente #11553, Chapultepec Este (down the street from the Grand Hotel Tijuana), +1 800 228-9290 (USA), [15]. just recently opened
  • Hotel Lucerna Tijuana, Paseo de los Heroes #10902, Col. Zona Río CP22320 (NW corner of the roundabout at Paseo de los Heroes & Blvd Abelardo L. Rodriguez), +52 664 633-3900 (toll free: 01 800 026-6300 (Mexico)), [16]. Hotel Lucerna Tijuana is another very safe and clean hotel in the Zona Rio with a great pool, and service. It also has a very upscale bar, restaurant, and lounge area. Guarded 24/7 and valet parking.
  • Camino Real Tijuana, Paseo de los Heroes #10305, Col. Zona Río CP22320 (NE corner of the roundabout at Paseo de los Heroes & Careterra Transpeninsular (Hwy 1), next to the Plaza Rio mall), +52 664 633-4000 (toll free: 1 800 722-6466 (USA), fax: +52 664 633-4001), [17].


Stay safe

Tijuana has a reputation for crime, though reputations do not reflect real conditions. Opportunism in the form of cons or misrepresentations can be found anywhere in the city, but from 2007-2011, drug violence had erupted and then waned in Tijuana due to intense crackdown by the Mexican government and Mexican drug cartels turning on each other. However, joint action between the government and the police severely weakened the Tijuana cartel, and now all that's left is the remnants of an uncontrolled group of renegades. The vast east side of Tijuana is particularly dangerous and prone to drug violence, though this also varies on exact neighborhood, there are many gated and planned communities which are isolated from it. Zona Norte can also be very dangerous if you are walking alone. Much of Tijuana's drug violence happens in these two parts of the city. Most of the drug violence is not targeted at tourists, but rather at competing drug cartels as well as Mexican police. However, it may be possible for tourists to get caught in the middle, so like anywhere it is best to stay alert, though as of 2012 there is little a casual tourist will see in the way of drug violence unless one specifically seeks it out. Most tourist sections (for the most part) are generally safe, such as heavily patrolled Avenida Revolucion, Playas de Tijuana, Zona Rio, and Tijuana's red light district in Zona Norte. As with any large city, use common-sense and street smarts when walking the street; especially in the red light district of the "Zona Norte" (North Zone), as streets get more isolated they become more prone to opportunists. Due to mexican drug violence, you still want to pay extra attention in any place with illegal housing and/or vice.

It is advisable to be very careful of buying anything that would alert suspicion from Mexican police, this would include any type of prescription medicine (with potential for abuse, or perhaps low overdose/extreme side effects), pornography, and weapons. The police are generally protective of tourists and the business they bring, but will not hesitate to act on their suspicions if they do stop you, so the less they have to go on the better. Laws differ from those in the USA.

Park in well marked parking lots with security guards. Police enforce the laws on foreigners who commit crimes such as pedophilia or buying illegal drugs, including pharmaceuticals without prescription. Corruption still exists among the Tijuana Police Department as it does in many Mexican cities (the Mexican Federal Police on the other hand is trustworthy), so beware. But this is usually done when you are alone after a night on the town, are slightly intoxicated, and your actions make you a potential victim. When speaking to an officer, stay calm and respectful. Typically, if you have done nothing wrong, stand your ground and they will eventually let you go. You can insist on seeing a judge, and explain what happened. If you do this, most likely the officer will try and save face, and give you a warning and send you on your way. Never offend or belittle the officer or the country of Mexico, as agitating the officer will never work.

For traffic infractions, you are entitled to a written ticket, and you can pay the fine by mail. In any case, these made-up charges are usually only a small fine, most likely less than the bribe you would offer; you do not go to jail. Remember that you are not immune from Mexican laws, if an officer pulls you over for speeding because you were speeding, it's not corruption. Illegal drugs and drunk driving are taken seriously in Mexico, as they are elsewhere.

  • Theft - Pickpockets can be found in certain heavy tourist areas. You are generally safe in areas such as the Zona Río, Playas de Tijuana, El Hipódromo, and many others, just make sure to always be cautious when visiting alone. The best targets for theft are those who speak no Spanish, wander alone (specially at night), are intoxicated, and travel to the Avenida Revolución. If you find yourself being swarmed by small children who want to sell you something, be aware that they could be trying to pick your pockets.
  • Drug-dealer informants - In many bars and on the street, it is common to be offered illegal narcotic drugs for sale. Some of these peddlers work with the police. They sell someone the drugs, then tell the police that person is carrying. The police shake the person down for cash, and confiscate the drugs, which they presumably return to the original peddler, who goes looking for another victim.
  • Knives - Be aware, while in the United States it is usually legal to carry certain kinds of knives, this is not the case in Mexico. Carrying any kind of knife is Illegal. It is considered possession by the Police and legal system and you could very likely be taken to jail if you are carrying even a small pocket knife. It is best to offer the Police some money as it will cost you more if you are taken to jail and forced to pay the bail. If you cannot afford to pay the bail you will be taken to a Mexican prison where you could remain indefinitely for doing something you may not known was a crime.
  • Strip clubs - There are a numerous clubs on Revolucion that offer nude dance shows. As you walk down the street, barkers will try to entice you to come in; if you are not interested, simply smile and walk on. If you do walk into one, most likely you will soon be approached by one or several ladies who will ask you to buy them a drink. Keep in mind that their "mixed drinks" are often nothing but soda or juice, but you will be expected to pay a ladies' drink price, whether they ask for beer, real mixed drinks, or non-alcoholic drinks. These drinks will typically cost you between $8 and $10, and the ladies get a commission for each drink you purchase for them.
  • Prescription drugs - Though your prescription drugs may be much cheaper here, carrying large quantities or carrying them without your prescription can land you many "years" in a Mexican prison. Some foreign prescriptions may not be valid in Mexico, if in doubt simply get a Mexican prescription, doctor visit is dirt cheap. If you break the law, you will be dealt with accordingly. However, this does not include medications which often change in status in the USA from prescription to over-the-counter (e.g. Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, Pepcid AC, etc.) Such medications are readily available without a prescription in Mexico. Police are mainly concerned about prescription drugs which have the potential to be abused. Use common sense, you cannot buy drugs without a prescription back home, it requires one in Mexico too.
  • Food and Alcohol Imports - Note when stopped at the border, U.S. Customs will confiscate any fruits, vegetables, and live or raw meat products in an effort to combat certain diseases or bugs from entering the U.S. food supply. Meat products confiscated can include pork rinds. Alcohol can be brought across the border if for 'personal use' with a limit of 1L duty and tax free.[26] Importing more than 1L for personal use can be challenging - the amount you are allowed to import depends on whether not you live in California and if you are crossing on foot, in a private vehicle, or on a bus. For details, refer to the California ABC - and don't forget to declare your alcohol to Customs.[27] Another note is the importation of abalone or conch meat, which are endangered species and not for sale in the US.
  • Contraband items - Can be confiscated by U.S. Customs, they include weapons, drugs (illegal or without prescription), Cuban cigars, and live animals.



Get out

Tijuana offers several Bus routes into Mexico. Updated Tijuana Bus routes are available online at[28]. From Tijuana you can easily go to Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo, Ensenada, or further south to Guerrero Negro, which is a very popular destination for whale watching. It is a 12 hour bus ride to Guerrero Negro but well worth it. Other bus routes locations include La Paz, San Juan del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja.

Taxis from Ave. Revolucion to the Central Camionera cost about 60 pesos, or less by bus.

Tijuana -> Guerrero Negro: $945 Tijuana -> Mexicali $250 (3 hours) Tijuana -> Tecate $55 Tijuana -> Mexico City $1600+ (depends on class, 36 hours) Tijuana -> Hermosillo $600 (12 hours)

Routes through Tijuana
San DiegoSan Ysidro
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 N noframe S  Playas de RosaritoEnsenada

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