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Welcome to Tijuana

©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

A Tijuana "Zonkey" (Zebra Striped Donkey)

©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

Tijuana is an easy trip from San Diego.

The U. S. Department of State has been issuing traveler alerts for Tijuana and other locations in Mexico since 2008. Read their July, 2013 travel alert for yourself. If you do decide to go despite the warnings, they encourage U.S. visitors to stay in the well-known tourist areas.

You can check the Department of State website for the latest information, but until things improve, we won't take the risk of saying Tijuana is safe for visitors. To provide you with more information about the situation and others' experiences, we've opened a special User Answer section where you can relate what happened during your visit or read what others think. The link is at the bottom of this article.

If you want to go to Tijuana, the best thing to do may be to take a guided tour.

See It Now: Take a Photo Tour

If you'd rather have step-by-step directions for visiting Tijuana, our Tijuana Day Trip gives the popular tourist route. However, our favorite Tijuana experience is different. You'll be surprised at the wonderful things you can do.

Shopping in Tijuana

You can find much merchandise in Tijuana: leather goods, cigars, fine Mexican handicrafts and cheap souvenirs. Bargaining is expected and it will help to know how to bargain with a Tijuana shopkeeper.

Shopping on Avenida Revolucion and streets leading to it, you'll be beset by persistent Tijuana shopkeepers, an experience that makes me want to flee. For a quieter spot and better prices, try the Arts and Crafts Market, which is not marked on some Tijuana tourist maps. It's two blocks from Avenida Revolucion at Avenida Negrete and Calle Secunda (2nd Street). Avenida Negrete is the first major street you reach after crossing the river bridge. Go left on it one long block.

Know what things cost. Some are more expensive in Tijuana than in the U. S., including designer clothing and perfumes.

Other Things to Do in Tijuana

  • Watch a Greyhound Race: Hipodromo Caliente (Agua Caliente Race Track) offers races on Boulevard Agua Caliente at Tapachula. Take a taxi to get there.
  • Visit the Tijuana Cultural Center (Centro Cultural): This fine museum chronicles Baja peninsula history from ancient cave paintings to modern times. Exhibits are explained in English. In Zona Rio at Paseo de los Heroes and Mina.

Be Prepared for Tijuana

A few simple preparations will make your Tijuana trip easier:
  • Take cash: You'll get better prices. U. S. dollars are fine, but traveler's checks are not widely accepted in Tijuana. Use ATMs only for emergencies; they'll give pesos and may incur foreign transaction fees.
  • Bring documentation: U. S. citizens can visit Mexico for 72 hours or less without visas, but since early 2008 they need proof of citizenship when they return (passport or government-issued photo ID and birth certificate, are most common). Permanent Residents should bring their green cards. Citizens of other countries need valid passports and a valid I-94, multi-entry visa or visa waiver. Visit the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website for more details. If you're going and don't have a passport, Rushmypassport.com can help you get or renew your passport without having to run and stand in line around to get it done. What about my documentation, you're wondering? They'll tell you what and how to send them by Fed Ex after you've completed the online application.
  • Know how you're going to get around Tijuana: Read our Tijuana transportation guide and plan ahead.
  • Time your trip: It can take more than three hours to get back into the U. S. from Tijuana on Saturday evening. Leave by mid-afternoon, or go on a less-busy day.
  • Beggars. There are many in Tijuana, some children. Baja Mexico's tourism department says giving them money won't help the problem and suggests you contribute to a charity that helps needy people instead.
  • Beware of young girls selling flowers. Pickpockets may try to distract you by trying to sell you something while at the same time lifting your wallet.
  • Say no. Tijuana shopkeepers want your attention, and they all have a way of getting it. Some resort to stereotypes (serape and sombrero), others to politeness ("just let me show you something") and yet others to humor: "Give me a chance to rip you off." A firm "no" works with all but the most persistent.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. Walking is the best way to see Tijuana.
  • Leave expensive jewelry at home or make it inconspicuous. You may get better prices from Tijuana shopkeepers if they think you don't have much money, and there's no point in inviting thieves.
  • Take a Tijuana map.

Creature Comforts in Tijuana

Some Tijuana shops have restrooms and so do some shopping complexes. There may be a small charge to use them.

Stick to bottled water and drinks, avoid ice and eat only well-cooked food, just to be safe. Why risk illness on vacation?

Tijuana Review

We rate the "normal" tourist routine 2 stars out of 5 because of annoying shopkeepers and little of real interest, but a day trip to a spa, wine-tasting and a great meal in a fine restaurant rates a "5" in our book.

Others may disagree. You can see what other people think, then bookmark this page and come back to tell us your opinion.

What do you think of Tijuana as a tourist destination?

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