The U. S. Department of State has been issuing traveler alerts since 2008, with wording that becomes stronger with each renewal. 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 can't recommend visiting Tijuana on your own. If you want to go, the best thing to do is take a guided tour.
Just past the border crossing gate, a small plaza sports a few shops and restaurants, but the most popular part of Tijuana starts on the other side of the river along Avenida Revolucion, and our favorite Tijuana experience is off the beaten tourist track in Zona Rio.
Don't wait until you're standing in Tijuana beset by confusion and choices to decided how you're going to get around. Read up now and you can move around like a pro.
Border Crossing Buses
These buses pick you up on either side of the border and carry you across. You will get out of the bus and walk through customs and immigration. They are sometimes a faster way to get back, and even if the bus wait is as long as the pedestrian one, you can sit down and relax.
- Mexicoach (Red Bus): This bus picks up from the San Diego Trolley stop or Border Station Parking. Take the "Last U.S. Exit, Camino de la Plaza" exit just before the border and turn right at stoplight, next to San Diego Factory Outlet Center. This bus goes to the Tourist Terminal on Avenida Revolucion, Rosarito Beach and the Tijuana Bullring.
Tijuana taxis come in two kinds, and you need to know which one you're working with before you get in. Tipping is not expected.
Yellow Taxis: These taxis do not have meters. Negotiate your price before you get in. They's the more expensive type of taxi here, but most drivers speak some English.
- Taxi Libre: These taxis are easy to recognize. They're mostly white with a big, red stripe and "Taxi Libre" written on the door. These taxis have meters and cost about half of what the yellow ones do. The downside is that the drivers speak less English. If you don't speak Spanish and are going somewhere other than the standard destinations, you'll have better luck if you bring a map or written address with you. To avoid any trouble, check to be sure the driver starts the meter when he takes off.
Tijuana City Buses
Local buses are the least expensive option other than walking. Fare is less than a dollar. If you choose this option, you should know that bus numbers are meaningless here. Look for the destination written on the front of the bus instead. Downtown is "Centro." To get to the Total Spa, Cien Años restaurant or the Cultural Center, look for "Zona Rio."
Walking in Tijuana
Our Tijuana day trip gives detailed directions to get from the border crossing to Avenida Revolucion, and it's only about six blocks.
If you want more detailed directions than we provide, need help with anything or want to pick up a map, go straight through the second border turnstile (toward the taxi cabs) to the tourist information office. If you're facing the taxis and imagine they're at 12 on a clock face, the unassuming-looking office is at about 10:00.