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Tijuana is the largest city in Baja California and on the Baja California Peninsula and center of the Tijuana metropolitan area, part of the international San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. As an industrial and financial center of Mexico, Tijuana exerts a strong influence on economics, education, culture, art, and politics. As the city has become a leading center in the country, so has the surrounding metropolitan area, a major industrial and paramount metropolis in northwestern Mexico. Currently one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Mexico, Tijuana maintains global city status. As of 2015, the city of Tijuana had a population of 1,696,923.
On the Gold Coast of Baja California, Tijuana is the municipal seat and the cultural and commercial center of Tijuana Municipality, covering 70% of the municipality but with over 80% of its population. A dominant manufacturing center of the North American continent, the city maintains facilities of numerous multi national conglomerate companies. The early 21st century saw Tijuana become the medical-device manufacturing capital of North America. Also a growing cultural center, Tijuana has been recognized as an important new cultural mecca. The city is the most visited border city in the globe; sharing an approximate 24-kilometre-long border (15 mi) with its sister city San Diego, over fifty million people annually cross the border between these two cities. This metropolitan crossing makes the San Ysidro Port of Entry the busiest land-border crossing in the world. It is estimated that the two border crossing stations between the cities proper of San Diego and Tijuana account for 300,000 daily border crossings alone.
Tijuana is the 29th largest city in the Americas and is the westernmost city in Mexico. According to the 2010 census, the Tijuana metropolitan area was the fifth-largest in Mexico, with a population of 1,784,034, but rankings vary, the city (locality) itself was 6th largest and the municipality (administrative) 3rd largest nationally. The international metropolitan region was estimated to be just over five million in 2009 and approximately 5,105,769 in 2010, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the former Californias reigon, 19th largest metropolitan area in the Americas, and the largest bi-national conurbation that is shared between US and Mexico. Tijuana is becoming more suburbanized like San Diego; during the 2000s the drug violence had residents moving out of the congested urban core into isolated communities within the municipality and beyond, as evidenced by 2010 Census figures and growth patterns.
Tijuana traces its modern history to the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century who were mapping the coast of the Californias. As the American conquest of northern Mexico ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Tijuana's new international position on the border gave rise to a new economic and political structure. The city was founded in July 11, 1889 as urban development began. Often known by its initials, T.J., and nicknamed Gateway to Mexico, the city has historically served as a tourist center dating back to the 1880s.
|POPULATION :||• City 1,696,923|
• Metro 1,895,797
|FOUNDED :||July 11, 1889|
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone PST (UTC−8)|
• Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
|RELIGION :||Christian 96%, Others 4%|
|AREA :||• City 637 km2 (246 sq mi)|
• Metro 1,392.5 km2 (537.9 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||20 m (65 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||32°31′30″N 117°02′0″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.45%|
• Female: 51.55%
|AREA CODE :||664|
|POSTAL CODE :||22000-22699|
|DIALING CODE :||+ 52 664|
Tijuana is the dominant focal city of Northwestern Mexico, in Baja California, Mexico and right across the border from San Diego, California, USA.
Tijuana has a population of around 1.3 million people according to the last census and this figure expands to more than 1.7 million if its surrounding suburbs are included. 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 sizeable 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. Prominent tourist attractions include Avenida Revolucion in Zona Centro, shops and restaurants in Zona Rio, and nightlife entertainment, which is concentrated in several localities, including the commercial area around 6th and Revolucion St, as well as Tijuana's red light district.
Many foreigners travel to Tijuana to drink and dance, buy prescription drugs, purchase bootleg brand-name clothing, timepieces, and other personal accessories found globally, as well as manufactured and hand-crafted local curiosities. Locals and regular tourists avoid hassles by visiting the clubs at Plaza Fiesta or other areas of the Zona Río without the crowds, heavy marketing, and occasional tourist misbehavior or outright lawbreaking common on the Revolución strip. However, Avenida Revolución has been known for its proliferation of nightclub shows, primarily catering to casual tourists. While still an entertaining town with an enjoyable atmosphere, locals and tourists alike would agree that it has lost its "anything goes" mentality which it had once acquired, a mindset that was dangerous to tourists, locals, and the tourism industry as a whole.
Tijuana is also known as the birthplace of the "Tijuana Special," which is a classic Tex-Mex dish consisting of enchiladas, rice and refried beans. This dish was popularized by Tippy's, an American Tex-Mex restaurant.
Tijuana is by far the largest urban metropolis of Northwestern Mexico, and is also its westernmost city. Tijuana and its US neighbor San Diego form the largest metropolitan area on the US-Mexican Border with a combined population of 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 one of the the wealthiest and most populated sections of the United States with which Mexico shares a border. It has a sizeable 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 illegal 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, albeit tolerated, shanty towns. In sharp contrast to these shanty towns 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 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 saving 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.
The land where the city of Tijuana would be built was originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay, a tribe of Yuman-speaking hunter-gatherers. Europeans arrived in 1542, when the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo toured the coastline of the area, which was later mapped in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno. In 1769,Juan Crespí documented more detailed information about the area that would be called the Valley of Tijuana. Junípero Serra founded the first mission of Alta California in nearby San Diego.
More settlement of the area took place near the end of the mission era when José María de Echeandía, governor of the Baja California and Alta California, awarded a large land grant to Santiago Argüello in 1829. This large cattle ranch, Rancho Tía Juana ("Aunt Jane Ranch"), covered 100 km2 (40 sq mi).
In 1848, as a result of the Mexican–American War with the United States, Mexico lost all of Alta California. The majority of the 1,000 Hispanic families living in Alta California stayed there, though some moved south to remain inside Mexico.
Because of this Tijuana gained a different purpose on the international border. The area had been populated by ranchers, but Tijuana developed a new social economic structure. These were farming and livestock grazing, plus as a transit area for prospectors.
Urban settlement began in 1889, when descendants of Santiago Argüello and Augustín Olvera entered an agreement to begin developing the city of Tijuana. The date of the agreement, July 11, 1889, is recognized as the founding of the city.
Tijuana saw its future in tourism from the beginning. From the late 19th century to the first few decades of the 20th century, the city attracted large numbers of Californians coming for trade and entertainment. The California land boom of the 1880s led to the first big wave of tourists, who were called "excursionists" and came looking for echoes of the famous novel "Ramona" by Helen Hunt Jackson.
In 1911, during the Mexican Revolution, revolutionaries claiming loyalty to Ricardo Flores Magón took over the city for shortly over a month. Federal troops then arrived. Assisted by the "defensores de Tijuana", they routed the revolutionaries, who fled north and were promptly arrested by the United States Army.
The Panama-California Exposition of 1915 brought many visitors to the nearby California city of San Diego. Tijuana attracted these tourists with a Feria Típica Mexicana - Typical Mexican Fair. This included curio shops, regional food, thermal baths, horse racing and boxing.
The first professional race track opened in January 1916, just south of the border gate. It was almost immediately destroyed by the great "Hatfield rainmaker" flood of 1916. Rebuilt in the general area, it ran horse races until the new Agua Caliente track opened in 1929, several miles south and across the river on higher ground.
Legal drinking and gambling attracted U.S nationals in the 1920s during Prohibition. The Avenida Revolución area became the city's tourist center, with casinos and the Hotel Caesar's, birthplace of the Caesar salad.
In 1925, the city attempted to shed its negative image of hedonism and lawlessness created by American mob empresarios by renaming itself Zaragosa, but its name soon reverted to Tijuana.
In 1928, the Agua Caliente Touristic Complex was opened, including hotel, spa, dog-track, private airport, golf course and gambling casino. A year later, the new Agua Caliente Racetrack joined the complex. During the eight years it operated, the Agua Caliente hotel, casino and spa achieved a near mythical status, with Hollywood stars and gangsters flying in and playing. Rita Hayworth was discovered there. Musical nightclub productions were broadcast over the radio. A singer known as "la Faraona" got shot in a love-triangle and gave birth to the myth of a beautiful lady ghost. Remnants of the Agua Caliente casino can be seen in the outdoor swimming pool and the "minarete" (actually a former incinerator chimney) nearby the southern end of Avenida Sanchez Taboada, on the grounds of what is now the Lazaro Cardenas educational complex.
In 1935, President Cárdenas decreed an end to gambling and casinos in Baja California, and the Agua Caliente complex faltered, then closed. In 1939, it was reopened as a junior high school (now, Preparatoria Lázaro Cárdenas). The buildings themselves were torn down in the 1970s and replaced by modern scholastic architecture.
With increased tourism and a large number of Mexican citizens relocating to Tijuana, the city's population grew from 21,971 to 65,364 between 1940 and 1950.
With the decline of nightlife and tourism in the 1950s, the city restructured its tourist industry, by promoting a more family-oriented scene. Tijuana developed a greater variety of attractions and activities to offer its visitors.
In 1994, PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana while making an appearance in the plaza of Lomas Taurinas, a neighborhood nestled in a valley near Centro. The shooter was caught and imprisoned, but doubts remain about who the mastermind might have been.
Tijuana's climate is semi-arid (Köppen climate classification BSk), with about 231 mm (9.09 in) of annual precipitation. It shows characteristics of the Mediterranean climate (Csa) found to the immediate north, with most of the annual precipitation falling in the winter (between November and March).
During the rainy season, November through March, storms originate from fronts entering off of the Pacific Ocean. January is the wettest month of the year for the city and during this time a periodic event, similar to June Gloom, is observed created by marine layer. January is the coolest month, during which temperatures average 13.6 °C (56.5 °F). In the city April signifies the end of winter and the start of Santa Ana winds - observed in Southern California as well. Though the daytime highs are generally around 20 °C (68 °F), heat waves can reach up to 33 °C (91 °F). The hottest months in the city, also the dry season, are August and September, during which temperatures average 22.0 °C (71.6 °F). Summers are by far the driest time of year since influences from the California Current and the North Pacific High suppress the formation of rainfall caused by the North American Monsoon. As in coastal Southern California, air pollution sometimes occurs during periods of temperature inversion, especially during summer and fall, but (unlike Mexico City) is seldom severe and in recent years has lessened due to cleaner car engines.
Frost and snow are rare phenomena in the city as temperatures are usually well above freezing. Yet, in December 1967, snow fell in the city and in January 2007 feather light snow fell in the east of the city. However, excessive amounts of snow fall have never been recorded in the city. On February 14, 2008 a winter storm caused an unusual snowfall in the upper reaches of the hills of the city. During this time heavy snowfall was also observed in the Cuyamaca Mountains of San Diego County.
The record low temperature recorded in the city was −6 °C (21 °F), while the highest was 49 °C (120 °F).
Climate data for Tijuana
|Record high °C (°F)||34.5|
|Average high °C (°F)||20.3|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||13.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||6.9|
|Record low °C (°F)||−3.0|
|Source #1: Servicio Meteorologico Nacional|
|Source #2: BBC weather (sun and humidity).|
Tijuana is the western-most city in Mexico, and consequently in Latin America, and the 2nd largest city of northern Mexico. Located approximately 210 kilometres (130 mi) west of the state-capital, Mexicali, the city is bordered to the north by the cities of Imperial Beach, and the San Diego neighborhoods of San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, California. To the southwest of the city is Rosarito Beach, while to the south is unincorporated territory of Tijuana Municipality. The city is nestled among hills, canyons, and gullies. The central part of the city lies in a valley through which flows the channeled Tijuana River.
Housing development in the Tijuana Hills has led to eradication of many seasonal mountain streams. This lack of natural drainage makes places within the city vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season. The varied terrain of Tijuana gives the city elevation extremes that range from 0 metres (0 ft) to 790 metres (2,590 ft).
Tijuana is noted for its rough terrain, which includes many canyons, steep hills, and mesas. Among noted canyons in Tijuana are Canyon K and Canyon Johnson. Large Tijuana hills include Red Hill (Cerro Colorado) and Hill of the Bees (Cerro de las Abejas) in the eastern part of the city.
The city is located near the terminus of the Tijuana River and within the Tijuana River Basin. The Tijuana River is an intermittent river, 195 km (121 mi) long, on the Pacific coast of northern Baja California in Mexico and Southern California in the United States. It drains an arid area along the California–Baja California border, flowing through Mexico for most of its course and then crossing the border for the last 8 km (5 mi) of its course where it forms an estuary that empties into the ocean. The river's lower reaches harbor the last undeveloped coastal wetlands in San Diego County, and some of the last in Southern California, amidst a highly urbanized environment at the southern city limits of Imperial Beach.
As Downtown Tijuana was built at the bottom of the river valley, the district is subject to seasonal flooding created by drain-off from the Tijuana Hills. During this time, east-bound portions of the Via Rapida (east-west highway) may be blocked off by the Tijuana Police due to hazardous conditions.
Tijuana is a large manufacturing center, and in addition to tourism, it serves as a cornerstone of the city economy. In the past decade alone, Tijuana became the medical device manufacture capital of the North American continent, surpassing previous leader Minneapolis - Saint Paul.
The city's proximity to Southern California and its large, skilled, diverse, and relatively inexpensive workforce, makes it an attractive city for foreign companies looking to establish extensive industrial parks composed of assembly plants that are called maquiladoras, even more so than other cities in the US-Mexican border zone, taking advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to export products. At its peak, in 2001 Tijuana had roughly 820 of these 'maquiladoras' (today the number is closer to 550). Foreign and domestic companies employ thousands of employees in these plants, usually in assembly-related labor. Such jobs are not demanding but typically offer above average (although not high paying) salaries for Mexico, with most maqiladoras jobs beginning at Mex$100 per day (about $7.94 in US dollars), significantly above the Mexican minimum wage of Mex$57.46 (about 4.56 US dollars). Companies that have set up maquiladoras in Tijuana include Lanix, Hyundai, Sony, Vortec, BMW, Vizio, Toyota, Dell,Samsung, Kodak, Matsushita/Panasonic, Bimbo, GE, Nabisco, Ford, Microsoft,Cemex, Zonda, Philips, Pioneer, Airbus, Plantronics, Siemens Mexico, Jaguar, Pall Medical, Tara, Sanyo and Volkswagen. Many of the maquiladoras are located in the Otay Mesa and Florido sections of Tijuana.
In addition, there are also some high-tech firms and telemarketing companies making their way into the city, drawing people with technical trade and college degrees to Tijuana. One example is Telvista, a Texas-based telemarketing company which maintains three call centers along Blvd. Agua Caliente. This makes Tijuana a popular city for migrant workers as well as college graduates from other parts of Mexico as well as other countries to the south.
Tijuana also relies on tourism for a major part of its revenue. About 300,000 visitors cross by foot or car from the San Ysidro point of entry in the United States every day. To lessen the strain on the border crossing, the Otay Mesa Crossing has been boosted to support more traffic and 6-lane highway 905 built in 2012, as well as rapid bus transit coming in the future. The city's tourist centers include the shopping district surrounding Tijuana's Cultural Center (CECUT), the nightlife hot spots around La Sexta, Old Downtown Tijuana, Avenida Revolucion, and the city's best known vices, in the form of its legal Red Light District and gambling (Agua Caliente). Restaurants and taco stands, pharmacies, bars and dance clubs are part of the draw for the city's tourists. Many shops and stalls selling Mexican crafts and souvenirs are also located within walking distance of the border. Mexico's drinking age of 18 (vs. 21 in the United States) makes it a common weekend destination for many high school and college aged Southern Californians who tend to stay within the Avenida Revolución. Tijuana is also home to several pharmacies marketed toward visitors from the United States. These pharmacies sell some pharmaceutical drugs without prescriptions, and at much lower costs than pharmacies in the US. Many medications still require a Mexican doctor's prescription though several accessible doctor offices are located near the border as well. In addition, Tijuana's "red-light" district (Zona Norte) adds significant revenue to its economy. Tijuana is also home to many businesses selling products and services at a much cheaper rate than in the United States. Businesses such as auto detailing, medical services, dentistry and plastic surgery are heavily marketed and located near the city's border with the US.
Economic development has its central business district at Zona Río, which together, with the corridor along Blvd. Agua Caliente (the extension of Avenida Revolución), contains the majority of the higher-end office space in the city. Binational economic development along the US-Mexico border is key to the development of Tijuana going forward. Multiple regional (San Diego-US/Tijuana-MX) think-tanks exist on both sides of the border that promote such regional collaboration and innovation.
- Zona Centro — The old downtown including Avenida Revolución
- Zona Rio — Downtown (Business district)
- Playas - Beaches and hills West of downtown
- Zona Norte - Tijuana's 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.
Prices in Tijuana
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.05|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$6.95|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$13.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$24.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.30|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.70|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.35|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$3.90|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$5.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.07|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.70|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.75|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$33.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$29.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$52.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.65|
36 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
161 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Most tourists enter Tijuana through the border crossing at San Ysidro in California, 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 or SENTRI card will work too for U.S. citizens.
Tijuanas General Abelardo L. Rodtríguez International Airport (IATA: TIJ), is served by Mexican legacy carrier, Aeroméxico and the low cost carrier, VivaAerobus. It is also a hub for Volaris and Interjet who offer services similar to U.S.-style low cost carriers. 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 link four of the world's most populous cities, and provide a connection for the significant East Asian-Mexican community in the northwestern areas of Mexico or for those transiting between East Asia and Mexico and other parts of Latin America without transiting through the United States (namely Los Angeles) as travellers must disembark in the U.S. and proceed through U.S. immigration & customs controls even if staying only the few hours necessary to transfer from one international flight to another. This means a passport and (maybe) a visa needed to enter the US which may not be convenient for everybody.
The airport is located parallel to the USA-Mexico border line, 10km (6 mi) east of downtown Tijuana and the San Ysidro International Border Crossing, and one mile west of Otay International Border Crossing. The airport can now be accessed from the U.S. side through the second "Cross Border Xpress (CBX)"terminal with a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the border to the main terminal building. Arriving passengers can walk across into the second terminal to clear US immigration and customs inspection and be met by non-traveling friends and relatives coming to pick them up without them having to go through the border crossing hassles associated with driving and they offer long term parking. Plans are also underway to provide local public transportation services between CBX and the rest of San Diego. Currently, the nearest bus stop for SDMTS Rt#905 is at Airway Rd & Britannia Blvd which is 1.3mi/2km north of the terminal itself. Passengers crossing the border through the new CBX terminal can only cross within 24hrs of a departing flight from Tijuana; 4hrs within arrival into Tijuana and with proper travel documents going to the destination country which will be checked. Passengers are also required to purchase a US$12 o.w. toll ticket to walk across the bridge between the CBX terminal and the main terminal. If using public transportation and flying out with Volaris Airlines it would be more economical to use the direct Volaris shuttle bus between the downtown (San Diego) Santa Fe Station and the Tijuana airport for US$20-25 or by Greyhound from their downtown terminal to the airport for all other airlines. Coming to the U.S., buses & shuttles cross through the San Ysidro crossing and have a dedicated lane to get through a quicker than by private automobile.
You can take an authorized taxi cab, sedan or van, at the Airport. Buy a ticket in one of the booths at the exit of the airport. They have fixed and official rates; It will cost you about $200 Pesos to Zona Rio (15 min ride), or $250 Pesos to Zona Centro (25 min ride), or $300 pesos to the Grand Hotel (30 min ride). US Dollars will be accepted.
You can take also public transportation from the Tijuana airport all the way to city downtown and it will cost you $8.5 Pesos, less than US$1. Go outside the airport and take the blue and white bus, heading west from the other side of the marked intersection with the traffic lights. It has the legend: “Centro” or “Plaza Rio” above the windscreen. US Dollars will be accepted. From downtown (Av. Revolucion area), buses to the airport leave on the 2nd street (= Calle Benito Juarez). The trip to the airport takes under 30 minutes. These are blue buses that have 'aeropuerto' written on the windshield. As in many latin american cities, buses need to be 'flaged down' to stop. Take care - the local bus system in Tijuana can be confusing [when coming from the US - e.g. no posted route maps, schedules and sometimes the bus stop is not marked at all], and there's a lot of different bus lines leaving from this spot, so plan some extra time.
The airport has a domestic and international coach transportation station in the lot next to the terminal building (right turn when coming out of the arrivals doors) for Greyhound (to San Ysidro and downtown San Diego); Volaris Airlines Shuttle (to downtown San Diego and Ensenada on two separate routes); ABC (Autotransportes Baja California to Mexicali, Ensenada and other places nearby in the Mexican side) and Intercalifornias/Aeromexico shuttle (to San Ysidro just over the American border and multiple cities along the I-5/CA-99 corridor in California).
The Mexican peso is the official currency, but the US dollar is accepted everywhere in Tijuana and the whole Baja California state, even though the MXP/USD interchange rate changes daily.
From San Diego Airport
San Diego International Airport (IATA: SAN) is 15 miles (24km) north of the international border and can be used as a transit point for travellers wishing to visit Tijuana or proceed further into Mexico. 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 north side, and you will catch the Blue Line trolley 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 station is the last stop on the Blue Line. Everyone will get off the train. Follow everyone to the side street (Rail Ave) on the left side of the trains between McDonald's & Mercado Internacional to the lot or cul de sac behind the buildings. Take a right turn and follow everyone up the hill along a sidewalk which goes past the old customs house and train station to a big gray gate with "MEXICO" marked above the gates. Go right up and cross through the one-way gate and follow the ramp down into the adjacent building which is the location of the Mexican immigration and customs office. This is where you will need purchase the FMN card and get your passport stamped if you are going further south from the border or to stay longer than 72hrs or if directed by the soldiers or police officers standing in the corridor. Come out from the side of the building at the same side of the freeway, into the line of people waiting to walk back into the United States (to the right). Go left to the arched bridge over the freeway and cross over the freeway that way. This will take you to the more expensive yellow taxis driven by taxi drivers in yellow shirts. The fare for these taxis is USD$5 to Revolution Avenue. Sometimes a taxi driver will ask you to pay USD$6, but you can always get these taxis for USD$5.
If you've been to Tijuana a few times before, go past the yellow taxi stands and the old pedestrian port of entry (where you used to walk in through from trolleys in San Ysidro) towards the left. This will take you to a small market along Av de la Amistad and here you can catch the lower-priced taxis which are 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.
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.
The San Ysidro border crossing is under going through major changes to widen the northbound lanes into the southbound lanes thus adding more lanes going north and to change the US & Mexican border inspection stations which resulted in the removal of the old pedestrian bridge over the American inspection station for those walking from the trolley station to the other side of the freeway to walk into Mexico. If you're driving to Tijuana you go up to the border like you used to and make a sharp detour west (to the right) and then south (to the left) into the expansive Mexican customs & inspection station. Once past the inspection station there's an exit for direct access to Hwy 1D immediately to the right to continue west to the beaches and south towards Ensenada along Hwy 1/1D to bypass the local streets of Tijuana. Most rental cars rented from either side of the border cannot be driven across the international border without the written consent of the car rental company and usually for an extra charge IF they do allow their cars to be driven across the border.
If you're going continuing further south by plane from Tijuana, Volaris Airlines offers direct shuttles to the Tijuana General Abelardo L. Rodtríguez International Airport from the downtown Santa Fe Depot (Amtrak train station) next to the American Plaza mentioned in the above. Likewise Greyhound also run buses to Tijuana's Central Camionera (bus station) in Otay Mesa (10mi/16km) east of El centro and Zona Rio and to the airport on separate routes. All buses and shuttles cross through San Ysidro (I-5).
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. 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
From US to Mexico
Entering from the American side you should expect a wait of 15 minutes on a good day to more than one hour on a bad day. You may be singled out for an inspection or waved on.
From Mexico to US
Returning to the US from Tijuana is another story. Readers have stated times ranging from 30 minutes to over 5 hours in the normal lanes.
Individuals travelling between the US and Mexico may utilize the Fast Pass. 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
If you stay at a nice hotel or eat at a nice restaurant, ask the owner for one of these.
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 (various cards exist).
You can also travel 30 minutes east to Tecate and try to cross there.
Mexicoach buses leave from the parking lots on the US side, cross into Mexico, and drop you off at the 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. The central de camiones for destinations in Mexico is reached by bus from Calle 3 or by taxi from the city centre and has direct coaches to most major cities in Mexico.
Many people drive to the border, park on the US side, and walk across. There are many lots available for this, which charge $4-$9 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.
Transportation - 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 $5 in normal traffic to get from the border to the downtown area.
If you exit the border area by taking a right instead of going straight ahead to the taxi stand, then walk toward town after crossing the street, you will encounter the Taxi Libre taxi stand, which will generally cost half as much as a yellow cab would charge.
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. Yellow cabs do not have meters, so agree with your driver in advance what the cost will be. Taxi Libre, white with red 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.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
There are disappointingly few bargains to be had in Tijuana. Silver and leather products are allegedly cheaper than in the US. Souvenir shops abound. 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.
- 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 [www] 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 four dollars for fake jewelry.
- Vanilla is a bargain. Good place to buy is in plaza on revolucion
- Spanish music cassettes for only about fifty cents available in plaza on Revolucion .
- Mexican groceries try stores like Calimax or Comercial Mexicana and see numerous Mexican products not found in other places or Mexicanized version of American products.
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 more of a risk at the cheaper establishments, but will probably not be a concern. 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. Many non-mariachi musicians are untalented and some work with pickpockets, so keep an eye out.
If cuisine is an important factor in your visit to Mexico, be sure to check out the local filled taco shops, where you will be able to enjoy the best carne asadatacos 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 of the tourist district. Down the stairs in a pedestrian alley. This inexpensive restaurant is the opposite of the noisy, over-priced tourist traps that line Revolución. 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 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 Constitución, between Calle Primera (First Street) and Callejón 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 to 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 Bell Art 123 Fuente Mexico, on the walk to the Arch from the border. There appears to be 2 adjacent places with this name, which is not part of the well known chain of the same 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.
- 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 Zona Rio. Owned by members of the Sinaloa drug cartel; many of the regular customers are in the business and carry weapons.
- 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) [www]. 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.
Coffe & Drink
Beer drinkers are well-advised to visit the "Cerveceria Tijuana," the Tijuana Brewery, and its brewpub. It is on Blvd. Fundadores, a few minutes by taxi south of the Ave. Revolucion shopping district. Not only do they brew and serve six different Eastern European-style lager beers, but they also have a reasonably-priced food menu. The brewpub is especially impressive because it is designed to look just like a European pub, with dark wood paneling, stained glass, and hardwood floors. One area even has a large window looking into the brewery floor, where you can see the workers busy at their brewing. Be aware that flagging down a taxi in this area is often difficult, especially at night, so for your return trip consider arranging transportation ahead of time or having the phone numbers of taxi services available to call when you finish your meal.
Of course, beers, margaritas and tequila are also available at numerous establishments.
Sights & Landmarks
- 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 [www].
Things to do
Tijuana is on the ocean, but is not known for its beaches, for boating, or as a seaside resort. 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 this is compensated for by a large police presence. Visitors should take caution just as they would visiting any high-crime area of a major city.
Tijuana's nightlife scene is one of the city's strongest attractions. The area surrounding "La Sexta", the intersection at Calle Sexta and Av. Revolucion, is now a major hub of new bars and dance clubs. Zona Rio, Tijuana's new Downtown, is home to some of the city's finest restaurants and bars. Another capstone of Tijuana's entertainment offerings is its adult nightlife industry, which includes the city's red light district as well as less conspicuous adult entertainment venues.
Things to know
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.
Despite the city of Tijuana being in Mexican territory, its cultural closeness to the United States, especially San Diego and Los Angeles, gives it an edge in the English language. This is because for many years (especially before the mid 80s), there were virtually no national TV stations except for a local channel (XEWT 12) which broadcast only local programming and some news; locals who grew up in the 70s and 80s were more attracted to American television such as PBS, NBC, CBS and ABC, where they got their language skills.
Safety in Tijuana
Tijuana has a reputation for crime. In recent years, drug violence has erupted 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 deleted the Cartel and their leader, and now all that's left is the remnants of an uncontrolled group of renegades. The east side of Tijuana is particularly dangerous and prone to drug violence. 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, tourists can get caught in the crossfire, so it is best to stay alert. Most tourist sections (for the most part) are generally safe, such as 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).
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 will use anything against you 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. 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. In any case, made-up charges are usually only a small fine, most likely less than the bribe you would offer, and you do not go to jail.
For traffic infractions, you are entitled to a written ticket, and you can pay the fine by mail. 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 (especially at night), are intoxicated, and travel to the Avenida Revolución. If you find yourself being swarmed by small children who say they 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.
- Strip clubs - There are a numerous clubs on Revolución 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 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. Such medications are readily available without a prescription in Mexico. Police are mainly concerned about prescription drugs which have the potential to be abused.
- 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.[www] 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.[www] 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.