Driving Tips:

When you cross the border to Mexico in one of the nothing to declare lanes, you will get a random green or red light (if you get red you need to pull into the inspection lane). After crossing stay towards the middle lanes, but be prepared to exit on the right for the Rosarito/Ensenada Scenic Toll Road (some signs say Cuata). You will pass through three tolls (Currently about 26 pesos/$2.50 USD each) on the way down to Ensenada. You can also take the free road (Libre) to Ensenada, however the toll road is faster and safer. 

Some general tips that may help avoid problems:

  1. Don't drink and drive.
  2. Don't drive an expensive vehicle.
  3. Have proof of mexican insurance.
  4. Don't speed (limits are posted in KPH and change frequently).
  5. Remember that the left lane on the toll road is for passing only.
  6. Always wear your seat belt.
  7. Make sure your registration and driver's license are valid. Your vehicle can be impounded if these are not current.
  8. Using a cell phone while driving is a traffic violation in Baja California.
  9. Watch for cross walks, pedestrians have the right-of-way.

Pemex gas stations are the only official outlets where you can purchase fuel in Mexico. These are full service stations and the attendant should handle the pump, and they will also check oil, tire pressure, etc., if asked. Basic unleaded gasoline is called "Magna" and is measured in liters (1 gallon = 3.3785 liters). Be prepared to pay for your fuel with cash. Although some Pemex stations close to the U.S. border may accept U.S. dollars, you should expect to pay for your fuel with Mexican currency. Be aware that some gas stations in Mexico have been known to attempt certain 'rip-off' ploys. To avoid being ripped-off, make sure the fuel pump is set to $0 when you begin fueling. Also, pay attention to how much change you should receive in return when paying for your fuel. Gas station attendants have been known to intentionally give tourists the incorrect amount of change. If you ask the attendent to do any extras like check your oil or tire pressure, a tip 5-10 pesos (~50 cents - $1) is customary.

 

 

On the drive north through Rosarito, you may get stopped at the military inspection point after the Rosarito Toll. Not to worry. These young men are simply performing their required military service and are looking for drugs and firearms. Be polite, answer their questions, and you will soon be on your way. They may also just wave you on without inspection.

The average wait time is about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The best times to cross is late at night or middle of the day on a weekday (to avoid the commuters). Sometimes it backs up to the point of the police blocking the exit for the border, in which case it helps to have a basic street map of Tijuana to work your way to one of the other streets that take you to the border. Tip: The far right lane seems to always move the fastest for some reason.

Note that the U.S. Departments of State announced that all U.S. citizens, Canadians, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and citizens of Mexico will be required to have a passport or other accepted secure document (such as a Border Crossing Card) to enter or re-enter the U.S. by January 1, 2008. The new travel requirements will be rolled out in phases. The current proposed implementation timeline is as follows:

January 23, 2007 – Passport or other accepted document required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada. U.S. citizens who have applied for but not yet received passports can temporarily enter and depart from the United States by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through Sept. 30, 2007.

January 31, 2008 – Passport or other accepted document required for all air, sea and land border crossings.


Rental Cars:

You absolutely MUST tell the U.S. rental company that you are taking the car across the border and will automatically be required to buy their very expensive Mexican insurance. 

To save some money, you may consider renting the car in Tijuana or from Fiesta Rent a Car in Ensenada. You should still purchase the Mexican liability insurance, but it should cost less.


Taking the Bus:

ABC Bus Terminal in Tijuana

Taking one of the ABC busses to Ensenada is easy and inexpensive (currently about $13 one way). They leave the bus terminal every half hour from early morning to 9:30pm at night.  

After walking across the border you will pass through the first border turnstiles, take a right at the intersection and walk through a second set of turnstiles. Cross the street, turn left, and walk past all the yellow taxis and the McDonalds towards the Plaza Viva sign. The station is easy to find, it's on the street to the right just past the Taxi Libre pickup behind the large building with mirrored windows.

TIP 1: Don´t let anyone direct you to other busses, which may not be as nice and may take longer with frequent stops. ABC is the bus line you want. These buses are nice and comfortable with plenty of room and they usually show a movie on the way. If the bus is full you should take your assigned seat.

TIP 2: You can request to sit on the right side of the bus, which will give you a better view of the coastline.

TIP 3: The bus usually makes a stop before getting to the bus terminal near Ave. Juarez which is about four blocks from the main tourist street, which can save you several blocks if you are walking. You can ask the driver to identify the stop close to Ave Juarez.
ABC Bus Terminal in Ensenada

The ABC Bus terminal in Ensenada is located at the corner of Riveroll and Decima (10th street). A taxi ride between the tourist zone (Lopez Mateos/1st. street) and the terminal is currently $5, however if you don't have much luggage it isn't too long of a walk.


By Boat:

Ensenada is a port city which makes it a very popular stop for cruise ships. 


By Air:

Ensenada does not have a commercial airport. The closest one is in Tijuana.