We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Daytrip to Tijuana?

Which San Diego hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Luneburg, Germany
Level Contributor
47 posts
Save Topic
Daytrip to Tijuana?

I've been to San Diego a few times and this time I'm thinking of a daytrip to Tijuana.

Is it worth to go there?

I know that I'm not allowed to cross the border with my rental car.

I heard that I can take a tram to the border an walk the to Tijuana?

What can I see there?

Is ist really a shopping paradise, like my travellguide is telling?

IS IT SAFE?

I'm thankful for any recomandation or any tips.

West Hollywood...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
Level Contributor
30,084 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

It's an ugly, impoverished 'border town'. The bargains are long gone unless you're in the market for local crafts. Many Mexicans cross into San Diego to show at the outlets. There have recent concerns about safety in Mexican. I'd skip it.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
9,964 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

If you really want to see Mexico, I would get on a tour on a bus, that starts in San Diego, and takes you all the way to Ensenada and back in one day. Tijuana has deteriorated, in my opinion anyway, and whoever wrote your travel guide needs to visit it again and update their book. Ensenada is a much better place to visit and the tour will go along the coast which will give some scenic aspect to the ride. The complete tour will take up the whole day. Be patient at the border crossing when re-entering the U.S. as lines can be long now. Study the U.S. Customs regulations to learn and understand what you can bring into the U.S. and how much you can bring in. Not much to know about entering Mexico except that guns are illegal there. Don't forget your passport as it is required now to enter the U.S.!

Edited: 3:29 am, May 08, 2012
San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
59,143 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

Tijuana is not a shopper's paradise. I am not sure it ever was one?

We used to go there with guests for Mexican craft items,blankets,silver jewelry, etc.

To me the wait at the border to enter back into the USA is a pain BUT since hundreds of folks cross back and forth every day it is certainly doable.

There are some good restaurants too.

The violence seems to have quieted down so I think you'd be fine going in the daytime. I agree that it might be more fun to take a tour down to Ensenada to see a bit more of Mexico than just the big city at the border.

San Diego...
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
22,164 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

I, too, agree with getting a tour to Ensenada. I don't think it's worth just going to Tijuana to wander around without a goal. It's never been a shoppers paradise. If you live locally I know people go when they're remodeling their house or upholstering a couch. But, tourist shopping is mostly trinkets, pottery, etc.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
50,955 posts
422 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

Here is what I said a few days ago in another topic like this:

GOING TO TIJUANA:

Most people on these boards are firmly against it. I was all for it, then I pulled back when the violence escalated and now I am for it, in the right circumstances. I do business there and other parts of Mexico. I go to Tijuana at least once a month, sometimes more often and often vacation in Rosarito with with one of my sons, my father and our friends who all surfers. There was a time when the violence in Tijuana got so bad that some of my clients were buying houses in San Diego and moving their families while they stayed behind to work. That has changed and reversed. There was a time when I would do my business and not linger for drinks or dinner, that too has changed. I am happy to join my clients and partners at some of the great restaurants that have popped up in TJ now. I even look forward to it.

It is great that some people have great medical and dental insurance that covers everything with little out of pocket to them (but then again, maybe that is part of the problem with US health care, but I digress), but not everyone is so fortunate especially when it comes to what is perceived as cosmetic dental work. I know a lot of people who go to TJ and their dental work costs about 10-20% of what it would in San Diego. My Lipitor (for all that good food I eat) costs $172 from my US pharmacy for a 30 day supply. That same prescription from the same US based pharmacy in TJ is $13.80. So yes, I get going to TJ for medical reasons.

Now, if I were in San Diego for four days, would I pop over to TJ for a couple of hours just to see it or just to eat? Probably not given that it can take 1 1/2 to 3 hours to get back across the border, it is a bad tradeoff time wise, UNLESS you are going to Mision17 restaurant, which if it were in Spain or France would be a 2 star Michelin restaurant. It is worth the border wait.

Also, if there were three young guys from Australian or Germany would I recommend they cross the border to "party" because TJ has some great clubs. No, not a chance. Do I worry about my sons or their friends when they do it? Not so much because they well understand Mexico in general and TJ specifically. They know how to avoid trouble and to avoid getting blind drunk in TJ.

If someone is in San Diego for a week can a trip to Mexico be fun and a good idea? Absolutely. Does it have to be TJ? No, Ensenada and Rosarito are great little towns, fun and easier to navigate because they are smaller. Tecate is also great and often overlooked by tourists, but it is a great little town and a great place for a beer lover. There are also tours that can relieve the individual from having to worry about getting to and from these places.

The last question, the hard one, is Tijuana the "real" Mexico. The answer is obviously yes, I mean it does exist, it is real and it is IN Mexico. Does that mean it is representative of everyplace else in Mexico? No, no more than Detroit is representative of all the US. But the Mexicans in TJ are real Mexicans and there is a lot that is typical of other parts of Mexico.

*********************************************

Okay, now for you specifically. Is Tijuana a shoppers paradise? Not any more, it might have been 20 years ago, but with the building of the Las Americas Outlet Mall right on the border more Mexicans now enter the US for bargains than Americans go into Tijuana for bargains.

Is it worth it for you? Not for a few hours of wandering around the shopping area because the border wait to reenter the US can be very long. You almost need to be there for more than four hours to make the hour or so wait to come back worth it and there might not be enough to do for that length of time.

Is the experience interesting? Probably, but only in that it is so eyeopening. You could cross from the US into Canada and if you aren't paying attention not notice because Vancouver isn't that different from Seattle or Portland. In Tijuana you know immediately you have crossed into the third world. It would be like leaving Hamburg and instead of entering the Luneburg area you entered into Turkey or another middle eastern country.

If you are an experienced, savvy world traveler, you might find the experience interesting, but don't do it to shop. A bus tour to Ensenada or Rosarito Beach might be a better alternative to experience a bit of Mexico.

Little Sutton...
Level Contributor
2,174 posts
124 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

We did a bus tour to Tijuana some years ago,when Scotca says it is interesting that is spot on,what with seemingly no traffic rules & regs(it's a madhouse on the roads!),planes screaming in low over the rooftops,holes in the sidewalks,donkeys painted like zebras on the street corners,power lines crackling away,kids begging everywhere,police cars flying around with their sirens going, people trying to drag us into every tacky souvenire shop( & there are lots of them) & noisy open bars we were glad we went but would not bother again!

Luneburg, Germany
Level Contributor
47 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

Thank you very much for the answers.

and scottca075 thanks a lot for the Information.

So we will stay in the US on our vacation.

I realy loved Caribbean part of Mexico, but I already heard that TIjuana is not like that.

But maybe I will go to Ensenada, the next time when I will travell with my wife.

This time I'm with my best best friend and after a long party-weekend in Vegas, it may be better to enjoy San Diego or relax on the beach then to go to Tijuana.

So I hope for a warm and sunny early June...

Thanks again to everybody.

Maybe you also could help me with my next post about CHARGERS stuff

San Diego...
Level Contributor
1 post
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

Don't go !!!!

There is an on-going civil war in Mexico. With thousands of folks killed every year. Several years ago the Tiajuana chief of police was shot.

Many honest law enforcement officers in Mexico have been killed by the several cartels fighting for power. I live nearby and have not been to Mexico in over 10 years. The surviving law enforcement folks are either scared, co-opted, or corrupt - the honest and independent ones are mostly dead. Although portions of their military (Navy) seem not so totally corrupted.

If you have a problem in Mexico there is no one to turn to - the officials may be helpful, but far too many are not trustworthy and will prey on you.

There is nothing there worth risking your life or safety . . . . Stay safe, shop at the Mexican themed areas (San Diego Old Town, etc.) in the USA

Thousand Oaks...
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
11,228 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

Taansta...

This person has already come and gone. Check the dates.

Anyways,what ScottCA wrote last year is still accurate. No reason to be an alarmist.

San Diego...
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
22,164 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Daytrip to Tijuana?

Interesting post from someone who only signed up today .... bringing up a thread almost a year old ???

Not saying some of what they say isn't true but the alarmist nature is unusual.

Edited: 11:58 pm, February 02, 2013