Tijuana is the largest border city shared between the United States in Mexico. It's located in the northwestern corner of Mexico and right across the border from San Diego, California. Tijuana it's part of the San Diego–Tijuana international metropolitan conurbation. The 2012 population of the San Diego-Tijuana region was 4,922,723, making it the largest bi-national conurbation shared between the United States and Mexico, the second-largest shared between the US and another country (after Detroit-Windsor), and the fourth largest in the world.
Get into Tijuana
Most tourists enter Tijuana through the border crossing at San Ysidro, which is reportedly the busiest border crossing in the world. The crossing can be made by car, bus, or on foot. The second international border crossing is located in the district of Otay.
Every visitor who plans to return to the United States must have either a passport, a ready lane card, a US birth certificate, or a US green card.
From the Tijuana International Airport (IATA: TIJ)
The airport is located parallel to the USA-Mexico border line one mile west of the Otay International Border Crossing. As of December 9, 2015, with the opening of the Cross Border Xpress bridge and terminal, Tijuana airport can be accessed directly from the U.S.; passengers can walk across a bridge spanning the U.S.-Mexico border between a terminal on the U.S. side and the main facility on the Mexican side.
From San Diego International Airport (IATA: SAN)
San Diego International Airport is 15 miles/24km (a 20 minute drive) north of the international border and can be used as a transit point for travellers wishing to visit Tijuana from the U.S. There are several methods for easily getting into Tijuana from San Diego Airport. Public transportation, Uber or you can request transport from Medical Tourism Tijuana.
The Blue Line trolley runs from American Plaza in downtown San Diego to the start of the pedestrian border crossing at San Ysidro, from about 5 am until midnight.
American Plaza is across the street from the Santa Fe Depot railway station for "Coaster" commuter trains and Amtrak. Instead of negotiating heavy urban traffic and a spaghetti bowl of streets and freeways, visitors can take advantage of free parking at suburban commuter stations and relatively low fares on the Coaster line. In October 2013 a new policy went into effect that Amtrak's Surfliner trains will honor Coaster fares and stop at some of the same stations. This is an improvement in scheduling since the last Coaster train north left at 7pm and midday trains were somewhat infrequent.
While in the San Diego area, take I-5 or I-805 direction south, both freeways end at El Chaparral the port of entry or border crossing is as of 2012 the main vehicle crossing point from San Diego into Tijuana, Mexico, replacing the former entry point known as Puerta México which stood immediately east of El Chaparral. You can 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 may occur, but is a quick process that will require no more than 15 minutes. 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 or one of MTTJ's patients advocatescan help you purchase one.
Many people drive to the border, park on the US side, and walk across. There are many lots available for this, which charge between $5 and $15 USD a day. There are three options Pedwest, San Ysidro Land Port of Entry or the Otay Port of Entry.
Pedwest is at 499 Virginia Ave. San Ysidro CA. Very nearby you'll find the Border Station parking lot at 4570 Camino de La Plaza. The lot is fenced, well lighted and attended 24 hours a day. However, it sometimes fills up which could leave you scrambling to find another place to park. To avoid that, reserve a parking spot online using SpotHero. If you use a ridesharing service to go to Pedwest, use the address above and don't let your driver try to tell you that you should go to the trolley stop instead. Not only are waiting times often shorter at Pedwest but it has an area for drop off and pick up. Pedwest is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for going south into Tijuana and 24 hours a day for crossing north into the U.S.
San Ysidro Land Port of Entry
If you take the San Diego Trolley to the US/Mexico border, you can walk across the border from the last trolley stop. The San Ysidro Land port of entry is straight ahead of the trolley station. There are blue signs indicating where to go.
Otay Port of Entry
It's located at 9777 Via De La Amistad, San Diego, California 92154 U.S. It's often less busy, but is not close of the places you like to visit in Tijuana.
The main bus station is 9km SE of el Centro (old downtown) at Calzada Lazaro Cardenas 15751, Fracc. Chapultepec Alamar, Delegacion Mesa de Otay which is just south of the airport (8.5km from the airport terminal). The main bus station can be reached by bus from Calle 3 or by taxi from the city centre and has direct coaches to most major cities in Mexico.
Border Crossing Requirements
As of July 2017, pedestrians crossing back and forth between San Ysidro and Tijuana now have two ways where they can enter/exit each country: PedWest and San Ysidro Port of Entry (SYPE). Each station has an adjacent Mexican immigration center on the south side of the border that processes foot traffic into Mexico. The newest facility, PedWest, on the US side, is located on Virginia Ave directly across the street from Outlets at the Border. SYPE is to the east of the 5 at the end of E San Ysidro Boulevard near the trollies. Foot traffic into Mexico is usually quick for anyone, regardless of nationality.
Uber and Lyft are the newest addition to the transportation options in Tijuana. Both of this companies offers passengers newer, private vehicles, summoned via a smartphone app. Both options run on both iPhones and Android smartphones, allowing travelers to request a professional, trained chauffeur on the spot. Uber is currently the safest mode of public transport in Tijuana, as drivers must adhere to high standards of safety and customer service. In order to enjoy Uber's service in Tijuana, you must have access to a WiFi hotspot or mobile internet. You can learn more about Uber by visiting the company's website, note that the prices are in pesos.
What to see
Avenida Revolucion is in the Zona Centro or downtown, and is the most touristic area of Tijuana. In here you can find restaurants, night clubs and is usually a very crowded gathering place for youg people. It was the first paved road of the 20th century, an important center of economic development, and a tourist attraction notable for the visitors who crossed the border daily from San Diego, California. Avenida Revolución has experienced many changes, and is known as the business card of Tijuana, "The most visited city in the world". It was known for its famous cantinas including, "La Ballena", the largest bar in the world when it was open. The city was popular with American Navy sailors until the United States Navy prohibited sailors from visiting Tijuana. From 1989 to 1994 the Avenida's Baby Rock discothèque was the claimed to be #1 club in the world based on gross revenues, before becoming in 2012 the Onixeus. Adjacent to the Avenida Revolución is the Zona Norte, the town's red light district.
A popular tourist attraction is taking a picture with a Tijuana Zebra, which is really a donkey painted to look like a zebra, but only a few are left. At night, most of the shop keepers close as some night club and bars open. Numerous pharmacies are frequented by Americans who cross the border for affordable medicines.The Avenida was remodeled a few years back to accommodate more people walking around and less cars driving by.
Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) is a cultural center in the Zona Río. The center opened 20 October 1982, and accommodates more than a million visitors per year.
A major feature of the complex is an OMNIMAX cinema designed by architects Pedro Ramirez Vazques and Manuel Rossen Morrison. It is the only IMAX cinema in Tijuana, and has come to be popularly known as La Bola ("The Ball"). The cinema, which uses a 360-degree projector to surround viewers with a panoramic image, has 308 seats.
The OMNIMAX cinema has been part of the cultural center since the complex first opened in 1982. In October of that year, it premiered the film El pueblo del sol, which was made especially for the cinema's opening. The film presents images from the most representative regions of Mexico, and got very good reviews. It was the cinema's only film for 13 years. Today, the center offers a daily selection of films; it premieres about four films per year.
The center encompasses a large esplanade that accommodates up to 6,000 people. The esplanade is a venue for performances, festivals, and expos.
There is also permanent exhibition, called "Museo de las Californias", which stores over 200 pieces and is a walk through the history of the Baja Peninsula and the state of California from the prehistoric period until the first half of the 20th century. Also a pre-Hispanic garden, called "Jardin Caracol (Snail Garden)", that contains sculptures from the different regions of the mesoamerican cultures that inhabited south Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish Army. Visitors can have the experience of going through the exhibition while enjoying a coffee since there is a little coffee shop in the garden.
There is also a scenic theatre which has a room for around a thousand visitors and it is mostly used for private concerts and plays. There are also lecture rooms, video room, café, and a bookshop. There are several spaces for temporary small exhibits. CECUT is a short distance from the Mexico–United States border at San Ysidro, San Diego.
Playas de Tijuana
Bullring by the beach
Where to eat
Where to sleep
What to do