So I'm going to be in San Diego early Jan 2014 with a friend and we were going to do Puerto Rico but it's looking too expensive so we though Mexico would be good to do. Is Tijuana safe to go for 2 girls in their early 20's? What about costs, nightlife, things to do safety etc. Just want some travel advice from people who've either been there or are from there. Thanks
Please read the latest Mexico Travel Warning issued by the US Dept of State
State Dept Travel Warning
Before you go, recheck the website for any applicable updates.
Choice = Responsibility.
Best wishes and good luck.
I admit I don't have much experience in Tijuana - only a few days on two separate occasions in the last couple of years - but it struck me as a boring, dangerous, over priced tourist trap that reflected some of the absolute worst aspects of Mexico.
Do your research and don't wander from the gringo trail, especially if you don't speak Spanish.
There are great places to visit for women just south of the border, but the main tourist area of Tijuana is not one of them. If, however, you stay away from Revolution Blvd and instead head into the main part of town, then Tijuana is just like any other large Mexican town--with lots of shopping in malls and great restaurants. However, there is not much to see there unless you want to go to a bullfight or to a soccer game.
On the other hand, try a different approach. Buy Mexican car insurance (American car insurance is not valid in Mexico) either just on the American side before crossing over (you have to get off at the last stop off the freeway (either I-5 or I-805) before crossing over, or else when you first rent your car and then follow the signs for "ruta cuota"--which means toll road. This will lead you to a divided two way highway that heads south alongside the ocean. You can take this to any one of the following three places--(1) one of the two exits for Rosarito Beach--(approximately 15-18 miles south) (32 kilometers), or (2) Puerto Nuevo--a town consisting of about 17 different lobster restaurants another 20 kilometers south of Rosarito (and it has 2 nice hotels close by), or (3) the city of Ensenada--which is about 70 miles south of the border.
These are all busy tourist spots that are great hangouts for men and women in the late spring to end of summer period. (not so hot the rest of the year)
There are different attractions for Rosarito Beach (horseback riding on the beach, pools and bars at the various hotels, and great nightclubs). It also has a large film studio that gives tours--see
which tells about some of the movies filmed there such as Titanic, Tomorrow Never Dies, Pearl Harbor and Master and Commander and one from Robert Redford not just released called All is Lost.
Farther south is the lobster restaurant city already mentioned--and then down in Ensenada are the two famous bars (Hussongs--and Papas and Beer--usually like a giant spring break party at the street with these two places). Also in town are great shows (Mexican hat dances, rope exhibitions, etc. done in the local restaurants). South of town is the famous "blowhole"--and as you approach it, it is like one gigantic flea market for the last 1/4 mile when you walk to where the blowhole is--very safe if you just watch your purse and be on the kind of guard you would at any outdoor flea market.
The last part of the road to Ensenada is very scenic and on some cliffs that match the views you get from those on California's central coast. Make sure to fill your tank up, though, since there are very few gas stations between Puerto Nuevo and Ensenada. The good news is that the tolls are super cheap (like $5 total each way) and the road is in excellent condition, meaning the drive from the border can be made in about 1 1/2 hours. Ensenada is where the short 3-day cruises out of Los Angeles go, so there are always tourists all over town--and it's a fairly large town--although not totally packed like Tijuana, which is fast approaching 2 million people.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Mar-2013, at 21:13 by Calcruzer ]
One last place I might mention in conjunction with your visit.
Mexico has recently started producing a large quantity of wine in the baja area, and is now pushing their own wine region and wineries. The wine region is just northeast of Ensenada, and might be worth a visit if you decide to go that far.
The link to more info is here:
I would give you more info on this, but since this has only started in the last few years, and I haven't been to Ensenada for about 5 years, I can't really provide any detailed information on their facilities and wineries.
One last thing--if you decide to go across to anywhere in Mexico driving, keep in mind that it takes at least an extra hour to get back across the border because of having to go through America customs and immigration--and the lines can take up to 3 hours longer if you go over a holiday weekend like Memorial Day, US Independence Day, or Labor Day.
Just noticed that you plan to go in January 2014--so the beach areas will be very quiet--but the Ensenada drive and a visit to the blowhole and/or local wineries might be worth your while. If you are looking for someplace warm to lie by the pool, you will probably need to go to either Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico--but these will involve plane flights from either San Diego, Los Angeles, or Tijuana.
Also, keep in mind that if you shop, always be prepared to haggle--and be aware that in Tijuana and Ensenada they always mark everything up with their first offer to about one-and-a-half times to twice what they expect you to actually pay. After asking about an item and then saying "no, that's too much", then start to walk away and watch how the prices they offer will start to drop quickly.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Mar-2013, at 21:32 by Calcruzer ]