Oh, Tijuana! Southern California’s southern neighbor has persevered over the years despite a reputation as an utter danger zone for gringos. Fortunately, bad press isn’t quieting life around the hectic hillside town. Actually, it’s the total opposite: Tijuana is booming, fueled in large by a culinary explosion. Slow clap for Mision 19.
But what’s the best way to visit TJ and try some world class cuisine without spending hours in a customs line? We answer that question below.
Walking across the border is my preferred method of visiting. The process is simple. Pull into one of several parking lots at the last stop before the San Ysidro border crossing. Parking ranges from $12-24 for 24 hours. From there, follow the crowds of people walking towards the border. There you’ll go through a painless immigration welcome and straight in Tijuana. I’ve walked straight through once, and during peak hours, stood in line for an entire 20-minutes. Once you finish crossing, you’ll come onto a street with taxis waiting to take you to Avenida Revolucion.
NO! NO! NO! Unless you’re venturing further into Mexico, do not drive across the border. You’ll need to secure special insurance coverage, fend off aggressive drivers with a more liberal sense of the road, stress over parking and that’s not even where things get interesting. The reason you don’t drive into Tijuana is because you have to drive out. No offense to Mexico, but it’s a lot easier entering their country than it is entering the United States. If you thought those TSA lines were bad, imagine sitting in a car for five hours to ride one mile. This is not the way to leave Tijuana and return stateside.
If you’re disabled, pregnant or older, this might be the easiest way to cross the border. If you’re none of those things: walk. Buses have access to a dedicated lane which speeds up border crossing, but riders still have to disembark to cross the border, clear customs and immigration, and then board again.