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Driving/Walking to Mexico from San Diego?

Driving/Walking to Mexico from San Diego?

Old Jul 16, 13, 4:17 pm
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Driving/Walking to Mexico from San Diego?

I will be taking a trip to San Diego with my dad at the end of September. I was doing a little reading online and was playing with the idea of taking a day (or partial-day) trip down to Mexico (Tijuana?) for lunch or something. I was just wondering if anyone has done this recently or could offer any advice. The reading I've done suggests the best way to do this is to drive down to the border (San Ysidro) and then walk across. The main questions I have are:

1. Is it safe? I know there are definitely dangerous areas so the answer is relative, but we would be going during daylight and staying in the "tourist" areas. I'm wondering if it's still dangerous even if we do this.

2. Are there enough places within walking distance once we get there? My thought is to drive down to the border, walk across, and then just walk to a restaurant and shopping area. I'd like to avoid any taxis and definitely do not want to drive into Mexico.

3. Are customs/immigration a big hassle either coming or going from either Mexican or U.S. authorities?

4. Is a passport required? I've heard conflicting answers; some yes but it's not enforced. I have a valid one and my dad has one but I believe it's expired. What other documentation is required?

Sorry if my questions seem ignorant; I have not been in the SD area ever before. I've read some stuff that suggests there's so much other stuff to do in SD that going down to Mexico isn't worth it; then again other people say otherwise. We will be arriving in SD on a Thursday and coming home the following Tuesday, so obviously we will be doing the zoo, possibly Sea World, Little Italy, etc. but I just thought it might be fun to get a little taste of Mexico also.

Any suggestions about this or other things to do in SD are appreciated. Thanks.

Edited to add: We're both U.S. citizens from the midwest.

Last edited by musicfan92; Jul 16, 13 at 6:13 pm Reason: additional info
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Old Jul 17, 13, 6:43 am
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You can take the SD Trolley to a stop very close to the border so if you don't want to drive at all, there is that option.

I'll let the other SD/TJ experts weigh in on the other stuff.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 11:27 am
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The border parking lot that I used last time had bus service to and from the center of Tijuana for its customers.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 1:04 pm
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You could drive to here....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Border_Mexico_USA.jpg

The border crossing is a major crossing point. Depending on day/time it could be an 2 hr or longer wait if not more. You will need to have some form of enhanced ID to cross. It doesnt have to be a passport. Some border states issue enhanced ID/licenses that service border crossing purpose.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 1:33 pm
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If you drive, you will also need Mexican auto insurance
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Old Jul 17, 13, 1:40 pm
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Personally, I wouldn't bother with Tijuana. It's a nasty border town and not, in the least, representative or typical of Mexico. If you have a car, you might consider Rosarita Beach, which is further down the coast. I haven't been there in years, but the times that I was showed it to be a quaint and reasonably quiet, with a number of places to eat and a feel that was very different from the US (in a good way). I can't say how it is now, though. Ensenada used to be a nice place to visit, too, but it went way downhill once the cruise ships started docking there en masse.
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Old Jul 18, 13, 11:17 pm
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Zoo is good, Safari Park (Escondido) is better, especially for adults. It is the source of many of the animals at the zoo. It is the animal "ark" for much of the world, in conjunction with other participating zoos.

We have always walked across. Most domestic insurance coverage does not cover you in Mexico. It is safe enough, but you might consider why you want to go. Hot, dusty and a big time eater. I do not see old town San Diego on your list. Safer, historical with a VC to get the history from.
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Old Jul 19, 13, 5:29 am
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I've both walked and driven across, and I don't recommend driving unless you're skipping TJ entirely and heading for more peaceful coastal towns (as suggested above). Road sign arrows don't follow US standards so can be confusing, but learn the words for 'stop', 'yield' and 'keep left' and it isn't too bad.
Central TJ isn't terribly close to the border, but there are a few places to eat/shop if all you're looking for is the ability to say you were there (and perhaps to take a photo of yourself with half your anatomy in one country, half in another, which some silly male friends of mine got a pretty big kick out of). You'll find mainly touristy tat and cheap antibiotics there, but I've generally found reasonable jokey prezzies to bring home. Prices are higher here than in town.
If you do take a taxi to the centre, you can eat, drink and be merry in a million and one places. You'll be offered every enticement to enter every business place. You'll be everyone's best amigo. And you'll likely be ripped off in at least one.

As to safety and newer ID regulations, I haven't been in a few years so I'll defer...

If you don't feel like the TJ trip is easy/safe/quick enough, there is very little there you can't find in Old Town San Diego, except maybe the dodgy characters and antibiotics.
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Old Aug 9, 13, 7:41 pm
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Originally Posted by PTravel View Post
Personally, I wouldn't bother with Tijuana. It's a nasty border town and not, in the least, representative or typical of Mexico. If you have a car, you might consider Rosarita Beach, which is further down the coast. I haven't been there in years, but the times that I was showed it to be a quaint and reasonably quiet, with a number of places to eat and a feel that was very different from the US (in a good way). I can't say how it is now, though. Ensenada used to be a nice place to visit, too, but it went way downhill once the cruise ships started docking there en masse.
As a NYer, Tijuana was a worthwhile trip while in San Diego for one reason only: food. Churros on the street, fish tacos, other tacos, and who knows what else found within a 25-minute walk of the Tijuana side of the border. Checking out the jai alai arena was a bonus.

BUT, the (pedestrian) line getting back into the states was unsurprisingly horrendously long. Can't imagine how it is on a bad day.
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Old Aug 10, 13, 12:10 pm
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I used to go to Tijuana often, but nowadays, the line back into the U.S., which is invariably over an hour long, and often 2+ hours, has kept me from doing this trip for a couple of years. It's safe enough, but there isn't really anything alluring enough in TJ to make me want to wait for 2 hours on line to get back to the U.S.

And yes, you either need a Passport, or some sort of enhanced ID (not a simple driver's license) to get back in. I've heard that they will generally waive this for folks who simply forgot, and who have a U.S. license and don't look Latin, but I would not risk it.
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Old Aug 10, 13, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
As a NYer, Tijuana was a worthwhile trip while in San Diego for one reason only: food. Churros on the street, fish tacos, other tacos, and who knows what else found within a 25-minute walk of the Tijuana side of the border. Checking out the jai alai arena was a bonus.

BUT, the (pedestrian) line getting back into the states was unsurprisingly horrendously long. Can't imagine how it is on a bad day.
On my last trip a few months ago (love to visit San Diego and take the trolley and cross the border for cheap eats and cheap hotel - yes I really DO sleep on the Mexican side) it was an hour plus wait, and that was in the morning

Originally Posted by flyboy60 View Post
I used to go to Tijuana often, but nowadays, the line back into the U.S., which is invariably over an hour long, and often 2+ hours, has kept me from doing this trip for a couple of years. It's safe enough, but there isn't really anything alluring enough in TJ to make me want to wait for 2 hours on line to get back to the U.S.
I've also walked around in the past outside Avenida Revolucion tourist area and never had any problems.

There's a also the river district, which is closer to the border and looks much cleaner with nice restaurants. If you don't want to take taxis, it's not a long walk to either district, or there's a bus that runs from US side to downtown Tijuana.

But there is a ton of stuff to do in San Diego, so my only objection to going to TJ would be time - mostly crossing back to US.

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Old Aug 12, 13, 7:51 am
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From the US State Department webpage:

Since March 1, 2010, all U.S. citizens including minors have been required to present a valid passport or passport card for travel into Mexico.
I don't think I'd chance not having a passport/passport card.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...s/cis_970.html
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Old Aug 12, 13, 3:54 pm
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Another data point: I walked over and back last month (the week before Comic Con) on a weekday afternoon. Coming back over, the line took about 90 minutes (from 17:30 joining the line to 19:00 through immigration).
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Old Aug 12, 13, 4:38 pm
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Here's border patrol web page with wait times.

Scroll to the bottom, the name of the crossing is San Ysidro, same as the endpoint of the Trolley.

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Old Aug 12, 13, 10:25 pm
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I got some dental work done in TJ (cheap & quite good) & crossed a lot. If you stay downtown SD just take the trolly. If staying elsewhere, park at one of the lots at the border. If I returned before 5 the line wasn't bad. After that it's brutal. You should have your passport, but once I forgot it, & my DL worked fine (that line was longer though).
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