How to have fun and avoid getting taken hostage in TJ?
May 28, 2012 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Heading down to Tijuana next week. What should we do that's fun, interesting, and (mostly) safe? Are there any day trips worth taking?

My folks will refuse to pay any ransom, so I'd prefer to stick to areas that aren't too risky for a few of us who are very white.
posted by HotPatatta to Travel & Transportation around Tijuana, Mexico (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The area of Avenida Revolucion is pretty safe. There's bars, restaurants, clip joints, curios for sale. Since everyone north of the border thinks they'll get killed, there's a lot of closed up shops so there's fewer gringo tourists than before. What you do see are tourists from Asia, Europe and Canada which aren't as worried as their American counterparts of being killed or kidnapped by narcotraficantes. You're more likely to get killed in a traffic accident on the freeway driving to the border than you are to be a victim of kidnapping or narco violence.

There's some fun clubs on Av Sexta (6th avenue) off Revolucion but many don't get hopping until late. At night there's lots of clubs with dancing and are packed to the rafters with young people from San Diego lured by the lower drinking age and low cover charge for all you can drink specials. There ae a few Caliente casinos which offer sports betting on major American sports. Staying after dark in the tourist district or Zona Rio is safe as kittens. You just don't want to get wasted and do something stupid. The dangerous parts of town are far from wherever you'd find yourself unless you're specifically looking for trouble.

If you're driving, park in the lot behind the Jack In The Box east of the 5/805. It is $5 for 8 hours (if you're 1 minute late you pay for another 8 hours). On the west side of the freeway there's a parking lot on in the duty free shop that will let you park for 24 hours. There's another lot right on the right when you get to the stoplight that has at the Mexicoach bus that can drop you off downtown and you can get back and get back into the US in the bus lane which sometimes is faster than the pedestrian line. At that downtown Mexicoach office you can also buy tickets to go down the coast to Rosarito or Ensenada.

If you decide to walk into Mexico you can walk toward the Arch on Revolucion (after going past the customs person that only searches people w/big bags, you can turn right toward the McDonalds and those pharmacies) but I always will take a taxi for $5US each way. I usually go straight instead toward the Yellow taxis but there's also Taxi Libre branded taxis near the McDonalds. Both will want $5. You should always make sure before you drive off as there are no meters and if some drivers will want to take advantage of you. Have a $5 bill ready as some will often pretend not to have enough change as a way to get more money from you. However, most taxistas I've encountered have been friendly, honest and helpful.

When you want to go home, just flag a taxi and ask to go to "La Linea" and they'll drop you off at the pedestrian line. Caution: at some times the crossing can take hours. After 4pm is usually OK though.

The border station on the US side is under a major expansion and overhaul so the lines are even longer than usual. Regardless of where you park, the onramp to the 5/805 is closed and you'll need to take a detour through the San Ysidro area following the signs. It adds a few minutes to your trip but isn't terrible.

Remember you need to have a passport to reenter the US. Well, you don't absolutely need one but if you don't have proof of your right to enter the US legally, they'll make you go through secondary and sometimes will have a line for people w/o proper documentation. If you have a driver's license and birth certificate it is better than just your license. Rather than a few seconds with the agent, it can be minutes as they look up to see if you who you say you are. If you have warrants out, they'll find out and there's a San Diego cop waiting in a mobile home ready to arrest scofflaws.

Enjoy yourself and don't get too drunk.
posted by birdherder at 9:42 PM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

Leave your cell phone as far from the border as possible, or turn it completely off. I've spent the day offshore only to return to my hotel with a "hey, you didn't just pop over to Brazil and back, did you?" call from my wireless provider 'cause my phone got cloned when I was close to the border.
posted by Runes at 7:19 AM on May 29, 2012

I'm in Tijuana about once a week and have never had an issue with my phone and never heard of it happening. When I googled for it, the top article was a person in Florida discovering her phone had been cloned and the cloned phone was in Nvo Progresso, MX. But her phone was cloned in Florida. I'm not saying it doesn't happen ever, but I wouldn't concern myself with it anymore that it happening in the US.

Depending on the phone and carrier you can still get a signal from the American carriers in most of the tourist zone so you don't have to pay roaming fees. However, you should make sure you have international data roaming turned off. ATT for example charges $20.00/MB in data.
posted by birdherder at 5:24 PM on May 29, 2012

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