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Skyline of Tijuana, Downtown San Diego seen faintly in the background
Nickname(s): TJ
Motto: Aquí empieza la patria
(English: The homeland starts here.)
The government translates the phrase as Gateway to Mexico.
Tijuana is located in Mexico
Location of Tijuana in Mexico
Coordinates: 32°31′30″N 117°02′0″W / 32.525°N 117.033333°W / 32.525; -117.033333
Country Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico
State Mexico stateflags Baja California.png Baja California
Municipality Tijuana
Metropolitan area San Diego-Tijuana
Founded July 11, 1889
 - Type Ayuntamiento
 - Municipal President Jorge Ramos Hernandez (PAN)
 - Total 637 km2 (245.9 sq mi)
Elevation 20 m (65 ft)
Population (2005)
 - Total 1,483,992
 Density 2,212/km2 (5,729.1/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC−8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
1 INEGI, Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México

Tijuana (English pronunciation: /ˌtiː.əˈwɑːnə/,[2] Spanish: [tiˈxwana]), is the largest city of the Mexican state of Baja California, situated on the U.S.-Mexico border adjacent to its sister city of San Diego, California. Tijuana is the westernmost city in Mexico, though the westernmost population center is located in Isla Guadalupe. Tijuana is considered by the Mexican government to be the dominant regional center in northwestern Mexico.

According to the 2005 census, the Tijuana metropolitan area was the sixth-largest in Mexico, with a population of 1,483,992, and one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico. Tijuana forms part of the San Diego-Tijuana Metropolitan Area, the total population of which has been estimated to be just over 5 million in 2009,[3] making it the 22nd largest metropolitan area in the Americas[4] and the largest bi-national metropolitan area that is shared between US and Mexico. It is estimated that the two border crossings in Tijuana account for 300,000 daily border crossings.



The land where the city of Tijuana would be built was originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay, a tribe of Yuman-speaking hunter-gatherers. Europeans arrived in 1542, when the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo toured the coastline of the area, which was later mapped in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno. In 1769, Juan Crespí documented more detailed information about the area that would be called the Valley of Tijuana. Junípero Serra founded the first mission of Alta California in nearby San Diego.

More settlement of the area took place near the end of the mission era when José María de Echeandía, governor of the Baja California and Alta California, awarded a large land grant to Santiago Argüello in 1829. This large cattle ranch, Rancho Tía Juana ("Aunt Jane Ranch"), covered 100 km2 (40 sq mi).

In 1848, as a result of the Mexican-American War with the United States, Mexico lost all of Alta California. The majority of the 1,000 Hispanic families living in Alta California stayed there, though some moved south to remain inside Mexico.

Because of this Tijuana gained a different purpose on the international border. The area had been populated by ranchers, but Tijuana developed a new social economic structure. These were farming and livestock grazing, plus as a transit area for prospectors.[5]

Urban settlement began in 1889, when descendants of Santiago Argüello and Augustín Olvera entered an agreement to begin developing the city of Tijuana. The date of the agreement, July 11, 1889, is recognized as the founding of the city.[6]

Tijuana saw its future in tourism from the beginning. From the late the 19th century to the first decades of the 20th, the city attracted large numbers of Californians coming for trade and entertainment. The California land boom of the 1880s led to the first big wave of tourists, who were called "excursionists" and came looking for echoes of the famous novel "Ramona" by Helen Hunt Jackson.

In 1911, during the Mexican Revolution, revolutionaries claiming loyalty to Ricardo Flores Magón took over the city for shortly over a month. Federal troops then arrived. Assisted by local loyal militia known as the "defensores de Tijuana", they routed the rebels, who fled north and were promptly arrested by the United States Army. This event is a source of local controversy, and the "rebels" are almost universally reviled in Tijuana as "filibusteros" (mercenaries).

The Panama-California Exposition of 1915 brought many visitors to the nearby California city of San Diego. Tijuana attracted these tourists with a Feria Típica Mexicana - Typical Mexican Fair. This included curio shops, regional food, thermal baths, horse racing and boxing.

The first professional race track opened in January, 1916, just south of the border gate. It was almost immediately destroyed by the great "Hatfield rainmaker" flood of 1916. Rebuilt in the general area, it ran horse races until the new Agua Caliente track opened in 1929, several miles south and across the river on higher ground.

Caesar's Hotel on Avenida Revolución

Legal drinking and gambling attracted U.S nationals in the 1020s during Prohibition. The Avenida Revolución area became the city's tourist center, with casinos and the Hotel Caesar's, birthplace of the Caesar Salad.

In 1928, the Agua Caliente Touristic Complex was opened, including hotel, spa, dog-track, private airport, golf course and gambling casino. A year later, the new Agua Caliente Racetrack joined the complex. During the eight years it operated, the Agua Caliente hotel, casino and spa achieved a near mythical status, with Hollywood stars and gangsters flying in and playing. Rita Hayworth was discovered there. Musical nightclub productions were broadcast over the radio. A singer known as "la Faraona" got shot in a love-triangle and gave birth to the myth of a beautiful lady ghost.

Remnants of the Agua Caliente casino can be seen in the outdoor swimming pool and the "minarete" (actually a former incinerator chimney) nearby the southern end of Avenida Sanchez Taboada, on the grounds of what is now the Lazaro Cardenas educational complex.

In 1935, President Cardenas decreed an end to gambling and casinos in Baja California, and the Agua Caliente complex faltered, then closed. In 1939, it was reopened as a Junior High School (now, Secundaria Lázaro Cárdenas). The buildings themselves were torn down in the 1970s, and replaced by modern scholastic architecture.

In 1925, the city attempted to shed its negative image of hedonism and lawlessness created by American mob empresarios by renaming itself Zaragoza, but its name soon reverted to Tijuana.

With increased tourism and the large number of Mexican citizens relocating to Tijuana, the city's population grew from 21,971 to 65,364 between 1940 and 1950.

With the decline of nightlife and tourism in the 1950s, the city restructured its tourist industry, by promoting a more family-oriented scene. Tijuana developed a greater variety of attractions and activities to offer its visitors.

In 1994, PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana while making an appearance in the plaza of Lomas Taurinas, a neighborhood nestled in a valley near Centro. The shooter was caught and imprisoned, but doubts remain about who the mastermind might have been.

Over forty million people cross the border each year between Tijuana and San Ysidro, California, making it the busiest land-border crossing in the world.[7] Although tourism constitutes a large part of this movement, much is also business related. Tijuana and its surrounding area have become a major industrial center, with numerous maquiladoras, particularly since the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.


In early documents — primarily mission records (baptisms, marriages, deaths) — there are mentions of "La Tía Juana", "Tiguana", "Tiuana", "Teguana", "Tiwana", "Tijuan", "Ticuan", "Tijuana". It is believed by some that name comes from the Kumeyaay language of the aboriginal inhabitants. Some have claimed "Tijuana" originated from "Tiwan", meaning close to the sea. Others say this is not certain and that there is no such word in Kumayaay, and that the name comes from another location of similar appearance (and name) in the south of the peninsula, and the name was brought north by Spanish and Mexican soldiers and mule-drivers.

Another foundation myth is that in the beginning there was an old Indian woman, "tía Juana" (aunt Jane), who provided travelers with good food and a place to rest. In spite of scholarly denunciation, this story continues to be very popular with residents of the city. It has particular resonance amongst those who like to imagine the city as a place of hospitality.

In Spanish, the name is [tiˈxwana]; in English, the pronunication /ˌtiːəˈwɑːnə/ is generally used. It is commonly called "TJ" in California and "Tiyei" (matching the sound of the English initials "TJ") in Mexico. Mexicans from Tijuana typically refer to themselves as "Tijuanenses."

The nickname "Tijuas" is increasingly popular among residents and visitors alike.

Due to a recent increase in violence in the city, a new term is developing. The term "Yo Tijuaneo, ¿y tú?" translates to "I Tijuanan, and you?" This term comes from a new popular local verb "Tijuanear" meaning "to Tijuana" describing the cosmopolitan aspects of living in the city and frequently crossing the border. The term is becoming much more popular to help stop unfair and false criticisms of the city.


View of Playas de Tijuana borough
View of the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area, with Tijuana in the foreground.
Sign showing the way to the pedestrian border crossing

Boroughs (delegaciones)

The municipality of Tijuana is divided into administrative boroughs (delegaciones, in Spanish) of which the city of Tijuana occupies nine, which are in turn divided into colonias. These boroughs offer administrative services such as urban planning, civil registry, inspection, verification, public works and community development and are served by a Delegado Municipal (Municipal Delegate).

Tijuana River

The Tijuana River (Río Tijuana) is an intermittent river, 195 km (121 mi) long, on the Pacific coast of northern Baja California in Mexico and southern California in the United States. It drains an arid area along the U.S.–Mexico border, flowing through Mexico for most its course then crossing the border for its lower 8 km (5 mi) to empty into the ocean in an estuary on the southwesternmost corner of the United States. Its lower reaches provide the last undeveloped coast wetlands in San Diego County amidst a highly urbanized environment at the southern city limits of Imperial Beach. The river has been the subject of controversy in recent decades regarding pollution, flood control, and U.S. border protection. Because Downtown Tijuana was built at the bottom of the river valley, it is subject to flooding from drain-off from the rest of the city in two rainy months of the year (typically December and January). During this time, east-bound portions of the Via Rapida (east-west highway) may be blocked off by the Tijuana Police due to hazardous conditions.


Tijuana is noted for its rough terrain, which includes many canyons, steep hills, and mesas. Among noted canyons in Tijuana are Canyon K and Canyon Jhonson (sic). Large Tijuana hills include Cerro Colorado and Cerro de las Abejas in the eastern part of the city, which many schoolchildren climb as part of annual field trips.


Tijuana's climate is semi-arid (Koppen climate classification BSh),[8] with about 235 mm (9.25 in) of annual precipitation. It shows characteristics of the Dry-Summer Subtropical Mediterranean climate (Csa) found to the immediate north, with most of the annual precipitation falling in the winter (between November and March).[9]

Climate data for Tijuana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 90
Average high °F (°C) 68
Average low °F (°C) 46
Record low °F (°C) 24
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.99
Source: The Weather Channel[10] 2010-02-08


Tijuana has a diverse population consisting of immigrants from all over Mexico and the world. The city is home to one of Mexico's largest Asian populations, mostly made up of Chinese immigrants, and to a lesser extent Koreans and Japanese. Tijuana is also home to a large and rapidly growing population of United States citizens, mostly from Southern California, who have moved to the city to avoid the higher cost of living in their home country while still being able to work in San Diego. Many latinos from outside Mexico hoping to enter the United States have made Tijuana their home, especially people from Central America, but also from Andean nations. A large transitory population exists in Tijuana due to border aspirations or deportations.

The majority of Tijuana's population is made of immigrants from other regions of Mexico especially Sinaloa, Michoacán, Jalisco, Oaxaca and the Federal District. Because of the diversity in Mexico and the influx of immigrants from almost every region in the country there are no accurate estimates on ethnicity or race of the current population.

Tijuana today is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico with an average of 80,000 people moving to Tijuana yearly, along with construction of 26,000 new homes a year. Many of the unregulated substandard sprawl take place in the hills of ever expanding Tijuana, leaving the downtown and beach areas for the affluent. Due to this heavy influx of immigrants the city of Tijuana has become home for over 700 maquiladora factories employing the majority of the working class people in the north of the country.

There is a high poverty level in Tijuana, as it is a haven for people from poorer parts of the country and other Latin nations who seek an from escape extreme poverty. Tijuana provides the possibility of employment as well as higher education and the dream of crossing the border. Tijuana and Baja California state in general have much stronger economies and higher incomes than Mexican border cities across from Texas.


Downtown Tijuana

The Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) opened in October 20, 1982 with the goals of strengthening Tijuana's image, and to advertise cultural tourism from the US. The building was constructed by the architects Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Manuel Rosen Morrison. The CECUT first opened as part of the National Fund for Social Activities then in 1983 it was part of the Ministry of Tourism. Later that year CECUT was joined into the Ministry of Public Education. Finally, in 1986 the CECUT gained its own independence, and was able to plan its own budget. In 1988 they changed their actions guiding themselves towards a comprehensive national cultural policy.[11]

It is composed of lecture rooms, video rooms, a library, an exhibition hall, the Museum of the Californias, a futuristic planetary movie theater that displays IMAX films, and a restaurant. Since 1992, the CECUT has hosted the Orchestra of Baja California (OBC), it headquarters the Center of Scenic Arts of the Northwest (CAEN) and the Hispanic-American Center for Guitar (CHG). Since 2001, the CECUT receives about a million visitors per year, making it Baja California's most important cultural center. Another important culture center is La Casa de la Cultura, comprising of a school, a theater, and a public library. Dance, painting, music, plastic arts, photography and languages are taught there. The city also has the Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura (Municipal Institute of Art and Culture), the Tijuana Wax Museum, and the Museo El Trompo (The Trompo Museum).

Tijuana also has a very active and independent artist community whose internationally recognized work has earned Tijuana the title of "one of the most important new cultural meccas", according to Newsweek. Strange New World, an exhibition of Tijuana's current art scene, is being curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and is traveling across the USA in 2006 and 2007.[12] Art collectives like Bulbo and film production like Palenque Filmaciones explore the use of film like the award winning Tijuana Makes Me Happy, media like television bulbo TV and print "bulbo PRESS", to show different realities of Tijuana out of Mexico. In 2004, Tijuana earned international acclaim for an art exhibition displayed on the cement banks of the Tijuana River and along the Mexico/U.S. border fence in Otay Mesa.

Graffiti is widespread in Tijuana. It can range from free-hand writing in spray can and marker form, often carrying social or sexual commentary in English or Spanish, pictures in wheatpaste and stencils, consisting of stenciled renderings of personalities crucial to Hispanic culture from past and present eras, such as television news announcers or stars, but also extending to images of artists like Salvadore Dali. Graffiti in Tijuana may seem at first to consist largely of simplistic tags and thus not as technically evolved, colorful, or accepted in the mainstream as the "pieces" of graffiti scenes of the United States, Europe, or Japan, but large, colorful graffiti murals adorn walls from both native Tijuanense artists as well as visiting graffiti writers, especially from California. The Tijuanense art pieces show as much prowess and skill as those made by their more renowned U.S. counterparts, although illicit graffiti is strongly discouraged by the Tijuana government, as in other major metropolitan areas.

Tijuana is home of the Nortec, a fusion of Norteñas or typical northern-Mexican music and electronic music, such as the music of The Nortec Collective and other electronic music artists as Eduardo Martinez "emc X" that is best known for his full of energy and fashion live acts, and Murcof, which have placed Tijuana in the international eye of specialized magazines and forums in recent years. Additionally, Tijuana also enjoys a large base of support in many other musical scenes, such as Mexican hip hop, hardcore, punk, black metal, Tijuana Brass and house music. Famous musical acts from Tijuana include the world known singer Julieta Venegas, Hip-Hop click Tijuana Rap, and bands like Delux.

Musical clubs in the Avenida Revolución area and others often cater to a diverse range of tastes by offering nightly variations on musical fare, such as New Wave music one night, and punk rock bands on the next. Interestingly, some metal bands from Europe whose members cannot perform in the United States due to prior felony convictions in their own countries will play music festivals in Tijuana so as to attract fans from both Mexico and the United States.

Although poverty is widespread throughout the city, a very affluent and prominent society has developed in Tijuana. Gentrification is evident throughout certain districts. The Club Campestre de Tijuana (Tijuana Country Club) has many affluent members and a famous golf course. A large sized Rotary Club is also located in Tijuana. The Grand Hotel Tijuana and many luxurious restaurants have been developed along Bulevar Agua Caliente (often called "El Bulevar" by locals) and in the Zona Rio. Around the country club and Agua Caliente, many developments of wealthy and luxurious gated communities have filled the hillsides, most of which have views similar to Mount Soledad in San Diego or areas of Orange County. There are many amazing restaurants in Tijuana, attracting both locals and travelers. These four-star restaurants range from Argentine to Italian to Japanese food.


Avenida Revolución has many open bars, pharmacies, and curio shops, that attract many tourists. The majority of these businesses accept the U.S. dollar and use both English and Spanish to conduct everyday business transactions

Tijuana's most prestigious entertainment center is the Club Campestre de Tijuana golf club, but the Agua Caliente Racetrack would be the most notable that is open to the general public. Parque Morelos has a small zoo and park space; Parque de la Amistad has a small pond, and a running and dirt-bike track. Parque Teniente Guerrero is a park located downtown with a public library and weekend entertainment by clowns. El Foro was an attraction for being a jai alai venue, but now is commonly used as a concert venue.

The most popular tourist attraction is a nightclub show. Many foreigners travel to Tijuana to drink and dance, buy prescription drugs, illegal drugs (especially in and around dance clubs), purchase bootleg brand-name clothing, timepieces, and other personal accessories found globally, as well as manufactured and hand-crafted local curiosities. Locals and regular tourists avoid hassles by visiting the clubs at Plaza Fiesta or other areas of the Zona Río without the crowds, heavy marketing, and occasional tourist misbehavior or outright lawbreaking common on the Revolución strip. However, Avenida Revolución has been known for its proliferation of nightclub shows, primarily catering to casual tourists. While still an entertaining town with an enjoyable atmosphere, locals and tourists alike would agree that it has lost its "anything goes" mentality which it had once acquired, a mindset that was dangerous to tourists, locals, and the tourism industry as a whole.

Tijuana possesses a diversity of shopping malls including Plaza Río, Plaza Mundo Divertido, Plaza Monarca, Plaza Carrousel, Centro Comercial Playas/Plaza Coronado, the soon to be open, Galerias Hipodromo. Plaza Río is the largest mall and is located just a few minutes away from the US border between Paseo de los heroes and the Tijuana River. The mall hosts a Cinépolis and a Cinépolis VIP movie theater, a Sanborns restaurant and a variety of shops, including the large department store Sears. Plaza Mundo Divertido is off of Tijuana's main east-west highway with arcades and rides for the whole family. Plaza Monarca is on a north-south artery known as "Gato Bronco" and is anchored by the movie theater Cinépolis and the grocery chain Soriana (formerly a Gigante Supermarket). Plaza Carrousel, so named because the mall contains a children's merry-go-round, is minutes from the Cinco y Diez retail hub centered around a former five and dime store. The beach community of Playas de Tijuana saw a burst of construction in 2004, which yielded the Plaza Coronado complex next to the existing Comercial Mexicana-anchored Centro Comercial Playas.

Tijuana also enjoys notoriety among Americans and other nationals for its red-light district Zona Norte (referred to as La Coahuila after one of the main streets in it) which boasts a large number of legal street prostitutes as well as, in parts, a selection of strip clubs offering at least one establishment per block. The strip clubs are typically full-contact, meaning the dancers will allow patrons to fondle them. The dancers in most clubs also sell their sexual services, which are pricier ($US 72 in early-2007) than those of the street prostitutes.

People filling up prescriptions for drugs classified in the US as Schedule II or Schedule III have found it more difficult to locate such medications, and the purchase of pseudoephedrine also has become restricted by Tijuana pharmacies, as it is in the United States. For a prescription to be filled in Tijuana and brought legally to the United States, any drug covered by the US Controlled Substances Act would require a prescription from the United States for re-import.

Recently numerous artists created an aura of freedom and pleasure regarding the life in Tijuana. The famous singer Manu Chao, author of "King of the Bongo", has a song called "Welcome to Tijuana" and the refrain goes: "Welcome to Tijuana/ Tequila, sexo y marihuana".


Club Sport Founded League Venue
Club Tijuana Football 2006 Liga de Ascenso Estadio Caliente
Tijuana Galgos Basketball 2005 Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional Auditorio Municipal "Fausto Gutierrez Moreno-CASAS GEO"
Tijuana Dragons Basketball 2003 American Basketball Association Auditorio Municipal "Fausto Gutierrez Moreno-CASAS GEO"
Tijuana Cimarrones Baseball 2005 (Called "Toros" in 2004) Golden Baseball League Estadio de Beisbol Calimax

The city is home to two professional basketball teams. The Tijuana Dragons play in the American Basketball Association against teams from the United States. The team is composed mostly of U.S. players. Their season takes place during the winter months. The Galgos de Tijuana (Tijuana Greyhounds) play in the LNBP (Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional) during the summer months, their anthem well known for the hip hip influence was created by Tijuana Rap. The team is composed mostly of players from Mexico. Both teams play in the Municipal Auditorium.

Former super featherweight boxing champion Erik Morales calls Tijuana his home.

The city has a strong tradition of football. It currently plays host to Club Tijuana of the Liga de Ascenso, the second tier of Mexican football, who play their matches at the Estadio Caliente, a new 33,000 seat stadium. The team`s mascot is the Xoloitzcuintle, or the famous Mexican hairless dog. The club has ambitions of becoming a top club.


Tijuana is home to many primary schools as well as several colleges and universities.

Notable primary, secondary and preparatory schools

Colleges and universities

  • Tijuana campus of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC)
  • Centro de Estudios Superiores de Noroeste (CESUN)
  • Centro de Investigación en Tecnología Electrónica y Digital (CITEDI)
  • Centro de Ensenanza Tecnica e Industrial (CECATI)
  • College of the Northern Border (COLEF)
  • Tijuana Institute of Technology (Media:INSTITUTO TECNOLóGICO DE TIJUANA)
  • Tijuana Campus of the Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA)
  • Tijuana Campus of the Universidad Xochicalco
  • Centro Universitario de Tijuana (CUT)
  • Universidad Univer Noroeste (UNIVER)
  • Tijuana Campus of the Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS Universidad)
  • Tijuana Campus of Tecnológico de Baja California (TBC Universidad)
  • Instituto Cuauhtlatohuac
  • Tijuana Technological University (UTT) [3]
  • Universidad de las Californias (UDC)



Due to Tijuana's proximity to Southern California and the US border and its large, skilled, diverse and relatively inexpensive workforce it is an attractive city for foreign companies to establish extensive industrial parks composed of assembly plants that are called maquiladoras, even more so than other cities in the US-Mexican border zone, taking advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to export products. At its peak, in 2001 Tijuana had roughly 820 of these 'maquiladoras' (today the number is closer to 550).[13] Foreign and domestic companies employ thousands of employees in these plants, usually in assembly related labor. Such jobs are demanding but offer high pay for Mexico[citation needed]. Companies that have set up 'maquiladoras' in Tijuana include Hyundai, Sony, Toyota, Samsung, Kodak, Matsushita / Panasonic, Nabisco, Philips, Pioneer, Plantronics, Pall Medical, Tara, Sanyo, Volkswagen and vimay. Many of the maquiladoras are located in the Otay Mesa and Florido sections of Tijuana.

Service industry

In addition there are also some high-tech firms and telemarketing companies making their way into the city drawing skilled people with technical trades and college degrees to Tijuana. One example is Telvista, a Texas-based telemarketing company which maintains three call centers along Blvd. Agua Caliente. The nominal GDP per capita of the city is above the national average at about $35,000 per year, third only to Cancún and Mexico City (source: INEGI). This makes Tijuana a popular city for migrant workers as well as college graduates from other parts of Mexico as well as other countries to the south.


From the arch hangs a sign saying "Welcome to Tijuana"

Tijuana also relies on tourism for a major part of its revenue. About 300,000 visitors cross by foot or car from the San Ysidro point of entry in the United States every day. Restaurants and taco stands, pharmacies, bars and dance clubs are part of the draw for the city's tourists. Many shops and stalls selling Mexican crafts and souvenirs are also located in walking distance from the border. Mexico's drinking age of 18 (vs. 21 in the United States) make it a common weekend destination for many high school and college aged Southern Californians who tend to stay within the Avenida Revolución. Tijuana is also home to several pharmacies marketed toward visitors from the United States. These pharmacies sell some pharmaceutical drugs without prescriptions, and at much lower costs than pharmacies in the US. Many medications still require a Mexican doctor's prescription though several accessible doctor offices are located near the border as well. In addition Tijuana has a legal "red-light" district known as the Zona Norte which also adds significant revenue to its economy. Tijuana is also home to many businesses selling products and services at a much cheaper rate than in the United States. Such businesses as auto detailing, medical services, dentistry and plastic surgery are heavily marketed and located near the city's border with the US.

Economic research and development

Economic development has its central business district at Zona Río, which with the corridor along Blvd. Agua Caliente (the extension of Avenida Revolución) contains the majority of the higher-end office space in the city. Binational economic development along the US-Mexico border is key to the development of Tijuana going forward. Multiple regional (San Diego-US/Tijuana-MX) think-tanks exist on both sides of the border that promote such regional collaboration and innovation.




The International Boundary Wastewater Treatment Plant (IWTP) was developed as a joint project of the USA and Mexico in the mid 1980s following substantial environmental studies;[14] the plant currently treats 25 million gallons per day (mgd) directly pumped across the border from the central collection point in Mexico (Pump Station #1). When there is any flow in the river, the river diverter kicks in and diverts up to about 12-13 mgd to the IWTP. The totals from either must not exceed 25 mgd, based on a monthly average (permit conditions) although the IWTP can treat sustained flows up to 45mgd daily and peaks of 70 or so for a short period. The diverter is regularly sending approximately six to eight mgd daily to the IWTP.

Japanese credit plants

The plants (a total of 4-5 decentralized units in all) have been planned for some time as part of the "Tijuana/Rosarito Potable Water and Wastewater Master Plan". This plan was required as part of Public Law 106-457 (Nov.7-2000) which was written to allow the Bajagua project to move forward. The master plan was a binational collaborative effort by EPA and CESPT and addressed those cities' needs for the next 20 years.

The plants are intended to treat approximately 5 mgd each, to tertiary levels and provide the reclaimed water to the surrounding areas for agriculture, industry etc.

There are several issues that they are facing: no infrastructure to convey the reclaimed water to customers and inadequate groundwater recharge infrastructure.


Comisión Estatal de Servicios Públicos Tijuana, (State Commission of Public Services Tijuana) better known as CESPT, is Tijuana's water supplier.


As with all of Mexico, Tijuana's electricity is supplied by Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE).


Land lines in Tijuana are provided by Telnor, other companies include Axtel and Alestra. Popular cell phone carriers include Movistar, Telcel and Nextel. Nextel is popular among businessmen, students, and professionals. The first cellular call in Mexico was made in Tijuana in 1989. The area code of the town is 664.


Tijuana's crime problems are often blamed on drug trafficking and human trafficking rings which smuggle drugs and people into California. In 2004, nine kidnapping cases were reported to authorities in Baja California. However, that number is believed to be low because many cases are not reported to police.[15] In the first four months of 2005, there were 151 homicides and in 2004, there were 355 homicides. According to Francisco Castro Trenti, an administrator of the homicide investigation teams in Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Tecate, at least 20% of Tijuana's homicides were related to organized crime groups in the city.[16]

In recent years, gun battles between rival drug cartels or between cartels and the police have erupted in public. In April 2008 police found 1,500 shell casings on various public streets after one such episode that left 13 suspected drug traffickers dead.[17] For 2008, the municipality has confirmed 577 murders mostly as a result of the escalating drug violence that has gripped the city.[18] FBI statistics show this is twice as many killings as similar-sized New Orleans.[19] The main reason for the upsurge of violence is due to president Felipe Calderón cracking down on drug cartels.

Many auto theft crimes that occur in Southern California end in Tijuana. The proximity of Tijuana to the U.S. border allows thieves to get them across the border for resale or parts.[citation needed]


Air travel

The General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport is the city's airport, with eleven airlines serving destinations across the nation and Asia. It is one of the busiest airports in Mexico. Aeroméxico introduced intercontinental air travel between Tijuana and two major cities in Asia, Tokyo in 2007 and Shanghai in 2008. With several private road lines, U.S. and selected Canadian destinations can be reached via the busy San Diego International Airport, located about 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of the international border.

Public transportation

Mexico is served by a network of bus transportation, reaching virtually all parts of the country. The city's main bus station is in its eastern area. There is also a small terminal downtown which serves a few Mexican bus lines and US-based Greyhound Lines and Crucero USA. Another bus station is near the border, with frequent services to Ensenada, and other Mexican states, like Sinaloa, Sonora, and Jalisco, to major cities like Mazatlán, Culiacán, Hermosillo, and Guadalajara.

Local transportation

Local public transportation in Tijuana is run by semiprivate companies, and has one of the most complex, or perhaps unorganized networks.

Major bus lines:

  • Azul y Blanco de Magallanes (Blue & White)
    • Transporte Efectivo Express de Tijuana (TEEXTI; modernizing system that was intended to phase out the other lines, partially introduced, now ceased and merged with Azul y Blanco)
  • Verde y Crema (Green & Beige)
  • Transportes Urbanos y Suburbanos S.A. de C.V.
  • Sociedad de Transportes Urbanos y Suburbanos Tijuana S.A. de C.V.
  • U.N.T.I.M.A

Major taxi lines:

  • Taxis libres (Spanish for Free Taxis, meaning that they have no route)
  • Taxis Economicos (yellow cabs)
  • Taxis Diamante (similar to Buenos Aires black & yellow cabs)
  • Fixed-route taxis


  • Calafias (short bus-like vans, common in the eastern part of the city or lower class city areas; several owner companies exist)

There are as many bus lines (the companies) and routes as fixed-route taxi ones or calafias, and new routes for buses, taxis or calafias are frequently created, due to high demand of public transportation. Public transportation service is cheap, with bus tickets at $8.00 Mexican Peso (about $0.75 U.S. dollar) the maximum; fixed-route taxis are somewhat more expensive, depending on the taxi route, reaching $15.00 Mexican Peso. Bus, taxi and calafia lines and routes are distinguised one from another by their vehicles colors.

All means of transportation within the city accept both Mexican Peso and U.S. dollar as payment currencies, but no other foreign currencies.

Major bus (also served by some fixed-route taxi lines) routes by destinations include the following:

  • Mirador-Miramar-Soler-Centro-Plaza Rio-Otay-Aeropuerto (reaches Tijuana International Airport)
  • Altamira-Villa-Centro-Plaza Rio-20 de Noviembre-Otay Modulos (reaches Zona Rio and the UABC Tijuana campus)
  • Playas 2-Soler-Centro-Linea-Palacio-Hospital-Buena Vista-Central Camionera (reaches Playas de Tijuana, the city bus station area, the Tijuana-San Ysidro border, the Municipal Palace, and the city's General Hospital)
  • Centro-Linea-Palacio-Postal-Otay-UABC-Corredor 2000 (reaches the Tijuana-San Ysidro border, the Municipal Palace, the UABC Tijuana campus and new Corredor 2000)

All bus, fixed-route taxi and calafia routes reach Centro, and most of them reach or reach nearly Plaza Rio (at Zona Rio) and Otay areas.

In 2006, Tijuana underwent a major overhaul of its existing system of guayines, or shared fixed-route station wagons, forcing the replacement of the guayines with new models of vans, serving as fixed-route taxis. Major transit hubs include Centro (Downtown Tijuana), Otay, Soler, and the Cinco y Diez avenues.

Tijuana-San Ysidro

From the US side, San Ysidro is the southern terminus of San Diego's municipal bus and trolley systems, providing public transportation to and from the Mexican border with Tijuana. The newly-rebuilt San Ysidro trolley station is located directly next to the US Customs facility.

Both cities are served by the Mexicoach and Gotobus buses.


Tijuana is home to the world's busiest border crossing with about 300,000 people crossing the border between San Diego and Tijuana every day. Queues take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more to cross to the United States, on non-US holidays, with wait of a few hours on US national holidays or some Mexican holidays. Expect street vendors during the wait. However, after clearing customs and immigration formalities, Interstate 5 is a major 8-10 lane freeway from San Ysidro to downtown San Diego, Los Angeles, and north to the Canadian border. Interstate 805 branches off from I-5 just north of the border, and takes a more easterly route which bypasses downtown San Diego, rejoining with I-5 in the northern part of the city. From the Otay Mesa border crossing, Otay Mesa Road takes drivers west to connect with both I-805 and I-5.

Two important Mexican federal highways end in Tijuana, one of them is Federal Highway 1, which runs south through the Baja California peninsula, ending in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. From Tijuana to Ensenada, most travelers take Highway 1-D (scenic road), a four-lane, limited access toll road that runs by the coast starting at Playas de Tijuana. Mexican Federal Highway 2 runs east for 1,000 kilometers near the international border, currently as far as Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Tijuana is twinned with:

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ Link to tables of population data from Census of 2005 INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática.
  2. ^ Tijuana, entry in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., 2000. Transcribed into IPA.
  3. ^ World Gazetteer – San Diego-Tijuana
  4. ^ World Gazetteer – Metropolitan Areas of America
  5. ^ Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas
  6. ^ As determined at the second Symposium of History, 1975.
  7. ^ [1] Massive traffic cripples Tijuana border crossing.
  8. ^ M. Kottek; J. Grieser, C. Beck, B. Rudolf, and F. Rubel (2006). "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated". Meteorol. Z. 15: 259–263. doi:10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0130. Retrieved April 22, 2009. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Monthly Averages for Tijuana". 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  11. ^ Historia
  12. ^ Pagel, David Pagel (2007-01-30). "ART REVIEW Tijuana's scrappy, do-it-yourself spirit Ingenuity seizes the day as a traveling exhibition brings a vibrant creative scene across the border.". Los Angeles Times. p. E-1. 
  13. ^ Algunos datos de la industria maquiladora de exportación
  14. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Marc Papineau et al., {1985} Preliminary Assessment of Environmental Effects of Sewage on San Diego Beaches (EIS). Prepared by Earth Metrics Inc. for the U.S. EPA, Region IX.
  15. ^ Kidnap fears causing some to leave Tijuana on
  16. ^ Days are grueling and grisly for Tijuana's homicide cops on
  17. ^ 13 dead in Tijuana shootouts on
  18. ^ "Denuncias Registradas Ante Agencias del Ministerio Publico del Fuero Comun" (in Spanish) (PDF). Bienvenidos al Portal de Transparencia de Baja California. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  19. ^ "Table 6". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 

External links

Coordinates: 32°31′30″N 117°02′0″W / 32.525°N 117.033333°W / 32.525; -117.033333

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Travel Warning

WARNING: The United States State Department has issued a travel warning for all border areas of the United States and Mexico. Rival narcotics gangs have increased violent activities against each other and against non-involved citizens.

Tijuana is a city in Baja California Norte, Mexico. It is located right across the border from San Diego, California, USA. Visitors can expect an ideal climate for most of the year, with average temperatures during the daytime ranging from 68ºF (20°C) in January, to 86ºF (30°C) in August. The rainy season is short (and tame, with yearly averages close to only 10 inches/ 254 millimeters of rainfall), and encompasses late winter to early spring. Tijuana has a population of around 1.2 million people according to the last census, although it is believed that the number is now closer to 2 million. The city has grown from a small border town with a salacious reputation during the Prohibition Era in the United States into a large, modern city with a sizable middle class. Its proximity to the United States has made it a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers from San Diego. Recent violence has curtailed that traffic, however.

Street Scene on Avenida Revolucion, before the recent troubles.
Street Scene on Avenida Revolucion, before the recent troubles.


Tijuana along with its U.S. neighbor San Diego form the largest metropolitan area on the U.S.-Mexican Border with a population of 4.5 million.

Economically, a growing middle class disposable income has fueled Tijuana's transformation into a modern city with a vibrant culture, a characteristic that has attracted many national and international businesses which had largely shunned the city before. Aside from the middle class, in Tijuana you can reasonably expect to find areas filled with richer people. Tijuana is a transit point for illegal immigration into the United States, as well as a common destination for any illegal Mexican immigrants deported from the West Coast of the United States. As such, some areas are swollen with poor people with no roots in the city, who inhabit shantytowns. Apart from these poor migrants, Tijuana is one of the wealthiest cities in Mexico. Some (mainly residential) areas of the city reflect the significant number of wealthy people who inhabit the city.

Tijuana's growing reputation as a cosmopolitan city is justified. Not only is the city home to many people who have migrated from within the same country, as well as some native Mexican Indians, but it boasts an important amount of Asian residents, as well as Americans (mostly from neighboring San Diego who have been drawn to Tijuana by cheaper housing), and South Americans from Argentina and Uruguay, among others.

Frequent English-speaking visitors to Tijuana use the term "gringo-friendly" for a shop, bar, or restaurant in which a non-Spanish speaking customer will be at ease. A place is gringo-friendly if the staff here is accustomed to dealing with American tourists, if they speak English and have English-language menus. Places that are not gringo-friendly may require use of Spanish, and patience. Just because a place is not gringo-friendly does not imply that the people there will not be friendly or that tourists will not be welcome.

While the Mexican peso is the legal currency, US dollars are widely accepted. Tijuana observes daylight savings time (DST) the same way as the USA did pre-2007, from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October. Note there will be several weeks each year when San Diego is on DST, but Tijuana is not.


Spanish is the dominant language in Tijuana, as it is in much of Mexico. However, English is spoken by almost everybody in the city's tourist hot spots (such as Avenida Revolucion), as well as by taxi drivers and the Americans that live in the city. Having someone with you who can speak Spanish will be helpful when going away from Avenida Revolucion.

Get in

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, bicycle, or on foot.

From the Tijuana International Airport

Tijuana-General Abelardo L. Rodtríguez International Airport (IATA: TIJ) is served by the two Mexican legacy carriers, Aeromexico and Mexicana, and also serves as a hub for the growing low-cost airline market in Mexico. Carriers such as Volaris and Interjet offer low-cost products similar to U.S.-style low cost carriers. Previously international services were very limited until 2007, when Aeromexico begin services to East Asia adding Tijuana as a stop on its Mexico City-Tijuana-Tokyo (Narita) flagship route. In 2008, this route was augmented by a Mexico City-Tijuana-Shanghai (Pudong) flight. The flights serve as routes not only as flights between four of the world's most populous cities, but also as the link for the significant East Asian-Mexican community in the Northern Pacific areas of Mexico.

The Airport is located parallel to the USA – Mexico border line, only a few miles east Tijuana Downtown and San Ysidro International Border Crossing, and 1 mile west of Otay International Border Crossing. The Airport is used as a transit point for travelers wishing to visit San Diego and L.A. as well.

You can take an authorized taxi cab, sedan or van, at the Airport. Buy a ticket in one of the boots at the exit of the airport. They have fixed and official rates; It will cost you about $200 Pesos to Zona Rio (15 min ride), or $250 Pesos to Zona Centro (25 min ride), or $300 pesos to the Gran Hotel (30 min ride). US Dollars will be accepted.

You can take also public transportation from the Tijuana airport all the way to city downtown and it will cost you $ 8.5 Pesos, less than 1 US Dollar. Go outside the airport and take the blue and white bus, heading west. It has the legend: “Centro” or “Plaza Rio”. US Dollars will be accepted.

The airport has international coach transportation to San Diego or the major destinations in south California and transfer to the Gray Hound, Some airlines provide their own coaches to/from major San Diego destinations, including Lindbergh San Diego Airport.

-- Please note that even though the Mexican Peso is the official currency in Mexico, US Dollar will be accepted every where in Tijuana and the whole Baja California State, despite the fact MXP/USD interchange rate changes daily.

From the San Diego Airport

San Diego International Airport [1] is only a few miles north of the international border and can be used as a transit point for travelers wishing to visit Tijuana. You can take public transportation from the San Diego airport all the way to downtown Tijuana and it will only cost you $10. Go outside the airport and take the airport express bus, which is route 992. Buy a $5 day pass from the bus driver, which will also cover the trolley. Take this bus to the first stop on Broadway. From here, you should see the American Plaza Trolley station. Walk over to the west side, and you will catch the Blue Line to San Ysidro. The day pass you bought from the bus driver will work on the train, which could help you to catch a train that's just arriving at the American Plaza Trolley station. The San Ysidro exit is the last stop on the Blue Line. Everyone will get off the train. Follow everyone across the bridge to the right of the trains. You cross the freeway on the pedestrian bridge by going up, across and back down. Go through a one-way gate, and if it's your first time, go straight, and cross through another one-way gate. This will take you to the more expensive yellow taxis driven by taxi drivers in yellow shirts. The fare for these taxis is $5 USD to revolution avenue. Sometimes a taxi driver will ask you to pay $6, but you can always get these taxis for $5.

If you've been to Tijuana a few times before, then go to the right after the first one-way gate. This will take you to a small market and here you can catch the lower-priced taxis which are usually green and white and called either "Taxi Libre" or "Taxi Economico." These cost $3 USD to get downtown and the prices are all listed on various boards.

If it's during the day then you could walk to downtown. Follow the signs that say to Centro. You'll walk across a long bridge, and generally head toward the Revolution Arch.

By car

Take I-5 or I-805 to south. 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 have become more frequent as authorities attempt to stop firearms trafficking into Mexico, resulting in long wait times during periods of heavy traffic. Driving across the border from Mexico to the US may involve a long wait, especially during evening rush hour or on holiday weekends.

Mexican insurance is highly recommended, and can be bought immediately before crossing the border, or even online before your trip. Many times, the Otay Mesa and Tecate border crossings, also nearby, are much less congested getting back into the US. To get to the Otay crossing can be a little scary (not good for Gringos at night) and the border agents don't seem as pleasant as at the San Ysidro crossing.

If the pedestrian line returning to the US is long, as it often is after the September 11 attacks, it may be faster to take advantage of the numerous van and bus lines that cross the border. You will undoubtedly encounter agents for these services when approaching the pedestrian line back to the U.S., who will ask for $5 to $10 per person to let you board the vehicles which are already in line. Generally, the closer the vehicle is to the front of the line, the more they will charge.

By foot

Many people drive to the border, park on the US side, and walk across. There are many lots available for this, which charge $4-$9 a day. While there are many taxis waiting to take you to Avenida Revolucion, it's only about a fifteen minute walk; follow the other tourists.

By bus

Mexicoach buses leave from the parking lots on the US side, cross into Mexico, and drop you off at the bus station on Revolucion Avenue in the middle of the downtown tourist district. These buses run during the day, every day, and costs $5 one way or $8 roundtrip. The parking lot at Mexicoach is about $7/day. The central de camiones for destinations in Mexico is reached by bus from Calle 3 or by taxi from the city centre and has direct coaches to most major cities in Mexico.

Get out

Tijuana offers several Bus routes into Mexico. Updated Tijuana Bus routes are available online at[2]. From Tijuana you can easily go to Ensenada, or further south to Guerrero Negro, which is a very popular destination for whale watching. It is a 9 hour bus ride to Guerrero Negro but well worth it. Other bus routes locations include La Paz, San Juan del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja.

Get around

Cabs are abundant throughout the city. If you are walking into Tijuana via the San Ysidro border crossing, you will be immediately confronted with a massive array of yellow cabs waiting to take you into downtown. This group of cab drivers are conveniently located, but be sure to negotiate a price before jumping into a cab. You should pay no more than $5 in normal traffic to get from the border to the downtown area.

If you exit the border area by taking a right instead of going straight ahead to the taxi stand, then walk toward town after crossing the street, you will encounter the Taxi Libre taxi stand, which will generally cost half as much as a yellow cab would charge.

Throughout the city, cab drivers stand on the sidewalks and solicit customers. It is almost impossible to avoid them, so finding a cab should never be a problem. Yellow cabs do not have meters, so agree with your driver in advance what the cost will be. Taxi Libre, white with red stripe, cabs have meters and are cheaper than yellow cabs, though you might have to remind the driver to use the meter.

Be aware that when taking a Yellow Cab to a specific location, the drivers may tell you that the restaurant or bar you asked for is closed, and conveniently offer an alternative. This is almost always untrue, and the taxi driver is attempting to divert you to a business where he will receive a commission for delivering passengers. The driver may alternately tell you that "company rules" say that all rides to a given area can only take passengers to certain businesses, to achieve the same result. Taxi Libre drivers do not engage in this practice, as they are independent contractors, and do not have the commission structure that Yellow Cabs do.

Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)
Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)
Walk to USA sign in Tijuana
Walk to USA sign in Tijuana
  • Avenida Revolucion in the Zona Centro - the main tourist area
  • Bullfights - Tijuana has one bullring, which is open during the summer months, and has bullfights most Sundays. It is located in Playas de Tijuana, adjacent to the US border. It is the only seaside bullring in the world. The older and more historic bullring near the city center has been partially demolished by the owner of the property in the past year, citing failed business practices of the bullring. However, there is a strong movement within the city to designate this site a historical monument, rebuild the bullring and have it serve as a municipal arena. Official bullring schedules and pricing are available at [3].


Tijuana is on the ocean, but is not known for its beaches, for boating, or as a seaside resort. However, it is in cabbing distance of Rosarito - the trip will cost $20, while Mexicoach will bus you there for around $10. Ensenada is further down the coast but easily accessible by car or bus.

  • Visitors to Rosarito and Ensenada should note that the main road is a toll road, with small sedans and trucks being tolled at 26 Mexican Pesos or $2.55 USD. Either currency is accepted generally.
  • Visit the historical centers such as the Preparatoria Federal Lazaro Cardenas which is famous for being the central base of liquor contraband during the Al Capone days.
  • Visit the world famous Zona Norte "Red Light District". Tourists, American Military, and locals alike have been venturing to this area for decades. Be aware that this is a dangerous area, and visitors should take extreme caution just as they would visiting any high-crime area of a major city.


There are disappointingly few bargains to be had in Tijuana. Silver and leather products are allegedly cheaper than in the US. Souvenir shops abound. Many of the items sold in the souvenir shops are actually purchased in the San Diegan swap meets and brought into Mexico and resold to tourists.

  • Cuban cigars are mostly fake, with the majority being of Mexican origin with a "Cohiba" or "Montecristo" brand name added. However, La Casa Del Habano [4] on Avenida Revolucion is a licensed dealer that sells genuine Cubans.
  • Silver bracelets and necklaces are common, but maybe fake. Don't pay more than than four dollars for fake jewelry.
  • Vanilla is a bargain. Good place to buy is in plaza on revolucion
  • Spanish music cassettes for only about fifty cents available in plaza on Revolucion .
  • Mexican groceries try stores like Calimax or Comercial Mexicana and see numerous Mexican products not found in other places or Mexicanized version of American products.


Apart from the abundant, over-priced tourist traps, local cuisine ranges from world-class restaurants to locals-only eateries and street vendors selling tacos. Food poisoning is more of a risk at the cheaper establishments, but will probably not be a concern. In many sit down restaurants, musicians will wander in and play for tip. A good price for a song is $1 USD per musician per song, but most musicians will try to charge $2 USD per musician per song. For example, if there are five musicians in a band then a good price is $5 USD. Many non-mariachi musicians are untalented and some work with pickpockets, so keep an eye out.

If cuisine is an important factor in your visit to Mexico, be sure to check out the more locals filled taco shops, where you will be able to enjoy the best carne asada tacos in the world and for better price. Also delicious are Churros made by street vendors, and the "hot dog" imitations sold as well. Be sure to avoid vendors that are not being patronized by locals.

However, American establishments such as McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Carl's Jr. (As Carl's Jr., not Hardee's) are in many parts of the city. However there are some local chains, such as Cafe Sanborns, that prove to be more popular and interesting than the American ones.

The strolling musicians that frequent the Safari Club seemed to be okay. They were not working with pick pockets. Safari Club is an open air restaurant and bar. I always went in the daytime. It is on Revolucion between 5th and 6th. The waiters are gringo friendly and the musicians I know are Lalo who has a nice voice and sings alone, a group of four with Texan hats, one has a bongo drum, and an older group of men with suits they are fine. They can also get you real mariachis but they are expensive about 30 or 35.00. You can hear them practice for free down by the arch. I ate in the Safari Club many times and as a lady alone and really wasn't bothered, just by the many people trying to sell you bracelets and other trinkets.The restaurant next door also has very nice people working there. They are friendly and they have a dish called chile con carne which is very good. It is like beef stew meat but even tastier. The beers are also a little cheaper here. If you are facing the street from safari the restaurant next door is to your left.There is a waitress named Meela that is very nice and the waiters are nice. They can also seat you upstairs where it is quieter.

  • Café La Especial, Av. Revolucion 718, in the heart tourist district. Down the stairs in a pedestrian alley. This inexpensive restaurant is the opposite of the noisy, over-priced tourist traps that line Revolucion. Standard Mexican dishes served in a very relaxed, quiet environment. Gringo-friendly, though very popular with locals.
  • Bol Corona , Any cab driver can direct you to one of the many franchises of this Tijuana establishment near the city centre. Bol Corona was founded in the 1930's and popularized the then little known "burrito" among the American tourists seeking haven from prohibition laws in the United States. Featuring very inexpensive yet high quality Mexican cuisine, Bol Corona is a must. Several franchises have opened on the San Diego side of the border as well.
  • Birrieria Guadalajara Pues Avenida Constitucion, between Calle Primera (First Street) and Callejon Coahuila (Coahuila Alley), Zona Norte. This restaurant serves outstanding birria de chivo. Birria is a dish made from roasted goat with consomme poured over the meat, and is accompanied by onion, cilantro, limes and tortillas.
  • Taquería "El Takerito" It is an authentic "taquería" (taco shop) on Díaz Ordaz Blvd., and located on one of the most crowded intersections of the city (5 y 10). It is not close form the border but any cab driver knows how to get to 5 y 10. They claim to have the best tacos in town at a very cheap price. (Expect to pay around USD 0.60 per taco).
  • Caesar's hard to miss on Avenida Revolucion in Zona Centro. Reputedly the birthplace of the famous Caesar's salad, in 1924. It is still served there according to its original recipe, mixed and served at your table in accordance to tradition. Has all the appearance of a tourist trap but has a good reputation for quality at a good price. A whole lobster here is $20. Tijuana being what it is, Caesar's also has a strip club which is accessible through the restaurant - keep in mind if you have kids along.
  • Chiki Jai, corner of Revolucion and 7th in Zona Centro. Unpretentious, non-touristy Spanish-Basque taberna that has been open since 1947. Filled with bullfighting memorabilia, it is a slice of Spain in the heart of Tijuana. Their sangria and tapas have a good reputation.
  • Sushi House, Zona Rio, right by the Office Depot on Paseo de los Heroes.
  • La Cantina de los Remedios, Zona Rio, northeast corner of the Abraham Lincoln traffic circle on Paseo de los Heroes. Vast liquor selection, all of which is visible on the immense shelving along the wall behind the bar. Great menu of traditional and modern Mexican cuisine. Two features are of special interest - first are the quotations and pithy sayings in Spanish along all the ceiling beams. The second is the extensive use of Loteria cards to decorate the ceilings as well as the backs of the menus. Both are great for practicing Spanish while enjoying your meal.
  • Negro Durazo, Seafood - Located in Zona Rio
  • Los Arcos - Popular local place with tasty lobster, mussels and fish platters. No English menu, but if you ask for Cesar, he can help you order.
  • Cien Años, Zona Rio, on a side street off Paseo de los Heroes, across from the big Pockets billiards bar (another place to visit). Open for lunch and dinner. Very famous. Supposedly every recipe on the menu is over 100 years old (hence the name "Cien Años", one-hundred years). Some recipes supposedly date back to Aztec times. Menu includes a number of very strange items such as corn fungus, and bone marrow soup. Gringo-friendly but Spanish is useful. Restaurant is small, with beautiful decor, and a relaxing atmosphere. Prices range from moderate to expensive.
  • La Costa, Seafood restaurant on 7th Street in Zona Centro, around the corner from the Mexicoach station. Expensive but excellent dishes. [Closed]
  • La Diferencia, Blvd. Sánchez Taboada No.10611-A Zona Río, between Blvd. Abelardo L. Rodríguez & Escuadrón 201. Excellent and innovative Mexican dishes, and great tamarindo margaritas. Moderately expensive by Tijuana standards but well worth it (~$95 for 2 people, incl. margaritas, wine, appetizer, entree & dessert). Highly recommended.
  • Angulos - Seafood, Located in Zona Rio
  • Italianissimo - , Blvd. Agua Caliente No. 10556-9AR, Centro. Com. Rocasa. Italian cuisine, a classic restaurant in Tijuana. Dishes from all regions of Italy. Moderate to expensive.
  • Villa Saverios .- Escuadrón 201 3151 , on the corner of Blvd. Sanchez Taboada" (664 686 6502) Opened daily 1 pm-2 am. Anywhere from $5 to $20 dollar meals. Owned by the same founder of the other italian restaraunt chain in Tijuana, Guisseppis, this Tuscany style mansion/restaurant has excellent Italian food and atmosphere, aimed at both middle and high class customers. It's also a favorite because of it's unique menu which blends both Baja and Mediterranean flavors in it's food and wine selection. It is in the so called restaurant district on Blvd. Sanchez Taboada, right besides La Espadaña, T.G.I Fridays , La Diferencia and El Chiripan. There are two other Saverios in the city; both are smaller café style ones.

There are many other great restaurants in the city, ranging from mexican to asian food. The city is also full of sushi bars, something that has cought on in recent years. Another favorite is chinese food, and thanks to a large chinese population in Baja, the locals tend to say that it's the best chinese food in México or the region.


Beer drinkers are well-advised to visit the "Cerveceria Tijuana," the Tijuana Brewery, and its brewpub. It is located on Blvd. Fundadores, a few minutes by taxi south of the Ave. Revolucion shopping district. Not only do they brew and serve six different Eastern European-style lager beers, but they also have a reasonably-priced food menu. The brewpub is especially impressive because it is designed to look just like a European pub, with dark wood paneling, stained glass, and hardwood floors. One area even has a large window looking into the brewery floor, where you can see the workers busy at their brewing. Be aware that flagging down a taxi in this area is often difficult, especially at night, so for your return trip consider arranging transportation ahead of time or having the phone numbers of taxi services available to call when you finish your meal.

Of course, beers, margaritas and tequila are also available at numerous establishments.


Migrant Houses

Migrant houses offer free or very cheap accommodation for anyone regarded as a migrant. Some are said to also accept backpackers.

  • Ejercito de Salvacion (men only), Ave Aquiles Serdan, Col. Libertad Parte Baja, phone (664) 6832694
  • Casa del Migrante (men and women), Avenida Hidalgo Int. 401, Colonia Centro, phone (664)5542662
  • Casa del Migrante en Tijuana (men only), Calle Galileo 239 Col. Postal, phone (664)6825180
  • Casa Beato Juan Diego (men only), Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas, Fraccionamiento Murua, near bus terminal, phone (664)6213041
  • Casa Madre Asunta (women and children), calle Galileo 2305 Col. Postal, phone (664)6830575


Although travel guides and taxi drivers insist that there is no cheap accommodation to be had in Tijuana, there is if you know where to look. Most of Tijuanas budget haunts are located in 2nd and 3rd Street, while the more outlying ones are probably less safe and certainly more difficult to reach.

  • Hotel Morelia, Calle 3ra #8310 (btw. Madero and Negrete), phone (664)685-3361, spacious rooms with shared bathroom from 125 Pesos. Safe location. A pleasant place to stay cheap in Tijuana, right in the midst of it all, but reasonably quiet.
  • Casa YMCA, Boulevard Cauhtemoc Sur 3170, Colonia Chula Vista, phone (664)6861359 and (664)6862212


At the north end of Zona Centro, directly adjacent to the large arch spanning Ave. Revolucion, is the Hotel Nelson. It is reasonably-priced and clean, and has a bar as well as a restaurant downstairs. The major drawback would be traffic noise from the myriad bars and clubs along this tourist-oriented street.


A more luxury hotel is the Grand Hotel Tijuana. The Grand Hotel Tijuana is one of the most prominent feature in Tijuana's skyline, having 2 33 story twin towers. It features several bars and restaurants, and an in house shopping mall. Adjacent to the hotel is the Club Campestre de Tijuana, Tijuana's oldest and most prestigious country club, which features an 18 hole golf course in very good shape designed by Allister McKenzie, who also designed Augusta National Golf Club(site of the masters professional championship).

Marriott Hotel Just recently opened, the Marriott took over the Hotel Emporio

Hotel Lucerna Tijuana is another very safe and clean hotel in the Zona Rio with a great pool, and service. It also has a very upscale bar, restaurant, and loung area. Guards 24/7 and valet parking.

Camino Real Tijuana

  • Para mi Tijuana Dedicated to a safe and secure Tijuana, A Tijuana la quiero Segura

Stay safe

Tijuana has a reputation for crime. In recent years, drug violence has erupted in Tijuana due to intense crackdown by the Mexican government and Mexican drug cartels turning on each other. The east side of Tijuana is particularly dangerous and prone to drug violence. Zona Norte can also be very dangerous if you are walking alone. Much of Tijuana's drug violence happens in these two parts of the city (due to their proximity to the U.S. Border). Most of the drug violence is not targeted at tourists, but rather at competing drug cartels as well as Mexican police. However, it is best to stay alert. Many local Tijuana residents have died while walking into the cross-fire of shootouts between drug cartels. Muggings and kidnappings are also common in Zona Norte. However, most tourist parts of the city are generally safe, such as Avenida Revolucion, Playas de Tijuana, Zona Rio, and Tijuana's red light district in Zona Norte. As with any large city with a bustling downtown, use common-sense and street smarts when walking the street; especially in the red light district of the "Zona Norte" (North Zone). The biggest problem you will probably experience is trouble-making American men who stumble out of bars and brothels.

It is advisable to be very careful of buying anything that would alert suspicion from Mexican police, this would include any type of prescription medicine (with potential for abuse, or perhaps low overdose/extreme side effects), pornography and weapons. The police will use anything against you if they do stop you, so the less they have to go on the better. Laws differ from those in the USA.

Park in well marked parking lots with security guards. Police enforce the laws on foreigners who commit crimes such as pedophilia or buying illegal drugs. They will also attempt to scare foreign gay tourists by telling them homosexuality is a crime; it is not (in fact, the gay scene is bustling and growing at a rapid pace). But drinking from an open container (alcohol) in the street is. For this and other "crimes", they may suggest an ATM and force you to withdraw money with threats of imprisonment. The standard "fine" is about 3000 pesos but may be higher depending on severity. Drinking in the streets usually carries a bribe of $100-200 (US).

Corruption still exists among the Tijuana Police Department (the Mexican Federal Police on the other hand is trustworthy), so beware. But this is usually done when you are alone after a night on the town, are slightly intoxicated, and your actions make you a potential victim. When speaking to an officer, stay calm and respectful. Never offend or belittle the officer or the country of Mexico. Typically, if you have done nothing wrong, stand your ground and they will eventually let you go. You can insist on seeing a judge, and explain what happened. If you do this, most likely the officer will just give a warning and send on your way.

For traffic infractions, you are entitled to a written ticket, and you can pay the fine by mail. In any case, these made-up charges are usually only a small fine, most likely less than the bribe you would offer; you do not go to jail. Remember that you are not immune from Mexican laws, if an officer pulls you over for speeding because you were speeding, it's not corruption. Illegal drugs and drunk driving are taken seriously in Mexico, as they are elsewhere.

  • Theft - Pickpockets can be found in certain heavy tourist areas. You are generally safe in areas such as the Zona Rio, Playas de Tijuana, El Hipodromo, and many others, just make sure to always be cautious when visiting alone. The best targets for theft are those who speak no Spanish, wander alone (specially at night), are intoxicated, and travel to the Avenida Revolucion. If you find yourself being swarmed by small children who want to sell you something, be aware that they could be trying to pick your pockets.
  • Drug-dealer informants - In many bars and on the street, it is common to be offered illegal narcotic drugs for sale. Some of these peddlers work with the police. They sell someone the drugs, then tell the police that person is carrying. The police shake the person down for cash, and confiscate the drugs, which they presumably return to the original peddler, who goes looking for another victim.
  • The $20 switch - very common scam. You buy a beer and give the waiter $20, he brings you back change for a $10, hoping you are too drunk or it is too dark to notice. Sometimes the waiter will palm the $20 and show you a $1, claiming that's what you gave him. To avoid this, explicitly state the value of the bill you are handing a waiter, saying something like "Out of twenty" while holding up a $20 bill. Note that this scam is primarily found in bars, dance clubs, and strip clubs, not in restaurants. Your waiter at a restaurant may be confused or offended by your implying that he may be wanting to trick you.
  • Donkey shows - Tijuana got rid of the infamous donkey shows decades ago, which is a sexual performance involving women and animals. This was part of Tijuana's attempt to clean up its image. To see a donkey show, you will have to go to a Texas border town. In Tijuana, many of the nude show establishments have some rather seedy shows, but you will certainly never walk into one of them to see any shows involving women and animals of any kind. Occasionally, strip club hecklers will attempt to lure you into their establishment by claiming a donkey show, but today there is no donkey show in Tijuana. The donkey died several years ago.
  • Strip clubs - There are a numerous clubs on Revolucion that offer nude dance shows. As you walk down the street, barkers will try to entice you to come in; if you are not interested, simply smile and walk on. If you do walk into one, most likely you will soon be approached by one or several ladies who will ask you to buy them a drink. Keep in mind that their "mixed drinks" are often nothing but soda or juice, but you will be expected to pay a ladies' drink price, whether they ask for beer, real mixed drinks, or non-alcoholic drinks. These drinks will typically cost you between $8 and $10, and the ladies get a commission for each drink you purchase for them.
  • In strip clubs, be aware of overly affectionate ladies who will place their arms around your neck, specially if you are wearing gold chains! Keep an eye on your valuables (coat, purse, bags, etc., as these can be lifted as soon as you aren't looking) as well as know where your cash is. The best way to keep a hold of your cash is to literally put it in your front pocket and move the pocket so that you are sitting on it. Also note that in some clubs, some of the women may be transvestites or transsexuals, and can be very convincing. If you are suspicious of the gender of women who approach you, or discover male genitalia, do not cause a scene, but decline politely. It is not worth spending a night in Tijuana jail for assault!
  • Prescription drugs - Though your prescription drugs may be much cheaper here, carrying large quantities or carrying them without your prescription can land you many "years" in a Mexican prison. Some foreign prescriptions may not be valid in Mexico. If you break the law, you will be dealt with accordingly. However, this does not include medications which often change in status in the USA from prescription to over-the-counter (e.g. Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, Pepcid AC, etc.) Such medications are readily available without a prescription in Mexico. Police are mainly concerned about prescription drugs which have the potential to be abused.
  • Food and Alcohol Imports - Note when stopped at the border, U.S.Customs will confiscate any fruits, vegetables, and live or raw meat products in an effort to combat certain diseases or bugs from entering the U.S. food supply. Meat products confiscated can include pork rinds. Alcohol can be brought across the border if for 'personal use' with a limit of 1L duty and tax free. [5] More than 1L for personal use can be brought if duty and relevant taxes are paid. Dairy products can be confiscated too. Another note is the importation of abalone or conch meat, which are endangered species and not for sale in the US.
  • Contraband items - Can be confiscated by U.S. Customs, they include weapons, drugs (illegal or without prescription), Cuban cigars, and live animals.

A few words of advice: many American tourists visit Tijuana only to experience the lewd and shady aspects of the city. The vast majority of such tourists confine their visit to the Avenida Revolucion and experience a very limited view of Tijuana and Mexico. If you are savvy, you will expand your horizons by going to areas where you might actually run into locals, not just the horde of tourists who wander the streets. Also, it is advisable to learn even a couple phrases in Spanish so you are not completely rude and oblivious to everyone around you.

Routes through Tijuana
Chula Vista ← Border Crossing - United States ←  N noframe S  EnsenadaPlayas de Rosarito


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun




  1. A city in the northwest of Baja California, Mexico, by the American border with San Diego.


Simple English

Tijuana is a city in Mexico. It is in the north of the country and across the border from California in the United States. It is the largest city in Baja California.

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