Is Tijuana safe to travel to in 2021?
Tijuana is a large Mexican city near the U.S border in the Baja peninsula with the most crossed border in the world.
It is typically known as the city that Californians reach when they make the drive down to Mexico.
Is Tijuana Safe?
The San Diego/Tijuana transborder conglomeration is the fourth biggest in the world! It has over 5 million people living close to the border – not just the Mexican stereotypes you may be familiar with.
It features a humungous urban landscape, making it the 11th largest urban area in the whole of North America.
However, most travelers are worried about its vicinity to the dangerous areas of Mexico.
Since Mexico itself is still ruled in a few areas by the cartels, there are parts of Mexico that the US and UK governments advise not to travel to. However, there are some safe places in Mexico you can enjoy.
Tijuana itself has an infamous reputation for prostitution and crime, but is this all that Tijuana has to offer? Of course not.
Is it Safe to Travel to Tijuana?
Since it’s such a heavily guarded border, Tijuana is incredibly safe to travel to. See this day trip to Tijuana guide if you are traveling soon.
Over 50 million travelers pass through this border crossing every year, from both sides.
The cityscape is daunting when you arrive, but if you keep your wits about you, you’ll see how safe of a place it is.
Most visitors to this region describe the area as just as safe as most American cities. So there are many Americans that regularly travel to Tijuana.
Many take the route through Tijuana and drive south down the peninsula.
This is to reach the mountains of Mexicali and the end of the peninsula to vacation spots such as Cabo San Lucas.
Mexican-American Border Safety
When crossing the border in Tijuana what things do you need to bear in mind? Below are some safety facts on border safety to bring you up to speed with what is happening.
Crossing the border in Tijuana
Despite all the scaremongering and hype, there are some things worth paying attention to for your own safety:
- There has been a spike in homicides in the last couple of years, due to drug-related gang violence.
- A turf war between the Sinaloa cartel and the Nueva Generación Jalisco has been the reason for an increase in violence.
- Cartel violence has an extremely likely chance of not affecting travellers or visitors to Tijuana.
- Always use personal precations such as hidden pocket clothing for concealing your belongings where necessary.
- According to the UK Government, over 576,971 British nationals visited Mexico in 2017 with most visits being trouble-free.
- The intentional homicide rate of Baja California is 12th in a ranked list including all Mexican states.
- Cities such as New York and Chicago have higher crime rates than Baja California.
- With millions of people living within an urban landscape, hardly any civilians see any of the gang-violence themselves.
Carry all the relevant paperwork if traveling to Mexico by land and see these options on where to stay in Tijuana if you have limited time.
As well as getting travel insurance you can get more advice regarding the current COVID situation and travel warnings in Mexico, here.
Is Tijuana Safe to Travel Alone
Tijuana is perfectly safe to travel alone. If you stay indoors during the late hours and trust your instincts, you’ll have a wonderful holiday.
You’ll need to abide by the necessary precautions when traveling to Mexico such as stay within well-lit areas, don’t trust strangers, don’t flash expensive items, etc.
It always helps if you know some basic Spanish conversation since Mexicans very much appreciate English speakers who learn it as a second language. You’ll find that a little goes a long way here!
However, the close vicinity to America means that many will speak English so there’s no need to worry if you don’t speak Spanish.
Backpacking Mexico Safety
Backpacking Mexico can be tricky since most of the bordering regions with other countries have a difficult reputation.
However, Baja California as a region is quite safe as compared to the rest of Mexico.
When backpacking down to the end of the Baja Peninsula, this is pretty much the best route to take.
If you’re looking to travel to other areas of Mexico other than the peninsula, a different and less busy border would be preferable.
A backpacking trip down the peninsula will be incredibly scenic, rustic, and highly enjoyable.
Many backpackers make the trip for surfing, but you could easily do the same for other reasons.
The peninsula is safer the further down you travel. The trip will also be longer than you expect it to be.
Tijuana: Travel Safety Tips
This region of Mexico isn’t the safest, so you’ll need to be cautious. No matter where you travel in Mexico, follow the advice written in this Mexico City travel blog which contains some universal travel laws.
If you’re arriving by plane with lots of luggage or valuable items, consider taking a taxi shuttle from the airport direct to your hotel.
Follow these helpful tips if you want to stay safe:
- Make sure to use trusted and accredited hotels/hostels. See this list of some of the best hotels in Tijuana for more ideas.
- If you think you’re being overcharged for a taxi, a trip from the border to the centre of town should be around $5 (USD).
- Don’t eat unwashed salad foods, there’s a risk of E. Coli poisoning.
- Make sure all foods are heated all the way through.
- Don’t have ice with drinks and only drink from factory-sealed bottles.
- If you are a person that suffers from Culture shock symptoms see the tips on adapting to new surroundings on this blog.
- Don’t accept offers of drugs. Not only is it illegal, but it’s dangerous. Funding the cartels means they’ll keep taking over parts of Mexico.
- If you want to take expensive equipment such as cameras or smartphones, keep them hidden, locked away and on your person. A PacSafe backpack is perfect for this.
- Keep dummy wallets for pickpockets and keep your money hidden away. Bras, money belts or secret bag compartments will do.
- There is still a risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus. For more information on this visit.
- Taxi drivers may try taking you to restaurants or hotels. These establishments will overcharge immensely and give the driver a commission. Try using a taxi booked through a hotel or Uber.
- See the best time to visit Cabo if you are headed to Baja California to get an idea of what the weather will be like when you get there.
- Police aren’t helpful and can be extremely inappropriate.
- Avoid fast-talkers or beggars asking for something.
- Don’t go where there are few other people in the vicinity; this includes camping in secluded places. A simple rule: if there are families around, you’re probably safe.
- Depending on where you travel to, the cost of living in Mexico can vary drastically. As a safe bet aim stay vigilant no matter where you find yourself in the country.
- Be wary of attempts at credit-card fraud. Either use cards for emergencies only, or take cash out at trusted atm’s either in shopping centers. Ask where you’re staying for the nearest safe atm.
Finally, don’t just rely on this one page alone.
Look for other useful information that you feel can support you along your trip.
Transportation in Tijuana
Most visitors to Tijuana use a rental car or bus to cross the border. Secured paid parking is available all across the city.
Colectivos are shared mini-buses that can transport you to and from the border as well as all around the city.
They are a safe, reliable, and cheap mode of public transportation that most of the citizens use.
The buses are operated by the city and the prices are fixed and clearly marked. See this guide to bus travel in Mexico for a primer on Mexican bus systems and services.
They generally charge 5-15 pesos (depending on the route). They normally set off when the bus is filled, so don’t expect a schedule to be stuck to.
Travel Insurance for Tijuana
I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.
If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get A Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant cover from the exact date that you choose.
On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.
Is Tijuana Safe?
Tijuana, the gateway to the great nation of Mexico, is a great place to visit or make a stop at.
See this guide if looking for some unique things to do in Cabo San Lucas as you begin to work your way down to northern Mexico.
Exploring this region of Mexico should be high on your list and it’d be a shame if visitors were put off by perceptions driven by news media.
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