Ensenada, unlike Tijuana, is for the most part a reasonably safe place to party and have a good time. Here are a few basic DON’Ts to stay clear of problems.
1.) Don’t talk to the Raterios! These are the guys hanging out on the street that usually make an attempt to approach gringos looking for a good time. Most of them speak good English. They always act as if they are trying to help you find anything you may be looking for. Let me just call them what they are: hustlers, thieves, robbers. You will end up broke & unhappy if you waste you time talking to them. They are smart and have a playbook of games. Just say no thanks or ignore them and keep walking. They don’t want to waste time either and will move on.
2.) Don’t walk down any street in Ensenada with a drink in your hand.
3.) Don’t bring or buy drugs period!!!!!
4.) Don’t ever hit anyone or start a fight unless you want a tour inside of the local jail.
5.) Don’t get so drunk that you can barely walk down the street.
6.) Pedestrians have the right of way in the crosswalks, however you should still exercise caution before stepping out into the intersection.
As in many countries, the purchase of controlled medication requires a doctor's prescription. The Mexican list of controlled medication differs from that of the U.S., and Mexican public health laws concerning controlled medication are unclear and often enforced selectively. The list of controlled medication should be available from the closest Mexican Consulate.
Possession of any amount of prescription medicine (especially psychotropic drugs, such as valium) brought from the United States can result in arrest if Mexican authorities suspect abuse or if the quantity of the prescription medicine exceeds the amount required for several days' use. Individuals should consider carrying a copy of the prescription and a doctor's letter explaining that the quantity of medication is appropriate for their personal medical use.
For example, there is currently a 46 year old American woman in an Ensenada jail that has served a year and a half of a 5 year term. She had lived in Ensenada for 6 years and buying drugs for her health problems all of those years until some cops stopped her on the street and looked in her purse. She had a three months supply in her purse.
OK... There are a few strip clubs here in Ensenada that are located on various streets, but in general they try to keep a low profile.
One street in particular (Miramar) between Lopez Mateos and Ave. Juarez is known as the "Tolerance Zone". The Tolerance Zone has a rather seedy look and feel, with prostitutes, transvestites, junkies, and street hustlers trying to solicit those who walk by.
Some people may be able to navigate in this environment without any problems. Others should avoid walking down this street.
Whenever I go outside the US, one of the things I stop doing is drinking the the local water, or use it to brush my teeth. ap water in Mexico is not necessarily contaminated, it just may contain different flora and fauna than US and Canadians are used to, thus causing possible indigestion. To be safe, you should always use purified water when brushing your teeth, when rinsing raw foods, or any other time you use water with the possibility of it being consumed. Other things to think about is the ice for that coke; Ice tea, and fresh fruit juices ( I learned these the hard way).
All restaurants and markets throughout Baja and most of Mexico will serve and sell purified water (agua purificada). This purified water is the same as what US and Canadians are used to drinking, so you should not have any problems if you stick to drinking the purified water. If you do experience problems, most of the brand-name medications used in the US or Canada are also available at markets or pharmacies in Mexico.
This is not necessarily a danger, but it's definitely a warning. If you're coming to Ensenada from a place where you're accustomed to free toilets, don't presume you will find them here. This public restroom charged 5 pesos, or $.50 American; others were only $.25. It's a good idea to have a little change in your pocket for when you need it. Most restaurants and hotels do provide free restrooms for patrons.
Unfortunately, vehicle theft can be a big problem in Mexico, and tourist vehicles are often targeted. Even older, beat up cars are not immune.
1.) Employ at least one type of anti-theft device such as steering wheel locks (an autotazer with 50,000 volts might be fun to watch), kill switches, and other anti-theft devices are highly recommended.
2.) Always park in a parking area that is clearly visible, near other vehicles, and has plenty of foot traffic.
3.) Never leave your vehicle parked on the side of the highway.
4.) For overnight parking, always try to park in area that is gated or employs a security guard.
The link below gives an idea of the large number of stolen vehicles that were recovered (although not necessarily all in one piece) in Ensenada.
The tap water is NOT safe to drink. Fortunately, bottled water isn't hard to find. However, it's important whenever you order raw foods in a restaurant that you ask if they were washed in 'agua purificado.' If you're not sure, do not eat it unless you want to spend your vacation sick to your stomach!
last i heard, thes are the customs limits:
up to $400.00 in merchandise
TJ is Duty Free Zone
Don't bring back Fruits
100 cigar max
200 cigarettes max
(if you by Cuban Cigars- TAKE off the wrappers, and toss them in the trash or stash in companions bags)
Food stalls like this can be seen along the country roads in Mexico, selling such things as cured olives--Acetunas, Bee Honey--Meil, de Abeja, Tamales de Elote or drinks.
Be careful when buying any food that should be hot, such as those delicious tamales. Sometimes they are not kept hot enough and you can get sick from eating them. Check out the warming system before making that purchase and make sure the liquid in the olive jars is clear.
Make sure you never leave your car at the side of the road unattended. Buy Mexican insurance, or check with your rental company, some will sell it, (for about double the price, but the convenience may be worth it - up to you)
many hotel / motels have "gated" parking lots. The extra $$$ for the room, may be worth it.
If you plan to drive around the city, you should be aware of the following:
1. Other than the tourist zone and main avenues, many streets do not have signs.
2. Some streets do not have bridges over the river. Normally this is not a problem, but if you happen to be visiting during the rainy season there will be water in the river and some streets may flood.
like an earlier warning says, do not talk to the raterios. I ended up getting seperated from my friends and went to papas and beer with one of these guys, and then went to the bathroom, and security at papas and beer accused me of doing drugs which i wasnt, so security searched me, stole my camera in the process ($289) and then asked for money to not call the cops even though i didnt do anything, then the raterio spotted my friend across the street, so they collected $120 US from all of us in addition to my camera.
You wont see many americans out at night here on avenue lopez mateos and there is a reason, the next morning we saw a lot more people out and about. I will likely never go back to ensenada, and even if we go to rosarito i will never set foot in papas and beer.
This is an obvious one, but keep an eye on your possessions at all times. Most people coming off the cruise ships in Ensenada are in town to drink, so predators know this. Beware. My camera was stolen in a split second.
I had just gotten a massage at an open air market on the strip in the gringo area($55 for 1 1/2 hour) and decided I wanted a beer. Right then a man asked me"Sir, do you want a beer?". "Why yes, yes I do!", I replied and followed him into his bar. He sat me down at a comfy booth and no more than 5 seconds later a sexy young chica jumps in my lap and starts grinding on me. A few moments later Senior walks over and gives me the lay of the land, everything is available from lap dances to full sex. All I wanted was a beer.....lol.
If you're looking to rent a woman, this would be a good place to start. If you just want to drink, choose another bar. Beer prices are the same here but girl drinks are $9 each and they pressure you to buy more, if you get my meaning. (BTW, $50 hr plus $30 bar fine to the bar).
I got ripped-off when I bought what was supposed to be a huge firecracker (supposedly was a 1/4 stick of dynamite), and it did nothing when I lit it---it was a fake. I suspect the locals rip-off the tourists in other ways too.
ALSO, beware of the women in some of the bars that want you to buy them drinks---they might be prostitutes, who allow you to sit them on your lap and touch them (I saw lots of other customers doing this). SOME of them are not even real women---they are transvestites or transexuals, craftily disguised as women! (I know this, cause an unlucky friend of mine went there once, and after making-out with a beautiful 'girl' over several nights, found-out 'she' was a 'he' (he found-out the hard way...and yes, he hates to be teased about it! Dan, are you reading this?).