Haha, when you pass the U.S. - Mexico border in San Ysidro you will see - look at my picture - quite another world: a lot of mainly old looking cars - taxis painted in yellow and the dark-skinned (hmm... at least darker than me) men - drivers asking you to take a taxi to Tijuana. Add a little chaotic traffic and street vendors. This is Mexico! WOW!
Walking from the border to the downtown you must pass across Tijuana River - look at my picture: there is no way you must go up this ramp to the brigde over the river. From this point you have approx. 5 min. to the downtown.
When you're going into Mexico, it's very easy. I walked from the trolley stop in San Ysidro. You don't get a passport stamped, you don't talk to any officials, you just walk right into the country.
Coming back to the United States, I recommend taking a bus. Greyhound and Mexicoach are the two that I know of that are available. They are both cheap and worth every penny. They will get you in the special bus lane. Each bus empties one at a time, but this is still an extremely shorter wait than walking or driving across. Once you get to the customs building, you get out, stand in the special bus line that has no one in it, pass your bag through the machine, and walk right out into the United States and if you're taking one of the busses further north, they will be close by. The greyhound station is about 1/2 a block to the right when you exit the customs building.
the assorted views going back to the United States via the San Ysidro Crossing which according to Wikipedia is the busiest border crossing in the world with about 100,000 people going back and forth everyday. Now some useful tips: Visitors to the northern part of Baja California do not need passports or tourist cards if staying in the country for 72 hours or less. If you plan to stay longer or travel beyond Ensenada, you'll need to obtain a tourist card. This document is free of charge; proof of U.S. citizenship is required like Passport, Social Security Card and for foreign tourist, an I-94 card and Mutliple Entry US Visa stamped on the Passport (for US Visit Approved Countries, Just an I-94 card stamped on the passport is required).
San Ysidro Border Station Tourist Information: (619) 428-6200
4570 Camino de la Plaza San Ysidro, CA 92173
The San Ysidro parking facility houses an information center for
Tijuana/Baja California bound travelers and also serves as a Tijuana shuttle terminal.
the marker delineating the international border between United States of America and Mexico. the marker is located just before the border crossing between san ysidro and tijuana and technically, the main border crossing and immigration control of the United States is located about 30 meters above the border marking so technically you are already in the United States Area when you cross the marking before going to the Immigration control so this is a popular photograph area for mexicans and tourists so mexicans can feel they are in the United States even though it is just a few meters before the immigration control. 10 meters from is is the gate going to the immigration control so you don't have to have a US visa to have photograph here since you don't need to enter the immigration area. if you are on a walking tour of tijuana, have a picture taken here before going back to the immigration control and back to the USA.
Tijuana is close to the US border, and it's easy to cross the border to Mexico by car. You need a passport valid for more than 6 months. Visa is not necessary for european citizens. It's harder to return to USA. Expect long queues and strict passport controls.
There can be a lot of traffic backed up at the border between the U.S. and Mexico near Tijuana. You're better off just leaving your car behind and walking across the border. On the Mexican side you can easily catch a cab to the city center.
Tijuana is one of the most popular border cities due to its proximity to Southern California and has become an important trade and economic centre.
With all the day trips and overnight stays, Tijuana has become the most visited city in Mexico not to mention the most active illegal crossing are in all of the 2,000 miles of the border.
On the pedestrian river bridge you will notice two things: the smell (sometimes not bad, at least when I was there in April), and the view (rather spectacular). Here, crossing over the cement channel of the Tijuana River, you can see the reason why Tijuana was built here, I suppose - the River. Moving towards downtown, upstream is on your left and downstream (and the U.S.) is on your right.
Walking from the San Ysidro Point of Entry to the bridge over Tijuana River towards Tijuana's downtown you maybe surprised to see numerous stores with hundreds of written in English commercials (too many commercials hehe).
Hmm... most of them were not interesting for me although... look at my shopping tips.
Tijuana is located on quite large hills and around. Don't look for the center, they (in American English) say downtown, instead.
And the downtown of Tijuana is located really down the hill just 10-15 min. walking distance from the border crossing point in San Ysidro.
The panoramic view of the city you can see from the bridge over Tijuana River. You must walk this bridge when you walk from San Ysidro. Notice the big Mexican flag which is seen from the USA as well.
Look at the cement channel of the Tijuana River although it isn't the nice view. Doesn't it look like a freeway under construction?:-)))
See the actual border between the USA and Mexico. This picture shows the border marker when entering Mexico.