There are a few car rental agencies in San Diego that will allow you to take your rented car into Tijuana, however, another consideration is to rent a car in Tijuana.
Here is a list of Tijuana car rental agencies. If this is an option you're interested in, just take a taxi from the border to the rental agency of your choice.
Paseo de los Héroes No. 77, Zona Río
Ph. (01152-664) 634-3303 & (01152-664) 634-3304
Fax (01152-664) 634-3086
Toll free 01-800-700-1700
Mo - Fr 7 a.m - 7 p.m., Sa - Su 8 - 4 p.m.
V, MC, AE
Blvd. R. Sanchez Taboada No.10285, Zona Río
Ph./Fax (01152-664) 686-4040
Toll free from Mexico 01-800-849-8001
Mo - Su 7 - 8 p.m.
V, MC, AE
Blvd. Agua Caliente No. 10595, Fracc. Aviación
Ph. (01152-664) 686-2103 & 683-5030
Fax (01152-664) 681-8449
Mo - Fr 8 - 6 p.m., Sa 9 - 2 p.m.
V, MC, AE
Blvd. Cuahutémoc No. 406, Col. Aeropuerto
Ph. (01152-664) 683-0603, 683-0605 & 683-7619
Fax (01152-664) 682-6040
Toll free from Mexico 01-800-288-8888
Mo – Fr 7 - 11 p.m., Sa - Su 8 -10 p.m.
V, MC, AE
Inside Tijuana’s International Airport
Ph. (01152-664) 683-2310
Mo – Fr 7 - 11 p.m., Sa 7 - 9 p.m.
Inside Tijuana’s International Airport
Ph. (01152-664) 683-29-05
Mo – Fr 7 - 11 p.m., Sa - Su 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
It seems that in recent years the driving system in Tijuana has become more orderly, at least near the border in tourist areas. If you hear the siren of an emergency vehicle move to the right if possible to give them a clear path.
If you are walking, rather than driving, stay out of the street until they have passed. No matter what color the light is or which direction they seem to be going, stay out of the street until they have passed.
Decided to drive across the border and around the city of Tijuana? A brave thing to do. Well, not really. Driving in Tijuana isn't much different from driving around any other city in a country one is not familiar with.
I've driven in Tijuana since I was 18 and never had an accident or any other problem. I've been stopped by the police twice, once for a broken tail light and once for running a red light.
Both times the police were respectful and on the "running the red light" situation, it was many years ago when "mordida" was a fact of life in Tijuana. I ended up "Bribing" the cop. I simply asked if I could pay the ticket to him at that time, as I was in a hurry to get home, didn't want to go all the way back to the Police Station to pay it. He gave me the price, I paid and he looked very shocked when I asked for a receipt. That's the moment I realized that I had bribed him. Silly me.
You should know it is against the law to offer bribes to any police officials in Mexico and you could be prosecuted.
Tickets issued in Tijuana can be paid in the U.S. with a check or money order made out to: H. Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, 416 West San Ysidro Blvd. Suite “L”, No. 725, San Ysidro, CA 92143.
For more useful information check out the website below.
You can drive from San Diego I-5 or I-805 almost to the border crossing point in San Ysidro, park your your car and walk to Tijuana.
Choose one of numerous guarded parking lots located around. Parking rates average $2 per half-hour or between $6 and $10 for 24 hours. Wherever you park your car there, walking distance to the border is about 2, max. 10 min. (if you are very slow :-).
I paid $7 for my parking (up to 24 hours) called Border Station Parking located on right side of Camino de la Plaza (4570) just after intersection with Virginia Ave. driving from I-5.
Take "Last U.S. Exit, Camino de la Plaza" off-ramp at border, turn right at stoplight, next to San Diego Factory Outlet Center.
There is Tourist Information Center there as well, opened 9.00 am - 5.00 pm. Don't forget to get the map of Tijuana and other info you need.
Border Station Parking and Tourist Information Center
(1$ discount when you print the page from this site).
The gas station in Mexico are run by state monopoly company called PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos). Hmm... I don't like any monopoly do you?
You can pay only by cash, credit/debit cards are not accepted.
They sell only unleaded gas:
Magna Sin (regular unleaded in the U.S.)
Premium (super unleaded in the U.S.)
The gas in Mexico was a little bit MORE EXPENSIVE than in California in April 2003: approx. $2.50 - $2.75 per gallon. Is it because of state monopoly of Pemex or higher taxes for gas - hmm... probably both, am I wrong?
I picked up my Avis car from their Zona Rio location after booking online. It was a cheap taxi ride to the office. The office was nice, clean, professiona. They did NOT speak English so a person that needs that may be better off going to the airport where that would be more likely.
The only problem I had was the bill for Insurance was quite high (pretty typical for renting a car), but they added an extra charge for me being from the US. It was an actual box they checked on the screen (I saw it), so that may be typical in Mexico, I'm not really sure. The rental was around $35, after insurance it was around $85.
No problems upon returning my car.
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.
You can use your european drivers licence in both USA and Mexico. Car rentals is and gasolin is cheaper here than in Europe. It's a freeway from Los Angeles to Mexico, so you will reach Tijuana in less than 3 hours.
You can drive your car to the border, park at one of several pay parking lots on the U.S. side, and simply walk across the border. You can then take a cab or bus on the Mexican side to get you to Tijuana. Alternatively, you can take your car across the border, but Mexican insurance is recommended for those who want to drive in Tijuana, as insurance policies issued outside Mexico are not normally valid for driving in Mexico. Further, special customs regulations apply if you intend driving your car further than 50 miles from the border.
Whenever you drive in Tijuana watch for pedastrians.
I noticed that they quite often go on red light and they used to cross a street outside the pedastrian crossings and usually not in the shortest way as you can see on my picture.
It seems that driving in Mexico and Mexican drivers have very bad reputation in the USA.
Hmm... I am not sure about it although I could observe the traffic in Tijuana only.
So, they drove quietly (no aggression), they watched traffic rules, they didn't over-use their horns, they put indicators correctly. And the streets were not so jammed as often in US cities of the same size (pop. over 1 mln).
But they often drove very old cars and their streets are neither so perfectly signed (watch for one-way streets) nor so flat as usually in the USA.
The main streets of Tijuana are covered by asphalt and generally in quite good or even very good condition.
But you can find streets as on my picture as well: unpaved, bumpy and covered by... water.
Less than 20 miles south of downtown San Diego lies the world's busiest port of entry - the international border crossing between San Ysidro, CA and Tijuana, Mexico. Here are several ways to get to the border.
By Bus: (800) 231-2222
Greyhound Bus Lines offer daily service from San Diego to Tijuana. Costs between $5 and $9.
Drive to the border, park at one of several pay parking lots on the U.S. side and walk across. Parking rates average $2 per half-hour or between $6 and $10 for 24 hours.
By Trolley: (619) 231-8549
The San Diego Trolley is an excellent alternative; regular service is provided from downtown San Diego. The trip takes approximately 45 minutes and the cost is $1.75.
Mexican Auto Insurance:
If you plan to take your car into Mexico, you must purchase Mexican automobile insurance prior to crossing the border. Most U.S. policies are not valid in Mexico. In the unfortunate event of an accident, only a Mexican insurance policy will be recognized as valid.
Border Insurance Services: (800) 332-2118
Mexican Insurance by phone. Representing the largest and most reliable Insurance Company in Mexico.
Mex-Insur, Inc.: (619) 428-1121
213 Sycamore Road, I-5 at the Via de San Ysidro exit
San Ysidro, CA 92173
You can drive from San Diego and walk across the border.I found this to be the most convenient way to visit.Crossing in a car can really be time-cosuming.
we walked every place we wanted to go