Since the majority of people going to Tijuana are coming from the San Diego area, it may be useful to know that from most hotels / motels there is a bus that will take you to a trolley station. The south bound, Blue Line Trolly ends in San Ysidro, within walking distance of the border to Tijuana, Mexico.
The time it takes the trolley to travel from it's northern point, the San Diego Mission to the southern end is about an hour. Depending where you board the trolley you can guess how long it will take to get to the border.
If you are not familiar with public transportation in general, the phone number listed here will supply you with the nearest bus stop or trolley station to your lodgings.
It is possible to take the SD Trolley all the way to the boarder, then walk across into Tijuana. However, I suggest that getting off at the Beyer Station and taking the Transportes El Volante bus across the border and into downtown Tijuana to the 7th street area will make the trip much easier and save lots of walking.
El Volante is no longer offering this service from the Beyer Station.
However, at the end of the SD Trolley line at the border, you will probably see a bus just in front of the border exit. This bus will take you across the border under the basic situation that El Volante did. If you don't want to wait while the bus fills up enough, you will have to walk across the bridge and on the north side of the street (at the west end of the bridge) you will see more buses offering a shuttle ride into Tijuana.
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.
By Car: 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
The best way to get around Tijuana is to walk. But if you are tired, you can always take a taxi and for approximately $6 (U.S.) you can get just about anywhere you want to go in the city.
CROSSING THE BORDER
UNITED STATES TO MEXICO
Visitors headed to Tijuana by land have THREE OPTIONS when crossing the border. All three are relatively easy, and crossing the 'busiest international border crossing on Earth' is usually a snap.
- - - DRIVING ACROSS THE BORDER- - -
Each day zillions of cars head south on California's Interstate 5 and cross the border into Baja, Mexico. As the freeway nears the border, the 4 lanes magically become 8 lanes, and each vehicle must come to a complete stop at the Custom's check point. If the alternating Custom's signal light turns GREEN after you stop, you may proceed (Passe). Welcome to Baja! If the alternating light turns RED (Alto), you will be directed to the covered secondary inspection area one hundred feet to your right. Assuming you are not carrying guns, drugs, or fruit, your stay at the secondary inspection station should be short. Then you will merge back into the busy traffic headed into Baja! If you are headed for the coast towards Rosarito Beach or Ensenada, follow the GREEN and WHITE signs with the white arrows towards 'Scenic Road - Rosarito'.
- - -WALKING ACROSS THE BORDER- - -
After parking your vehicle in one of the 4 large parking lots listed below (cost: $5-$6 per day), just follow the crowds. After walking through the metal revolving gates, you have entered Baja! Most tourists walking into Baja are headed for Avenida Revolucion, where all of the shops, restaurants, and bars offer a very exciting environment! (it's about a 20 minute walk). Head straight ahead through the small shops and the plaza, over the 100 yard bridge that crosses the river, and then 2 more blocks and you are there! Turn left for 10 blocks of fun! If you don't feel up to the 20 minute walk from the border to Avenida Revolucion, there are about 100 yellow taxi cabs ready to wisk you there for $5 (one way) as soon as you get past the metal gates and enter Baja. These taxis will also take you to Rosarito Beach for about $25 US, and to Ensenada for about $70 US.
- - -SHUTTLE ACROSS THE BORDER- - -
This is an easy way to get from the U.S. side of the border to Avenida Revolucion, as well as to other parts of Baja further south. There are several different bus companies lined up in front of the parking lots on the U.S. side of the border. These buses will take you directly to Avenida Revolucion for $1 US each way, or $2 US round trip. They depart on a regular basis, and your maximum wait time is 20 minutes!
---CROSSING THE BORDER MEXICO TO THE UNITED STATES---
Okay, you've had your fun in Baja. It's time to head back across the border to the U.S. One problem...all of the other Gringos who have been playing in Baja, along with a whole bunch of Mexicans who are legally headed for a brief visit to the States, are joining you for the border crossing. On any given day, tens of thousands of cars and individuals line up to cross this boundry line. Non-US citizens don't forget to bring your passports.
For those of you that already know how to get to the border crossing South of San Diego in Chula Vista. If you are traveling by car note that there are several parking lots to park on both sides of the freeway. The west side is closer when you enter Mexico and the price is for 24 hours which ranges from $5 to $7 depending on the day of the week. Its more Friday to Sunday. Parking on the east side has the advantage of being closer when you return at the end of your visit. If you plan on staying longer then 8 hours its more expensive. They charge between $5 and $8 for an 8 hour period. If you park on the east side walk to the end of the Red line Trolley train stop and there is a walkway to the Pedestrian bridge (PB) located to the left of the customs exit. Follow it up the ramp and over the freeway. You will have to walk across and are able to look down from the bridge to get an overview of the whole busy border crossing scene. Once on the west side of the freeway you can enter Mexico via the revolving gates. You may already be on the west side of the freeway if you parked in the lots directly off the exit ramp of I-5 . Once past the gates you will have to travel down a long corridor with the Mexican customs on your left. They have an odd system for inspection which is more random then anything. You'll notice a signal lamp like those found at intersections with one green light and one red. If the red light comes on as you are passing you will be asked to stop at which time you will be searched and questioned. Its never happened to me but I've seen them stop locals who are returning with luggage.
Gates to Mexico from the PB Once past these gates
you are in Mexico. Walkway as soon as you enter Mexico Mexican Customs behind the gates
If you make it past the customs area you will pass a set of signs. If you turn right at this point you can walk to the popular tourist areas of TJ.
Shopping areas line the walk to the touristy areas. Make sure you bargain ! prices may vary a lot.
Some people recommend once you cross into TJ that you continue straight ahead to the taxi pick up and drop off area. Tell the taxi driver where you want to go, bargin the price before you agree to go.
A convenient way of getting to Tijuana from San Diego is on the Red Trolley. Parking is tough downtown so I like to park in Old Town San Diego at the transit center. Parking is free, lighted and plentiful. $2.50 gets you to Tijuana. It's safe and cheap. Nice way to see the rest of San Diego and National City. An hour later you arrive at the border, known on the other side as La Linea.
There are many ways to get to Tijuana:
Tijuana International Airport Abelardo L. Rodriguez (TIJ) located 5 miles east of downtown in Mesa de Otay:
Aeropuerto Highway, Mesa de Otay
Tel./Fax (664) 607-8200
Direct flights to numerous destinations in Mexico + Okland, California (OAK) and Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) in the USA.
Tijuana International Airport
Border Crossing and Visitors Information
BY A CAR
To get to Tijuana from the United States, use either freeway I-5 or I-805, both of which lead directly to the international crossing at San Isidro, California (open 24h).
To enter at the Otay crossing (6am-10pm) leave either I-5 or I-805 at the exit to freeway I-905 and proceed to follow that highway directly to the Otay crossing.
San Ysidro border crossing info
U.S. border waiting delays
San Ysidro/Otay border waiting time
BY A TROLLEY FROM SAN DIEGO
Take Blue Line (it's... red anyway :-) to San Ysidro - last stop close to the border.
San Diego Trolley Map
San Diego Trolley, Inc.
The two best ways to get to TJ are car and Light Rail from San Diego. Either one will let you off on the California side of the boarder. From there you can walk into Mexico and to downtown Tijuana. If you are just going to spend the day in Tijuana you can find plenty of parking on the California side of the boarder. If you plan on going deeper into Mexico you may want to find parking in TJ itself.
Walking and cabs are the best way to get around. From the boarder you can walk to downtown TJ. This takes about 30 minutes but there is plenty to see and do along the way. If you would rather take a cab there will be plenty of them as you cross the boarder. This should cost about $5 or so (it's been a while since I've done this so don't quote me). Make sure to negotiate the price before you get into the cab.
the famous San Diego Trolley has a stop at San Ysidro, the last station before crossing into mexico and again a one way trip to a san diego trolley is $ 2.50 and a round trip ticket is $ 5.00 but it is better to get a day pass since it cost also $ 5.00 to get a day pass so that if you choose to go to mexico using this trolley via san ysidro then it is more economical. The Trolley provides regular service to/from from downtown San Diego starting at 5:00 am to 7:00 pm. The trip takes approximately 45 minutes.
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, SSS Cards and for foreign tourist, an I-94 card and Mutliple Entry US Visa (for US Visit Approved Countries, Just an I-94 card stamped on the passport is required).
San Ysidro Station: (619) 639-7100 (open 24 hours)
Otay Mesa Station: (619) 661-3249 (6AM-10PM)
Tecate Station: (619) 478-5545 (6AM-Midnight)
Why would you go to Tijuana? Cheap drinking? After the “fines” from the cops you could have drank at a nice place on the beach in San Diego. Hookers? What are you mentally disabled? It is legal in Nevada and the girls are licensed and checked. Shopping? Really now, what are you going to bring back that you cannot find at the same or lower price in the US? Partying? Try the gas lamp district in San Diego. Drugs? Now you have established that you are mentally ill. Legal ones are available via internet from both US and Canadian pharmacies’ and illegal ones are available everywhere. You want to visit another county and have a nice city to party in? Try Vancouver Canada. The flight is less than you are going to pay for being shaken down by just one cop in TJ. Just stay the #$%@ out of Mexico! There is only one group that has any reason to go to Mexico and that is college students between 18 and 21 for drinking. In order to protect their lives the local colleges should allow drinking. The new passport laws will help cut down on that activity. Practicing open human sacrifices in great numbers only a few hundred years ago tell much of their values regarding life and respect for fellow humans. It will take several thousand years for that population to integrate into its psyche anything less than ruthlessness toward each other and especially towards anyone else. Oh my! Corruption in Mexico… Visitors being shaken down for cash and girls being felt up and raped by the Police. Stay out! Stay out! Stay out! When the gringo dollars stop flowing in they will only have themselves left to prey on. As one Mexican official said recently they are like the US was in the 30’s with the gangsters. NOT quite Sparky. Mexico is more like the early farming settlements being taken over by the barbarians 2000 years ago but with more ruthlessness.
Hey i will be traveling from san diego airport terminal 1 to tijuana next week ... here is my trip plan, according to SDMTS trip planner web page i have to:
TRIP PLAN OPTION 1 of 3
FROM: AIRPORT - TERMINAL #1
TO: SAN YSIDRO TROLLEY STATION
1. At 10:47 AM take the MTS BUS route 992 Airport via Harbor Dr / Cruise Ship Term
2. Get off the stop on 11th Av at Broadway at approximately 11:11 AM.
3. At 11:17 AM take the Blue Line San Ysidro
4. Get off the stop at San Ysidro/Intl Border Stn - East Platfo at approximately 11:56 AM.
Schedules and maps for your routes
Bus route 992
Trolley Blue Line
Refer to the fare chart at top of the page.
Total Trip Time = 1 hr. 9 min
Then , just walk to the metal turnstiles, hopefully the mexican customs don't ask me to press the light or if they i get a green one, take a taxi cab on the mexican border side to my destination in TJ... i been doing this many times before, but always ride a cab from the SAN airport to the border line. Taxi cabs fares in san diego are obsene last year they charge me 72 dlls. This is the first time i'l try San Diego Trolley, my only concern is luggage i'l bring a 35 pounds bag... Bus 992 has racks according some research i did online, but trolley i really have not idea if they will let me ride with bags, i live in San Francisco and BART sub allow luggage, since they directly serve the SFO ariport...
I've always travelled to Tijuana via the Trolley from San Diego. It will take you to San Ysidro, right at the border. Then you simply walk across the border.
A round trip will generally cost you $5.
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