The border crossing at Otay Mesa is a bit easier than San Ysidro if you are crossing on foot. The crossing takes less than 10 minutes normally when going from the US to Mexico. The Otay Mesa crossing consists of a walkway across I-905 and two iron turnstile gates. If you are dragging heavy luggage, there is a ramp up and down on each side so you don't have to navigate the stairs.
Once on the Mexican side, the customs agent may or may not want to inspect your bag. Typically you just go to the "red/green" light stand, push the button and if you get green, continue on your way. The taxis are waiting just 50 feet further and are ready to take you to your destination. Fare to the airport is typically 150 pesos.
The US/Tijuana border crossing is handles the most traffic of any border in North America. Just a few miles east of the main Tijuana/San Ysidro crossing is Otay Mesa. While Otay does get quite crowded with the vehicle crossing, including the "Ready Lane," the Sentri lane rarely has more than 6-10 vehicles.
In addition many people choose to walk across the border. When I crossed there were about 30 people in line waiting, although I've seen more on other occasions.
The Sentri lane was empty when I arrived and only two more people followed me through. It took less than 5 minutes.
Easy and fast: no border check-up, walking time to the downtown 10-20 min.,
Very cheap (shoes needed :-),
Heat (in summer).
BY A CAR
if you like driving hehe or want to get somewhere else except Tijuana itself
you must have (rent) a car,
Mexican insurance highly recommended,
heavy border traffic,
you must addict to Mexican traffic,
risk of theft (guarded parking recommended),
BY A BICYCLE
You must bring your bicycle or rent it,
Risk of steeling (good lock needed + insurance?),
You must addict to Mexican traffic,
Steep hills (outside downtown).
MEXICOACH - red buses who crosses the border on seperate lane (no long queques on the way back). They go from Border Station Parking and from last San Diego Trolley Stop to the downtown (Avenida Revolucion) for US$4.00 RT - 9.00am - 9.00pm everyday.
Another company (with blue buses this time).
No night buses (till 9.00pm only).
By a trolley from San Diego to the border and... a walk to Mexico.
Saludos Nubie. I agree with Viajes del mundo. That being said, I would point out the following. The trolley from downtown SD to the border will take 35 to 40 minutes. When you get off the Trolley you have a hefty walk UP the pedestrian bridge that takes you over the freeway to the west side of Fwy 5 where the "Revolving Door" is that you must pass to enter Tijuana. Its somewhere between 1/4 and half a mile of walking AT LEAST to get to the Revolving door. Then, YES your bags will fit through the door. You will then walk 100 Meters (300 feet) and on your right hand side there will be 2 soldiers and a table and a traffic light with a button. Push it (if green light then go ahead. If red, they will search the bags for contraband. SOmetimes they do this and sometimes they dont. If your stuff looks bulky they will probably give it a once over. NO BIG DEAL. You will then continue straight for another 400 to 500 feet to the yellow taxis. The taxi ride from there to the airport should take 10 to 15 minutes and cost you 10 to 20 dlls. and NO MORE. Ask the cab driver BEFORE you get in the cab how much he will charge you to the airport. Including tip 20 dlls. is more than adequate. Dont get husseled. IF the yello cabs want much more then ditch them. DO get in. Take a right and go through the nic nac and taco stands to the Mcdonalds that is another 300 feet to the west of the yellow cabs. Here you look for ORANGE and WHITE taxis. These are much cheaper. they will do same for 10 to 15 dlls. When you get off the trolley in the US , you can take a CAB from there to within 200 feet of the revolving door. This might cost you another 15 bucks US. If your flight leaves in the morning, I usualy cross back into Tijuana around 8 am daily M to F and can/will give you ride if you like. Let me know your timelime and I may be of help.
You should leave your car at the border for $4/5 and then walk across to Tijuana. The town is less than 10 minutes walk from the border..
Your car will need Mexican Insurance, and all rentals are prohibited from being driven into Mexico without permission!!
The lines to get back into the US are very very long too
I have taken a tour bus in to Tijuana. This was great for a first time. They take you around town and tell you alot of the history. At one point they drop everyone off in the major market area for a couple of hours so you can go shopping. It cost about $15 a person the last time I went (1996).
This time I parked my car on the US/Mexico border and walked across. Make sure you have your ID! Getting in to Mexico is easy. Getting out takes awhile, so make sure you use the restroom before getting in line! There are only restrooms on the US side of the border at customs.
It's easy to walk around. Just stay on the beaten path and you should be fine. I don't recommend taking a cab. There are many waiting once you cross the border. It's not worth it. They'll take the very long way around. The markets are straight ahead about 2 blocks. Just follow the trail of outside merchants!
- distances are quite short (up to 20 min.) - border, downtown, Zona Rio - I mean;
- you can feel the soul of Tijuana, do shopping, eat, drink etc.
- very cheap (shoes needed :-) and healthy
- heat (especially in summer)
- cheap and healthy
- quite fast especially in rush hours
- you must bring your bicycle or rent one in Tijuana,
- risk of steeling of your bicycle (even if locked).
- you must addict to local traffic
BY TAXI ESPECIAL
- quite comfortable and quite fast
- they cost approx. $5 inside the city
BY ROUTE TAXI
- quite fast
- not so comfortable (many people packed inside or... not so cheap)
- not so easy to find correct bus
- crowded in rush-hours
- slower than taxis
- they don't go in the late night
BY A CAR
- you can drive whenever and wherever you want
- you must have a car (rent or drive it from the USA),
- insurance not obligatory but highly recommended,
- risk of steeling your car, guarded parking recommended
- a little crazy traffic to addict to
On foot + eventually by taxi especial.
Read my next tips, please. And have a great trip :-)).
It's very easy - look at my picture: these two persons are still in the USA, the yellow table TAXIS is in Mexico. There is only one-way metal revolving door between them and - what a surprise - no customs, no border control !!!
When you park your car walk to the border crossing point this way as on my picture: you have high fence of the freeway I-5 on the left and Mexico just in front of you. Hmm... better to say Tijuana - is it real Mexico? I am not sure, but never mind - you walk to Mexico anyway.
There are parking lots right next to the boarder. Then you can walk across the boarder to downtown Tijuana. The picture shows my butt, one half in the USA and the other half in Mexico.
also by walking
You can either drive you car across the border but it's a good idea to have Mexican car insurance. Or you can walk arcoss as the people to the right of the photo are doing.
If you walk across the border, you can either continue walking to Aveneue Revolucion which is the main shopping area, or you can take a taxi. The taxi ride to the center of Avenue REvolucion should not cost more than $5 USD.
Once you get off the Trolley, this is the final gate you walk through to get to Mexico. Once you pass through here, you must pass through US Customs and Immigration to re-enter the USA.