I read several articles on Nogales Mexico, and not having traveled there for a few years, I was unsettled about whether to go on a recent trip to Tucson. I was told not to for safety reason, by two different businesses telling me to go to Tubac instead. Years ago I noted that Tubac while pretty was considerably higher in prices although you would find much of the same and a wide variety of quality goods.
I placed my review on the warning tips portion as it is impossible to find anything **but** warnings about Nogales. I would recommend going *during the day*, and just accompanied by someone. There were police everywhere. I do mean that. I am sure in our 8 block walk I saw more than one dozen. We also saw a patrol of police driving around with two guys in the back with rifles. They slowed down when they saw us and waved. I was glad to see the strong presence of law enforcement.
I didn't see any children begging. There were a couple of women selling small trinkets and one told me in spanish that she has children and has to play for their schooling. One in our group felt sorry for her and put a dollar in her tray, but she didn't want a handout, she insisted he pick out a bracelet. We also saw a man clearly blind and our friend gave him a dollar also. One has to determine personally how they should handle such things.
I recommend heading to the small jewelry type stores. There was one South of La Roca restaurant about 2-3 blocks east of it. A middle aged lady with light hair owned the store. There is a parrot in the back of the shop. I really wish I could have bought from her as hers was the very best store. She had a plethora of leather goods, jackets, jewelry of all kinds, pottery, ceramic and copper vessels and sinks. She told me that her business was terrible now. She offered to sell me my pick of 20" 925 sterling necklaces at $15 a pc.
I knew from years ago, if you see something you like, don't leave thinking you'll come back or get it cheaper elsewhere. It never works. Just buy it. I didn't do that, and I'm sorry about it now. There are less shops open these days with the reduction in tourism.
The people of Nogales are very very friendly and welcoming and they are just starving for business in those shops so the first price mentioned is actually a really good deal these days....
I found it to be an unforgettable lovely experience. I hope more travelers will go there and enjoy the food, the culture and the hospitality of these people. I went to La Roca this time because I have always gone to El Greco's and wanted to check out La Roca. We had tacos (lettuce and tomato), lots of sour creme on our chimis and enchiladas, and guacamole. No problem for anyone, and I noticed walking by the kitchen that the waiters actaully had masks and gloves on.
Enjoy Mexico. Just plan on leaving by 3pm or so. Use normal common sense. The shop merchants are delightful. The food is excellent. Stay on the regular streets, get directions from locals when you are turned around, and just be pleasant and respectful. They welcome American tourists, and you will be glad you did.
As in any other Mexican border town, it is highly recommended you travel with at least another person...preferably more. Border towns by nature attract all types of seedy individuals. Shop during the day only. At night, it's not pretty. There are beggars everywhere. I don't want to ruin anyone's adventure...just advising you to beware of what's around you. There are definitely some great deals and wonderful craftworks worth checking out.
Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
Hotel San Carlos
Poor location for the better restaurants on Obregon. Not recommended for women travelers.
Cafe Marco Polo attached to Hotel San Carlos has poor food. I was not sick, until I ate there. Cafeteria Leo’s is much better.
I am a single male traveler, and consider myself and advanced amateur photographer. Around the entrance to Nogales, and within two or three blocks there are pimps, and “tour guides”, that will not leave me alone. Plus they are an endless nuisance for any group of male travelers, or shoppers. Some of these “tour guides” are police informants. So any people dealing with these guys put themselves in danger. If a person wants nightlife, ask a cab driver, or check the related Web newsgroups. If buying prescriptions, one now needs a prescription from BOTH an American doctor, and a Mexican doctor. Plus one can only get a thirty (30) day supply of pills, or the Mexican police will consider it “trafficking” in drugs.
As we arrived near the border on the U.S.A. side which is NOGALES U.S.A ( The other side of the border is also Nogales but Mexico.) Several guys tried to hurd us into a parking lot at McDonalds and charge us $10.
I didn't like their bossy attitude so said I was just going to eat a hamburger so they allowed me to park free. I asked someone inside who told me there was a free parking a block away a City lot. We parked there all day for free and it was closer than McDonalds. When street shopping I gave a native a $20. bill. He said I go for change. I waited a very long time before he finally came back with it . I guess he thought I would get tired and leave but since this was his sales spot he eventually had to come back. CUSTOMS ON THE RETURN WAS NO PROBLEM