I just booked a bus tour going to Ensanada from San Diego on Saturday (Holy Week 2011) for me and my wife. Ensanada is about 70 miles south of the border - and there have been some "bad press" about Tiajuana (drug cartel gunfights) so I decided a bus tour might be more reliable and with less stress, than driving with my own car. Our friend though drove to Tiajuana a few weeks before and did not have any problems.
The tour was about $75 (COACH AMERICA + lunch and margarita included), and this can be booked on-line with some $5 discounts sometimes, but I just decided to book through Expedia since I felt comfortable booking through them with my elite status. The tour of course includes hotel pick-up but we were not staying in a San Diego hotel, but we just gave them the city where we were staying and they told us where to wait. In our case, we were in Chula Vista and they had us go to the 24th St station (22nd St and Wilson) trolley station in National City. Parking free at station. But if you at the Harbour place departure area (8-830 AM), the parking there is about $15.
The big bus with COACH AMERICA Sign was prompt at 7 AM. Our nice driver and guide GREG is white but lived in Mexico himself. Very jovial and guided us well through the tour which stopped first at Rosarito, then Ensenada and then Mexico.
There was a lady who decided to be left in Rosarito and she just spent the day there at the beach hotel and had manicure/pedicure and the bus returned for her later (it was $24 cheaper). Also, they also have tours which covers only Tijuana.
Overall, a great idea to go here with a bus tour, which also included a nice lunch (yummy selection of fish with mango sauce, fried squid or steak...) + a free small margarita in Ensenada
I traveled back to San Diego in April 2006 for a Neurology Conference. This time since I was with my husband and friends, I decided I had to make it over to Tijuana to see what all the hype was about and I thought I could find some good deals on silver and leather goods. However, once you get there you just want to come back home. Basically we took the trolley all the way to Tijuana which from San Diego is about a half hour trip. You then walk from the trolley over a bridge that goes over the freeway into Tijuana. You aren't even checked at the border by anyone which means no stamp in your passport (much to my dismay). As soon as you get into Mexico, you see how poverty stricken these people are compared to the well off San Diego residents. Everywhere you walk you are approached by dirty faced little kids trying to sell you gum and trinkets. It reminded me alot of the little panhandlers in Cambodia. Then Tijuana basically for us consisted of one long street with many shops, bars, and strip joints. Much of what was for sell on this street was way overpriced and poor quality. My friends and I spent literally maybe an hour in Tijuana and those in our group who were from Europe actually felt afraid. Us Detroiters weren't scared at all but take that with a grain of salt seeing that Detroit has one of the highest crime rates of all the cities in the United States.
Oh, TJ. A place for those who are not quite old enough to legally drink. Hoardes of them flock to TJ in order to get blitz beyond belief! Technically, it's in Mexico and while it's not authentic, you'll know you're not in the States the moment you cross the border at San Ysidro.
for all of you shopping fanatics...this is a must! if you have ever been to a third world country then you will know how to deal with the shopping. BARGAIN and BARTER!!! but the experience is not for the faint at heart. some people find tijuana dirty...to me it was not as bad as i was led to believe. the kids begging on the side of the walkways is hard to take...but...i enjoyed my time there and found some nice things at great prices...be forwarned about the pixs i have attached...not a pleasant walk into Mexico...and getting back into the USA takes a long time but it is worth it.
Rosarito is a small, ocean-side town about 20 min. south of the Tijuana border. The beach is nice, but ouch! is the water cold! There are many small hotels and 2 or 3 big ones. My preference is the Rosarito Beach Hotel, it has a 2 nice pools, restaurants, shops and a great spa for massages and such. The weather is warm in the summer and there are lots of activities on the beach such as: concerts, volleyball tournaments, surf contests, etc. And, for the best Mexican-style lobster you will ever taste I highly recommend you travel about 15 more min. south of Rosarito to an even smaller town called Puerto Nuevo. The specialty of the town is Lobster and of course the side choices are beans and rice with home-made flour tortillas! The food is DEVINE, the service is great and the prices are very inexpensive. Oh--one more thing...there are live mariachi bands walking through the town streets playing authentic mexican music.
Tijuana has a lot to offer. One of my favorite places is called "La Cervezeria de Tijuana". The beer is good, and there are a lot of typical mexican appetizers available. The "queso fundido" is delicious. Then, there's the Bull fights that take place every other Sunday. The crowd is always very lively. Good clubs to visit south of the border are Baby Rock, Frog's or Tangaloo; they're all a good time and none close before 5 in the a.m. A popular place for tourist is "Avenida Revolucion". There are tons of bars and street vendors, you'll see indigenous women set up on the sidewalk selling their home-made blankets, braceletes, etc. Just be careful there is a lot of crime in the area. Beware of hustlers. A must in Tijuana is eating @ a street-side taco stand. I often cross the border just to go eat tacos at "Tacos el Guero"...so good.
For an evening, we took the train just downtown, and went South down to the Mexican border (17 miles) where we took off. We crossed the border on foot to Tijuana, where countless street vendors were waiting for the tourists with souvenirs of all kind : maracas, chest and checkers game in alabaster, jewelry, pottery, nik-naks, etc...
A bus could take us to downtown Tijuana. You can tell that this town lives from the handouts of daily tourists from San Diego. Cheap booze (tequila for less than $3), always the same souvenirs in every shops, as you walk on the sideways, you are asked every 10 feet if you want a cab back to the border... pretty annoying. You pass the border back to the states like through a carrousel, they don’t even bother you with your purchases. Of course, they check if you are not a Mexican or if you have one hidden in your bag.
Go to Tijuana and have a hell of a time! Watch out for children trying to pick pocket you when you walk back across the border. We were fortunate enough to meet some future Latina singers. Jen striking the pose!
this is what you first see when you get into tijuana....after that it gets to be crowded streets with lots of vendors...ran out of film so couldn't take many pixs
Tijuana is only 12 miles south of San Diego. You can easily drive or take a bus from San Diego to the border, then walk across for a spot of shopping.
A little chaotic, the border lets people in an out like a colander... Make sure you have a passport before you head to San Ysidro.