Crossing the U. S.-Mexico Border into Tijuana

Street Market on Revolution Avenue
••• Veronica Garbutt / Getty Images
  • 01 of 07

    How to Get into Tijuana from San Diego

    Zebra-Striped Donkey in Tijuana
    ••• Zebra-Striped Donkey in Tijuana. ©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to visit Tijuana doesn't have to be an experience belongs in a Worst Travel Blunders video. 

    In fact, it's dead easy if know a few things before you go and take the right stuff with you. 

    These step-by-step directions show you how to cross the US/Mexico border at San Ysidro. There is another crossing at Otay Mesa, but it's not close to the places in Tijuana you will want to go as a visitor.

    You can drive to the border from San Diego or take a bus, but the San Diego Trolley is easier. To find out how simple it is, Check out the step by step directions for the San Diego Trolley.

    If you decide to drive to Tijuana yourself, pay attention as you approach the border to be sure you don't end up in the line for automobile crossing instead of the parking lot.

    Be prepared. Before you take off toward the border, be sure you have identification with you.

    U.S. citizens have always needed a passport and not just an ID or (driver's license to re-enter the...MORE U.S. Check the current requirements at the State Department travel website. Previously, you could enter Mexico without documentation, but at this time, Mexico requires every visitor to show a book-style passport when entering their country.

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  • 02 of 07

    Arriving at the Border

    Walk This Way to the Tijuana Border
    ••• Walk This Way to the Tijuana Border. Betsy Malloy Photography

    This picture shows the arrival location of the San Diego Trolley. The border is straight ahead, but you'll go slightly left to get to it.

    Next to the trolley stop are a few shops and a McDonald's which is a good place for a quick toilet stop before crossing. They charge a small fee to use their facilities.

    When you're ready to go to Tijuana, walk toward the blue building shown in this photo. If you're obsessive about being prepared, check one more time that you have your passport with you. See above for more about that.

    Just past that blue building, you'll see a sign pointing toward the border. Follow the sign and walk up the ramp.

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  • 03 of 07

    Pass Through the Gate

    The US-Mexico Border at Tijuana from the US Side
    ••• The US-Mexico Border at Tijuana from the US Side. Betsy Malloy Photography

    After you pass under the sign that says "Mexico," it's super easy. Just keep walking. It's nearly impossible to get lost.

    You'll go through the building and walk under a covered walkway. The Mexican Immigration Department has a checkpoint inside the building where they will check your passport. They may also charge you for a visa depending on how long you plan to stay. 

    Eventually, you will exit onto the street. That's where things get a little trickier, but don't worry. Just keep reading to find out what to do.

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  • 04 of 07

    Walking Route

    Walking Route from San Ysidro to Revolucion Avenue
    ••• Walking Route from San Ysidro to Revolucion Avenue.

    If you're going to downtown Tijuana, the map above shows the route from the border. It's not quite detailed enough to be helpful in that size, but you can view the larger one here.

    In words, here's what to do:

    After you get past the covered walkway and outside, look for an elevated crosswalk over the highway. It's very close and will be on your right.

    Use the crosswalk to get to the other side of the road. At the bottom of the crosswalk ramp, keep walking straight across Avenida de la Amistad.

    If you want to get a taxi, ignore the yellow ones you see first. They are unregulated and often cheat you — or worse. Instead, keep walking to find white-and-orange Taxi Libre which have regulated fares. Walk to Avenida de la Amistad and look for one.

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  • 05 of 07

    Walk Toward the Tijuana River Bridge

    Tijuana Bridge and Arch
    ••• Tijuana Bridge and Arch. Betsy Malloy Photography

    If you're walking to Avenida de la Revolucion, keep going straight ahead across Avenida de la Amistad and look for the arch in the distance of this photo. It's the easiest-to-find landmark in Tijuana.

    Walk toward the arch, cross Tijuana River bridge, and you'll be almost there.

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  • 06 of 07

    Cross Avenida Negrete

    Crossing Avenida Negrete
    ••• Crossing Avenida Negrete. Betsy Malloy Photography

    From Avenida Negrete, it's only two blocks to Avenida Revolucion. Go straight ahead through the arch.

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  • 07 of 07

    Tijuana Arch Landmark

    The Tijuana Arch
    ••• The Tijuana Arch. Dan Cipolla/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Turn left when you reach the big arch in this photo, and you'll be on Avenida Revolucion, the city's main street. Remember what it looks like. It's the landmark to head back to if you get lost, or when you're ready to go home.

    To find out more about what you can do in Tijuana - and why a do-it-yourself tour may not be the best way to see it, check the Tijuana Visitor Guide.