Is Tijuana safe?

When we talk about Tijuana, the first question that comes up is: “Is Tijuana safe for tourists?” According to the US Department of State, 1.5 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico. It is the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers.

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business. More than 150,000 people cross to this side of the border every day.  The government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations.

Tijuana has some problematic parts. But, it is absolutely possible to have an amazing, low-risk trip to the country. The trick is knowing where to go and where not to.

Security conditions vary throughout the area. Crime varies widely depending upon the location.

There has been some drug-related trouble in Tijuana. Also, courtesy of the number of drunk tourists, there are opportunist crimes too.

Travel Advisory

Check the official Tijuana travel advisory websites. Do this for more than one country, United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada to name a few.

United Kingdom: Take precautions in the state of Baja California, including Tijuana. There has been a rise in drug-related crime in Baja California Sur, including Los Cabos. You should take extra care when travelling to these areas.

United States of America: Criminal activity and violence remain a primary concern. Most of these homicides appeared to be targeted. Turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in lawlessness in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.

Due to poor cellular service and hazardous road conditions, U.S. government employees are advised to travel on Highway 2D.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Baja California. This includes tourist areas in Ensenada, Rosarito, and Tijuana. Source: U.S. Department of State.
Things to avoid in Tijuana

Points to Keep in Mind

  • Try to restrict your visit to safer neighborhoods.
  • If you visit a less safe area, stick to the tourist areas, Zona Centro and Avenida Revolucion.
  • Stay alert during your entire time in Tijuana. Ask for local safety advice and keep up to date on the news.
  • Visitors are advised to avoid traveling after dark. Do not take remote roads or throughways that are not patrolled by police.
  • Travelers should exercise caution. Avoid going out alone at night. Use toll (cuota) roads rather than the less secure “free” (libre) roads.
  • Public protests occur for economic and political reasons. They are typically peaceful. There is an ever-present risk of a peaceful protest turning violent. Travelers are always encouraged to avoid protest activity.
  • Be careful of hailing a cab from the street. Be very sure, that it has actual taxi license plates. The number painted on the bodywork should match the plates. Look for a postcard-sized ID paper (called the tarjetón). It should be displayed visibly inside the cab. Ensure that the driver matches the photo. In case of discrepancy, take another cab.
  • If you have a smartphone or device, order a cab via Easy Taxi or Uber.
  • It is better to enroll in safety programs like Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP). It helps you receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Know exactly where you’re going so you don’t end up straying into an unsafe area.
  • Just be aware of your surroundings. Like any big city, there is always crime.
  • Try not to flash your cash around. Do not wear expensive jewelry.
  • Do not do anything you would not do back home.
  • Useful information on medical emergencies abroad is provided in the  “Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad”. This is available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.
A good tip from the UK Foreign Office: “Be discreet about discussing your financial or business affairs in places where you may be overheard by others.”

Important Emergency Numbers

  • Emergency Services: 911.
  • Red Cross (Cruz Roja) Ambulance: 608-6700
  • Helpline to report crime: 1-866-201-5060

For any further information, please visit the US Department of State website. Keeping the above pointers in mind, one can have a safe Tijuana trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to reach Tijuana?

Cross the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro.

It is only 15 miles from downtown San Diego to the border crossing. If you plan to go to Mexico by automobile, it’s easier to use the Pedwest crossing. This is a pedestrian-only crossing that has a paid parking area nearby.

Pedwest is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for going south into Tijuana and 24 hours a day for crossing north into the U.S.

You can also take the San Diego Trolley to the US/Mexico border. You can walk across the border from the last trolley stop.

Tijuana also has an international airport. It is the best-connected airport after Mexico City airport in Mexico.

What are the places to avoid In Tijuana?

Avoid the eastern part of town. Most crimes occur in that area. The first street is Zona Norte, and its notorious area is Calle Coahuila.
Also avoid El Florido, Murua, Mariano Matamoros areas.

Places to Avoid in Tijuana

Calle Coahuila is Tijuana’s notorious red light district. There are go-go bars, dance halls, and inexpensive food vendors.
Even the streets themselves may be something of a danger. Deep cracks within the concrete sidewalks have been reported to cause tripping hazards. Locals characterize it as dangerous for tourists.

Is tap water safe to drink?

Although, it is said that tap water is safe to drink, it is better to avoid. Stick to drinking bottled water. Many restaurants also serve purified water.

Is Tijuana safe for families?

Generally speaking, yes it is safe for families. Try using Buddy System; always go out in a group of known people. Inform someone when you leave a place.

Where to eat in Tijuana?

Avoid eating from local stalls. If you really want to eat locally, eat at the busiest stalls.

Is the use of credit card safe?

  • Carry those credit cards and documents necessary during your visit.
  • Exercise caution when utilizing cards in ATMs or dubious locales.
  • If travelers choose to use credit cards, they should regularly check their account status to ensure its integrity.
  • Try to use ATMs in bank branches during business hours.
  • If you see a suspicious bag or device in or around an ATM, stop what you are doing, leave the area. Report the suspicious package to the authorities.

What is a virtual kidnapping?

Beware of virtual kidnapping. It is when a victim is not kidnapped, but ransom is demanded.

To reduce the likelihood of receiving a virtual kidnapping call:

  • Answer the phone with “hello.”
  • Make the other person ask for you by name.
  • Know the details of your family’s travel and location (where they are supposed to be, who they are supposed to be with, etc.), and contact information (landline and cell phone numbers).
  • Never provide personal information to someone who calls or approaches you.
  • Do not post personal information on social networking sites.

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