With most of us stuck inside of our homes right now, you are probably dreaming up your next trip out of town just like the rest of us. If you enjoy visiting Mexico, then you may have wondered how safe it is to visit Tijuana.
Tijuana is ranked as the number one most dangerous city in the world. However, I question that statistic after visiting the city myself. I spent three days in the city and Tijuana did not feel much different to me than any other city in Mexico I have ever visited.
Tijuana overall may be as a safe a city to visit as any of the major cities located within the United States. The only difference, Tijuana is located in Mexico. As with any large city, there is going to be crime and some dangerous parts of town. However, my experience in Tijuana was pleasantly surprising.
Crossing the Border
It’s very easy to cross the border near San Diego into Tijuana. You can park your car right by the border and walk across, there is a line for customs which doesn’t usually take too long going into Mexico. Coming back to the US could have a long wait depending on the time of day and day of the week. I would recommend walking across rather than driving your car just to be safer unless you’re driving further into Mexico and are comfortable driving there.
There is going to be violence in any big city. However, it is extremely unlikely that visitors to Tijuana will see or experience violence in any way. For the most part, if you stay out of trouble, trouble will stay away from you. Just be smart and don’t go to areas that don’t seem like they would be safe.
One major problem in any city is pickpocketing. Pick pocketers in Tijuana are about as big of a risk as they would be in New York City, Atlanta, or even Dallas. Any large city with large amounts of tourists is going to have some situations of theft.
There are some things that you can do to protect yourself from pick pocket thieves. First and foremost, never travel with all of your valuables. You would be wise to leave them in your hotel room safe.
Another rule of thumb is to separate your cash. In the event that you are targeted by a thief, having your cash spread out among your person or even among your party is a smart idea. If your wallet is stolen, you will have back up money to help make it the rest of your trip. You might also want to leave some of your cash back in the hotel room. Again, you would be lost if all of your vacation money was stolen at once.
Keep your valuables located close to your body. One common problem in large cities is that bag snatchers will try to take your bags. You are more likely to be targeted for this if you are carrying a bag that is easy to grab. Consider wearing a backpack or even risk looking like a tourist with a fanny pack. Although they might not be fashionable, they have a reputation for deterring theft.
For the most part, Tijuana is a safe place to be. Of course, you can also clearly see that in any large city there are areas of the town that have more risk involved than others. Older parts of towns tend to be less safe than the more upscale parts of a town. Further, there tends to be far less crime that happens in areas where there are tourists.
Staying in the parts of town that are geared toward tourism is a good rule of thumb. After all, what might a tourist need from the residential areas of town anyway? In Tijuana, you generally want to stay away from the northern part of the downtown area. This is considered to be the riskiest area in the city, and although a tourist is not likely to be caught up in the crime, it is still smart to stay away from the areas where crime is more likely to happen.
Contrary to what you might think, nightclubs in Tijuana are safe to visit. In fact, most of the nightlife in the city is packed with tourists. You are not likely to see any major types of crime happening in any area where the tourism is a huge attraction. These areas area also pretty safe with authorities keeping an eye on them.
You have to be on the lookout for scams pretty much anywhere you travel. In fact, you may have noticed that scam artists have even discovered how to target you right inside of your home. Tijuana is not entirely free of scam artists, unfortunately. However, this is usually not a major problem for tourists.
Be sure to have all of your plans laid out in advance. Discuss how you are going to get around and where you will be staying. Be sure to turn down any drinks from a stranger, this is actually a good rule of thumb for your life in general and not simply for when you are in Tijuana.
Public transportation is pretty safe in Tijuana and is a low risk for crime. The largest risk on the cities buses is for petty theft like running into a pick pocketer. You can also catch a cab or Uber for a small fee which is actually a pretty good idea. You may also be surprised at how many places are easy to reach on foot.
For a city that has such a poor reputation regarding its safety, Tijuana seemed to actually a safe place to explore and to stay. In fact, there were no times in my trip that I truly felt like I was in danger, although I did stay away from areas that weren’t very busy and didn’t wander too far at night on my own. In general, Tijuana felt like a pretty safe place to spend a few days and enjoy the amazing restaurants and sights.