Tijuana is a bustling city in Mexico known for being the most crossed border in the world. The Mexican border city is located just south of California and is the industrial and financial center of Mexico. It is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula and is considered a cultural metropolis and great influencer of Mexican culture. Downtown Tijuana is the main tourist area since it is filled (for eight blocks) with many shopping opportunities, street food vendors and fun experiences that are all perfect for tourists. The cost of living is relatively low in Tijuana as well, so visitors may be able to make their money stretch a little further by visiting this destination. But, is Tijuana safe to travel to for vacation?
Border Town Experience
The city of Tijuana offers the full border town experience with a cultural mix that is like no other. It has a unique culinary experience that has incorporated Mexican, indigenous, as well as, American influences and gained global attention. Tijuana has many different cultural offerings like lively nightlife and an array of restaurants and bars, thus, it offers a lot to travelers since it is culturally significant. The cultural climate and safety level of Tijuana can be defined by its rich history. After the Mexican-American war (from 1846 -1848), Tijuana became an attractive destination for travelers who wanted to indulge in certain adult activities. During the American Prohibition era (1920 – 1933), due to its proximity to the American border, Tijuana became a place popular for entertainment and liquor.
Travelers will find that Tijuana’s nightlife is still extensive. While the city has plenty of perks to offer travelers, the city has struggled with issues like drug trafficking, violent crimes and illegal immigration. All of these factors have contributed to the safety level of Tijuana, as well as, which areas are the safest.
Safety Level by Neighborhood: Tijuana
Travelers should exercise caution if they plan on visiting Tijuana. Tijuana is one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. The US State Department discourages travelers from visiting the city and advises them to take some precautions if they are planning a visit. To steer clear of danger, travelers should opt to stay in neighborhoods that are considered safe.
Where To Travel
The Zona Rio and Playas de Tijuana areas are the best places to stay and explore in Tijuana. Zona Rio is a modern neighborhood with the best shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It is considered one of the safest areas in Tijuana, Mexico and the city attracts a healthy volume of tourists yearly due to its lively atmosphere and diverse cultural experiences.
Playas de Tijuana is the northwestern beach neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico. This small community is centrally located near the main beach and has plenty of recreational activities for travelers to enjoy like the boardwalk or El Cielo Winery Resort. The boardwalk is a popular stop in Playas de Tijuana that provides a nice path where visitors can feel the ocean breeze.
What Areas To Avoid and Safety Precautions
Travelers should avoid the eastern part of Tijuana due to drug trafficking and violence. Neighborhoods like Sánchez Taboada, Tres de Octubre and Camino Verde are places where travelers are more likely to experience dangerous situations. Tijuana is considered particularly dangerous at night for tourists. Tijuana’s non-tourist areas have the highest rate of danger, which makes it crucial for tourists to stay in metropolitan areas that are well-lit.
Travelers should reconsider travel to Tijuana. If travel is unavoidable, stay in populated tourist areas or take precautions like not walking alone at night and showing off flashy possessions. It is recommended to take extra safeguards while traveling in Tijuana, like carrying pepper spray. While it is illegal to cross the Mexican border with pepper spray or defensive weapons (due to international aviation regulations), it is completely legal for travelers to buy pepper spray while in Mexico. If you have a smartphone or smart watch, consider sharing your location with your loved ones as well.
Another way for travelers to protect themselves is to use Apple AirTags. An AirTag is a device that tracks location, so it is commonly used to keep track of important items like luggage, wallets, or keys. Travelers can use their MacBook, Apple Watch, or other devices to discover the location of their personal belongings that have been tracked by their AirTag. This tracking device makes traveling easier since it allows travelers to have a sense of security, but could potentially be abused. There is a risk that an AirTag can be used to stalk or track tourists, as questionable individuals have been known to casually and inconspicuously drop them in a purse, or luggage or attach one to a car fender. Thankfully, Apple has implemented additional security features that discourage unwanted tracking, like Find My notifications that alert users of unknown devices traveling in one’s vicinity.