Is Tijuana safe? I recently traveled to Tijuana Mexico alone and in this post, I will share all my personal experiences with you. See my Tijuana travel guide if you want to see my trip recommendations. But if you want to know what’s it like to travel to Tijuana alone, read on!
📮 Dear Trisha: back in 2014, one of my friends recommended your solo travel blog. I was very impressed how you’ve traveled the world solo so I followed your journey. Fast forward to 2018, I learned that you moved to Mexico and I couldn’t be happier!
I live in San Diego, California and always wanted to explore Mexico. I just don’t know if it’s possible to do by myself. As you know, even if we are near TJ, it still gets a bad press when it comes to safety.
I know that you are always honest abot safety so I am writing to you today hoping you will read this and respond! Thank you so much for helping people like me travel the world solo. You really are an inspiration and I want to have the life you live!Jack Washington, United States
I love getting messages from male travelers like you as my website has the reputation that I only write for female travelers. I rebranded myself a few years back to solo travel from solo female travel so I am glad you’re picking up my content!
I know that Tijuana Mexico gets a lot of bad press that’s why I made it a goal to visit it myself and tell my own stories. I did not expect to love Tijuana (not kidding, it’s one of the best cities I’ve visited!) so in this post, I will share all my personal experiences with you.
As always, I remind readers of this blog that safety is subjective and personal so I hope you understand that what I experienced in Tijuana is not necessarily what you will experience.
Let’s learn from each other! This time, I will share my experiences about Tijuana but I hope that after your trip, we can chat and compare notes. Good luck, and let me know if I can help you with anything!
🗺️ Tijuana Mexico Map
🚫 Is Tijuana safe?
Yes and no. First, I want to reiterate that I am already living in Mexico as a foreigner. Which absolutely means that I live and breathe Mexican culture. I am also fluent in Spanish so these factors are very important when it comes to traveling to Tijuana alone.
I did not feel unsafe in Tijuana. I also didn’t find it hard to talk to people and make friends (especially since I am a solo traveler). Later on, you will read more stories on this post about how people looked at me in TJ when I was asking about them regarding safety.
But then again, I make it to a point to see facts and figures on the Internet (especially the US state department website) which I am not saying is unreliable but you know, I always just have a different experience regarding the certain city in Mexico that I am visiting.
According to figures, with over 1.3 million residents, TJ is one of the largest cities in Mexico and easily accessible from Southern California.
Like any major city, Tijuana does have its share of crime. However, with increased security measures and better law enforcement efforts, the overall crime rate has decreased in recent years.
According to statistics from 2019, there were approximately 31 homicides per 100,000 people in Tijuana – a significant decrease from previous years.
So what does this mean for tourists? I can’t answer this for you but I am only here to share with you what happened when I traveled to Tijuana alone. And it’s not a negative story nor a bad experience!
🏖️ What is Tijuana Mexico known for?
Tijuana, Mexico is a vibrant city full of culture, history, and delicious food. This bustling border town is known for many things, including its infamous nightlife scene, street tacos that will knock your socks off, and its unique blend of Mexican and American cultures.
One of the most recognizable features of Tijuana is its lively nightlife scene. From the popular dance clubs in Zona Río to the countless bars and cantinas on Avenida Revolución, I was very impressed to see how lively everything is – no wonder young people from Southern California always choose to do their Spring Break parties here.
But Tijuana’s not just about partying; it’s also known for street food. I even came across one stand called pupusa, a very popular street food from El Salvador.
That’s when I learned and realized that everyone is in Tijuana. There are even tourists and expats of African descent. I didn’t expect TJ to be that diverse!
✈️ Why I traveled alone to Tijuana Mexico
Given the facts and figures about crime rates in Tijuana, you are probably wondering why I traveled to TJ by myself.
The truth is, I feel confident going to TJ not only because I am already a Mexican resident, but I also have friends in Tijuana.
This always gives me the encouraging factor in many places in the world that I visited: if I know someone who’s there, then that’s the only information I need to believe in.
I met this friend in TJ during the World Cup 2014 in Brazil so we already built our friendship over the years. I am 100% sure that he will not tell me to go to TJ if it is unsafe.
I know this because there are many friends and colleagues who warned me about rural Iraq and I also planned my trip with locals in one year Middle East travel stint.
People, specially those you meet along the road will always be honest if you should go to a certain place or not (given they have the experience in that place).
Anyway, TJ friend was one of my motivating factors to visit and I was also on a 3-week Baja California road trip. I drove from my home in Los Cabos all the way to Tijuana (and back) but that’s another story!
🧭 I CUSTOMIZE TIJUANA TOURS!
You can get in touch with me and we can plan your trip to Tijuana! You don’t necessarily have to be a solo traveler: my travel clients range from couples to families traveling with kids! Send an e-mail to [email protected] or call my office at +52 473 171 5259 to get a quote.
💃 Solo travel experiences in Tijuana Mexico
Whenever I asked locals, “is Tijuana safe?”…..
Everyone looked at me differently when I asked them, “is Tijuana safe? Can I walk alone at night?” I have a lot of those filmed on my Youtube channel, and I always get the same response: “yes miss, it is OK and safe.”
I love chatting with Uber drivers since they always give me tips on the best places where to eat. As you now, food is always the main goal of my travels, and I find driver recommendations very unique.
Whenever I switched areas in Tijuana, I always asked the hotel receptionist the same question because I learned that each neighborhood anywhere in the world that it’s not the same.
The receptionist will always say “yes it is safe.” But of course, there are many areas to avoid in TJ…
I walked at night
Not necessarily alone but I was on a date one night (with a foreigner) and we decided to walk together to our hotels.
Of course, before heading out of the restaurant, I asked the waiter if it’s OK to walk to destination X (where my hotel was located), and as usual, he said YES again.
Anyway, my date and I walked alone in a non-popular area in Tijuana. I was staying in City Express Otay, which is not in the center of Tijuana.
It was about past 11:00 PM and the streets were well-lit. Many people were walking and waiting at the bus stops. There were so many cars even if it was late.
I did that again by myself and I concluded that some areas of TJ are OK to walk at night.
Everyone was speaking English
Because of its close proximity to San Diego, California, many people in Tijuana speak English. The waiters’ English proficiency is so much like a native speaker.
Though it was NOT really surprising to know that locals can speak good English in Tijuana, I was just surprised how even if I speak with them in Spanish, they will respond and continue the conversation in English. Even the street vendors speak English!!!
With this, rest assured that you don’t have to speak Spanish when you travel to TJ but it still helps to have basic Spanish skills.
Street food is amazing!!!
As you all know, the bulk of my travels is very food-forward. From living in Mexico, I am already extremely familiar about Mexican food but each city has a distinct cuisine.
Tijuana’s streets are lined with food carts and stalls selling some of the most delicious and unique dishes you probably never heard about.
One of the most popular street foods in Tijuana is the fish taco. You can find them all over the city, but some of the best are said to be from Mariscos El Mazateno or Los Originales Tacos de Pescado.
Another must-try dish is the quesataco, a cheesy taco filled with meat or veggies. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some chapulines (grasshoppers) sprinkled on top of your tacos for an added crunch!
It is also very notable how there is every type of food in Tijuana. Literally EVERYTHING, I don’t even need to enumerate them!
The Chinese culture in Northern Mexico is something new to me
Chinese food in Mexico is not easy to find. You can only find it in Mexico City where there is a Chinatown. But for the rest of the country, Chinese food is just so-so. I know this because I am Asian and food is important for us growing up.
Chinese immigrants came to Tijuana in the early 1900s to escape the harsh discrimination they faced in the United States.
These pioneers quickly established themselves as entrepreneurs, opening up restaurants and stores throughout downtown Tijuana. Soon, they became an integral part of the city’s bustling culture and economy.
As time went on, more and more Chinese immigrants made their way to Tijuana, bringing with them their rich cultural traditions which melded seamlessly with those of Mexico.
Today, the influence of this historical community can still be seen throughout Tijuana’s architecture and cuisine- from the colorful pagodas that dot the skyline to popular dishes like chow mein tacos!
Tijuana is the birthplace of caesar salad
Tijuana is home to the world-famous Caesar salad. That’s right! In 1924, Caesar Cardini created this famous dish in Tijuana, and the city has been proud of it ever since.
The menu at Caesar’s Restaurant features traditional Mexican cuisine with a modern twist. Guests can indulge in classic dishes like enchiladas and tacos or try one of their signature cocktails made with fresh ingredients.
Don’t forget to order their famous Caesar Salad! Made tableside with fresh romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and a tangy dressing that will have your taste buds begging for more.
Not only is the food exceptional at Caesar’s Restaurant but so is the atmosphere.
There’s a street dedicated to piñatas
Located just minutes from the main tourist area, Piñata Alley is a colorful and lively street filled with shops selling handmade piñatas of every shape and size.
You’ll find it here whether you’re searching for a traditional donkey or something more unconventional like a unicorn or superhero.
The vendors are friendly and love to interact with visitors, often sharing stories about the history behind their craft.
But that’s not all – Piñata Alley also boasts an array of food stalls serving up delicious local cuisine such as tacos al pastor, elote (grilled corn), churros, and aguas frescas (fruit drinks).
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There’s also this thing about donkeys….
I’m all for entertainment, but I am not one to tolerate animal-related tours that are not sustainable. In Avenida Revolution, there are zonkeys, which is a cross between a donkey and a zebra.
Zonkeys have become such an iconic symbol of Tijuana that the city even has a statue dedicated to them in its main square.
They’re just sitting there with costumes for photo opportunities for tourists. with their colorful saddles and sombreros, it’s hard not to stop and take notice.
I approached one of the zonkeys and asked the owner what it was all about. Of course, I didn’t ask them if it’s sustainable because we know very well that people don’t really know what that means, especially those who involve themselves with animal tourism.
I’m saying you will see them everywhere, but it’s up to you whether to participate in this tourism or not.
Seeing San Diego from the Tijuana border
One of the most interesting places that I visited in Tijuana is the Playas de Tijuana which is also the border to San Diego.
Here, you will see many artworks and murals that depict the border culture and US-Mexico relations. As you can see in all the photos here, the border in TJ is heavily barricaded and you will see it in the entire city.
You will also find stories of immigration (both happy and sad). Everything about the border is in Playas de Tijuana! It’s not that close to the center (you need to take an Uber) but it is really worth seeing.
✨ Tijuana Mexico travel and safety tips
Connect with me, and I’ll introduce you to friends!
As I said, I have so many friends in Tijuana so if you plan to go here alone and are interested to meet people, just send me a message on Instagram or Tiktok: and I will introduce you to super cool people in TJ!
Do not buy drugs at all costs
Some of you may be even traveling to Tijuana Mexico to party because it’s cheaper than LA or San Diego (i.e. bachelorette party), but please, do not involve yourselves in drugs.
From living in Mexico, I’ve shared this tip in almost all my posts: you will only get in trouble in Mexico if you buy drugs. If you are just a tourist spending money on touristy things, then no one cares about you.
In this case, especially with Tijuana which gets so much bad press, it is better that no one cares about you. In order to be out of that radar, avoid buying drugs at all costs.
Uber works in Tijuana
Uber works in Tijuana and it is the cheapest form of transportation. Don’t worry, it is safe too! Remember the story where I ask all the drivers where they eat? That’s Uber, and I always felt safe!
While rates vary depending on your destination and the time of day, you can generally expect to pay around $5-10 USD for a short ride within the city center.
Longer trips may cost upwards of $20-30 USD, but even these fares are well worth it for the incredible sights and experiences that await.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to get around Tijuana – from buses to rental cars – but none quite match the convenience and comfort of an Uber ride.
Tijuana is cheaper than Southern US
For backpackers and solo travelers, you can find hostel beds in Tijuana for as low as $10 USD per night. These options may not offer much privacy or luxury, but they’re perfect for travelers on a tight budget.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, plenty of mid-range hotels are available with prices ranging from $30 to $70 USD per night. These hotels often come equipped with amenities such as free Wi-Fi and breakfast included in your stay.
You can find street vendors selling tacos for as little as $1 each! If you’re looking for something more substantial, try a torta – a Mexican sandwich filled with meat, cheese, avocado, and other toppings – which usually costs around $3-4 USD.
In any case, you can travel Tijuana on a daily budget of $85 USD.
⁉️ Tijuana Mexico FAQ
🇲🇽 Tijuana Mexico Travel Planning
🚑 Do I need insurance to travel to Tijuana Mexico?
Yes, you do! This is the number one requirement when traveling to Mexico. I use SafetyWing and I only pay $40 USD per month for my digital nomad travel insurance!
🛏️ Where can I find cheap hotels in Tijuana Mexico?
Budget travelers, use Hostelworld when looking for accommodations in Mexico. A bed in a hostel dorm starts at $18 USD per night. Booking.com is best for boutique hotels and mid-range travelers.