Getting There & Departing
Gone are the days when U.S. citizens could merely flash a smile and a driver's license to drive across the border. As of 2009, all travelers attempting to enter the United States, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, by land or sea must have a valid passport or other WHTI-compliant document (such as the new Passport Card and SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, and the U.S. Coast Guard Mariner Document).
Mexican immigration requires that visitors have passports that are valid for at least 6 months. American and Canadian tourists do not require a visa or a tourist card for stays of 72 hours or less within the border zone (20-30km/12-19 miles from the U.S. border). For travel to Mexico beyond the border zone, Americans must be in possession of a tourist card, also called a Tourist Migration Form (FMM). This document is provided by immigration authorities at the country's points of entry. If you enter Mexico by land, and will be going beyond the border zone or staying there more than 72 hours, it is your responsibility to stop at the immigration module located at the border.
By Plane -- The Tijuana Airport (tel. 664/607-8201) is about 8km (5 miles) east of the city. All Mexican airlines (Aeroméxico, Volaris, Interjet, and VivaAerobus.com) fly to Tijuana from points within Mexico. To fly from other countries, you'll fly to San Diego's Lindbergh Field in California (tel. 619/400-2404 in the U.S.; www.san.org), about an hour from Tijuana, which has nonstop and connecting flights from all over the United States.
Official taxis from Tijuana's airport cost 200 to 250 pesos to centro or Zona Río; buy tickets from the booth near the exit. From San Diego's airport, take the 992 bus ($2.25) or a cab (about $10) the 5 minutes to Santa Fe train station and take the Trolley to the border to walk across.
By Car -- To drive to Tijuana from the U.S., take highways I-5 or 805 S. to the Mexican border at San Ysidro. The drive from downtown San Diego takes about 30 minutes, or you can leave your car in a San Ysidro parking lot and walk the 20 minutes to Avenida Revolución.
If you choose to leave your car behind, which may be a wise decision since traffic is challenging, you can take the San Diego Trolley to the San Ysidro border. From there you can follow the signs to walk across the border, or hop one of the buses (tel. 664/685-1470), which are located next to the trolley station. Once you're in Tijuana, it's easy to get around by taxis, which are still relatively safe compared to those in other large cities like Mexico City. Cab fares from the border to downtown average 50 pesos. You can also hire a taxi to Rosarito for about 200 pesos one-way.
By Bus -- Greyhound Bus Lines (tel. 800/231-2222 in the U.S.; www.greyhound.com) offers service nearly 24 hours daily for $13 one-way between San Diego and Tijuana via the San Ysidro border crossing, stopping at Tijuana's Rodriguez airport (TIJ) and ending up at Tijuana's Central de Autobuses, where you can connect to Mexican bus lines for destinations farther down Baja. Mexicoach (tel. 619/428-9517 in the U.S., or 664/685-1470 in Mexico) runs a similar service (hourly, 5am-10pm) between San Ysidro and Tijuana for $4 one-way/$6 round-trip. For $13 one-way/$20 round-trip, it will take you as far as Rosarito. Mexican discount airliner Volaris also runs a shuttle between San Diego's Santa Fe train station and Tijuana airport for passengers; cost is $15.
By Trolley -- From downtown San Diego, you have the option of taking the bright-red Tijuana Trolley (tel. 619/595-4949; www.sdmts.com) headed for San Ysidro and getting off at the last, or San Ysidro, stop. It's simple, quick (about 1 hr. from Old Town San Diego to San Ysidro), and inexpensive; the one-way fare is $2.50. The last trolley leaving for San Ysidro departs downtown San Diego around midnight; the last returning trolley from San Ysidro is at 1am. On Saturday, the trolley runs 24 hours. From the trolley station, just walk over the border.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.