What is everybudys thoughts on how safe it is to cross the border and visit Tijuana? My wife and I drove up to San Diego from Edmonton Alberta planning to drive into Tijuana (half just so we could say that we drove from Canada to Mexico) and when we checked into a hotel in San Diego we had a Latin American guy tell us that it might be a bad idea to try. We appreciated the words of caution and did'nt mind because San Diego was our favourite city to visit on the whole trip.
I would not drive a vehicle with foreign plates into Mexico at this time. Kidnapping of foreigners for randsom is up I believe I heard 500%. You could still taste what Tijuana has to offer by leaving your car on the American side, and walking thru the pedestrian gates. Once you are on their soil, you could grab one of the many taxi's available to take you to town a few miles away. Stay with the crowds, don't venture off the beaten path, and for God's sake, watch your money closely.
The children have been trained to distract you trying to sell you flowers or candy. They will swarm and tug and pull at your pockets, with you being completely unaware they are actually slipping their small hands into your pockets, and taking everything from keys, wallets and money. Ask me how I know....yep they got me for $300!
Lastly, do not use the pay phones there. Many are wired directly to an offshore company, where a collect call will cost you in excess of $150.
Most, if not all bordertowns = trouble. It's just how it is and how it has been for a long, long time.
Couple that with Navy, USMC, Coast Guard and other presences, and you've got a recipe for trouble.
Now, it's not all doom and gloom. Lots of people hop across the border during the day for some pretty good shopping. You can get a lot of stuff pretty cheap. Alcohol is one, pharmaceuticals is another, and clothing and other type of touristy stuff.
Current conditions being what they are (drug wars) make things more risky.
I stay out of the place, and won't go to Mexico period. Yes, the odds are you can go down and come back just fine....tons of people do it.
Grew up local, had been down many times in my stupid years of youth. I have many bad/horror stories I can tell you of first hand friends that have had terrible situations occur. You are totally vulnerable and without recourse.
Here is one simple story: Friend likes ridding his quad down there. Rides into town for something (food, beer?, something?). Takes a bad spill. The locals run to his aid...........oops.... nope... they run to steal his friggin shoes and leave him there.
Another, when in college I had a friend show up to class looking like he'd been boxing with George Foreman. He's a fluent Spanish speaking mexican guy btw. He was walking down the street and a liquor store was robbed. Cops picked up everyone on the street and to jail they went. Where he met G.Foreman or someone who beat his arse real good (His eye was still swollen half shut 2 days later when he related the story). Told me if he had even $5 on him he probably could have been left alone but he was out of money to give the cops.
Like I said, I have many stories of all kinds of craziness, but those are just a sample of what keeps me outta Mexico now.
I must say even walking across to hit the curio shops is just spinning the chamber on the gun for Russian Roulette. You do it enough times you will get hurt.
There is nothing there in the first place, so don't let the intrigue turn you into a statistic if you are from outta town.
I personally wouldn't drive down there ever, though I know people that do and have but they're usually headed further south into Baja. I've walked across and had no problem going for the day, even walking quite a ways off the beaten path but that was years ago. With the flare up of violence with the drug cartels in the last two years or so I wouldn't do that now either.
My company has a plant in TJ so I go down for the day about 1-2 times per month. We used to drive to the plant but now we park on the US side and they pick us up in a car with BC plates.
If you were to visit I would walk across and get a taxi to see the city by day but be back in the US by night.