Tijuana Warnings and Dangers
Tijuana is a tourist town and thousands of tourists go there without having a serious incident. However, there are warnings to know and things to learn about the dangers in Tijuana to make sure you stay safe.
Drugs of all kinds are readily available in Tijuana. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs bought with a prescription, and prescription drugs bought without a prescription. In Mexico, it is not illegal to carry very small amounts of recreational drugs for personal use.
If you are caught selling drugs or carrying a large amount of them that is still a crime. You will likely have to pay a bribe to the police officer that catches you to avoid going to jail. If the amount is large enough you will go to jail and your family and friends will have to pay an enormous amount to get you out of jail. None of the laws have much impact on drug usage in Tijuana, which is rampant.
The red light district in Tijuana is “Calle Coahuila.” This area is very seedy and rundown, and filled with prostitutes and strip clubs. Don’t go here alone, do not carry much cash or valuables, and do not over drink.
Children will come up to your frequently begging for money and be quite aggressive. The reason for this is that they are working as part of a street gang and they will be beaten if they return without enough money. Some of them have been purposefully disfigured to make better beggars. This is a horrible form of child exploitation, with no good solutions, and no end to this in sight. If you give them money, you may make things worse overall. Most people simply ignore them and push by them.
Drinking the Water and Food from Street Vendors
It is not safe to drink tap water anywhere. Drink purified bottled water only or just drink beer. Be careful of popsicles and drinks sold by street vendors because they are made with tap water. The water in restaurants has to be filtered to be served for customers to drink.
Eating food from street vendors usually is OK, but not always. You will need to have a strong stomach or you might get a case of “Montezuma’s Revenge,” which is serious non-stop, explosive diarrhea. The preparation of the food may be very dirty compared to health safety standards and there is nobody who checks any of the vendors. It is best to avoid them.
Some of the police in Tijuana are criminals. There are also criminals in Tijuana pretending to be police. Neither one will do anything to help. Both kinds will try various ways to get money from you. The monthly pay for a local policeman is about the equivalent of US$100 per month. This is why they all take bribes.
“Police” will stop and frisk you in the bad parts of Tijuana and demand money. They are essentially robbing you. If you resist and do not pay, they will show you a big packet of drugs that they found your pocket and start (pretend but with force) to arrest you. The best thing to do is just to pay them, usually, 100 pesos is enough, which is about US$5.
If you actually really have done something wrong expect to pay 300 pesos (US$15) up to the limit you can withdraw from an ATM machine nearby. The police will watch you withdraw the money from the ATM and be unhappy with less than US$300.
Having an auto accident in Mexico is a very serious situation. The police will arrive. The police will decide who is at fault. They will ask for a bribe and make the person who is at fault pay on the spot for the damages; otherwise, they take you to jail. It is best to use taxis and never drive in Tijuana.
The beaches called “Playas de Tijuana,” are filthy. If you go for a swim, you are swimming in water contaminated with raw sewage. You may sit on a used syringe needle hidden in the sand or get a nasty cut on your foot. Only the poor, desperate locals go to these beaches that literally stink.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in Tijuana.