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Where to Stay in Tijuana
Although Tijuana is situated along the Pacific Coast, it isn’t a beach resort town. Most hotels are located near the center of Tijuana and the U.S.-Mexican border, following the Tijuana River to the southeast. The three main districts in this area are Zona Norte, Zona Centro and Zona Rio.
Closest to the border is Zona Norte, Tijuana’s red light district. It has a few motels, but these are largely connected to the neighborhood’s legal prostitution industry and are generally not recommended for most tourists.
Just to the southeast is Zona Centro, the busiest tourist district and home to Avenida Revolucion, an area packed with popular bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for safe but cheap hotel deals in Tijuana, or if you want to stay in the heart of all the action, look for accommodations here.
Next is Zona Rio, Tijuana’s Central Business District and most upscale neighborhood. Zona Rio is where the Tijuana Cultural Center and the city’s more wholesome attractions can be found, and it is much quieter than the 24-hour party neighborhoods to the northwest.
Tijuana Hotel Tips
Though Tijuana has relatively few hotels for a city its size, it offers a great deal of variety. It would be wise to steer clear of the cheapest accommodations, however.
Mid-range hotels tend to be clean and safe, and can mostly be found near Avenida Revolucion. This can be a noisy area throughout the night, but it offers the best proximity to Tijuana nightlife. Most of these hotels are independent or operated by Mexican hospitality chains.
Luxury hotels, virtually all of which are located in Zona Rio, are the only options for those seeking nice rooms with quiet surroundings. Though generally pricey, deals are available to those who book in advance and inquire about discounts.
Tijuana Hotel Recommendations
Among the fine hotels in Zona Rio, the Camino Real Tijuana stands out for the luxury and comfortable size of its accommodations. Sleek styling, modern furnishings and sharp concierge service are plentiful here, but harder to find in neighborhoods to the north. Camino Real Tijuana is also a great place to stay if you want to sample the city’s incredible cuisine; on-site restaurants are supplemented by several others within walking distance.
Nearby, adjacent to the exclusive Club Campestre de Tijuana golf course, the twin towers of the Grand Hotel Tijuana form a focal point in the city skyline. It’s arguably the most formal and elegant of the Tijuana hotels in terms of style. Amenities like golf course access and poolside cabanas on the rooftop sun deck are unmatched, even in Zona Rio.
If you want to be closer to the hustle and bustle of Zona Centro, the La Villa De Zaragoza Hotel is a smart choice for both its quality and its price. Though short on amenities, the hotel and its parking lot are guarded around the clock. Be sure to make reservations in advance, however, as the property is small and its value is no secret.
An alternative in the same neighborhood with a greater range of amenities is the Fiesta Inn Tijuana Rio Hotel, part of a growing Mexican hospitality chain. Its outdoor swimming pool, sundeck and fitness center add to the hotel’s appeal without significantly adding to its nightly rates.
The easiest and cheapest way to get around in Tijuana, and the way most visitors choose to travel, is by taxi. Taxi cabs are plentiful and very cheap, regardless of whether you pay by peso or U.S. dollar. Throughout town, you’ll see both yellow cabs and white cabs; yellow cabs are slightly more expensive and many of their drivers receive commission from local businesses, so you might have to resist their suggestions to take you to a different destination. The advantage of yellow cabs is that they’re unmetered, and if you’re a savvy negotiator, you may be able to arrange a fare even cheaper than those of the metered white cabs.
Unless you’re planning on traveling farther throughout Mexico, resist renting a vehicle after your flight to Tijuana. Parking in many tourist-friendly parts of the city can be difficult, and there are a few unsavory neighborhoods in which you wouldn’t want to get lost. If you’re flying into San Diego, car rental agencies there often restrict you from crossing the border. Affordable airport shuttles to Tijuana depart regularly throughout the day and night.
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