Tijuana was once the world’s most visited city. Today, it looks shabby and almost deserted with western travelers, but yet somehow Tijuana manages to keep an attractive.
Before Las Vegas, Tijuana was an adult playground and glitzy escape for Angelenos, just as was Havana for Miamians. Around 2007, Americans started to feel unsafe to come to Tijuana because of stories of violence and drug cartels. Today, Tijuana is going through a cultural renaissance as well as becoming a Mexican food paradise, but the city still manages to keep its essence.
Most travelers enter Tijuana through the border crossing at San Ysidro, which is reportedly the busiest border in the world. One goes from San Diego, a wealthy and high standing city, to a huge and chaotic town in seconds. The first impression of Tijuana might be shocking for everyone. The moment you enter the moment you start seeing the decadence with kids begging and annoying taxi drivers.
Avenida Revolución is the most famous and iconic avenue in Tijuana, due to its historical background. It was precisely here where American tourists have come to eat, drink and find illicit amusements. It’s also the birthplace of the Caesar Salad. And it’s where it’s possible to get a picture taken alongside a donkey painted to look like a zebra.
There are lots of bars and tacky strip clubs on Avenida Revolución featuring live music and DJs. Coko Bongo is a popular hotspot which offers open terraces, VIP lounges, and disco dancing. Las Pulgas caters to both tourists and locals, in a 3-floor building full of fun. Just before the Friendship Arch, Premier male stripper bar has a mixed but increasingly gay crowd, karaoke, and a darkroom in back.
Alternatively, there is a small underground bar nested outside Tijuana’s Red Light District. Its stairway will take you down to a chilling and laid back place where it´s possible to smoke marijuana while listening music from the 60’s. One can get there by asking the locals the name of Zacazonapan.
I was a bit sceptic about visiting Tijuana, and even more, since the Mexican drug war broke out. But I have to say it was totally worth it. If you want to get a bit of a culture shock and fun without breaking your pocket head to Tijuana because in Mexico… anything goes!