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Tijuana sunset
Tijuana sunset © David Ludwig

Tijuana is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula and an important metropolitan centre in Mexico. A sprawling border town, Tijuana is not suited to everyone's holiday taste, with plenty of noise and frenetic activity. Its location on the American border and proximity to San Diego and other southern Californian cities ensures a steady stream of curious day-trippers and souvenir hunters from up north.

Tijuana's notorious image has now taken a back seat. The sleazy element is still there but the focus has shifted in an effort to clean the town up a bit, and Tijuana has become something of a shopper's delight along with the intense nightlife and non-stop entertainment. There are souvenir stalls, numerous duty-free shopping malls, and markets selling goods from all over Mexico, as well as countless bars, restaurants, and dance clubs. The centre of the activity is the bustling Revolution Boulevard, crowded with shops, bars and restaurants and their pushy touts. Female tourists should avoid entering bars alone, as safety can occasionally be an issue.

Tijuana has some more traditional Mexican attractions as well, including bullfighting and Jai Alai (a Spanish ball court game), but travellers to the city are generally not looking for an authentic Mexican experience so much as a playground south of the border. Tijuana does, however, make a fun starting point for those exploring the Baja California peninsula and the beaches and resorts to the south. While Tijuana has been a popular and safe place in the past, in recent years violence between law enforcement authorities and drug cartels has escalated, particularly along the US-Mexican border. Visitors who still wish to travel to Tijuana are advised to exercise extreme caution and check the safety situation with local authorities and those of their home country.

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