Mexico Border 3 Bribes in 12 Hours. Mexico is a vast and diverse country with hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, high mountains, small pueblos, and huge cities—in fact it even houses the largest city in the world, Mexico City.
Mexico is an extremely large country and you could easily spend months just traveling through the different regions. Don?t expect the other countries of Central America to be more of the same, because they are not. Each country is distinctively different with its own culture and colorful tradition. Enjoy the differences and respect each country for what it is, a unique expression of humanity. Take some time and talk with the people, you will enjoy what they have to say. This guide will take you down the entire Pacific Coast of Mexico and then through the mountains of Chiapas.
You will experience so many fantastically exquisite places in one trip that you will wonder why you hadn’t taken this trip earlier and once you return you’ll be thinking about when you will do it again.
Border Locations, US-Mexico
The border’s total length is 3,169 km (1,969 miles)—it is the most frequently crossed international border in the world, with about 250 million legal crossings every year. There are several border entry sites between Mexico and the United States (see list below for more info). If you are coming from anywhere in the west, southwest or northwest, the best entry location is Nogales, Arizona. You may also enter at Tijuana or Mexicali.
Once in Baja you have two choices:
- Travel Mex. 2 southeast to Santa Ana and pick-up Mex. 15 for the trip down the Pacific Coast
- Travel the 1,610k down the length of Baja, California and then take a ferry to mainland Mexico at Santa Rosalia, La Paz, or Los Cabos. (Very Recommended).
In general border towns are areas that you want to move through very quickly. I recommend NOT sleeping in border towns—choose a location that will get you to the border crossing early enough in the morning to strategically process your paperwork and that allows you ample time for any ‘problems’ or complications that may arise. Near Nogales I recommend hanging in Tuscan and moving through to Hermosillo or Guaymas after crossing.
If you cross near San Diego I recommend the La Fonda Hotel between Rosarito and Ensenada for a nice leisurely day after crossing.
For the more adventurous I recommend the surf hostel at 4 Casa about five hours further south, just before the town of Punta Colonet south of San Quintin 4 Casas overlooks a beautiful right-hand reef and is a great place to hang with a full kitchen, surfboard rentals, and restaurant for $15 per night (more info in the paid version of this guide).
Immigration & Customs
United States and Canadian citizens need only a Mexican Tourist Card for entry into the country. The paperwork for the Mexican Tourist Card is processed in the immigration office at the customs checkpoint. You must provide the immigration-customs officer with a proof-of-citizenship document. This is a valid passport (photocopies are not accepted).
Mexican Tourist Cards are issued from 90 to 180 days. You need to present this to the customs officer in the customs building (oficina de aduana). The Mexican Tourists Cards are free, however I was told by the official in the immigration office that I must pay $20 for my Mexican Tourist Card.
Driving Through Cities
Most of the roads in Mexico go directly through cities and towns. Once you are in a city you must find your way through the city and on to your next destination. Find a large truck or bus that is transiting through the city and follow it. Trucks and buses move through the city and on to the highway using the most direct route. Thus providing a personal guide out of the city and on to the major highway. Additionally, following large obstructing vehicles through the city provides cover for your gringo…I am a target…license plates and essentially the large trucks hide you from plain view. Obstructed, the city policeman, sipping his cold Corona, can not easily see your vehicle. By the time you pass his perch he rarely notices your smiling gringo face.
Nogales, Arizona-Mex Border
Driving Time: 0 hours
Initially you need to cross the border between the United States and Mexico.
The officials at the border point will most likely look through your vehicle nonchalantly and then send you down the road to the main inspection area which is located outside of town.
The customs building is located about 24k past the main town on the outskirts of Nogales, drive directly out of town and follow the main road towards the city of Guaymas.
The procedures at the other border crossing are very similar and will require much the same type of guidelines, here is a list of all possible border crossing locations:
- San Diego, California (San Ysidro) ? Tijuana, Baja California (San Diego-Tijuana Metro.)
- Otay Mesa, California – Tijuana, Baja California
- Tecate, California – Tecate, Baja California
- Calexico, California – Mexicali, Baja California
- Calexico, California (Eastern border checkpoint) ? Mexicali, Baja California
- Andrade, California – Los Algodones, Baja California
- San Luis, Arizona – San Luis R?o Colorado, Sonora
- Lukeville, Arizona – Sonoita, Sonora
- Sasabe, Arizona – Altar, Sonora
- Nogales, Arizona – Nogales, Sonora
- Naco, Arizona – Naco, Sonora
- Douglas, Arizona – Agua Prieta, Sonora
- Antelope Wells, New Mexico – El Berrendo, Chihuahua
- Columbus, New Mexico – Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua
- Santa Teresa, New Mexico – San Jer?nimo, Chihuahua
- El Paso, Texas – Ciudad Ju?rez, Chihuahua
- Fabens, Texas – Pr?xedis G. Guerrero, Chihuahua
- Presidio, Texas – Ojinaga, Chihuahua
- Heath Canyon, Texas – La Linda, Coahuila (closed)
- Del Rio, Texas – Ciudad Acu?a, Coahuila
- Eagle Pass, Texas – Piedras Negras, Coahuila
- Laredo, Texas – Colombia, Nuevo Le?n
- Laredo, Texas – Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
- Falcon Heights, Texas – Presa Falc?n, Tamaulipas
- Roma, Texas – Ciudad Miguel Alemn, Tamaulipas
- Rio Grande City, Texas – Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas
- Mission, Texas – Reynosa, Tamaulipas (future)
- Hidalgo, Texas – Reynosa, Tamaulipas
- Pharr, Texas – Reynosa, Tamaulipas
- Progreso Lakes, Texas – Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas
- Los Indios, Texas – Matamoros, Tamaulipas
- Brownsville, Texas – Matamoros, Tamaulipas
Detailed Map: POP UP MAP
The regulation in which the officer claimed I had unlawfully broken was that I had in my possession more than two forms of recreational equipment. I was carrying my mountain bike, surfboard and a set of weights. The laws in Mexico are as read by the official, not as stated by the law. The provision on the holy wall stated that travelers may only carry two forms of recreational equipment; thus, travelers that feel threatened by this provision are advised to contact the Mexican embassy before departing the US for further information.
Process your Mexican Tourist Card at the immigration office first and then proceed to the customs office—the two offices are located next to each other but the officials operate separately.
The border checkpoint is not the place to process your documents, you must continue past the town of Nogales, once past the customs checkpoint—follow the signs to Guaymas.
Nogales, Mexican?Guaymas & San Carlos (see map)
Driving Time: 6 hours
Guaymas/San Carlos is a good stopping point for the first night. There are camping facilities in San Carlos and plenty of hotels in Guaymas San Carlos is much smaller than Guaymas and more aesthetically appealing. It is located about 5k before Guaymas. As you enter San Carlos there are several camp sites and trailer parks on both sides of the road with shower facilities and hookups for RV?s.
Don’t forget your bug juice, the mosquitoes in San Carlos are the size of humming birds.
In the previous section daytime driving only is recommended. The following is a description of my nighttime escapade and I provide it as an example of why you should not drive at night:
Because of all the time that I had lost during the aduana fiasco in Nogales, I decided to make some time up and drive at night. Yes, I broke the first rule of driving in Mexico on the first night of my trip—perhaps I was fortunate to learn my lesson early. While driving through the coastal town of Guaymas, at approximately 3:00 am, I was pulled over by three policemen that suggested I had run a stop sign. I knew I was in trouble when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a nice new Chevrolet pickup with police lights and three smiling faces.
If you have ever been pulled over by the police in Mexico you know that most police cars are several decades old and look as if the policemen push-start the vehicles to get to work in the morning. Albeit, when I saw this new truck I figured that I would be the next contributor to that months truck payment.
“Infraction Senor, please show me your documents.”
Though I objected and refuted the point that I had run the stop sign, I wasn’t about to argue with three men with guns on an empty street at 3:00 am. They were quite suggestive that since I had made an error that the Commander, driving of course, must be compensated for the infraction.
The Natural Law Of Propina strikes for the third time in 12 hours.
I went to my special reserves for this payment. (See the section on Helpful Hints in the book for details.
Don’t forget to purchase bug repellent if you plan on camping anywhere along the coast.
If you do drive through Guaymas at night look out for the Chevy police truck and expect a friendly visit with the local welcoming committee.
You may either stay in San Carlos or Guaymas San Carlos is located about 5k off the main highway before you reach Guaymas The road splits about 10k outside of Guaymas, it is well-marked with a large sign pointing the way to San Carlos.
Hotels & Eats
Hotel Fiesta San Carlos
– cost $65
– location: Blvd. Manlio Beltrones Km 8.5
– you get: beachfront rooms, pool, bar
– tel. 226-08-18
– Rosa’s Cantina
– JC’s Cafe (also has internet)
– El Buen Cafe (has vege options)