I spend a lot of time in Tijuana. I love it there. I get asked a lot of the same questions and give a lot of the same advice to folks so here it is on a handy webpage.
Is Tijuana dangerous?
No more so than most any other place in the world. Yes, there are areas that I recommend being more cautious and aware of your surroundings but that goes for a lot of places worldwide. In fact, right now Mexico has the same “security threat level” (issued by the State Department of the United States) as France and several other first-world nations in Europe…. and that’s a 2.
Can I use US dollars there or do I have to figure out the peso thing?
For first-time visitors, I recommend getting about $20USD in pesos – small bills, like 200p and smaller – for taxis, street eats, and to have some foreign currency in your personal collection. But wverywhere in Tijuana accepts USD. You may get change back in pesos, though! You can sell your pesos back at any one of the cambio/exchange houses on both sides of the border. I don’t recommend using ATMs in TJ for first-timers. Credit cards are accepted at bigger restaurants and the nicer hotels but TJ in general is a cash economy.
While there, you can carry your cash like me and rock this cool wallet from Fossil: https://amzn.to/2Qj2wDL It does have a RFID coating inside so your stuff stays safe.
Do I need a passport to go to TJ? My friend says you don’t have to have one.
Your friend is wrong. You have to have a passport to visit Mexico or any other foreign country. Yes, it’s true that sometimes they don’t check passports when you are crossing in to Mexico but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have one. In fact, you should also have the visitors pass (no, the “free zone” doesn’t exist any longer). While I went ahead and just got the easy-to-carry passport card, if you have the regular passport book, score a cool cover for it. I like these: https://amzn.to/2TMpn9F This also can serve as a wallet for you. Also, Mexico requires you to carry ID on your person at all times. (Surprisingly, this is not the law in the US!)