Tijuana/Zona Rio

The Zona Rio is a fashionable middle class Tijuana neighborhood known for its shopping, night clubs, and restaurants.

It is dominated by Paseo de los Heroes, a wide, divided and usually very busy street. The major intersections of Paseo de los Heroes are circuses, each with a large statue of a hero. Lesser heroes appear as busts along the grassy center of the avenue.

As circular intersections are almost unheard of in the US, the Zona Rio has a distinctly foreign look to the American eye, despite the fact that it is only a mile or so from the border. That you seldom see tourists in this zone adds to the sense of being truly abroad.

A visit to the Zona Rio presents a sharp, mostly favorable, contrast to the touristy Zona Centro. Knowing Spanish will be very helpful here, but non-Spanish speakers need not be deterred.

Destinations include the Mercado Hidalgo, a large open farmer's market, the Plaza Rio, a popular shopping mall, and countless restaurants, many of them with excellent reputations.

Get in

One can walk to the Zona Rio from the border in about 30 minutes, without passing through any bad neighborhoods. However, it is not obvious how to do this without experience or a good map. A cab ride should not cost more than $3.


Exhibits at the Tijuana Cultural Center, on the intersections of Paseo de Los Heroes and Avenida Independencia, although most people can guide you how to get there.





The "accommodations" in the "budget" category are migrant houses or hostels operated by NGOs, religious organizations and other charities that are more geared towards meeting the spiritual and physical needs (including feeding & providing shelter) of the migrants from poorer regions of Mexico and Central America working in Tijuana or continuing north to the U.S. than as a "hostel" for the backpacking tourist. Many are located in Colonia Postal north of Rio Tijuana, from Zona Rio. The neighborhood is a shabbier mixed use neighborhood between residential and light industrial use. The 'Ejercito de Salvacion' is located further in Libertad closer to the border and east of the San Ysidro crossing point. Some may let in a backpacker, ask:

Mid Range


Most of the hotels in Zona Rio are in the "Splurge" category and are usually the Mexican and international chain brands. There are a number of hotels lined up along Blvd Aguascaliente north of the country club as well as along Paseo de la Reforma surrounding the Plaza Rio Mall.


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