14 million people cross the border into Baja each year just
to shop most of them savvy Californians who recognize
Baja as the bargain bonanza that it is.
Savings in some categories can run as high as 90% compared
with similar stateside merchandise.
without the lure of great savings, shopping south of the border
is just plain fun, mostly because it isn't anything like the
mall. Vibrant flower sellers and silly, zebra-striped donkeys
turn street corners into a carnival. Bargaining can be a blast
- as long as you know what you're doing. And a frosty midday
margarita seems to be an instant cure for tired feet.
Here's what keeps bringing the bargain hunters back!
For sheer volume, leather tops the list of Baja buys. Jackets,
boots, briefcases, belts, handbags, wallets and virtually
all other quality leather items run about half of stateside
prices. Designer leather rip-offs offer outrageous savings
as well. Home furnishings are excellent deals, as are fine
arts and crafts. The same colorful, unusual and exotic Mexican
artisan works, handmade furniture and home decorations seen
stateside in expensive decorator or import shops can run one-third
to one-half of U.S. prices.
oh-so-expensive prescriptions are sold mostly over the counter
in Mexico and - from Prozac to Premarin, Renova to anti-anxiety
Ativan - most are 30% to 40% less when you buy across the
can't-be-beat buys throughout the border area are sterling
silver; duty-free imports from Europe including name-brand
cosmetics and perfumes; high-quality pottery and gardenware;
woven ware (from baskets and blankets to handmade hammocks
and Zapotec rugs); and, of course, booze.
to head first
For quality, variety and accessibility, Tijuana, Rosarito
and Ensenada are Baja's best shop stops, located five minutes,
20 minutes and 60 minutes, respectively, from the California
border at San Ysidro.
Avenida Revolucion is a 10-minute stroll or a five-minute
cab ride from the border. There you'll find an overwhelming
eight-block strip of stores, stalls, arcades and underground
passageways filled with bargains from all around the globe.
Rosarito's excellent shopping locations can be found along
Boulevard Benito Juarez, the laid-back beach resort's main
street. Shops at the north, center and south areas of town
are walkable in clusters, and free street parking is easy
to find everywhere. The Rosarito Beach Hotel's shopping arcade,
located at the south end of town, has numerous high-quality
shops and art galleries.
large mercado, with almost 100 stalls, is just a short stroll
up the main
street, beginning next to the El Nido restaurant. Immediately
south of town you'll find a miracle mile of pottery, gardenware,
Guadalajara-cement statues and fountains, curios and rug and
blanket weavers in an interesting mix of roadside shops.
main street is also, by far, the best place on the entire
1,000-mile Baja peninsula to buy Mexican furniture. Southwestern,
pigskin, wrought-iron, hacienda, willow, hand-carved and hand-painted
furniture, plus custom pieces, are all made locally. The selection
is great, and specialty shops dot both sides of the street
for the full length of the city.
fastest-growing cruise port, Ensenada's merchandise selection
extensive. To accommodate cruise-ship passengers on regular
two- or three-hour layovers, shopping is conveniently concentrated
along a single street, Boulevard Lopez Mateos. Located just
a block from the waterfront, this eight-block shoppers' strip
runs between Avenida Ruiz at the north end of town to Avenida
Castillo near the riverbed.
of Tijuana's top stores have Ensenada branches on Boulevard
Lopez Mateos. The block between El Rey Sol restaurant and
the Hotel Cortez (Avenidas Blancarte and Alvarado) is the
most upscale, with large duty-free stores, designer rip-off
specialty shops and exclusive sterling and pewter stores.
Most tourist-area shops are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m, seven
days a week, in
Tijuana and Ensenada, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Rosarito.
Some Rosarito shops close on Tuesdays during the winter off-season.
information about Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada can be obtained
from the following Baja tourist offices:
Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau:
011-52-66-831405, -840537 or 840481 or (888)775-2417
Rosarito Convention and Visitors Bureau:
011-52-661-20396 or (800)962-2252
Ensenada State Tourism Office:
011-52-617-23022 or (800)310-9687
Baja California State Tourism Office:
011-52-66-346330, 346918 or 346574