TRAVEL: How to do Tijuana the right way, with a tour

If you read and watch the news, you’ve heard the message: Tijuana is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, the home to more murders in Mexico than anywhere else in the country, and a place many of us are advised not to go to on our own.

The fine print is that most of the crime is cartel and drug related and that the bad stuff doesn’t usually occur in the tourist sections, which happen to be ultra-colorful, so photogenic and home to some of the best food on the planet.

The last time I went to TJ, I was warned not to run around with my iPhone camera, that it could get me into trouble. And there was so much I wanted to photograph!

Solution: sign up for a group tour led by a local. Nathalie, as I show in the latest episode of #PhotowalksTV, took us to the best parts of Tijuana, where she knew all the shopkeepers and restaurant owners, and she helped me get great shots.

It was the right way to spend a first day in a foreign country. You can see highlights of the tour, which was via AirBNB’s auspices, above. 

AirBNB does more than just rent private rooms; it also offers “Experiences,” as in tours and events led by locals. Seven hours in Rio seeing the top spots for $74; a three-hour pasta making class in Cinque Terre, Italy for $110, an eleven hour Jeep trip to the hot springs of Chile for $220.

Nathalie’s $89 Tijuana tour is billed as a way to “walk and learn” about the busiest border town in the world; five hours of “history, gastronomy, art, and above all the love that Tijuana has for you.”

These “experiences” are a great alternative to the traditional tour: the guide holding a flag above the head, leading 25-30 people down a street, droning on facts as you quickly move from one location to the next. As you’ll see in the video, Nathalie’s tour was more personal—and wait til you see those blue corn tortillas getting made and devoured!

Link to Nathalie’s tour:

Locally, AirBNB offers meditation, cooking and kayaking classes, a food tour in Venice Beach and in Torrance, an opportunity to dress up in a Japanese kimono and pose for photos.



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