How to Park for Free at the Tijuana Border

by wheretheroadforks

The cost of Tijuana border parking is ridiculous. In this guide, I explain how you can avoid the expensive pay lots and park for free at the Tijuana border. The cheapest border parking costs around $7 for 8 hours during the week if there is space available. I have heard of people being charged up to $40 a day during busy weekends. There are 2 ways to avoid these expensive pay lots.

If You are Staying in Tijuana for 24 Hours or Less

If you don’t want to pay to park, and you are just staying in Tijuana for the day, you can park your car at a trolley station ride the trolley to the border. I usually use the Palomar or Palm trolley station in Chula Vista to do this. Both stations have big, secure lots that allow you to park for 24 hours free of charge. The only catch is that you will have to take the trolley to San Ysidro where you cross the border. Trolley tickets cost $6 round trip.

If You are Staying in Tijuana for More Than 24 Hours

If you are staying for more than 24 hours, you can find free street parking in residential neighborhoods near the trolley stations. I recommend you drive to Palomar trolley station in Chula Vista to do this. After exiting the freeway, you can take a right at the first light. This is Industrial Blvd. Take another right at the roundabout. You can park on this street for free.

I have parked here for up to a week at a time without any problems. From here it is just a short walk to the trolley station. You’ll still have to pay $6 round trip for the trolley to San Ysidro but this is a lot better than $20-30 per day paying for parking.

Tijuana Border Crossing

Waiting to cross back to the U.S.

If you want to avoid parking altogether, you can always take the bus: For more info, check out my step-by-step guide: How to Travel to Tijuana by Greyhound Bus.

Tijuana Border Parking Pay Lot Recommendations

The main reason to park in a pay lot is convenience. Your car is right across the border and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of taking the trolley. You can usually find parking for around $1 per hour during the day. The catch is the lots have a minimum of $9-$10. Of course, you’ll pay significantly more for overnight, weekend, or holiday border parking. A couple of the better pay lots include:

  • International Parking- This is the cheapest lot. It’s located behind the Jack in the Box across the street from the Say Ysidro Trolley station. They charge $7 for 8 hours, $14 for 8-16 hours, and $21 for 16-24 hours. Unfortunately, this place gets pretty bad reviews. They seem to have problems with security issues.
  • Border Station Parking- This lot costs a bit more but seems to offer better security. It also gets decent reviews. They charge $9 for 10 hours Monday-Thursday and $18 for 10 hours Friday-Sunday. They also offer shuttle service to Tijuana. 

I don’t have any affiliation with either of these lots. I have a couple of friends who drive to Tijuana regularly and recommended these lots to me. If you find a better deal, comment below!

Parking in Tijuana

One other inexpensive parking option is to drive across the border and park in Tijuana. For more info on driving to and around Tijuana, check out my step-by-step guide: How to Drive to Tijuana. Here, I discuss Mexican auto insurance, the border crossing, driving in Tijuana, and more. 

Travel Insurance

One thing to remember when visiting Tijuana is that your US health insurance most likely won’t cover you while you’re in Mexico. You may want to consider purchasing travel insurance for your trip. I like World Nomads. They can cover you in the event of theft, injury, or medical emergency. You can also check out my travel insurance page.

If you end up falling in love with Tijuana and want to move there like I did, check out my guide: Moving to Tijuana as an American.

More Tijuana guides from Where The Road Forks

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, including links from the Amazon Serivices LLC Associates Program. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. I only recommend products and services that I use and know. Thank you for reading!

10 comments

Kirstie July 17, 2019 - 10:19 am

This is really helpful, thank you! I’m heading to Tijuana in a few weeks for a wedding and have been trying to figure out how to take the trolley to the border, but all I’ve been finding is self-promotional information. Yay for travel bloggers!

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wheretheroadforks July 17, 2019 - 11:18 am

Glad you found the info useful. Enjoy your trip to TJ!

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Jeffrey Brian September 5, 2019 - 3:58 pm

Just an update: The trolley is now $6.00 for a day pass.

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Terry October 8, 2019 - 3:11 pm

Your information is wonderful!. Thank you so much.

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Roger Reed December 23, 2019 - 11:28 pm

Great information. Unfortunately I had to learn all of the above the hard way because I started going to Tijuana regularly 3 years ago. I have to agree that Palm Ave. trolley station is the best option. Plenty of parking, regular police patrols and easy access to banks, stores, Walmart and etc…. I keep a valid compass pass in my wallet so I can always hop on the trolley. If I drive down and stay more than a day I just cross every day, run errands, pickup items, go to the bank and then park the car in a different spot. I have done this for a week without any issues. I did find out from MTS that if you want to park for more than 24 hours you can get a day pass for the car for $6 a day with the first 24 hours being free so you don’t have to cross at all. The parking lots across from the Ped West crossing is a rip off. It is expensive. I once got there 20 minutes past the 11am cut off and they charged me an additional $26 day fee. Beyer Blvd. is also a good option because from there you can catch the trolley to the old crossing point or the bus right to the Ped West entry. I believe the bus is $2.25 and the trolley is $2.50 each way. Both FlixBus and ACN have a bus line that goes from as far north as Sacramento to the border at San Ysidro behind McDonald’s and back again. ACN is always the same price. Flixbus is much cheaper but requires an hour or two delay in Los Angeles. I have taken Greyhound many times but the delays, high cost and buses breaking down stopped me.

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wheretheroadforks December 26, 2019 - 2:30 pm

Great tip about the MTS parking pass! I didn’t know about that. Even with the extra cost of taking the trolley, it’s cheaper to park at one of the stops than pay to park at the border. I usually take Greyhound these days. I’ll have to try Flixbus sometime.

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Anthony January 5, 2020 - 8:18 am

Great information!
I will be going to Tijuana for the first time from Long Beach. I have been searching for a place to park my car and how to cross the border. Your info and tips regarding the free street parking on Industrial Blvd. and taking the trolley are very helpful. Thank you so much.

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wheretheroadforks January 5, 2020 - 10:36 pm

Glad you found the info useful. Have a great trip to TJ!

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Sam February 5, 2020 - 12:35 pm

Why wouldn’t everyone just use a bike to cross the border to get to their car parked free in the San Diego? You can haul quite a lot with a properly outfitted bike.

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wheretheroadforks February 5, 2020 - 3:25 pm

Sometimes it’s just more convenient to pay to park near the border. Cycling is a great way to get around Tijuana though. It’s also convenient and easy to ride the trolley from San Diego to San Ysidro with a bike.

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