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.
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.
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
- Is Tijuana Safe? Avoiding Common Scams and Crime
- The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Tijuana
- Inside a Tijuana Bar During an Armed Robbery
- Healthcare in Mexico for Americans: Visiting a Clinic, Going to the Dentist, and Buying Prescriptions in Tijuana
- How to Walk Across the Border to Tijuana
- 29 Incredible Things to do in Tijuana
- Do I Need a Visa to Visit Mexico? The FMM Visitors Permit Explained
- Using Uber in Tijuana