Day Trips to the City of Nogales Sonora Mexico
Cross border day trips to Mexico U.S. bordertown Nogales. Nogales, Mexico is small city of 185,000 people in Sonora along the Mexico United States border.
Most people park their cars in Nogales Arizona and walk across the border into Nogales, Mexico. You may not even see any Mexican border police on the Mexican side of the border so entrance into the city is fairly easy.
If you are walking across the border from the United States into Mexico, do not forget your passport, US Passport Card, and/or your alien registration card "green card". You will be required to have such documentation effective June 1, 2009 to cross into the US side of the border. A drivers license will not be acceptable documentation for US Border police. Lack of such items will prolong your ability to cross the border, as you'll be subjected to questioning demanding proof of US citizenship or legal residence status.
Americans can travel up to 12 miles inside Mexico without a tourist vehicle permit. Beyond that distance, or if you intend to stay more than 72 hours in Mexico, a permit is required. Vehicle permits are available at the 21 km mark in the immigration and customs office. Passport, drivers license, and proof of Mexican insurance are required for processing an application for a permit. Permits costs 170 pesos and must be paid to one of the banks listed on the application form.
Generally speaking, U.S. / Canadian auto insurance will not cover you while driving inside of Mexico. If you are simply making a day trip along the border at Nogales, it might be much more of a hassle to bring your car across the border. Insurance issues, and very long waits to cross the border back to the US side are usually pretty good deterrents to just park your car at a more secure location on the US side of the border during the daytime.
Rental cars from the US must have documentation granting authorization to the driver on the rental agreement to bring them across the border into Mexico.
Shuttle buses run from both sides of the border daily. Be aware that US customs will stop and search these shuttle buses for drugs and people attempting to cross the border without paperwork, so expect delays and questioning by US police if drugs are found in an unclaimed suitcase found aboard.
Buses are pretty much the main mode of public transportation within Mexico. There's several busing companies throughout Mexico. Two of the main carriers are Tufesa Auto and Estella Blanca.
Tips on "What to do in Nogales, Mexico"
Most people visit Nogales to buy some inexpensive trinkets, duty-free liquor and tobacco, and take a few photos as proof they walked across the border into Mexico. Along the US / Mexico fence, there's some interesting murals (on the Mexican side of the fence) painted that might be worth a photograph.
Many people in Nogales, Mexico speak some English, you'd be wise to learn some basic Spanish phrases before visiting into Nogales.
Dental work and medical treatment is considerably much less than it is in the US side of the border (about 60% less).
Be very cautious when buying "real" Indian jewelry and rugs at the Curios stores. Fakes are plentiful. Buy only if you think you've negotiated a very cheap price, and don't mind taking a risk that it's most likely a fake.
Walk to Obregon Street (three blocks from Campillo Street) to do your shopping for Mexican items.
Mexican Coca-Cola is a nice treat to pick up to bring back to the USA, as its made with sugar cane rather than corn syrup than typical US Coca-Cola.
Haggling is nearly expected for all purchases in the market, so don't be afraid to make an offer. Just make sure you've looked around and asked for prices before you blindly make a first bid - folks know when someone's looking to buy something as the word spreads quickly.
Haggling over prices is quite common for nearly all commerce; however, haggling is never done in a restaurant/bar or a supermarket (where prices are fixed). In doing such will make you look very silly, and you'll be told quickly that the listed prices are not negotiable.
Nearly most merchants will speak some English (but you'd be smart to learn a little Spanish - so you don't get pegged as a stereotypical Gringo / Gringa), and prefer US Dollars (paper currency - not coins) over Mexican Pesos, so it shouldn't be too hard to engage in commerce if you don't speak much Spanish. Also be smart and carry enough cash for your purchases for the day, as credit cards are not as widely accepted as they are in the US.
Be aware, that you don't want to give a very large US denomination bill for a fairly cheap item (like a $10 or $20 bill for a $5 item) - as a less scrupulous merchant may attempt to walk away with your money to "get change", and you'll have to chase the person down to get your money back.
La Roca is a family owned restaurant featuring Sonoran cuisine. Expect prices to be in the $20 range, but don't try to negotiate with the owner or waiter to get a lower price - haggling typically is conducted nearly everywhere else where commerce is conducted, except in restaurants.
Half a mile from the border you will find one of the best kept secrets in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. El Regis Bar located at the Regis Hotel is an iconic Nogales, Sonora drinking establishment. It is full of history any waiter will gladly explain to you the origins of the actual bar. There is also a VIP room in the back which is reserved exclusively for bullfighters, but any waiter will gladly let you in if you ask nice enough. Be sure to try the Indio beer, which is delicious.
Nogales Mexico Travel Tips - Country Code +52 Area Code 631
Mexican and U.S. Customs offices 1-520-287-1410 are open 24 hours a day for any questions.
- The US State Department has issued travel alerts to most of the border cities along the U.S. / Mexican border.
- The area is prone to flash-flooding during the monsoon season, so keep the weather in mind during your visit.
- Do not advertise wealth, and don't flash cash or credit cards. Remember you are visiting a city that has a significantly high population that is very poor, and you do not want to draw the attention of beggars looking for a handout or thieves looking for an easy mark.
- Never bring firearms or live or spent ammunition across the border into Mexico, doing so will land you into jail very quickly out much sympathy from Mexican authorities.
- Walking around the city of Nogales at night and/or alone is extremely foolish. Use common sense and use the same level of precautions you would normally use in large metropolitan cities to avoid being a victim of crime.
- Be cautious when buying prescription medicine in Mexico, and attempting to import it into the U.S.. Typically you do not need a prescription to purchase medicine in Mexico. Nonetheless, be sure you have a valid doctor's prescription from a U.S. and Mexican doctor, and check ahead with the U.S. Border and Customs if ever in doubt. Attempting to bring prescription drugs into the U.S. without such documentation may get you arrested by U.S. Border police, or at the very least, have your medicine confiscated.
- Never attempt to purchase narcotics such as Valium, Vicodin, or Morphine from a Mexican physician without a legal U.S. and Mexican prescription, in doing so, you will get (and in some cases the vendor who sold the drugs as well) locked up in a Mexican prison for up to 15 years for possession / sale of a controlled substance. If someone is luring you to make such a purchase, don't do it. Always assume it is a setup either by undercover police, or an unscrupulous pharmacist working with a corrupt police officer to extort money from you.
- Drink only bottled water and avoid ice cubes, or bring your own bottled water from the US side of the border if you're worried about getting "Montezuma's Revenge" (or travelers diarrhea). Take standard precautions to minimize the risk of becoming infected by not consuming food or drink from food stalls on the streets.