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Old 05-07-2009, 12:01 AM
 
Location: The better side of the Mason-Dixon Line
4,683 posts, read 7,425,765 times
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I might be going to a conference in Phoenix in August and if I go, I am thinking about renting a car and taking one day to drive down to Mexico to see the border. The swine flu should be over by then. I have never been to Mexico before and since Phoenix is close to the border I figure hell, why not you know? Just to say I've been there. If I go its going to be either solo or with 1-2 friends, probably a day after the conference is over.

Which border town is the best option to visit from Phoenix? Is it Nogales or Sassabe? On the map these are the biggest and I have heard of Nogales before from the news. Which is the closest border crossing to Phoenix? Which one has less traffic going to Mexico or coming back? I know the Mexican border towns are not touristy except for Tijuana but it will be a very unique experience and one of the most interesting places I have been to since I have never traveled to a Third WOrld country before. The last time I was in a foreign country at all was 5 years ago in the Bahamas on a cruise. Is the situation with the drug cartels so bad that visitors should not cross onto the Mexican side? Are there places in the American size where visitors can just look into Mexico and take pictures? Is there a lot of crime and violence that spills over into the Arizona side of the border? I mean the stuff that effects visitors and ordinary people since I know illegal immigration is a crime technically. I am from Baltimore and we have a lot of crime here too but I don't know how it compares. While most of the killings take place between gangs in their own neighborhoods, ordinary people here do have to worry about break ins, car jackings, muggings, etc.

I know some Spanish from middle school and high school but is it really true that even on the US side very few people speak fluent English? I have also heard that Mexico has a lot of kidnappings for ransom, so not to sound paranoid but I am Asian American so is that kind of like being white where you can be singled out for kidnapping because people automatically assume you are rich or have rich family or friends who can pay a ransom? Also wondering if there are secure places to park a rental car if we choose to walk across the border?

Within Phoenix (or Tucson which may be on the way to the border) are there many attractions/landmarks worth seeing? The conference will be at the BIltmore Resort which I hear is a landmark. Other things? I get the impression that unlike cities with lots of famous attractions like Las Vegas, LA or Washington DC, Phoenix is more about the overall beauty of the desert and landscape, is that accurate?
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:58 AM
 
Location: Cave Creek, AZ USA
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Depending on which part of Phoenix you're in. it's a good three hour drive to the border. You'd be nuts to take a rental car into Mexico. Border towns are not nice areas.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:08 AM
 
Location: The better side of the Mason-Dixon Line
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Lee View Post
Depending on which part of Phoenix you're in. it's a good three hour drive to the border. You'd be nuts to take a rental car into Mexico. Border towns are not nice areas.
I know some people do walk across and it is a unique experience, like the Mexico you see on TV with the dusty streets and open air markets and old Spanish style buildings. Of course I know i'll go to Cancun and Acapulco sometime in my life but the border is a unique area. Three hours is not bad especially since its the desert scenery which I don't get to experience a lot in these parts. I have been out west in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho in the past and have always enjoyed the desert highways. Here in Maryland and much of the Mid-Atlantic and South the freeways are boring just cutting through forest, or in the cities large strethes are lined with cement noise barriers/walls. Hopefully the swine flu IS totally gone by then.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:20 AM
 
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There are a ton of things to see while in Phoenix. The Zoo, Botanical Gardens (fantastic place!), the mountains (pick one or two), lots of parks, shopping malls, etc...

I strongly suggest not going to Mexico alone. I haven't heard anything bad going on in Nogales lately, never even heard of Sassabee lol. The kidnappings generally involve those in the drug area or illegals, so it's not really much for the general population to worry about (who knows eh).

If you have to take a rental, park on the U.S. side and walk. You can buy a steering wheel lock for around $20 as a deterrent if you really feel it necessary. This will also make sure you leave it as a day trip and are less likely to wander too far from the border. Also, make sure you have your passport as I believe U.S. ID's won't do it alone anymore. Bring your own water. If you buy food, make sure it's hot and cooked all the way through (or bring your own).

The flu is still going around (AZ and Mexico), and affects those with health conditions the worst.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:24 AM
 
Location: Cave Creek, AZ USA
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Swine Flu will be the least of your worries when in bordertowns. I am far more worried about getting killed on my motorcycle everyday than about Swine Flu.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:27 AM
 
Location: Southern Arizona
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The Border Towns are definitely unique, Tom, not quite as quaint and charming as you describe but unique nonetheless.

However, I agree with Rick. Do not even think about driving a Rental Car into Mexico. Also, if you insist on going and decide to walk across, for your own safety, make certain you are back on the American side well before dark.

Good Luck
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:50 AM
 
Location: Yuma, AZ
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I would suggest Los Algodones, Baja California near Yuma. As far as border towns go, it is generally safe, clean and caters to tourists. A local tribe provides secured parking at the border for $5/day. Don't forget that after June 1 you will need a passport/card to return to the U.S.
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:06 AM
 
Location: The better side of the Mason-Dixon Line
4,683 posts, read 7,425,765 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JetSet View Post
I would suggest Los Algodones, Baja California near Yuma. As far as border towns go, it is generally safe, clean and caters to tourists. A local tribe provides secured parking at the border for $5/day. Don't forget that after June 1 you will need a passport/card to return to the U.S.
Yeah the social security card thing. I geuss it was so much simpler back in the day when people can come back from Mexico with just a drivers licenses. Unfortunately these days there are some states in the nation (Maryland regrettably being among them) that give licenses to illegals (and our governor continues to defend this stance) so a license no longer proves you are an American anymore.
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:19 PM
 
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From Phoenix, you can get to Nogales via Tucson in about 3-4 hours. As everyone else is stating, park on the US side and walk across. Parking should be about $10 for the day. You will need your US passport to come back into the US.

Expect Nogales to be one giant flee market style shopping center. Almost everyone will speak English, or enough for your to communicate when you want to buy something. Keep in mind that a boarder town is not the true Mexico, and is generally not a tourist type of place (other than shopping) such as Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, etc. Boarder towns are mostly geared at shopping.

Also, the exchange rate on the Peso is around 13 to 1 USD, but most people will try to round off at 10 to 1 -- so watch out for that. Of course, everything is negotiable.
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:15 PM
 
Location: South Tempe, AZ
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Most rental companies, if I recall the rental agreements I've seen, have restrictions about taking the cars there, whether it's prohibited or just costs a lot more. Leave the car on this side, and walk over. There's not that much to see in Nogales, from my long ago memory. You can say you have "been to Mexico" in the technical sense, but the border towns are not very much like the Mexican cities/towns more inland.

But, if you just want to say you've been across the border, then that's up to you. I'd go see Sedona instead, you could easily add Jerome and Prescott to that trip. Closer, safer, all that.

Last edited by observer53; 05-07-2009 at 04:28 PM..
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