I'm on my way to Ensenada (from New Zealand), and am having trouble finding the easiest way to get there. This is made a little trickier by my multitude of options.

My two options are to travel there straight from LA (likely train to San Diego, bus to Tijuana and again to Ensenada) or to go see a Mexicali, MX, then find my way down to Ensenada.

It would be immensely helpful if someone could please answer the following:

  • Is it cheaper to bus from Tijuana to Ensenada, from Mexicali to Ensenada, or to rent a car from from Mexicali to Ensenada?

For bonus points:

  • Is Mexicali worth visiting?
  • Welcome to the site. Travel.SE generally has a policy of 1 question per post, and when you say "cheapest" - your question title also doesn't seem to be in your actual question. Generally "cheapest" is always hitching - so if you can clarify whether you're happy doing that, it'll help get answers and not close votes. Always good to see a fellow Kiwi on here :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 0:08
  • 2
    Hey Mark, I cheated a little and condensed it into one. I think I'd be happy hitching in the States, possibly less so than in Mexico. But if people could advise whether it's a good idea I'm open to anything!
    – person157
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 0:25
  • to clarify, you want to find the easiest way from either Tijuana or Mexicali?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 4:12
  • Yes please. Some indication of price would be fantastic.
    – person157
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 8:41

4 Answers 4


The Buses that go from City to City in Mexico are much better than city buses, and would be the cheapest way to travel, and the way the locals travel. Cars rented in Baja is normally a better arrangement than taking a rental from the US into Mexico.

Mexicali is the capital and does not have much of a service/tourist industry. Mexicali has a unique place in Mexico know as Chinesca, China Town, the biggest Chinese community in Mexico and is the only identifiable Chinese district in Mexico. It gets hot in Mexicali about 50 miles away is Rio Hardy - Here is a link to additional information.

The west coast of Baja is far more visited and has lots of services and activities. If you are driving from Arizona through Mexicali you may want to turn south at Tecate and use that mountain road - Driving Details. It will take you through Mexico's Wine country, Grape Harvest festivals begin in August.


There are 3 toll stops on the toll road from Tijuana to Ensenada. Each one costs $2. It is 62 miles and takes an hour. Simply stay to the right after you cross the border and follow the signs to Rosarito and you will see the Ensenada signs. I make the drive every 2 weeks or so!


Bus travel is generally the cheapest mode of transportation in Mexico (hitchhiking notwithstanding), when traveling alone. If you are in a group, and can fill a vehicle, a rental car may be cheaper.

One important thing to remember when driving in Mexico is that most of the good roads are toll roads, and can be rather expensive. I don't remember the tolls from Tijuana to Ensanada (it's been several years since I drove that route), but I know this applies there.

It's easy to spend US$100 or more in tolls in 12 hours on Mexican high ways. This adds a lot to your travel cost, and you can usually buy a bus ticket for the same distance for about half that price.

  • 1st paragraph OK. Next two paragraphs, not so good. The three toll booths from Tijuana to Ensenada were less than $10USD total last year. 35 pesos each.
    – 42-
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 1:27
  • @42-: So what, specifically, is wrong with the last 2 paragraphs? Your experience seems completely in line with my last 2 paragraphs. US$10 is about right for the 1.5hour drive. My estimate was $100/12*1.5 = US$12.50.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 6:07

I travel exclusively on busses for city to city trips in Mexico, It is easy, cheap and relaxing. Your best bet is Tijuana to Ensenada for about 200 pesos by bus. Mexicali to Ensenada is around 400...

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