Mexicali (also known informally as "Chicali") is the capital of the state of Baja California in Mexico, directly across the border from Calexico, California, United States. Its proximity to the United States has made it a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers. Growing violence has curtailed that traffic, although Mexicali remains safer than other large border cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez.
The municipality of Mexicali has a population of around 1.1 million people (2020), of whom about 800,000 people live in the city proper. Mexicali has grown from a small border town to a modern city with a sizable middle class and an even bigger upper class. The standard of living is among the highest in Mexico. It is recognized in Mexico for its sizable investment in education and low unemployment. It is a progressive city with main industry that has gone from agricultural to industrial.
Economically, a growing middle class with disposable income has fueled Mexicali's transformation into a modern city with a vibrant culture, a characteristic that has attracted many national and international businesses which had largely ignored the city before and had turned to Tijuana. Mexicali is considered among the most prosperous cities in Mexico. Some areas of the city reflect the significant number of wealthy people who inhabit the city, in areas such as San Pedro, Villafontana, and Col Nueva. There remains poverty in rural villages surrounding the modern, upper-middle class enclave of Mexicali proper. The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 that eliminated most trade restrictions between the two nations offers Mexicali an economic boom in the next decade.
Mexicali is a transit point for illegal immigration into the United States, as well as a common destination for any illegal Mexican immigrants deported from the West Coast of the U.S. Some areas are swollen with poor people with no roots in the city, who inhabit shantytowns, mainly in the outskirts of the city.
Mexicali's growing reputation as a cosmopolitan city is justified. Not only is the city home to many people who have migrated from within the same country, as well as some native Mexican Indians, but it boasts many Asian residents (especially Chinese), as well as Americans, Europeans, and South Americans. Informally, Mexicali natives are known as "cachanillas", after a shrub (Pluchea sericea or arrowweed) endemic to the region.
Mexicali is known mainly as a business and industry town, but has an excellent reputation for hospitality and tourism in the country.
Mexicali is known as "the city that captured the sun". Its residents frequently joke regarding its extreme heat during the summer, reaching record desert temperatures. Mexicali's primary newspapers are La Voz de la Frontera and La Cronica de Baja California.
While the Mexican peso (M$) is the legal currency, US dollars are widely accepted. Mexicali observes daylight savings time (DST) and is in the Pacific Time Zone like California.
Mexicali has one of the largest Chinese communities in Mexico. It even hosted the North American headquarters of the Kuomintang (KMT) at one point. Many old-time Chinese-Mexican natives of Mexicali have since intermarried with the local mestizos or emigrated to the United States. Although Mexicali has had a history of Chinese immigration for about 100 years, the restaurant workers tend to be recent immigrants from Guangdong, China, who are multilingual in Taishanese (a distinct dialect of the Cantonese language), Mandarin, and Spanish. Nearly all of them are from just two cities in Guangdong, namely Taishan and Kaiping, with a small minority from neighboring Enping, Zhongshan, and Hong Kong.
The historic Chinese neighborhood is known as La Chinesca, centered on Avenida Benito Juárez, several hundred feet to the south of the Calexico point of entry.
People in the city of Mexicali speak Spanish. However, English is spoken at least marginally by the majority of the population. It is very easy to find someone who speaks English, and due to the city's international standing, other languages are used for business and are heard throughout the city, such as Chinese, Japanese, German and French.
While winters are pleasantly mild, visitors can expect a very hot climate during the summer months with average high temperatures ranging from 101°F to 108°F (38° to 42°C). Rainfall and clouds are scarce throughout the year.
Mexicali is accessible from the United States through Calexico on Highway 111 (from El Centro and points north) and Highway 98 East (Yuma) and West (San Diego) via I-8.
Either park at the border and continue on foot or you drive into Mexico. Driving from the US to Mexico usually requires no stopping. Driving across the border from Mexico to the US may involve a long wait, especially during evening rush hour or on holiday weekends. Mexican insurance is required, which should be bought before your trip. Mexicali has two border crossings, Mexicali East (Newer) and Mexicali West (Traditional), both of which have a SENTRI lane.
Mexicali is the northern terminus for Mexican Highway 5 to San Felipe.
Mexicali can also be reached from Tijuana and Tecate on Mex-2. Though much of this highway is a toll road (the "Libramiento" aka Autopista), it is more scenic but will take longer than I-8 and is considered more hazardous, especially the "Rumorosa Grade". The toll either to or from Tijuana is around $14.
Many people drive to the border, park on the US side, and walk across. There are many lots available for this, which charge US$4-9 a day. While there are many taxis waiting to take you across, it's only about a five minute walk; follow the signs across.
- 1 Mexicali's International Airport (MXL IATA General Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada) (located 20 km east of the city). It offers services to all types of flights, private and commercial. There are daily flights from other major cities in México.
In addition, Mexicali has access to the Imperial County Airport IPL IATA, 15 mi (24 km) north across the border from Mexicali with flights from Los Angeles and Phoenix on Southern Airways.
Taxis are abundant in the city. You may either call for a site taxi (taxi de sitio) which are called beforehand and they can take you where you ask, or route taxis (taxi de ruta), which, like buses, have specific routes which they take.
There are also multiple public buses, which can range from old school refurbished school buses with no air circulation to brand new metrobuses with air conditioning and television screens, which are more expensive.
- The Asociación China de Mexicali (中華會館), located on Avenida Benito Juárez near the intersection with Altamirano, is one of Mexicali's primary and oldest Chinese associations. Upstairs, there are portraits of dozens of Chinese immigrants who have lived in Mexicali. There are also murals celebrating Mexicali's Chinese heritage, dragon costumes for use during festivals, and numerous classrooms. It is often locked and closed during weekdays, but usually open on weekend mornings.
- 1 Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Catedral de Ntra. Sra. de Guadalupe), José María Morelos 192. Mexicali's oldest cathedral.
- Museo Interactivo Sol del Niño - Scientific and Interactive Museum fun for children and adults. Interactive Science, Technology, Arts and Environment Center.
- Plaza de Toros Calafia - Bullring with frequent bullfights with toreros from around Latin America and Spain.
- Bosque y Zoologico de la Ciudad - Mexicali's biggest park along with its city zoo.
- Parque Vicente Guerrero - Mexicali's second biggest park with lake.
- Centro Estatal de las Artes - State Art Center: see art exhibitions, musical concertos and recitals among other things.
- Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura - City Art Center: see art exhibitions, musical concertos and recitals among other things.
- Teatro del Estado - The states theater with many shows throughout the year.
- UABC Museo - The University of Baja California's Museum with exhibits throughout the year.
- Casa de la Cultura - Mexicali's Culture House, with interactive art workshops and exhibitions.
- Salon de la Fama - Mexicali's Hall of Fame, with notable figures from throughout the city and state.
- Bellas Artes - Where Mexicali's fine arts groups are located.
- Juventud 2000 Sport Center - Mexicali's newest and most modern park.
- Centro Cívico - Home to Baja California's state legislature, governor's palace, and state supreme court, as well as the Mexicali city hall (ayuntamiento). Brief tours of the Baja California legislature's chambers are available upon request (ask for the public/media relations spokesperson to give you a tour).
- Morelos Dam You can admire the town and its surroundings from this beautiful natural setting. The dam was inaugurated on September 23, 1950 and has a capacity of 230 m³/sec and has a height of 42.10 m and covers 175,000 acres.
- Sierra de Juarez Cañón Tajo, crowned by the “Trono Blanco”—the highest monolith in Mexico with a height of 1970 feet - provides majestic panoramic views and is visited by premiere mountaineers from around the world. It is ideal for rock-climbing, hiking, rappelling, canoeing, and panoramic photography. There are also the Laguna Hanson and the Cañón de Llanos, sites that offer a place for a variety of activities including kayaking, hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, and spelunking.
- Vallecitos Here the past meets the present in an extensive display of prehistoric rock carvings and cave paintings, such as the famous “Diablito” (Winter Solstice). This place is also excellent for hiking, a photography expedition, and spotting a variety of flora and fauna.
- Hardy River Everything necessary for freshwater fishing and small game hunting, as well as being the ideal site for kayaking in tranquil waters, hiking, panoramic photography, and birdwatching. Ideal for families, groups or individuals who enjoy the scenic outdoors.
- Arroyo Hondo Pool, kiddy pool, sand volleyball court, basketball court, soccer field, children's playground, barbeque pits. Restaurant- bar with billiards, karaoke, space for events; bathrooms with showers. Lifeguard, security. Capacity for 1,500 persons. Open year round.
- Sand Dunes Beautiful sand dunes that are the ideal place for riding motorcycles, ATVS, and sand buggy's.
- Laguna Salada and La Rumorosa The highway coming down into the Mexicali Valley is an impressive drive. It is a steep 900 m (3000 ft) drop on a new and well-designed highway. Two places unique in all the world that offer spectacular panoramas of natural beauty. Besides being ideal places for flying on a delta winged or a hang glider, cycling and off-road racing are also popular here.
- San Felipe San Felipe is the closet beach to Mexicali, offering access to other beaches like Puertecitos and sites of extraordinary beauty, including the unique Valley of the Giants, where huge and imposing sahuaro (saguaro) cactus greet all visitors and it has shops, restaurants, and bars.
- Los Algodones During the winter season (October thru March), this picturesque small town (population 14,000) greets a considerable number of visitors known as "snow birds", who come from the northern United States and Canada. Los Algodones is known for its ample variety of shops, Mexican folk art, laboratories and excellent medical and dental services which constitute the town’s main attraction.
- Aguilas de Mexicali Go and see Mexicali's own baseball team in the Estadio Casas Geo.
- Soles de Mexicali Come and see Mexicali's renowned basketball team.
- Golf Club de Golf Campestre has an 18-hole course that features huge fairways, adorned by water hazards and sand traps that lead to excellent, quick greens, themselves often surrounded by more water and sand traps. During the year, major tournaments are held here, such as the Cotton Tournament in March, the City of Mexicali and Maquiladora Tournament's in April, the Father and Son Tournament in June, as well as the Bishops's and IAMSA Tournament's in November.
- Racing Adrenaline junkies won't want to miss the tremendously entertaining off-road ATV races. Displaying their skills, experienced drivers race their machines at high speeds, roaring across the terrain, offering a grand spectacle for the crowds.
- Hunting An extensive variety of birds and mammals such as the White Winged Dove, Huilota Dove, Cerceta, Black Branta, Goose, Pheasant, Duck, Quail, Black Tail Hare, Rabbit, Coyote, Wild Cat and Puma will put the skill of any hunter to the test. In the Valle de Mexicali, the season begins at the end of August and ends in February.
- Fishing Freshwater: The municipality offers exciting places for fishing adventures. In addition to canals, there are prime spots like Laguna Bogard, Rio Hardy, El Caimán, la Ciénega de Santa Clara, and el Bosque de la Ciudad, where you can participate in important tournaments all year long. A few of the species you will find while fishing are Lobina, Bagre, Carpa, and Tilapia. Saltwater: The coastline of San Felipe and spots like Roca Consag, Barco Hundido, Los Carros, Punta Estrella and Percebú, are well known fishig areas in addition to fishing out on the open sea. Catch-and-release tournaments allow fishing for shallow-water species as well as trophy-fish like Pez Vela, Marlin Dorado, and Jurel, among others.
Expos and shows
- Fiestas del Sol Known as the biggest fair in the region, the Fiestas del Sol run from the end of September through mid-October. Practically all of Mexicali gathers together during this time for music and celebration, participating in popular dances while enjoying commercial, agricultural, and industrial expositions, carnival rides, regional food, and shows from national and international artists.
- Baja Prog An international festival of progressive rock that brings together the most famous groups of this musical genre during the month of March.
- Agrobaja Considered the largest and most important agricultural exposition on the northern Mexican border, held in March.
- Bol Bol Boliche - 21st century bowling with a club feel.
- Caliente Sport Book
- Cinepolis Movie Theaters (Centro Civico, San Pedro, Galerias, Nuevo Mexicali)
- Cinemark Movie Theater
- Cinemastar Movie Theater
- IMAX Theater
- Live Mexican music (norteño and mariachi) can be requested from bands for hire at the Plaza Mariachi on Avenida Zuazua, located in the southern part of the La Chinesca area. Norteño bands (2-4 people, consisting of at least an accordion and bajo sexto) generally charge M$50 per song. Most of the musicians are recent migrants from Los Mochis and Culiacán in the north-central coastal state of Sinaloa. A banda sinaloense group can be found at the intersection of Zuazua & Altamirano during most evenings. All of the groups can play narcocorridos (drug ballads) as well as famous rancheras by Ramón Ayala.
- Musicales y Joyeria "Iris", ☏ +52 686 552-6895. José Gerardo Zamora. Av. Reforma #406 Zona Centro Mexicali B.C.
- Banda de Música Regional de Guamúchil Sinaloa, ☏ +52 686 553-4584. Victor Cervantes. Zuazua y Altamirano #586.
- UABC Mexicali is the largest and oldest campus of Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC). It hosts
- The Asociacón China de Mexicali (中華會館) offers Mandarin Chinese lessons for both adults and children. Weekly Saturday morning classes are held for local Chinese children, who are taught Mandarin Chinese instead of the Spanish and Cantonese that they normally speak among themselves.
This list is only a very small compilation of the major shopping centers in the city.
- Plaza la Cachanilla Shops such as boutiques, hair salons, jewelry stores, Chinese-themed stores, food court, Coppel Stores, Ley Stores, Sears Department Stores, etc.
- Plaza Nuevo Mexicali Shops such as clothing, boutiques, cellular phones, furnishings, and food court.
- Plaza Fiesta Restaurants, jewelry stores and flagship store Sanborns.
- ABSA - A Chinese store offering Chinese groceries, utensils, and newspapers. Located on Bulevar Mateos near the intersection with Avenida Benito Juárez (look for Chinese-style architecture and green roofs).
Mexicali hosts most major national store chains such as: Soriana, Comercial Mexicana, FAMSA, Milano, Bodega Aurrera, among others. Mexicali also hosts international stores and shops like: Wal-Mart (3 Locations), Costco Wholesale, Blockbuster, Office Depot, The Home Depot, Sears, Gymboree, among others.
Visitors returning to the United States who are 21 or older are allowed to bring back a limited quantity of alcohol, around 1 liter per adult (check regulations). Most foreign liquor is priced as in the US, but Mexican liquors such as Tequila, Mescal, and Kahlua, as well as Mexican beers can be great bargains.
The selection of cuisine in Mexicali is very diverse. The Chinese contributed greatly to Mexicali cuisine with a very ample variety of dishes. Their food is as traditional to Mexicali as carne asada and its Chinese food is labeled as the best on the country, on par with that of San Francisco, and many tourists come to taste it.
Good beer is another Mexicali tradition. World class beers have been produced in Mexicali since the early history. Today, there are small breweries that offer great varieties in terms of taste and characteristics.
However, Mexicali is not just about Chinese food, carne asada tacos, and beer. There is a wide selection of specialty restaurants-national and international. One sample the finest wines that are produced in the Mediterranean climate within Baja California. Mexicali has a large Chinese immigrant population, with many excellent choices.
Mexicali is also host to numerous international chains such as: Applebees, Starbucks Coffee, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Carl's Jr, Thrifty Ice Cream, Little Caesars, Dominos Pizza, and Dairy Queen.
The following lists of restaurants are only a few of the many located in the city
Primera (Near the border crossing)
- 1 Restaurante Victoria (龍珠酒家), Calle Juárez 32, ☏ +52 686 552 2151. 06:00-23:00, closed Tu. Open since about 1938, this is like everybody's beloved Cantonese hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
- 2 El Taquito de Oro 1 - Zona Centro, C. José María Morelos 334.
- 3 Las tradicionales flautas, Benito Juárez 131.
- 4 Tortas El Chavo, Av Reforma 414.
- 5 Restaurante Carmelita, Benito Juárez 113.
- 6 Dragón Oro, Benito Juárez 121.
- 7 El Taquito de Oro 2, Pje. Vallarta 815.
- 8 Nuevo Petunias Restaurante, And. Cholula 1091.
- 9 Tacos de Guisado Andrea, Mar Blanco 300.
Around Centro Civico
- 10 Las Vias Restaurante, Boulevard Adolfo López Mateos #1447, ☏ +52 686 407 1949. This corner place is great if you are craving some crunchy nachos or some rich buttery pancakes, if you're not already having some migas (or maybe to go along with them!).
Mexicali's numerous Chinese (more specifically, Cantonese) restaurants can be found in all areas of the city, but are especially concentrated in the historic La Chinesca (Chinatown) neighborhood. Many Chinese restaurants can also be found just across the international border in Calexico.
- 11 China House, Calzada Justo Sierra 1001, ☏ +52 686 554 8806. daily 11:00-20:00. Pretty sleek and modern Chinese restaurant with all your favorites like the sticky sweet and sour chicken.
- 12 Dragon, Boulevar Benito Juárez 1830, ☏ +52 686 566 2020. M-Th 12:00-19:00, F-Su 12:00-20:00. Big dining room with tile floors where you can enjoy suckling pig or roast duck or camarones, just maybe apply some smelling salts if visiting the bathroom.
- 13 El Rincon de Panchito, Boulevar Benito Juárez 1298 (in Plaza Fimbres), ☏ +52 686 567 7718. daily 11:00-23:00. Serves large portions and brings in a lot of people. Watch out for the occasional lion dance.
- 14 Golden China, Av. Fco. I. Madero, ☏ +52 686 555 4476. daily 11:00-21:00. Yet another of the same establishments for getting your comida China on. Features some set plates and also helado (ice cream) to savor as you take in the TV screens and photograph canvasses on the walls.
- 15 Chiang’s, Calzada Cetys 1801 (in Plaza San Pedro), ☏ +52 686 905 6525. a spinoff of P.F. Chang's (or is it the other way around?), as in classy Chinese dining at a price.
- 16 La Jolla, Calz Independencia 678 A, ☏ +52 686 566 6556. daily 11:00-22:00. Smaller establishment but otherwise seemingly identical to the other Chinese options. Try some fish and tofu soup.
- 17 Nuevo Mandarin, Av Reforma 628, ☏ +52 686 554 0388. daily 11:00-21:00. Choose your favorite platillo with a mountain of rice and then go home a sassy cat.
- Restaurant Las Campanas, Justo Sierra y Honduras 377, ☏ +52 686 568 1213. There are some delectable chilaquiles and huevos rancheros to be had here.
- Restaurant La Plazita, Av. República de Honduras 377, ☏ +52 686 568 1051. Like a stone's throw away from Las Campanas, this has a dependable cadre of breakfast and lunch choices, though can be a bit spicy.
- Cenaduria Selecta, Calle G # 1510, Segunda, ☏ +52 686 552 4047. One of those old stand-by Mexican restaurants where you can get quality food whether it's a taco plate or carne asada tampiquena and admire traditional decor inside.
- Fonda de Mexicali, Boulevar Benito Juárez 2220 (inside Hotel Araiza), ☏ +52 686 564 1100. Traditional Mexican food and a compelling buffet for the hungrier guest, whether it's breakfast or dinner. Save some room for dessert.
- 18 Los Arcos, Calle Calafia 454, ☏ +52 686 556 0903. daily 11:00-20:00. Branch chain of franchise with sparkling clean dining room and plates that may be a bit minimalist but are high on presentation.
- 19 Laguna Azul, Calz Independencia 823, ☏ +52 686 565 6181. Try a deluxe shrimp cocktail or ceviche or seafood platter.
- 20 Heildelberg, Ave. Fco. I. Madero y Calle H S/N, ☏ +52 686 554 2022. M-Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 12:00-18:00. Here you can pretend you are Gunter or Hannelore as you savor wurst or kartoffeln in this restaurant with distinctive German architecture.
- 21 Fussión, Av. Fco. I. Madero 1013, ☏ +52 686 552 2614. Tu-Sa 13:00-23:00. Get ready for some little cutlets of meat or paella and a glass of wine as you experience this tapas bar and restaurant with garden.
- 22 Mr. Pampas Caballito, Boulevard Adolfo López Mateos 701, ☏ +52 686 556 1221. daily noon-23:00. Here you'll find enchantment in Brazilian fare both buffet-style and select presentation of juicy cuts of meat brought to your table. Or, if you want to save a buck or two, there is a Sirloin Stockade buffet next door.
- 23 Mochomos, Calz. Manuel Gómez Morín 799-local 9-a.
The following venues are located around the intersection of México & Reforma, near the main cathedral.
- La Conga - Live norteño bands playing mostly narcocorridos
- Miau Miau - Table dancing
- Motel Samil, Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas #1486, ☏ +52 686 563 2192. Its earthy ochre tones adds a nice touch to the appearance.
- 1 Motel Alves, Carretera Mexicali - Tijuana km. 1, ☏ +52 686 555 3750. This one will probably look pretty good to the driver coming into town.
- 2 Motel El Moro, Blvd. Aeropuerto 3598 (also known as Calzada Cetys), ☏ +52 686 565 4422. This one will make you feel like you're staying in an Arabian palace with its Middle Eastern motif, but it's kind of like a love motel in the middle of nowhere so there's that.
- Hotel Cosmos Don Carlos, Calzada Justo Sierra 1493, ☏ +52 686 568 1155. Pool and restaurant on-site. Has a lot of wood beam architecture. M$ 781.
- 3 Hotel Del Norte, Ave. Francisco I. Madero 205, ☏ +52 686 552 8101. Located 70 m (230 feet) from the border crossing.
- 4 Hotel Posada del Sol, Calle Calafia #400, ☏ +52 686 558 7476. Nothing too terribly exciting here, but has a restaurant that serves breakfast.
- 5 Hotel Posada Inn, Boulevard Adolfo López Mateos #939, ☏ +52 686 558 6100. Motor lodge type of place with continental breakfast included.
- 6 Capital O' Hotel Regis, Blvd. Benito Juarez 2150, ☏ +52 686 566 8801. Practical hotel with inside corridors and a restaurant.
- 7 Hotel Lucerna, Blvd. Benito Juárez 2151, ☏ +52 686 564 7000.
- 8 Araiza Hotel and Convention Center, Blvd. Benito Juarez 2220, ☏ +52 686 564 1100. This is a pretty classy choice for Mexicali, as is the case with most Araiza properties typically. It has a restaurant, fusion cafe, and a bar, plus pool/hot tub/gym for the recreation-minded. M$ 1178.
- 9 Calafia Hotel and Convention Center, Calzada Justo Sierra 1495, ☏ +52 686 568 3311. Another Araiza property with a big pool and restaurant and gym to keep guests entertained. M$ 999.
- 10 Fiesta Inn, Calz. Adolfo López Mateos No. 1029, ☏ +52 686 837 3300. With its vibrant colors and height, this hotel will probably catch your gaze when driving along Hwy 5. Has a restaurant, pool, and gym. M$ 579.
- 11 Hotel City Express Mexicali, Blvd. Benito Juarez #1342, ☏ +52 686 564 1650.
- Hotel Colonial, Blvd. Lopez Mateos 1048 (across from the Fiesta Inn), ☏ +52 800 026 5888. This place is inviting enough with its lush pool and garden filled courtyard and generally relaxed ambience. M$ 819.
- Hotel Siesta Real, Calz. Justo Sierra 899, ☏ +52 686 568 2001. Cozy place with pool and dining area. M$ 899.
While Mexicali has saved itself from the severity and degree of violence along the US-Mexico border and the insecurity is not as big as that of Tijuana, there is still potential for it to become dangerous, along with the violence that a regular metro city has such as petty theft, violence, and gang-related incidents. The emergency number is 066. Avoid giving out money to beggars and homeless people standing in the street or along sidewalks and avoid buying things off the street to avoid trouble later.
To avoid becoming part of the ongoing violence, do not buy illegal drugs. Overstocking yourself with prescription drugs will also warrant getting checked. While partying and clubbing in Mexico is all in good fun and alright, keep in mind that you will not get away with it because it is Mexico. You probably will get caught and kept a special eye on because you are an American, even if you look Latino.
If you do anything unlawful, even if you are underage, you will spend time in prison. You do not get preferential treatment because you are an American citizen. Also, keep in mind that Mexico uses kilometers and not miles, and speed limits in KPH are much slower than MPH in the United States.
Do not try to bribe the Mexican police officers, even if they are hinting at it. If you try to bribe, you will go to prison. Driving while using a cellphone or a radio without a hands free device is illegal in the state of Baja California and it will get you ticketed.
Trying to bargain prices will sometimes help, but in most places in Mexicali today it is not practiced and such behavior will be ignored.
Do not be caught with any type of weapon in Mexico. This can include a small pocket knife, or even ammunition or bullet casings. American motorists have been jailed for driving into Mexico with spent ammunition casings in their car trunk.
In the unlikely event of a major earthquake, duck and cover and stay where you are during the shaking, then go outside once the shaking stops. Buildings and other structures are unlikely to collapse. Your largest threats come from breaking windows and falling objects such as ceiling tiles and bookshelves. Try to get under a table, desk, or doorjamb to reduce your exposure to these threats. You are more likely to be injured if you try to run during the shaking.
While the city's restaurants are registered by the Health Department and clean water is available city-wide, eating at roadside taco shops and drinking tap water is discouraged because one that is not used to this will probably get food poisoning. Avoid any foods you are not used to. Bottled water, carbonated and still, is available widely and you are encouraged to drink of it.
If you need emergency medical treatment, it is preferred that you attend a private hospital and call 066, attending a public hospital or a Seguro Social hospital will be futile, as they are only for registered Mexican citizens and have problems getting medical attention there. There are drugstores and private medical and dental clinics throughout the city.
A prescription from a licensed doctor in Mexico is needed to fill prescription drugs in any pharmacy in Baja California. These can be acquired at some pharmacies through their on-location doctor.
The country code for Mexico is +52, and the area code for the Mexicali Metropolitan area is 686. Phone numbers have 7 digits (XXX-XX-XX) and cellular phone numbers are dialed using access code 044, the area code, and the number (044-686-XXX-XXXX). Your mobile carrier will work if they have an agreement with either Telcel, Illusacel, Telefonica (Movistar), or Nextel. They may also work in the areas close to the international border with American carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.
Most hotels (and all of the high-end ones) have high-speed internet access and are wi-fi enabled. This is the same for shopping malls and coffee shops. You may also find hot-spots at college and university campuses throughout the city.
- Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs offers a running stream and a variety of primitive (hose-fed from local springs) hot baths and camping; the area is popular with Mexicali locals; it is 48 km (30 miles) down a rough dirt road, 32 km (20 miles) west of town on the road to Tijuana. The area also contains a significant number of petroglyphs in nearby canyons accessible by foot.
- San Felipe is 172 km (120 miles) south on Highway 5.
|Routes through Mexicali|
|Tijuana ← Tecate ←||W E||→ San Luis Rio Colorado → Jct N S|
|Calexico ← becomes ← ←||N S||→ Jct W → San Felipe|