most vendors sell these brightly colored blankets in los algodones and other border towns in Mexico
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So you want to cross the border into Los Algodones, Mexico?  

We have crossed the border to Mexico multiple times so we’ll help you plan a perfect day trip and answer all of your border crossing questions.

On our first day trip to Los Algodones, we didn’t have any specific plans other than crossing the border, wandering around town, eating tacos and drinking margaritas.  

Border Crossing at Los Algodones Mexico

Crossing the border at Los Algodones for a day trip is an easy and safe introduction to Mexico.  It is very close to Yuma and many locals make the trip regularly.

group pic after crossing the los algodones border
Photo credit @PerpetualMoves

Border Crossing Times for Los Algodones  

During COVID-19, the US border reduced hours of operation from 6 am to 2 pm PST but they are no longer restricted.   

Thankfully in 2022, the US border crossing at Los Algodones is back to regular hours which opens at 6 am. The Los Algodones border crossing closes at 10 pm daily.

The most popular times at the US port of entry are the afternoon and evening when most visitors are returning from day trips or dental appointments.    

los algodones border cossing for vehicles

Wait Times at Los Algodones Border Crossing

Wait times at the Los Algodones border crossing can be very long so plan accordingly. If driving across the Mexico border, wait times can be viewed on the US Customs site.

Unfortunately, real-time pedestrian wait times are not available online.

Prepare to stand in line to get back into the US for more than an hour.  

During COVID’s restricted hours, we arrived at the back of the line around 12:45 pm and didn’t get to the front of the line until after 2 pm.  Thankfully the border agents were still working and allowed us back into the US.    

We’d heard horror stories of others being referred to another border crossing 20 miles away with extended hours.  That was not a taxi ride I wanted to take so I was a bit stressed standing in line as the clock ticked past 2 pm. 

pedestrian border crossing los algodones mexico

Parking at Los Algodones Border Crossing 

The US side of the Los Algodones Mexico border is located on Quechan Tribal land.  

There is a large paid parking lot located in Winterhaven California for those crossing the border into Los Algodones. 

The Quechan Tribe Border Parking Lot can be reached at (760) 572-2959 if you have specific questions about parking restrictions at the Los Algodones border.

How much is parking at Los Algodones Border Crossing?

Day parking at the Los Algodones border crossing is $6 per vehicle or $8 for motorhomes/buses. 

There is a separate lot for overnight parking. Overnight parking at the Los Algodones border crossing is $10 per vehicle or $22 for a motorhome or bus.  

What do I need to go to Mexico?

For a day trip walking across the Mexico border, you’ll need a valid passport or approved alternative form of identification.

No additional paperwork is required for day trips to Mexico.

If driving a vehicle or RV across the Mexico border, you’ll want to know the paperwork, insurance and requirements specific to travelling in Mexico.

Can you cross the Los Algodones border without a passport? 

Yes, enhanced driver’s licenses are accepted for those without a passport to cross the border in Los Algdones Mexico.

If you do not have an enhanced driver’s license, then you’ll need a valid passport book or a passport card to cross the Mexico border into the US.

This is true of all land border crossings into Mexico so do not attempt the trip without a passport or approved alternative.

Do I need to speak Spanish to go to Los Algodones? 

No, you do not need to speak Spanish to cross the border in Los Algodones Mexico. A few Spanish phrases will be helpful but are not necessary.

Everyone we encountered including restaurant and shopkeepers, all spoke excellent English in Los Algodones. 

They had such mastery of the language they were making jokes. 

Granted, they probably make the same jokes all day every day but they were still making jokes.   I was impressed with their English after struggling to order lunch in Nuevo Progresso. 

Is Los Algodones Mexico safe to travel to? 

Yes, Los Algodones is safe to visit. As is the case with most tourist areas, pick-pocketing can happen.

We felt safe wandering around Los Algodones but we have a few tips for those worried about staying safe. 

Walking around town is a great way to spend the day.  Beautiful atrium in los algodones mexico.
Photo credit @claytonandjessica

Safety Tips for Mexican Border Towns 

Border towns rely on tourism dollars so they try to keep tourists safe. However, many incidents are purely crimes of opportunity and can be prevented with a little precaution. 

Here are a few safety travel tips for snowbirds planning to make a border crossing in Los Algodones and other Mexican border towns: 

  • Don’t draw attention to yourself. Dress and act in a way that allows you to blend in with other tourists. 
  • Enjoy an adult beverage or two but maintain your senses by not overconsuming. 
  • Keep a hand on your purse or wallet at all times to deter pickpockets. Cross body purses with a zip top are the easiest way to prevent snatch-and-grab crimes. Always zip your purse closed when near others and don’t hang it unattended on the back of your chair in a restaurant or bar. 
  • Separate cash into different pockets so you don’t flash a big wad of bills when paying.  If taking large quantities of cash, consider wearing a travel money belt.
  • Stay within a few blocks of the main tourist areas. 
  • Do not follow street vendors or any strangers to other locations. This can oftentimes be safe but it is an unnecessary risk. 
  • If you are lost, go into a shop to ask for directions. 

What do on a Day Trip to Los Algodones Mexico

The most popular things to do in Los Algodones are eating, drinking, shopping and getting dental work.

Where to eat in Los Algodones? 

The top rated restaurants in Los Algodones are:

Las Molcas in Los Algodones

Based on recommendations from a friend, we decided to have lunch at Molcas in Los Algodones.   We didn’t know it at the time but Los Molcas is rated the #1 restaurant in Los Algodones by Trip Advisor.

It is a small place but it is very popular.  The tables stayed full during our Monday lunchtime visit.   

They offer tacos, tortas (sandwiches), burritos and more with a variety of meat choices.  

Our group focused on tacos and tortas.  Everyone was pleased with their food, especially the house-made tortillas.  

Several of the meats on the menu were being grilled on the street side charcoal pit.   

tacos at molcas at los algodones

The prices at Molcas were affordable but not as low as we’d experienced in the Texas border town, Nuevo Progresso.    In 2022, the tacos were $2 USD each and the margaritas were $6 USD. 

Most of our group ordered a margarita with their lunch.  They were served in 16-ounce to-go cups and tasted like a limeade with almost no booze.  However, about halfway through I realized they were much boozier and stronger than they seemed.    

Word to the wise, a second margarita is dangerous at Los Molcas. 

clayton and jessica  margarita in los algodones
@claytonandjessica at the second margarita stop

Shopping on a Los Algodones Day Trip 

The most common things that people buy on a day trip to Mexico: grocery or food items, blankets or other souvenirs, and medications.

Grocery Shopping Los Algodones

Sadly, we didn’t find a big supermarket in Los Algodones like the one we’d found in Nuevo Progreso while in South Padre.  

We love grocery shopping internationally.

When in Mexico, you’ll want to buy warm fresh tortillas and pure Mexican vanilla if nothing else. We also love trying new cooking seasonings and sauces, candy, baked goods and salty snacks when visiting other countries.

We share some of our shopping tips in Grocery Shopping in Mexico: How to Shop like a Local and Avoid Gringo Mistakes.

Shopping in Los Algodones

It was good entertainment wandering through the markets in Los Algodones. There are street vendors lining almost every sidewalk.

They offer sunglasses, hats, t-shirts, woven jackets, blankets, and more at affordable prices.   Most vendors speak great English and are willing to negotiate prices especially if you buy more than one item.

I was tempted by the brightly colored tablecloths but decided it would just add to my laundry responsibility. 

tablecloths and hats in los algodones street vendor

Buying Medication in Mexico

Buying medication in Mexico is a personal decision so I will share my experience and you can make your own decision.

Prescription medication in Mexico is readily available in border towns without visiting a doctor. Many Americans stock up on standard items like antibiotics, z-packs, allergy tablets, and erectile dysfunction tablets.

We have personally purchased steroids, antibiotics, eczema shampoo, and albuterol rescue inhalers in Mexico.

Should I buy medications in Mexico?

Medications in Mexico are made with the same active ingredients at a fraction of the price. It is a great option to save money on recurring prescription medications.

The medications we purchased in Mexico were substantially cheaper than prices in the US with medical insurance.

My generic albuterol rescue inhalers were less than $10 each in 2022 in Ensenada Mexico and were $38 each at a US CVS using GoodRx discounts.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional but we have personally used many different medications from Mexico to relieve recurring conditions with no side effects.

Top Rated Pharmacy in Los Algodones

The top-rated pharmacy shops selling medications in Los Algodones are:

  • Pharmacy Tury’s
    • Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars with 26 Google reviews
    • Address: Av. A S/N, Vicente Guerrero, 21970 Vicente Guerrero, B.C., Mexico
  • Liquis
    • Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars with 44 Google reviews
    • Address: Av. A 88, Vicente Guerrero, 21970 Vicente Guerrero, B.C., Mexico
  • American Drug Store
    • Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars with 5 Google reviews
    • Address: C. Primera, Vicente Guerrero, 21970 Vicente Guerrero, B.C., Mexico

Dentists in Los Algodones Mexico

Over a million Americans visit Mexico annually for dental work. Los Algodones and other Mexico border towns rely on medical tourism.

Why do Americans go to Mexico for dental work?

Dentists in Los Algodones and other border towns in Mexico provide high-quality care at a fraction of the costs of US dentists.

Going to Mexico for dental care is common, especially for expensive procedures like dental implants which can cost over $1k per tooth in the US.

In 2022, we had our teeth cleaned in Puerto Penasco Mexico. The experience was very similar to an American dentist’s office with up-to-date equipment and trained professionals.

We booked our appointment online a few days ahead. In 2022, adult teeth cleaning cost $50 USD cash in Mexico.

Where to Stay in Los Algodones Mexico

Most visitors to Los Algodones only stay for the day but those on medical tourism trips may choose to stay overnight.

Best Los Algodones Hotel

Los Algodones only has a few hotel options but Yuma is less than 10 miles away with an abundance of choices.

Cielito Lindo

Cielito Lindo is the best hotel option in Los Algodones.

It is located in the middle of town and is only 0.4 miles from the US border parking lot. Cielito Lindo is conveniently located in town, close to most of the dental offices in Los Algodones.

Amenities include air conditioning, a private patio, 24-hour front desk and room service, and an onsite hot tub. Restaurants and convenience stores are located just a few steps away.

“The room was huge. The amenities were excellent with A/C, water bottle and fridge in the room. The restaurant was excellent.”

Anieleen ( customer)

Frequently Asked Questions about Los Algodones Mexico

Since we couldn’t fit everything into the article, we added this section to answer other frequently asked questions about the Los Algodones Mexico border.

streetside grill at Los Molcas during our los algodones day trip across the border
Photo credit @rebekahandjared

Is Los Algodones Border Open in 2022?

Yes, the Los Algodones border is open. It remained open throughout COVID but with limited hours of operation.

The US border crossing at Los Algodones Mexico is open from 6 am until 10 pm daily.

What is the name of the border crossing at Los Algodones?

The official name of the Los Algodones Mexico border crossing is Andrade-Los Algodones. It is the northernmost border crossing.

How far is it from Yuma to the Mexican border? 

Yuma Arizona is ten miles from the Mexican border.  

What is the Mexican town across the border from Yuma Arizona?

The Mexican town across the border from Yuma Arizona is Los Algodones. It is a popular location for day trips to Mexico.

According to Wikipedia, Los Algodones is the 11th busiest pedestrian border and over one million people pass annually.

Can you cross the border at Yuma Arizona?

Yuma is a great launching place for a day trip into Los Algodones Mexico. Check out Fun Things to Do in Yuma, the Sunniest Place on Earth for more things to do in Yuma.

Can Americans go to Algodones Mexico?

Americans are welcome in Algodones Mexico. The most popular attractions are dining out, shopping, dentists and optometrists.

Summary Los Algodones Mexico Day Trip

We enjoyed our Los Algodones day trip and will definitely go back for dental work, tacos and margaritas again this winter. 

Crossing the border at Los Algodones is easy with many great destinations within walking distance from the US.

Products We Bought to RV in Mexico

Best Dentist Los Algodones Mexico [2023 Comprehensive Guide]

RVing in Mexico: Comprehensive Guide to Paperwork, Insurance, Safety and Everything Else You Need to Know to Cross the Border

Is Mexico Water Safe | Getting Safe Drinking Water for Your RV

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