Los Algodones

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Los Algodones

Los Algodones Mexico is a favourite day trip for Arizonans looking for dental and other medical services and bargain shopping

Los Algodones, Baja California, Mexico on the northeastern tip of Mexicali municipality has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years. Not because of beaches (there are none) or resorts, but because of inexpensive shopping, medical care and prescription medicines. Los Algodones is located approximately 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) west of Yuma, Arizona on the border with California. The official name of the town is Vicente Guerrero. Its population was listed as 5,474 in the 2010 Mexican census.

Billboards on the highway just west of Yuma advertise Los Algodones dental clinics and other facilities

It is possible to drive across the border, but most visitors opt to walk across, visiting for just the day or part of the day. A large lot on the U.S. side provides parking for a small fee. Note the border is closed from 10 pm to 6 am.

The town attracts visitors from the greater Phoenix area as well as the Yuma area. They come to take advantage of the cheap dental treatments, eyeglasses, medicines and cosmetic treatments and to shop, often staying overnight in Yuma or at the nearby Quencan Casino Resort.

If you go remember to take your passport. We walked through the entry to Los Algodones easily without having to show any paperwork, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires paperwork on the way back to the U.S. We waited in line for about 35 minutes to clear U.S. Customs when we left. I overheard people in the line talking about the length of wait in previous visits, which ranged from 5 minutes to 3 hours. I noticed a number of Canadian passports in the queue – Arizona winter visitors.

Border of Los Algodones
Scenery beyond the town fence/border

Los Algodones is not a particularly attractive town, but the approximately six square block section catering to tourists is lively. As we entered the town, people along the street called out to us asking if we needed dental work. We encountered people promoting dental clinics throughout the walk around town. Some of the most inviting courtyards belonged to medical clinics. Although we did not take advantage of the dental services, I have heard good things about the quality of dental care available in Los Algodones.

Los Algodones shopping
Covered sidewalk lined with goods for sale

The covered sidewalks are lined with a variety of goods for sale, including jewelry, handbags, wallets, t-shirts, lawn decor, pottery, wood carvings, blankets, tablecloths and more. Vendors call out and beckon for you to check out their stalls and shops as you pass by. “Take a look?” “What are you looking for, lady?” “How about a nice ankle bracelet?” “Cheap, almost free.” Other vendors walk the streets carrying their wares and soliciting customers.

Good for sale Los Algodones
A small sampling of goods for sale
Medicines for sale
If you take advantage of the inexpensive medicines, make sure you have prescriptions as required
and verify the drug is not on a restricted list to bring back into the U.S.
Shrimp and strawberries
Strawberries, shrimp from Rocky Point
Restaurant Bar El Paraiso
Restaurant Bar El Paraiso is a tourist favourite


Cerveza time
Images of Los Algodones
Images of Los Algodones
Taco place
A popular spot for tacos
Food trucks
Food trucks lined up in front of a park just outside main tourist area.
Customers were mostly locals, not tourists.
Taco food truck
Food truck in another part of town
Fish tacos
Fish taco time
Large tequila bottle outside purple liquor store,
a place to get cheap liquor, cigarettes, and
real Mexican vanilla

I enjoyed my couple of hours in Los Algodones. It was fun to wander through town and see the goods on display. I may return some day, but I am not much of a shopper and the tourist attraction of this town is not enough to make me a frequent visitor. If I wind up needing major dental work, that may be another story.

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  1. Hello Donna
    I love the pictures of Los Algodones. It is nice that one can get cheap shopping and good dental work. I love the pictures of the colorful frocks.The homes are very colorful.

    1. Hi! I recently went to Los Algodones for dental work in April 2016, set to return sometime soon. Had a WONDERFUL time, great shopping, eating, etc. I went by myself with no problem, carried a large amount of cash also. Had excellent dental work done by Dr. Arturo Franco. Can’t wait to go back soon!

      1. Barbara, I’ve not had dental work done in Los Algodones myself but have heard reports from others about the excellent work. That seems to be your experience too. Glad to hear you had time for a little fun too.

  2. This really does look like a fun day trip! As to the cheap dental work…. I dunno. I’d have to know at least a dozen people who had good results before I tried that one! LOL

    1. I know people who’ve had dental work done here and are very satisfied. I would take their recommendations on dentists. Not sure I’d go to one based on someone promoting in the street. But the overall quality of the professionals in this town is good.

  3. Love those market halls. I can imagine myself sitting there, listening to people, getting inspired by colours, scents, whispers…

  4. Great pictures, Donna! Have to admit I have only been to Mexico City because I went on a business trip to see their government. Have to say I was really disappointed with Mexican food because, in my opinion, it tastes much better in Europe and the US.

    1. I haven’t spent much time in Mexico so cannot comment on the food. I did enjoy the fish tacos in Los Algodones. My favourite Mexican restaurant is a small nondescript one in Mesa, Arizona run by a Mexican family who travel regularly to Mexico for supplies.

  5. Never been there. Made me think of the movie Dallas Buyers Club. Some nice pictures to capture what looks to be a pretty colorful place.

  6. Love the pictures! This is just a couple hours away from where I live. I really should go out there for the day. I’ve had friends who’ve made the trip but I’ve never been over the border. Time to renew my passport I guess.

  7. Donna, you may not be much of a shopper but from the looks of the pictures you had fun looking around. I think I would be really nervous getting dental or medical treatment there or even have prescription filled. That stop at El Paraiso looks inviting.

    1. I haven’t gone for dental work and have had much of your misgivings. But I’ve heard enough positive feedback from people who have gone to consider it. I would seek a recommendation from someone I knew in selecting a particular dentist though.

  8. Mmmm…fish tacos! And what a colorful place! I’d never have known it existed if it weren’t for you. Glad you pointed out some of the details about getting back across the border! 🙂

  9. Woww Donna, beautiful and colourful pictures.
    Never been to Mexico,It looks like an interesting place.

    1. Love the glorious colors! Your photos and descriptions really show them off! Wonder if I can get some Pittsburghers to use colors besides black & gold. 🙂 Fun Traveling with you again!

  10. Reminds me of Tijuana a little bit and even though colorful, vibrant, and inexpensive I think I would feel better spending my money there on beer and food as opposed to dental work or medicine. Nice to have that town on the doorstep of Arizona though.

    1. I haven’t been to Tijuana so cannot compare. I spent my money on beer and food, not dental work, but I’ve heard enough positive stories to consider it if I needed to.

  11. Pacifico Light! Here in Boston the only Mexican light beer you can get is Corona Light. Don’t think it’s worth a trip just for that but I also have this bicuspid…

  12. Your photography is excellent. It has been years since I drive to Baja California. What is interesting nothing has changed which still make the towns quaint.

  13. Love that you captured the spirit of the vivid colors I’ve seen on Mexico trips Donna! I don’t think I’ve ever visited a small town there that WAS particularly attractive. I know I’ve only been to 2 or 3 smaller places but truthfully, I just make a decision to enjoy the color, the food and the people!

  14. Los Algodones looks like a nice place to visit for a day trip. I would definitely go to the market and bring some items back. From looking at the pictures the area reminds me of El Paso a little.

  15. Oh what memories this post has rekindled! My “ex” and I used to spend every weekend we could down in Mexico. Sometimes we’d haul our Hobie cat and do a little racing, and other times we just enjoyed camping, fishing and of course drinking. Our favorite place was San Felipe and I can only imagine how it’s grown since the last time I was there. Thanks for the fond memories. 🙂

  16. I have not been there, but I have visited towns across the border from Texas. The place you visited looks much more welcoming. I saw the not so nice area.