Los Algodones, Mexico is an interesting little town to say the least.
Medical tourism runs this town as they have the highest concentration of dentists, pharmacies and optometries in the world.
Getting to Los Algodones, Mexico
Los Algodones, Mexico is located just under 10 miles west of Yuma Arizona and is directly next to the border crossing. From Interstate 8 you will take exit 166 south toward the Quechan Casino. Keep heading south and approximately 2.5 miles from he casino there will be signs indicating that it is your last chance to turn around and to your right you will see a day use parking lot. It is enormous, but don't miss the turn because right after this is immigration control taking you into Mexico.
Once you turn into the parking lot you will come to a booth to pay the $6 fee for parking. After that just pick a spot and lock up your car. As always if you have anything valuable that you didn't leave at home, make sure it is hidden away somewhere to deter thieves from trying anything silly. We didn't see anything suspicious but thats just a good rule to go by.
Walk toward the border crossing and you will walk thru a large turnstile, thru a small building that had a large X-ray matching and then thru a short winding path. After a few minutes you will find yourself right there and the main street in Los Algodones! We didn't even see or talk to a Mexican immigration officer...
Dentist, Pharmacies & Optometrists
Almost immediately we were approached by a few people inquiring what services we were looking for. We told them that we were just looking around and they left us be. The sheer number of dentists, optometrists and pharmacies is amazing for such a small town. They are everywhere and right on top of each other.
We did not use any of the services available but it is clear why people come here to have dental work done and to get new eye glasses. The prices displayed at these offices were very low compared to anything I have seen in the United States. It is starting to become more clear to my why medical tourism is such a huge industry.
Little craft markets & Duty Free Shopping
As with most places there were little markets set up on nearly every street where locals had tiny booths set up selling almost anything that you can imagine from t-shirts to ceramic dishes to piñatas!
It seems that a lot of the same items are being sold all over the town, but you can usually haggle and get a better price. Be willing to walk away and try again with another vendor. Pretty much every shop owner will say something to try and get your attention.. just say no thank you and keep walking.
Now lets talk about duty free shopping. ..really by duty free shopping mean alcohol. They have pretty much every type of liquor you could think of and the prices were really great! For example we got a bottle of rum for half the price that we normally pay in the United States. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!
Travel TIP: Coming back into the US, you are only allowed 1 liter per person. No more!
I wanted to make sure that I pointed this out because this is a little different than coming back into the US at every other border crossing. Most of the time you can bring back more and you are only required to declare it and pay the necessary duties. We were informed that because we were coming back into the country thru California on foot that the laws were different.
music, a big lunch and heading home
Right in the center of town there was a plaza that we cam across and was filled with tables, vendors and musicians. We decided to get some lunch and sit for a few before heading back to the US. Prices for lunch were pretty reasonable. Chicken fajita plate with rice and beans was $8 and a 3 item combo was $9.
About the author
Rachael Sandon is an accomplished travel writer, photographer and brand ambassador. She has been traveling extensively for the past 10 years and during this time she has visited 32 countries while continuing to work a full time job and raise a family.