Los Algodones, Mexico, is known as The Molar City, and we had to go see why. As the map behind us shows, in this small area are hundreds of dentists, vision offices, and pharmacies, all offering services at a reduced price. Reduced enough, in fact, that Americans come by the hundreds daily for their dental, vision, and prescription drug needs.
We did not go for any of those reasons, however. We just wanted to experience this phenomenon.
Crossing the border into Mexico
Los Algodones, Mexico, is only a short 23-minute drive from Yuma, Arizona. For those not wishing to drive into Mexico, there is a large parking lot near the crossing, with a short walk into Mexico. There is a fee to park, however, it is large enough even for RVs. In fact, we saw several in the parking lot when we were there.
So many snowbirds come to Los Algodones, that a large RV Park is being constructed next to the parking lot with full hook-up sites.
Is it Safe?
As long as you stay in this area, and do not venture out past where the businesses are, we feel it is safe.
We were also impressed that in the age of COVID, everyone wore masks, and we even had temperature checks for the liquor stores! If you’re going there for alcohol, remember that each person can only bring 1 liter of alcohol back across the border.
Vendors along the streets of Los Algodones
Besides all this, there are entrepreneurs selling everything from jewelry and watches to purses, blankets, hats, and many other items. In fact, it was a bit overwhelming to me. Vendors set up on the sidewalks in front of the medical businesses. Using every bit of their small space, including the overhang, they created a “tunnel of goods”. Walking through this tunnel, each vendor would tell you about their wares.
Every street has vendors selling similar items, as well as people trying to get you into their medical facilities. In fact, several offered us teeth cleanings for as low as $15!
Where to have Lunch?
There are several places to have a good, authentic, Mexican lunch. We at at Lupitas Shrimp y Fish Restaurant, which came highly recommended by Mike’s parents. The fish tacos were exceptionally good.
Coming Back Across the Border
Coming back into the US was definitely harder than just walking into Mexico. The line to walk back across the border begins forming around noon. The US closes walk-in crossing at 2:00 pm MT promptly, however this time is subject to change. We would recommend asking a border agent when you arrive. (Even though Los Algodones is in Pacific Time, they actually follow Mountain Time since most of the visitors come from the Yuma area. This is important to note because of the time the border closes.)
If you are later than 2:00, then you either have to pay someone to bring you back across in their vehicle, or spend the night in Los Algodones! We made sure we were in line a little after noon!
Of course, the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well for those of us waiting in line. Vendors walked up and down the line selling more items.
Fortunately, the line moved quickly for us. We had our passports ready for the agent to check and moved on through the Border Patrol Checkpoint. We have heard of times where the line is so long, and moves so slowly, that even if you’ve been in line for up to two hours, you may not make it across by 2:00.
And, of course, images of the wall are never far away.
Our Thoughts on Los Algodones
While we are not endorsing a trip to Los Algodones for medical and/or prescription reasons, there are those who swear by it. The dental facilities that we could see from the windows appeared to be exactly what one would see in America. Our recommendation is to do your own research when it comes to your health.
However, we do recommend going to Los Algodones at least once just for the experience. We can now check “a trip to Los Algodones” off our travel bucket list!
Planning your Trip to Los Algodones
The Yuma Tourism site has a wonderful post about planning your trip to Los Algodones. Click here for more information.
Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon. Click here to read about each book in the series and and see her quilt gallery. Click here to check out her Amazon Author Page.