One fun and relatively hassle-free way to get to Juarez is through the El Paso/Juarez trolley Co. Don’t worry about knowing Mexican traffic laws, reading maps or locating street signs. For a $12 round-trip fee, the trolley driver will take you to "el otro lado", the other side, leaving you free to enjoy 10 stops that include malls, markets, restaurants and art galleries. The trolleys leave hourly, 10 am – 5 pm, daily from the Convention Center on San Francisco and Santa Fe. Many of El Paso's hotels have bus tours as well.

The second you set foot on bustling Avenida Benito Juarez, you’ll know you are in another country. While you might not be used to vendors who are as assertive as Carney hawkers, or the gauntlet of beseeching palms thrust in your path, the area’s energy and bi-cultural flavor is appealing. Filled with shops, restaurants, nightclubs and people, the place is exciting.

Juarez offers something for every type of shopper, from the markets where “chaffering” is still practiced, to the fancy boutiques where artsy one-of-a-kind objects are sold, to the more familiar territory of shopping malls. Shopping is easy in Juarez. Many businesses accept credit cards as well as US Dollars, and English is readily spoken.

A good starting place is the Juarez City Market, open from dawn to dusk. The sizable, two-story building offers the opportunity to buy jewelry, pottery, woven goods, baskets and numerous other crafts at bargain prices, as well as entertainment from the occasional street performer. The market is a pleasant walk from Avenida Benito Juarez, although taxis are readily available too.

Be sure and look around before buying in the market place. Often, after buying something in one shop you’ll find the same thing in another, only in amore appealing color or for a lower price. Besides, you can always go back to a shop to buy something, but returning a purchase is next to impossible. Also, the simple act of walking away from a shop often compels a vendor to call you back and lower the price. If you are planning on buying more than one item from a shop, you often can use that as a leverage to get a lower price.

Past Avenida 16 de Septiembre you’ll find one of the largest open markets in the Northern Mexico, near the old Guadalupe Mission. Snap a picture of the 1600s cathedral, constructed of adobe. Legend has it that its shadows point to the Lost Padre Mine, where Spanish gold is reputed to be stashed away in the Franklin Mountains. Nearby is the old customs house, now a museum.

Another mandatory stop for shopaholics is Pueblito Mexicano, on Avenida Lincoln. This mall, designed to look like a colonial Mexican pueblo, also features a folkloric theater and museum.

Dining is also a big attraction in Juarez. From tortas to cabrito, you’ll find an enormous variety of food and eateries. And if your palate isn’t set for south of the border, international cuisines, including American, can be found. Adventurous spirits need to beware of the side-of-the-street carts bearing succulent elotes, sizzling tacos and such. Yes, it’s all delicious, but it’s also risky.

From April to September, you might see walls plastered with posters displaying proud matadors and fierce toros. With the best matadors being as celebrated in Mexico as basketball heroes are in the states, it’s easy to understand why bullfighting is a popular sport. Plaza Monumental Bullring, on Pan American highway, is the fourth largest bullring in the world, seating 17,000.

Another exciting option is the Hipodromo y Galgodromo de Juarez, a newly remodeled haven for the sporting-minded. It features greyhound-racing Wednesday through Sunday year round. There is wagering on most US pro and college sports events and live in US horse racing simulcasts.

The nightlife in Juarez makes it a real playground. Unlike American cities whose downtowns become ghost towns after dark. Natives come out in the evening with their families and friends, making the plazas, streets, and commercial areas great for people watching.