The Rio Grande River is the dividing border between Texas and Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Progreso, TX is on the north bank and Nuevo Progreso is on the south bank of the river. Visiting this Mexican border town is a fun and safe day trip while in the Rio Grande Valley.
The town caters to and relies on “Winter Texans” for its livelihood. Merchants sell wares such as ceramics, leather goods, home décor, clothes, liquor, cigarettes, and pharmaceuticals. Services include barbers, shoe shining, manicures and pedicures and dental clinics. Lots of dental clinics. We don’t know the exact number of dentists in the town but it well exceeds 100.
The International Bridge over the Rio Grande River connecting the US and Mexico is a toll bridge for both vehicles and pedestrians. Vehicles pay $2 when traveling either direction and pedestrians pay 50 cents to enter Mexico and 25 cents to enter the US. There is a parking lot just to the north of the bridge for pedestrians to leave their cars and walk across the border into Mexico. The lot charges $2 for cars and $5 for RVs. No identification is needed to enter Mexico but passports are required for entering the US.
Approximately 1.25 million pedestrians and millions of cars cross the bridge between the two countries every year making Nuevo Progreso a very busy town. We took two trips there during our stay in the Rio Grande Valley and it was busy both times.
Panhandlers can be seen and heard under the bridge hawking for handouts. They are not allowed on the bridge itself but occasionally one will stick their hat or hands out between the railings in hopes of a contribution.
On our first trip we were with friends and spent the day shopping and exploring.
Our second trip was specifically for dental visits for both of us. Every dental clinic we looked at had people in the waiting room. One clinic we inquired at had a 3.5 hour wait for dental cleanings and their waiting room was packed. We did find an office with a minimal wait time and had a very favorable experience at a reasonable price.
Drug stores are abundant in number as well. You can purchase a wide assortment of medicines except for controlled substances without a prescription for a fraction of the price in the US or Canada. The pharmacies we walked by seemed to be doing a robust business.
Beware, the state of Texas imposes a tax on all liquor and cigarette purchases made in Mexico and brought into the state and has a collection station right at the border.
At no time during our trips across the border did we feel unsafe. Law enforcement officers were present and even though the area was crowded it wasn’t chaotic. We enjoyed our time there and were pleased at the money we saved on dental work and medicines.