With amazing waterfalls, Euopean style cities, and the best organic coffee you’ll ever try, Chiapas, Mexico is one of the most beautiful states in all of Mexico! Below, you will find everything you need with plenty of ideas for things to do, where to stay, where to eat and more to make your trip to Chiapas unforgettable!
How to Get There
If you want to see the most that Chiapas has to offer, staying in the beautiful Pueblo Mágico of San Cristóbal de las Casas is the best option. We initially stayed in Chiapa de Corzo because it is closer to the Sumidero Canyon (see below), but looking back we wished we would have spent those two nights in San Cristóbal instead. Most tours operate from San Cristóbal as well, making it a great option to launch from.
As far away as Chiapas and San Cristóbal seem, getting there is actually quite simple. Whether you are traveling from within Mexico or outside of Mexico, you will want to fly into the airport of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Note: Almost all of the flights stop in Mexico City so don’t be surprised if you don’t see non-stop flights available.
From the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport there are several taxi, shuttle bus, and commercial bus options available that will get you from the airport to San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Because we stayed in Chiapa de Corzo first, we didn’t take a shuttle bus to San Cristóbal, but we did take one on our way to the airport on our way home. We booked the shuttle (and all of our tours) with Jalepeño Tours and it arrived on time and worked out great. The shuttles cost 200 pesos (about 10 USD) per person from San Cristóbal directly to the airport in Tuxtla.
Though, as we are researching information for this very post it seems that Jalapeño tours doesn’t have a very accessible website to book shuttles. We booked in person with them in San Cristóbal without any issues- but if you are having doubts you can either attempt to email them at email@example.com. There are also ADO busses available which can be booked ahead of time directly on their site at www.ado.com.mx. ADO is one of the larger bus service companies and we have used their services several times without problem. Search for trips from “Tuxtla Gutierrez” to “San Cristóbal de las Casas” and all of the daily options for your selected dates will appear.
Note: All of the options that are ADO or ADO gl, as opposed to OCC, are the first class options. The OCC buses are just fine, but if the timing of your flight arrival works out, the extra 20-30 pesos (1-2 dollars) is well worth it to take the first class bus instead.
Where to Stay
There are an abundance of options for good places to stay in San Cristóbal, from hostels to luxury hotels, there are options for every type of traveler. We actually stayed in three seperate hotels in San Cristóbal, and we would highly recommend two of the three!
♦ Budget Option
Hotel Casa Margarita is an excellent budget option if you are looking for a hotel under 40 dollars per night. It is in a GREAT location, right in the heart of downtown San Cristóbal and the staff is extremely helpful and friendly.
The only downside is that the rooms didn’t receive much sunlight and they seemed to say kind of damp. This was ok for a few nights, but after a while sleeping under a damp sheet started to get old. Overall, Hotel Casa Margarita is a great hotel in San Cristóbal de las Casas if you want more than a hostel, but you don’t want to break the bank.
Note: We traveled to Chiapas at the end of its rainy season (July-October) so this might not be an issue during the dryer winter months.
♦ Mid Range Option
Sombra del Agua is an amazing hotel! At around 50-60 dollars a night you are getting one of the best hotels we have stayed in in Mexico!
Note: We don’t usually stay in fancy hotels so let’s keep that in mind. 😜 The extra 10-15 USD per night over the Hotel Casa Margarita felt well worth it. It is in a great location, the rooms are large, the beds are comfortable, and the showers are amazing.
♦ High End Option
We don’t roll like that so unfortunately we don’t have a hotel to recommend to you in this price range. But the "mid range" option was SO good, you won't need anything any nicer!
What to do in Chiapas
Planning a trip to Chiapas can be very overwhelming. There sheer number of things to do in Chiapas is mind boggling. But don’t you worry- we are here to help! We suggest planning at least 5 days (or more) for your trip to Chiapas. We stayed for 7 days and we felt like that gave us enough time to relax and enjoy Chiapa de Corzo and San Cristóbal de las Casas for an afternoon or a morning in between tours to regroup.
There are several tour companies that you will find online, but we actually don’t recommend booking anything ahead of time. (I know--this is a hard concept for those of us who are over-planners!) Many of the tours we found online were substantially more expensive than the companies you will find in San Cristóbal and the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas is so nice and beautiful that we think it would be a mistake to overplan/overbook tours.
♦ Enjoy the Beautiful City of San Cristóbal de las Casas
There are many amazing things to see in Chiapas so it can be easy to go, go, go and forget to stop and enjoy San Cristóbal. That would be a mistake. Plan to spend 2-3 days just walking around and enjoying the city with a nice cup of coffee along one of the beautiful streets! You can visit the market (address below), take a stroll down one of the many pedestrian walking streets, sip delicious coffee, and visit the beautiful Iglesia de Guadalupe to see some amazing views of the city.
--Market: Av 20 de Noviembre 30, Barrio del Cerrillo, 29220 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., Mexico
--Iglesia de Guadalupe: Cumbre Guadalupe, Barrio de Guadalupe, 29200 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., Mexico
♦ Sumidero Canyon
The Sumidero Canyon was our very first stop on our trip to Chiapas and it might have been our favorite tour! Floating down the river in between the canyon walls was truly incredible. We booked this tour in Chiapa de Corzo through our hotel and paid 250 pesos per person. Though, after our trip, we would recommend staying in San Cristóbal and booking this tour from there instead. Many of the tour companies in San Cristóbal offer the Sumidero Canyon tour with the option to visit the lookout spots from the top of the canyon as well.
Initially, this is something that we really wanted to do, but we couldn’t find tours in Chiapa de Corzo that had this option. However, after visiting the canyon from the bottom I don’t think we missed out. I am sure the views from the top of the canyon are amazing, but being wedged between the canyon walls at the bottom is the true Sumidero Canyon experience.
Note: We booked all of our tours (except the Sumidero Canyon) through Jalapeño Tours in San Cristóbal de las Casas. We booked in person usually just the day before we wanted to do the tour. Some of the online reviews for Jalapeño Tours are very mixed, but we had a great experience with them. Something to know is that outside of the tour to Chamula and Zinacantan, the tours don’t come with a guide. They essentially drive you to the location and give you “free time” to explore.
♦ Visit Chiapa de Corzo
Although San Cristóbal de las Casas is the main tourist hub in Chiapas, Chiapa de Corzo is not to be missed! Luckily for you, most of the tours to the Sumidero Canyon from San Cristóbal de las Casas include a visit to the Pueblo Mágico of Chiapa de Corzo and include some time to explore. Our recommendation is to try and find (and eat!) as many different types of traditional candies/sweets as you can! You will find them being sold all along the outside of the main square. If you see a tray full of small tan objects with pink/red frosting, buy the entire tray! You will thank us later! I believe they are called "nuegados" and they are life changing. Close to a homemade donut...except better..way better..
♦ Visit the Indigenous Communities of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan
Chiapas has one of the highest populations of indigenous peoples. A trip to Zinacantán and Chamula is a great way to get to know Chiapas outside of the touristy hub of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Note: San Juan Chamula is a very interesting and fascinating community. They have their own rules, laws, police, etc. If your tour guide tells you not to take a picture of something (e.i. the inside of the church), just don't. Also, we would highly recommend taking a tour to these communities as opposed to taking off on your own. We paid $250 pesos (about $13 USD) per person for the tour that visited both communities.
♦ Cascadas El Chiflón and Lagos de Montebello
Buckle up and bring an extra pair of underwear, because this is going to be a fun day! ..but seriously, it's not a bad idea to bring a change of clothes and most definitely buckle your seatbelt because the roads to Lagos de Montebello are pretty windy! Both the Lagos de Montebello and the Cascadas El Chiflón are amazing and cannot be missed! Wear a swimsuit under your clothes and bring a towel. There is an option to get in water at both places and barely any time to change clothes--so don't waste any time--wear a suit!
The Cascadas El Chiflón look like something out of the jungles of Hawaii or Thailand and then the Lagos de Montebello make you feel as if you’re swimming in a lake made from frozen glacier water. These are two sites that can’t be missed in Chiapas! Note: There are a few additional costs that made this tour more expensive than the others. We paid $280 pesos (about $14.50 USD) per person for the actual tour. We were taken to a specific place for lunch during the tour where there was a set price of $140 pesos ($7.20 USD) per meal. Then at the Lagos de Montebello, the entire group had to choose if/which boat tour we wanted to take. We chose the 1 hour option at $150 pesos ($7.70 USD) per person. So although the tour price was sold to us at $280 pesos, a more reasonable estimate of this tour would be about $550-600 pesos $28.50-31 USD) per person. Still absolutely worth it for a full day tour that is unlike anything else!
♦ Things We Missed
Because we ran out of time there are many things in (and near) Chiapas that we didn’t get to see/do. Palenque, coffee farms, Guatemala, and Cascadas las Nubes are just a few tf the things we missed out on during our first trip to Chiapas. Hopefully we will be able to update this post soon after we can make a return trip to visit many of the places we missed the first time around!
Where to Eat
There seems to be good food around every corner of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Here are a list of a few of our favorite places we had during our time in San Cristóbal--
♦ El Caldero-- Who knew soup could be so good?
♦ Al Grano Cafe-- Great coffee and excellent omelets covered in mole sauce.
♦ Madonna mia - fonda italiana-- Excellent italian food at an unbeatable price!
♦ Falafel 100% Vegetariano-- Looking for something different? The falafel here is amazing!
♦ Verde Natural-- Great breakfast packets and excellent coffee.
We didn't eat a bad meal in San Cristóbal de las Casas. They had a ton of international food options, more coffee shops than you can imagine, and many vegan and vegetarian options as well.
Chiapas is one of the top recommend places to visit in Mexico as there are a TON of things to do and see in this beautiful southern state! That being the case, planning the ultimate trip to Chiapas can be overwhelming! We recommend heading to San Cristóbal de las Casas with a few things in mind that you would like to do, but because of the extreme availability of tours, there is no reason to book anything in advance. In fact, you will have a lot more fun in Chiapas if you don’t!
Don't hesitate to email us with any Chiapas questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, Have Less. Do More. Be More.