Chichicastenango is a small town in the Western Highlands of Guatemala (pop. about 23000). Located at an altitude of 2030m, it is surrounded by valleys and mountains. It is mostly renowned for its colourful markets, held on Thurdsays and Sundays, where it is said that some of the most beautiful traditional Mayal textiles are sold.
After 17km from the Los Encuentros junctions, you will go through endless switchbacks to reach Chichicastenango. Many buses and shuttles from Guatemala City, Antigua and Panajachel provide easy access to Los Encuentros and change the bus there toward Chichicastenango. There are steady flow of direct buses for market days.
The Festival of Santo Thomas is one of the largest celebrations in Guatemala. It is a combination of a city festival with traditional dances, a religious celebration by the Cofradia and the regular market.
It starts December 13th and goes to December 22nd with the biggest day December 21st. There are Toros and Castillos of fireworks in the main square in the evening, after dark. Firecrackers and mortars are set off in front of the Church of Santo Thomas all day long.
There are two religious processions per day, lead by the Cofradia carrying altars decorated with flowers and fruit collecting the saints from neighborhood chapels and taking them to the Church of Santo Thomas.
- 1 Iglesia Santo Tomas, 5a Avenida, Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
- 2 Chichi Market, Plaza Central, Chichicastenango 14006, Guatemala. Thursday and Sunday. Morning to late afternoon.. A large market on Thursdays and Sundays with a wide range of handicrafts from local and far flung Mayan communities. Be ready to bargain in a pleasant and enjoyable sort of way!
There's a small Inguat tourist information office beside Santo Tomás church on 8 Calle with good stock of leaflests about Chichicastenango.
Visit the market on Thursdays or Sundays where vendors sell everything from chickens to telephones. The market is also the best place to buy traditional Mayan fabrics. Vendors selling similar products (flowers, produce, livestock, clothing, etc.) set up near each other, creating an informal zone structure. Prices get generally cheaper as you get farther away from the center. Go early in the morning to avoid the influx of tour groups arriving by bus.
- 1 Chichi Market, Plaza Central, Chichicastenango 14006, Guatemala. A large market on Thursdays and Sundays with a wide range of handicrafts from local and far flung Mayan communities. While you will get better prices if you visit a Mayan community, the Chichi market is the best place to see the full range of Mayan handicraft products. A must visit in Guatemala. Be ready to bargain in a pleasant and enjoyable sort of way!
- 1 Casa de San Juan, 4a Ave. Plaza Central, Chichicastenango, Guatemala (Tucked away as it is on a side street of the plaza central, ask for directions from any shop around the plaza.), ☎ . This is where upscale Guatemalans go for good food. The restaurant is in an old colonial building near the iglesia and offers a mix of Guatemalan dishes along with burgers etc.
- 2 Restaurante Don Pasqual, 4a Ave San Juan 6-57 (Easy to find since it is on the main market street), ☎ . The restaurant is on the second floor so you get great views of the market. but this is the "tourist" restaurant in Chichi. On market days you'll see a mostly white crowd eating a mix of Guatemalan and mexican food.
- 1 Posada El Arco, Calle 4-36 4, Chichicastenango 14006, Guatemala, ☎ . Family run posada with a garden. Breakfast included. Unfortunately not easy to reserve (no website, no email, and phone hardly ever works). You'll get a room if you show up. Walking distance from the (famous!) market. $15-$30.
- 2 Mayan Inn, Avenida 8a Calle 1-91 Diagonal Santo Tomas 3a, Chichicastenango 14006, Guatemala.
- 3 Santo Tomas Hotel, Av 5 - 32 Zona unica 7, Chichicastenango 14006, Guatemala. The upscale hotel in Chichi. Right next to the market and the church.