North America > Mexico > Yucatán and the South > Chiapas > San Cristóbal de las Casas
Founded by the Spanish in 1528, San Cristóbal de las Casas was the political capital of Chiapas until the end of the 19th century, when that role was transferred to Tuxtla Gutierrez. The city today however is still the cultural capital of the state, and was designated a 'Pueblo Mágico' by the Mexican government in 2003. It has retained much of its Spanish colonial character in its street plans and architecture, and has a large indigenous population made up primarily of Tzotzil- and Tzeltal-speaking Mayans.
For many visitors, San Cristóbal is associated with the Zapatista uprising and its charismatic leader Subcomandante Marcos, who suddenly seized control of the city center in January 1994 demanding justice and equal rights for the state's large and neglected indigenous population. Although the Zapatistas managed to achieve some of their aims, most of their goals have not yet been met, and the movement continues to simmer.
- 1 State Tourist Office, Palacio Municipal (on the W side of the Zócalo), ☏ . M-F 08:00-20:00, Sa 09:00-20:00, Su 09:00-14:00. Has free city maps, lists of hotels, and bus schedules. Most staff speak some English.
Because of its high altitude (2,200 m), San Cristóbal has a more temperate climate and it is easy to forget that one is actually in the tropics. In the summer high temperatures tend to be around 25°C with lows averaging about 10-11°C, while in winter temperatures can range from 4°-20°, with lows occasionally dropping below 0°C. As in most of Mexico, most buildings do not have central heating, so visitors in winter will want to have warm clothing.
Michael Spurgeon, Let the Water Hold Me Down. A fictionalized account of the Zapatista uprising, told from the standpoint of an American resident who found himself caught unawares in events leading up to the 1994 uprising.
The closest airport to San Cristóbal is in Tuxtla Gutierrez, a drive of about 1 hour 15 minutes. The fare for a taxi is M$600 per taxi to San Cristóbal and M$200 to Tuxtla, ADO Shuttle to the San Cristóbal terminal for M$200 (these coincide with the arrival or departure of flights) or a shuttle service offering door-to-door service for M$200 to/from San Cristóbal.
The bus network for getting around Mexico is safe, clean, reliable and affordable. There are multiple companies with professional and helpful ticket clerks at most main stations. The roads to San Cristóbal are winding and can be dizzying so some choose the option to take a bus and let a professional driver do the work. You can see the beautiful greenery of Chiapas all around you on the trip through the big bus windows, or pull the curtain to nap. The bus and colectivo companies have their own stands and stations clustered around Av Insurgente and Carretera de las Americas (Hwy 190) in Barrio San Diego (SE part of town).
- 1 Omnibus Cristobal Colon (OCC) (Terminal Central de Autobuses), Avenida Insurgentes s/n (NE corner of Av Insurgente and Carr de las Americas.), ☏ . This terminal serves OCC a subsidiary of Grupo ADO, with direct connections from Oaxaca, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Palenque, Campeche, Merida, Mexico City, Villahermosa and other Mexican cities. Connections to the Guatemalan border at Cd Cuauhtémoc/La Mesilla. Some 2nd-class buses also stop here. Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the station.
- 2 Autobuses Expreso Azul (AEXA), Av. Insurgentes y Blvd Juan Sabines S/N (SW corner of Av Insurgente and Carr de las Americas.), ☏ . Direct connections to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Palenque and other places in Chiapas state.
By colectivo and ómnibus
There are many other public transportation modes from Tuxtla to San Cristóbal: taxi, colectivo, and collective suburbans. The taxi drivers all know where these are located. Local travel agents in Antigua Guatemala and San Cristobal de las Casas sell tickets for direct colectivos between Antigua, Panajachel and San Cristobal las Casas.
From Tuxtla one can take an Ómnibus de Chiapas that leaves every 20 minutes to San Cristóbal for about $40 MXN.
If you are reasonably mobile you should be able to walk anywhere within the city without strain. Bicycles are also a good way to get around if you have an adventurous side.
Taxis are all over the place (a little too many of them, honestly) and easy to flag down. Rates are negotiable, and are generally M$30-40; after 22:00 fares go up by M$5. Ask the price before getting in to make sure that you get the going rate.
Note: Because of a number of assaults by drivers, solo women are strongly advised to avoid hailing taxis on the street after dark. It is best to call for one or have one called for you.
The main form of public transportation for locals come in the form of a van or minibus. Colectivos run fixed routes, with destinations painted on the windshield. Passengers can be picked up or dropped of any point along the route for a fare of M$6. Be prepared for a cramped ride and frequent stops but hey, that's just part of the fun.
- 1 Templo de Santo Domingo Guzmán, 20 de Noviembre s/n. Daily. Built in the mid-16th century, this is the most notable of San Cristóbal's many churches. The Baroque façade is a mix of Oaxacan and Guatemalan styles, and the ornate interior is richly gilded. The interior is especially beautiful in the evening with candlelight. Free.
- 2 Museo de los Altos de Chiapas (Exconvento Santo Domingo de Guzmán), 20 de Noviembre s/n (Barrio El Cerrillo), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-18:00. Housed in the former convent, this museum displays artifacts illustrating the history of Chiapas and the region. On the first floor is the Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya, also known as the Francesco Pellizzi Collection, a remarkable collection of historic and contemporary Mayan textiles from Chiapas and Guatemala. M$48.
- 3 Museo de la Medicina Maya (Maya Medicine Museum), Calz Salomón González Blanco 10 (Col Morelos), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su 10:00-16:00. Not to be missed, this museum is operated by a collective of indigenous healers and herbalists. Information is available in English and Spanish and there are also healers on site to treat whatever ailment you may suffer. M$25.
- 4 Museo Na Bolom, Av Vicente Guerrero 33 (Barrio El Cerrillo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 09:00-20:00. The former home of Swiss anthropologist/photographer Gertrudis Duby Blom, the wife of Danish archeologist Frans Blom, continues to be an inn and museum managed by her supporters and associates. The museum also includes an extensive library of research on the Maya. M$45 adults, M$25 concessions.
- 5 Museo del Ámbar (Amber Museum), Diego de Mazariegos s/n (in the Convento de la Merced), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-14:00, 16:00-19:30. Housed in a former convent, this small museum displays more than 300 specimens of amber, and also offers some beautiful pieces for sale. This is a good place to visit if you intend to purchase amber in Chiapas, as staff can explain how to identify real vs. fake amber: real amber is always warm to the touch, and emits a faint resin smell when rubbed. M$20.
- 6 Museo Mesoamericano del Jade (La Casa del Jade), Ave 16 de Septiembre 16, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 12:00-20:00. This small museum displays ancient jade artifacts and jewelry, and sells high-quality contemporary pieces. M$30 (adults), M$15 (students).
- 7 Templo de Guadalupe (Cerro de Guadalupe). Situated up a long flight of stairs on a hill to the west of town, this church itself is not especially noteworthy but does offer good views of the town. This area is not safe after dark, and even during the day solo women may be harassed.
- 8 Templo de San Cristóbal (Derro de San Cristóbal). Located on a hill to the east of town, this church offers good views of the town below. This area is also not safe after dark.
- 9 Orquídeas Moxviquil, Periférico Norte 4, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Established in 1994, this garden grows orchids and other plants rescued from nearby areas undergoing deforestation, and is dedicated to preserving and displaying all varieties of orchids native to the state of Chiapas. Nearby, on property owned by the gardens, is the unexcavated Mayan site of Moxviquil. All that remains of the structures are the foundations, which can be reached via a short hiking trail beginning from the garden area. The gardens are best visited in the spring beginning in April, when most of the orchids are in bloom. M$30 (gardens only), M$50 (gardens + archaeological site).
- There is a drum and brass band and singers who perform patriotic melodies at 08:00 Mondays at the main square. Musicians may be found at the square evenings as well.
- Constant cultural activities around the Centro.
Stroll around town, enjoy the environment and lovely buildings, visit cafés, restaurants, churches and squares.
After the Zapatista movement came out of the jungle in 1994 a great load of NGOs came to San Cristóbal. Nowadays you can find lots of interesting projects with many NGOs working in and around the city.
- Natatéworks on sustainable projects in San Cristóbal and within the state of Chiapas. Nataté works in different fields: education, water and waste management (dry toilets, water filtering), reforestation, construction. Short and long term projects are available.
- FrayBa sends Human Rights Observers to Zapatista communities.
People should be aware of cultural issues in this region. While San Cristóbal has done a great job of cleaning up, there is serious poverty if you scratch the surface. 75% of people in Chiapas live in poverty, by far the highest rate in Mexico. The native people suffer a lot so please treat them with respect and kindness. Also, the Zapatista communities are sick and tired of the "hand out" mentality of a lot of NGOs. If you want to interact with the Zapatistas, do it on their terms. Ask plenty of questions. They have a lot more to teach you than you do them.
- 2 Spanish Immersion School La Casa en el Árbol, Francisco I Madero 29, ☏ (office), (mobile), ✉ email@example.com. An enthusiastic and socially committed language school. La Casa en el Árbol offers intense Spanish Immersion Programs, courses in the Mayan languages Tsotsil and Tseltal, and volunteering programs.
- 3 San Cristóbal Language School, Av Remesal (corner of Francisco I Madero), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. SCLS is part of one of the premier Spanish language networks in Mexico (the Teach Me Mexico Network). It is in a historic casona in the heart of downtown San Cristóbal, and is the only school in town in which all Spanish teachers have college degrees.
- 4 Instituto Jovel, Francisco I Madero 45, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. One of the oldest and most respected schools for learning Spanish as a second language. It is the only Spanish school established in its own beautiful building. Instituto Jovel is the only school which offers credits to college and university students.
- 1 Handicrafts market, 20 de Noviembre s/n (on the grounds of Templo Santo Domingo). One of the best places to buy souvenirs and textiles.
- 2 Sna Jolobil, Calz Lázaro Cárdenas 42 (near the handicrafts market, in the Exconvento Santo Domingo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A textile cooperative with authentic goods from the surrounding villages. The prices are a good deal more expensive, but you'll be getting the real handmade goods.
- 3 Talabartería Ballinas, Av Presidente Portes Gil 8A (Col Revolución Mexicana; from the centre take Flavio Paniagua East and turn left (north) along Huixtla and it's several blocks on, on the left-hand side)), ☏ . To get your quality leather products (bags, purses, rucksacks, belts) custom made, Vicente Hernández will exercise his excellent handicraft skills for you.
- 4 Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías, Av Insurgentes. Daily. Traders sell a good range of local handcrafts here, but are less willing to bargain.
- 5 TierraAdentro Centro Cultural, Real de Guadalupe 24 (east of the Parque Central), ☏ . Daily 08:00-23:00. A complex which sells handicrafts, t-shirts, posters, etc. in a cooperative which helps the autonomous communities of the Zapatista movement. The restaurant is very popular with tourists and NGO employees.
- 6 Mercado José Castillo Tielemans (Municipal Market), General Utrilla. Dawn to dusk. The daily market, which people from nearby villages visit to purchase and sell everything from herbs, live chickens, dried fish, housewares, and clothing.
- 7 Abuelita Books, Av Cristóbal Colón 2, ☏ . Th-M 12:30-20:30. Carries a decent selection of mostly used books in English, and a number of books in Spanish, German, and French.
- 8 Marchante Mercadito Culinario, Real de Guadalupe 28, ☏ . Daily 11AM–10PM. A place to look for local culinary gifts (mezcal, cajeta, etc).
- 9 Chedraui, Diagonal Hermanos Paniagua 50 (Plaza Comercial), ☏ , toll-free: . Daily 07:00-23:00. This branch of the Mexican hypermarket chain carries everything you might need, and has an onsite bakery and pharmacy. A taxi sitio is conveniently located outside the main entrance.
On and around the main square there are many sit-down restaurants. You can find cheaper food at the local street vendors and at the markets.
Go to the main public market and eat tamales for breakfast. Another local specialty is sopa de pan which you will probably not find in any restaurant catering to tourists. You will find it in the comedors in the market. That is the best food in town.
On Saturdays many houses sell tamales out their front door. Look for the red lights. On any given evening there are places where people make antojitos on the street in front of their houses. This is real local food.
At certain times of the year different insects are consumed in different ways. Pay attention in the market and you might have the chance to try something really exotic.
A lunch time bargain is in the different cantinas. These are family places: order a beer and you will get a little plate of food to go with it - house choice. It's cheap and excellent, though, you might get drunk in the process.
- 1 Cocoliche San Cristóbal, Cristóbal Colón 3 (close to Real de Guadalupe), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 12:00-24:00. Mexican, Asian, pasta, vegetarian, smoothies, juices, sandwiches, burritos, all very good. Free Wi-Fi. They frequently have free bands that play here in the evenings. Prices are very reasonable, but diners should take care to inspect the bill and change, as mistakes are frequent and nearly always in the restaurant's favor. M$50 and up.
- 2 Natura Bistro, Real de Guadalupe 26 (corner of Belisario Domínguez), ☏ . Daily 07:30-23:30. Coffee, bagels, etc., in a nice small corner bar.
- Restaurante Taniperla, María Adelina Flores 23, ☏ . Has a noteworthy quesadilla recipe, also live music and vegetarian options.
- 3 El Caldero, Insurgentes 5A (next to Toluc), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 11:00-22:00. Enjoy some hearty traditional Mexican soups. The menu also includes salads and few other snacks. M$59 for any of the soups.
- 4 El Tacoleto, Francisco I Madero 24B (right across the street from Latino's night club), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su-Th 16:30-24:00, F Sa 16:30-01:00. Some friendly and attentive wait staff, serving Mexican tacos and quesadillas. Lacking any chicken tacos but other than that everything is great. Very clean places and quick service.
- 5 El Mesón del Taco, Crescencio Rosas 26, ☏ . M-Sa 18:00-01:00, Su 17:00-24:00. Tacos al pastor, quesadillas and other Mexican food. M$40-50.
- Quesadillas de Lupita, Av Hermanos Domínguez (in the street in front of the San Francisco mercado, third entrance on the left side). Evenings from 20:30. Different food every day, made with a lot of love.
- El Molcajete, Miguel Hidalgo 6B (in front of the Law School heading towards El Carmen Church on the pedestrian street). Known for its delicious pozole, a traditional Mexican meal. Reasonably priced and filling.
- 6 Café Las Nubes, C Niños Héroes 2a, ☏ . Daily 08:00-23:00. Famous for its dimly lit ambiance creating a nice mellow mood, also a place where Gourmet Coffee is done right and always 2x1 for any drink on the menu all day long also offering breakfasts, lunch and dinner.
- El Alebrije, Calle El Caminero (near the Isste Supermercado). M-Sa. A local favorite near all the hustle and bustle of the market, offering inexpensive Mexican meals that taste great. Main courses of menu usually changes daily.
- La Casa del Pan, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Two Locations both with restaurant and bakery. Known for its quality baked goods as well as the organic products used in the restaurant and sold in the store. A nice selection for vegetarian and more health conscious visitors.
- 7 La Casa del Pan, Dr Navarro 10 (Barrio del Cerillo), ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-17:00. The original La Casa del Pan, known for the fountain in front providing a perfect outdoor sitting area.
- 8 La Casa del Pan, Real de Guadalupe 55, ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-17:00. In a building offering a cinema, bar, language school, yoga and few more activities.
- 9 TierraAdentro Centro Cultural, Real de Guadalupe 24, ☏ . Daily 08:00-23:00. Mexican and Italian kitchen, vegetarian options, smoothies, juices. Free Wi-Fi. The restaurant is very popular with tourists and NGO employees. Surrounding the covered patio there are shops. For example the Zapatista cooperative "Women for Dignity" with clothes and craft and the store of the Zapatistan shoe factory of Oventik. M$45 and up.
Most all restaurants serve filtered water. The local drink here is "posh" or pox. It is a hard liquor made from cane and has been used traditionally for healing and partying. It is frequently served in ponche – a pineapple or fruit hot punch with a special bread broken into it.
Cafés and chocolaterias
- 1 Café Toyol Witz, C Comitán 10B (Barrio del Cerrillo), ☏ . For a Fair Trade, shade-grown cup of coffee that is beat by no other check out this local cafe that doubles as the first floor of the owner's home. Slightly off the beaten path to the city center, you'll find the cafe keeper to be more than willing to help answer any questions you may have about the coffee or neighborhood.
- 2 Cacao Nativa, No. 2-A Entre Insurgentes y, Benito Juárez (next to the Templo de San Francisco), ☏ . Daily 08:00-22:00. Great chocolate to drink, eat or take out. Free Wi-Fi.
- 3 Yik Café Andador Eclesiástico, Av 20 de Noviembre 8, ☏ . Daily 07:30-23:00. A good place to relax with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and watch the activity in the square. The café also serves good breakfasts and lunches.
- 4 Café Museo Café, Maria Adelina Flores 10. M-Sa 08:00-22:00. This combined café and museum is run by a collective of 17,000 indigenous coffee growers from Chiapas. The displays illustrate the history of coffee cultivation in the state. Far better than the displays however is the organic coffee they serve – especially worth sampling is the café de chiapaneca, a local variant of the traditional spiced Mexican café de olla. M$30 (museum admission).
Nightly there are many bars with music on the same street, including 5 Café Bar Revolución (aka El Revo, ☏ . Most of the music is performed by local musicians in the clubs and restaurants; this includes the 6 El Cocodrilo Bar (in the Santa Clara Hotel on the SE corner of the Zócalo, ☏ ), with nightly music.
- 7 La Viña de Bacco, Real de Guadalupe 7, ☏ . M-Sa 14:00-24:00. A wine bar with a good selection of wines and beer, including many from Mexico. Free tapas are served with each glass. M$35 per glass and up.
San Cristóbal is considered by some to be the backpackers hub in Chiapas. Some accommodation should be found for around M$50. There are signs on buildings advertising rooms for that amount, though they may have common bathrooms. Very nice hotels such as Hotel Real del Valle on Guadalupe just off the main square may be had for M$200.
- 1 Cabañas Mirador del Valle, Calzada Ojo de Agua 23 (Barrio Ojo de Agua, next to the Orquídeas Moxviquil garden), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. M$400-700/room, M$150/additional guests.
- 2 Casa Kasa, Cerrada Brasil 6B (Barrio de Mexicanos), ☏ . Check-in: anytime, check-out: anytime. Japanese house. Central area with two couches and kitchen. Wi-fI internet. Recommended forJapanese. M$80/dorm, M$160/private room.
- 3 La Catrina Posada Bed & Breakfast, Francisco I Madero 35 (Barrio de Guadalupe). A backpacker hostel run by a Spanish-speaking Tzeltal family. Also has an onsite bar/café. M$100/dorm bed.
- 4 Hostal Casa Gaia, Calle Ejército Nacional 40 (Barrio del Cerrillo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: Anytime, check-out: noon. A cozy hostel run by a young couple. The hostel has a very friendly environment and homey feel to it. It is comfortable, clean, and the owners can recommend great places to eat, drink, and visit during your stay. Casa Gaia is complete with comfy communal areas such a living room with fireplace, cable TV, play station, books and movies, other communal areas include a fully equipped kitchen, outdoor garden/patio area, great for cookouts, yoga, hanging with fellow travelers, etc. They offer both private rooms and shared dorms. Other services include hot water 24 hrs, internet and WiFi. M$100-250.
- 5 Hostel Posada Qhia, Calle Tonala 5 (Barrio del Cerrillo), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Has a nice sun terrace with good views over the hills surrounding San Cristobal, free breakfast and wi-fi, organises tours, very close to the main market, very clean. Staff is very stiff about rules which might destroy the comfortable feeling. Try to book in advance in high season as it gets very busy. M$100/dorms, M$220 and up/private rooms.
- 6 Hotel-Hostal El Rincón de los Camellos (Hostal los Camellos), Calle Real de Guadalupe 110, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Has hot water 24 hours, free wi-fi, luggage storage, and kitchen access. M$120/dorm, M$130-175/bedroom.
- 7 Hotel Posada El Molino, Calle Ejército Nacional 30 (Barrio del Cerrillo), ☏ . Has hot water, private baths, TV, and laundry facilities. M$120/single room, M$200/double room.
- 8 Le Gite del Sol, Francisco I Madero 82, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This bed and breakfast is close to the pedestrian boulevard of Real de Guadalupe. Rooms and facilities are very clean, hot water takes a few minutes for showers. The staff are very nice. The staff clean the floors frequently throughout the day so may not be good for those with chemical sensitivities. Private rooms up to 4, and private baths available. Free wi-fi, parking, breakfast included. M$150/dorm, M$342/private room w/bath.
- 9 Posada del Abuelito, Calle Tapachula 18 (Barrio del Cerrillo), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. One of the pioneering hostels of San Cristóbal back in the early 1980s, located in a magnificent colonial house. Prices include a large breakfast. M$120/dorms, M$250/private room w/shared bathroom, M$300/private room w/bathroom; credit cards accepted.
- 10 Posada Mi Casa, Calle Ejército Nacional 14 (Barrio del Cerrillo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M$200/private room.
- 11 Rossco Backpackers Hostel, Calle Real de Mexicanos 16, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Has free wi-fi, parking, laundry, and free luggage storage. M$139-150/dorm, M$200-225/private room; credit cards accepted.
- 12 Hotel D'Monica, Av Insurgentes 33 (2 blocks up from the bus station towards the town center), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 13:00. Pleasant rooms, a beautiful garden. Has free wi-fi, free private parking, and a full-service restaurant. US$58/night and up.
- 13 Hotel Posada Belen, Plazuela de los Mexicanos 2, ☏ . This charming mid-sized inn has spacious, carpeted rooms with wi-fi, TV, private bathrooms decorated with colonial-style tile and hot water. M$300-450.
- 14 Hotel Sombra del Agua, Calle 1 de Marzo 15 (a couple of blocks from the center of town), ☏ . Former Holiday Inn property in colonial style building circa 1907 that reflects history of San Cristobal. Has restaurant. M$983.
Most people that travel to San Cristóbal never have a need to seek medical attention. But accidents can happen and people do get sick. If you do fall ill or hurt, San Cristóbal has good doctors, dentists and hospitals who will be capable of treating you. Local English-speaking doctors can be recommended by a good hotel, and most of the higher-quality hotels that cater for foreign visitors have a doctor on call at all times. Ask at reception.
Should you simply have nausea, consider buying some Bonadoxina at the local pharmacy. As always, check with the pharmacist regarding your specific symptoms and potential allergic reactions.
Tuxtla Gutierrez airport
The standard rate for a taxi to the airport from San Cristóbal to Ángel Albino Corzo International Airport (TGZ IATA) is around M$500. Most tour agencies in town also operate shuttle services to the airport for about M$200, generally one or two a day, and will pick you up at your place of stay.
Mayan villages in the surrounding mountains
There are a number of nearby Mayan villages easily accessible by public transportation or via a day tour. Some villages welcome visitors, while others do not. The closest and most accessible are San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán, and others equally fascinating and worth visiting include Tenejapa, San Andres Larrainzar, and San Pedro Chenalho. The best day to visit a Maya community is during its festivals and weekly market.
A good guide, should you choose one, will help to give you a deeper understanding of modern Maya life and some of the unusual customs you may observe. Guides can be picked up daily at 09:30 in the main plaza by the cathedral. Tours generally return around 14:30 (lunch time in Mexico).
There are no colectivos connecting Chamula direcly with Zinacantán; if you want to visit both on the same day you will need to return to San Cristóbal after visiting each village before proceeding onward or take a pricey cab from one to the other. Also, visitors should not photograph any villagers without permission – failure to follow this rule can result in physical assault and/or loss of your camera.
- The Tzotzil village of San Juan Chamula is primarily known for its distinctive church as well as its colorful Sunday market. From San Cristóbal, frequently departing 4 colectivos cost M$15 and take about 20 minutes, dropping off passengers a block away from the Chamula's main plaza.
- San Lorenzo Zinacantán, also a Tzotzil community, is most well-known for its 10 church and Sunday 11 flower market. Men wear distinctive embroidered pink or purple tunics, while women wear richly embroidered purple shawls and skirts. No photographs at all of the interior or exterior of church are permitted. Theoretically all visitors should pay an admission fee at a booth by the main church, but this is not always staffed. 5 Colectivos (across the street from the main market) cost M$12 and take about 20 minutes.
The Arcotete is one of San Cristóbal's best kept secrets. Similar to Rancho Nuevo but much nicer and closer to San Cristóbal, located about 5-10 km from the city in the direction of Tenejapa (signs are well placed to find El Arcotete). M$10 per vehicle. It has been remodeled into a park offering nice walking grounds surrounded by Pine trees, picnic areas, and nice look out vantage points. A great day to spend a couple of hours or the whole day enjoying a picnic or a pickup soccer game. It costs M$5 to enter the part of (Las Grutas) The Caves. El Arcotete will provide a wonderful experience enjoying nature's work at best. Check it out for yourself.
- Cañón del Sumidero - This is a worthwhile half day trip from San Cristóbal. Boat trips leave regularly and take approximately two hours to head 34 km up river to the Chicoasén Dam, and return. Along the way you pass by thousand metre high cliffs, wildlife including birds and crocodiles up to 4 m long, cacti growing on the canyon walls, a shrine in the Cave of the Colours, and the surreal El Árbol de Navidad or the Christmas Tree Waterfall. On the way back stop in Chiapa de Corzo to explore the lively square, colourful church, and intricate sixteenth century fountain.
- El Chiflón and Parque Nacional Lagos de Montebello - There are daily tours from San Cristóbal to these two natural wonders, though it is a long near twelve hour day of travel, with approximately 7 hours in a bus for 5 hours of sightseeing. El Chiflón is home to a spectacular series of cascades and waterfalls, the highest falling 120 m. On a sunny day the water is turquoise and it is possible to swim in the pools during the dry season. A path follows the river upstream, and is increasingly steep, but offers wonderful views. Parque Nacional Lagos de Montebello is home to a number of beautiful lakes in varying shades of green and blue. A typical tour will stop at Laguna Tziscao, Laguna Bosque Azul, Laguna La Cañada, and Lago Montebello, with photo opportunities, and at a couple of them the chance to hire a wooden raft for a circuit of the lake.
- Laguna Miramar - Visit one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lacantun Jungle in the south of Chiapas. Visiting Laguna Miramar requires planning and organization. It is inside Zapatista territory. Do not attempt to go there without a guide. Do bring everything you will need, there is nothing to buy there.
- El chorreadero- Nice waterfalls with small natural pools where people can take a swim. You can check out the cave where the waterfall is born and then follow your way down. In the very last pool people can practice naturism.
- To get there take a van from San Cris to Tuxtla Gutierrez and ask to be left in Chiapa de Corzo. Under the bridge look for collectives or taxis direction Bochil and that will leave you close to the waterfall entrance.
- Oventik - From San Cris market you can take a van that leads to Oventik. This is a caracol or independent zapatista community. Bring your passport or official documents. People at the entrance will ask you questions to evaluate if you would be allowed inside the place. Very nice murals. Close to the town of san Andres which is also worth a visit.
- Oaxaca - Many backpackers head to Oaxaca City, and then hop on the increasingly popular Pacific Coast Backpacker Trail to Puerto Escondido, Mazunte, Zipolite, and Huatulco.
Guatemala Many private shuttles to Guatemala leave early in the morning by the Zocalo. From there it is about 6 hours to cross the border.