Curious about what you’ll find in Chiapas? This travel guide covers all the best things to do in Chiapas, Mexico!
The Mexican state of Chiapas is known for its lush jungle, Mayan culture, and incredible natural attractions. Here, you’ll find the famous Cañon del Sumidero, the Palenque ruins, and an abundance of beautiful waterfalls and lakes. Chiapas is also known for coffee production and its strong connection to indigenous cultures.
Even though there are tons of incredible things to do in Chiapas, the state is still a little under the radar when it comes to Mexico travel destinations. Chiapas is popular with backpackers and nature lovers looking to experience the lush jungles and soak up the scenery.
San Cristobal de las Casas is one of the main towns in Chiapas and a popular hub for travelers and digital nomads in Mexico. It makes a fantastic base for exploring much of what this dreamy state offers.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of a trip to Chiapas or are just learning about it for the first time, this guide will help you fill your itinerary!
Where is Chiapas?
Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico. It is bordered by the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Veracruz on the West and Tabasco to the North. Guatemala is located just to the East of Chiapas, and the state is a popular destination for backpackers planning to cross the border.
Is Chiapas Safe?
Chiapas is generally safe for travelers, but there are occasional cartel flare-ups, and local political unrest isn’t uncommon. It’s important to check local newspapers and ask around among locals and recent visitors to get a sense of the current situation in the state.
Traveling soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance for Mexico. Insurance gives you peace of mind, knowing you can get the help you need if anything goes wrong. SafetyWing is the provider that I recommend.
Because Chiapas is located in the mountains, the roads can be windy and sometimes fall into disrepair. Car accidents and blocked roadways are not unusual, especially during the rainy season. If you rent a car, drive with caution.
Related Reading: Essential Travel Safety Tips for Mexico
When is the Best Time to Visit Chiapas?
You can have a magical trip to Chiapas anytime, but the dry season, November through April, offers the most comfortable weather in all regions.
Chiapas has a varied geography, with some regions being mountainous, others at sea level, and several different microclimates throughout the state. Overall, it has a tropical climate, so it is usually warm (though this varies by altitude) and always humid.
During the rainy season, May through October, humidity (and bugs) are intense. You can still have a great visit at this time of year, but the rain can be punishing.
It’s essential to check the altitude of your Chiapas destinations because that can affect the climate dramatically. For instance, San Cristobal de Las Casas sits 2,200 meters above sea level, so it has a cooler climate than the lower regions of the state.
Best Things to do in Chiapas
If you’re interested in outdoor adventures, Chiapas is the place for you! The state has incredible scenery, complex biodiversity, and an abundance of natural wonders to gawk at.
Along the way, you’ll have opportunities to learn about the region’s indigenous cultures, visit impressive ruins, and enjoy one of Mexico’s most charming cities: San Cristobal de Las Casas. The following are some of the top attractions in Chiapas.
1. Take a Boat Tour Through Sumidero Canyon
The spectacular Sumidero Cayon, or Cañon del Sumidero, sits within a national park by the same name. The canyon is incredible, with its steep walls rising over 2,000 feet in certain sections and the Grijalva River flowing through the bottom. The area is known for its biodiversity and offers the opportunity to spot all kinds of native flora and fauna, including crocodiles, butterflies, monkeys, and many different species of birds.
The most popular way to experience Sumidero Canyon is on a boat tour. These trips take about 2 hours, and you will venture deep into the canyon. You’ll experience the immensity of the canyon walls as your guide points out wildlife and interesting natural features along the way, such as waterfalls and rock formations. You’ll also learn a bit about the history and majesty of the canyon.
Sumidero Canyon lies north of Tuxtla Gutierrez and just over an hour west of San Cristobal de las Casas. Chiapa de Corzo, just outside of Tuxtla Gutierrez, is where most boat tours depart from.
You can arrange a visit to the canyon on your own, but coordinating transportation to Chiapa de Corzo and the boat tour independently can be tedious. It won’t necessarily save you any money.
Instead, simplify things by booking a canyon tour from San Cristobal de las Casas. That way, your transportation, boat tour, and park fees will all be lumped into one payment. All you have to do is show up at departure time!
2. Visit Chiapa de Corzo
By Kate of Adventurous Kate
One of the pleasures of traveling in Mexico is exploring its pueblos mágicos. These magical towns have been chosen because they have something special to share with visitors: natural beauty, cultural richness, unique cuisine, or art.
Chiapa de Corzo, sitting on the Río Grijalva near Sumidero National Park, is a beautiful little town with an impressive plaza.
Centered on the plaza is La Pila, an unusual Moorish-style fountain with eight sides and several spikes. It’s the kind of structure you don’t forget; back in the day, it served as a watchtower.
Around the corner, you can find the white and red Santo Domingo Temple, which is just as impressive on the inside. Don’t miss exploring the courtyards and the Museo de la Laca!
A day trip to Chiapa de Corzo can be filled out with a visit to the Marimba Museum, a stroll around the shops and markets, and a boat trip to Sumidero Canyon.
It’s common to visit Chiapa de Corzo as part of a day trip visiting Sumidero Canyon from San Cristobal de las Casas. If not part of a tour, you can drive or take a bus from San Cristóbal or Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
3. Visit Las Cascadas de Agua Azul
By Daria of The Discovery Nut
Las Cascadas De Agua Azul (or Blue Waterfalls in Spanish) is a turquoise waterfall made from several levels. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Chiapas and one of the most incredible natural sights in all of Mexico.
Many visitors combine a visit to Agua Azul with a stop at the nearby waterfall Misol-Ha and Palenque ruins.
While guided tours of Agua Azul are popular with tourists who visit San Cristobal De Las Casas, you can also visit Agua Azul by a colectivo from the town of Palenque if you are traveling on a budget.
Colectivos (small shared vans) leave every 30-40 minutes from one of the bus terminals in the center of Palenque, including the main ADO bus station. Make sure to catch a colectivo toward Ocosingo and ask to drop you off at Agua Azul.
After you get dropped off, you will have to take a taxi toward the entrance of the waterfalls, which should cost you no more than 200 Pesos. Like a colectivo, a taxi must be paid in cash, so make sure you have enough cash for your trip.
Due to safety reasons, walking to the entrance isn’t recommended.
The admission fee to Agua Azul costs 50 pesos, and there’s a good chance you will get hungry after taking a dip in the waterfall and will want to grab some food at one of the local restaurants near the waterfall.
To get back to Palenque, you must get back to the same point where you got dropped off and flag down a colectivo on the opposite side of the road.
Experience Agua Azul as part of a tour:
- Agua Azul and Palenque Day Trip from San Cristobal de las Casas
- Agua Azul, Misol-Ha, and Palenque Ruins from San Cristobal de las Casas
- Palenque Archaeological Site, Agua Azul, and Misol-Ha from Palenque
4. Explore the local markets in San Cristobal de las Casas
By Dan of Latin America Backpacking
One place you can’t afford to miss when visiting Chiapas is the magical town of San Cristobal de las Casas. This town is a popular hub for visiting Chiapas. It’s surrounded by luscious pine forests and is known for its architectural beauty.
One reason many travelers backpacking Mexico enjoy spending time here is to get closer to the region’s indigenous cultures and explore the many local markets.
San Cristobal’s pedestrian street is lined with restaurants, clothing shops, and some cafes offering some of Mexico’s finest coffee.
The town is home to several awesome local markets you’ll want to check out.
- The Tianguis Organic Market provides high-quality food products, including local fruit and vegetables, fresh bread, and other natural goodies.
- The Municipal Market sells everything you can imagine, from food to electronics.
- The Artisan Markets (adjacent to the Municipal Market) are where you can find treasure troves of handmade garments, artwork, and leather goods, most of which are handmade.
Another great thing about San Cristobal is that it always has something going on, and the nightlife is just as entertaining as the daytime. It’s rare for a small town in Mexico to have this buzzing city vibe.
5. Learn about Chiapaneco history and culture at Casa Na Bolom
By Julianna Barnaby of The Discoveries Of
San Cristobal de Las Casas and the wider Chiapas region boast a rich heritage – that much is clear from any time spent in the area – however, learning about that heritage isn’t always the most straightforward task.
Casa Na Bolom brings this rich and storied history to life. It’s a small museum in San Cristobal de las Casas that showcases the Chiapas region through the works of former residents Frans Blom and Trudy Blom. It’s a must for anyone spending time in Chiapas.
Archaeologist Frans and conservationist Trudy met in the Chiapas jungle in 1943. They wed several years later and moved into an 1891 Spanish colonial-style home– a home that would become Casa Na Bolom.
In 1951, the pair formed an organization to protect the San Cristobal, Chiapas, and Lacandon cultural heritage. This community project, formed to spread knowledge and understanding about Mayan culture, past and present, still thrives in the extensive library, photographs, and Mayan artifacts spread throughout the museum.
Today, the museum still focuses heavily on the community and thus has a community garden, shop, and restaurant onsite. Ticket proceeds also go back to the Lacandon community.
Tickets can be purchased from the Jardin del Jaguar next door.
Entrance to Casa Na Bolom costs $60 MXN per person, $30 MXN for concessions, and is free for residents of San Cristobal de las Casas.
6. Visit the Church of San Juan Chamula
By Lara of The Best Travel Gifts
Visiting the church of San Juan Chamula is one of the most unique things to do in Chiapas. Now, visiting a church may not sound very exciting, especially in Mexico, where you can find multiple churches in any town…
But hear me out.
The reason why this church is such an interesting site to visit is not due to the church’s aesthetics but because it’s an excellent example of how Christianity and local religions have merged in Mexico.
Inside the church, you won’t find any furniture. The floor is covered in pine branches, and the air is filled with smoke from candles and incense.
You will see local Tzotzil people in small groups doing their traditional prayers and rituals, such as sacrificing a chicken and spraying coke or pox (a Mexican liquor made from corn, wheat, and sugar cane) to eliminate evil spirits.
You must purchase a ticket to enter the church at the kiosk outside. Remember that photography is not permitted inside the church. It is still an active worship site, and respecting the people using it is essential.
If you’re curious to visit San Juan Chamula, take an organized tour from San Cristobal de las Casas. Or, you can reach the town via local bus.
Editor’s note: Outside, on the church grounds, you’ll encounter vendors selling all kinds of artesanías that make great gifts and souvenirs. When I visited, a particularly pushy young girl vendor had a verbal scuffle with my pompous tour guide when he tried to shush her sales pitch. I purchased several bracelets from her because I liked her feisty attitude.
7. Visit Boca del Cielo, one of the best beaches in Chiapas
By April of April Vera Lynn Travels
Boca del Cielo is a beautiful beach to relax at, and it’s not super well-known by foreign tourists compared to other beaches in Mexico. I learned about it because my husband’s grandpa lives in Chiapas and once took us there for a day trip!
Boca del Cielo literally means ‘Mouth of Heaven’ and it really is heavenly.
Boca del Cielo is located quite close to Tonalá, another small town just a few hours from Tuxtla Gutiérrez. You can get there easily via bus or taxi or by renting a car. Click here to see the route from Tuxtla Gutierrez.
The beach is unique because it’s on a skinny strip of land that runs parallel to the coast. At high tide, you can pay to take a boat from the main town to the beach area.
Due to the unique nature of the beach being on such a thin strip of land, you can enjoy the ocean’s vastness on one side and calmer waters between the sand bar and the coast on the other. It’s easy to walk between the two beaches on each side and enjoy both in one go.
There are plenty of restaurants and shaded picnic tables on the beach. There are also lots of comfortable hammocks to kick back in. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can pay to go tubing or banana boating!
8. Tour the Tonina Ruins
By Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across The World
If you have a thing for Mayan ruins yet would like to get away from the crowds that the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico receive, make your way to Tonina, in the heart of Chiapas.
This impressive archeological site can be seen on day trips from San Cristobal. It is close to Ocosingo and a short detour from the main road connecting San Cristobal to Agua Azul and then Palenque.
Back in its heyday, during the Maya classic period (between 700 and 900 AD), this was one of the most influential towns in the area and Palenque’s main enemy.
The site itself is impressive. Completely immersed in the mountains of Chiapas, it’s home to several pyramids that can still be climbed (unlike many other sites). The tallest one reaches 70 meters (230 feet), so the views from up there are impressive.
Getting to Tonina can be challenging unless you have a car, as it requires several transfers. Joining a tour from San Cristobal is the most hassle-free way to visit.
9. Learn about artisan weaving in Zinacantán
By Alex of Just Go Exploring
Nestled in the hills above San Cristóbal de las Casas, the traditional Tzotzil Maya town of Zinacantán is a fascinating place to visit and definitely one of the most unique things to do in Chiapas.
Zinacantán is probably best known for its artisan weaving and production of handmade textiles and clothing. It’s also a significant producer of flowers sold throughout Mexico.
Be sure to visit the workshops of some of the women who make traditional textiles. Their products are all hand-woven and embroidered with beautiful patterns and motifs.
These make fantastic souvenirs and gifts, and by purchasing directly from the people who make them, you are directly supporting the highly skilled producers and their communities.
Other places to visit in Zinacantán include the two attractive whitewashed churches (San Lorenzo and San Sebastian) just off the central square. Note that photography is strictly prohibited inside the churches.
If you’d prefer to visit Zinacantán as part of a guided tour, many operators along the Real de Guadalupe Street in San Cristóbal can arrange this. Most of these tours are available in English (and other languages) and typically include a visit to Chamula.
If you prefer to go alone, there are several ways to get to Zinacantán.
- With your own car, it takes about 25 minutes to drive from the center of San Cristóbal to Zinacantán (about 11 kilometers in total). Take the main road from SC to Chamula. A few kilometers after leaving SC, watch for a sign for Zinacantán (it’s a left turn).
- A taxi from San Cristóbal to Zinacantán should cost around $100-150 pesos. (Agree on the price before getting in the car.)
- Take a colectivo, which costs about $25 MXN. The easiest way to find one that goes to Zinacantán is to head to the main San Cristóbal-Chamula road, as they all travel along that route.
You are supposed to pay a tourist tax of $15 MXN to visit Zinacantán, although the little booth at the town entrance only seems to be manned some of the time.
10. Learn about Maya history at the Zona Archaeologica de Palenque
Palenque is a Mayan ruin in Chiapas. In 1987, this archaeological site was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status for its incredible art and architecture, testimony to Maya mythology, and considerable influence throughout the Maya empire. It is one of the most important Mayan ruins in Mexico.
The most notable structure within Palenque is the Temple of the Inscriptions, a pyramid built to honor the ruler Pacal the Great. The pyramid holds Pacal’s tomb and carvings and hieroglyphs that illustrate events from his life.
Another collection of pyramids, the Temple of the Cross Complex, contains hieroglyphs and carved tablets detailing the purpose of each temple and information about the gods that were believed to rule Palenque.
There’s a small museum on-site to help you contextualize what you see within the grounds.
Palenque is a compelling ruin to visit because of the variety of different structures and the setting. The site is surrounded by lush jungle, where you can spot native birds and many plant species. It has a true Lost World feel!
The admission fee for Palenque is about $100 MXN, but you will also have to pay a National Park fee, a camera fee (if you want to snap photos), and a fee for a van from the gates into the archaeological zone. Altogether, this will cost about $200 MXN. Make sure you carry cash.
If you’re in a hurry, take a full-day Palenque ruins tour from San Cristobal de las Casas. The site is about 4 hours from San Cris.
A more popular option is to spend a few nights in the neighboring town of Palenque and tour the ruins from there.
Palenque is also an excellent base for visiting other popular sites like Agua Azul and Misol-Ha, both of which are stunning natural attractions that deserve a spot on your Chiapas itinerary!
11. Tour the Yaxchilán and Bonampak Ruins
By Kristina of Off Path Travels
Yaxchilán and Bonampak are two must-see ruins deep in the jungles of Chiapas that will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of an Indiana Jones movie.
Exploring the hidden ruins in Yaxchilán and Bonampak is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But you’ll need to get there first, and that’s half the adventure!
Yaxchilán is only accessible by a scenic boat ride along the Usumacinta River (on the border between Mexico and Guatemala), during which you get to see howler monkeys and other wildlife.
Once at Yaxchilán, it’s time for the next adventure: a Maya labyrinth. Go through the dark labyrinth (bring a flashlight) to enter the ancient city and explore the Gran Plaza, ball courts, and Central Acropolis.
Yaxchilán is open Monday through Sunday from 8 am to 4:30 pm (the last entry is at 4:00 pm), and there is no entry fee.
After exploring Yaxchilan, head to the Bonampak Archeological Zone to see some of Mexico’s best-preserved Maya murals, colorful paintings of festivities, battle scenes, and ritual bloodletting.
Bonampak is open Monday through Sunday from 8 am to 4:30 pm (the last entry is at 3 pm), and the entrance fee is 85 pesos.
You can reach both sites from Palenque. Take a colectivo or drive 60 kilometers (99 miles) from Palenque to Frontera Corozal. From there, take a 45-minute boat ride to Yaxchilán.
To get to Bonampak from Frontera Corozal, take a colectivo or drive to Crucero Bonampak. From there, it’s an 8-kilometer (5 miles) dirt road to the archeological zone of Bonampak.
12. Admire the Roberto Barrios Waterfalls
Contributed by Isabella of Let’s Travel to Mexico
Among all the amazing things to do in Chiapas, visiting Roberto Barrios waterfalls is one of the most underrated places.
It is located just a 45-minute drive from Palenque and is one of the excursions offered by local travel agents in town.
These spectacular waterfalls consist of six amazing natural infinity pools surrounded by caves, natural slides, and waterfalls surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. It’s an incredible place where you can spend all day, and sometimes you even get to be completely alone.
You have a few options to reach the falls: a taxi, colectivo (local bus), or an organized tour.
Keep in mind that the organized tour is nothing more than a return trip on a shared bus organized by a travel company– more comfortable than a colectivo and cheaper than a taxi.
Roberto Barios is definitely one of the lesser-known waterfalls in Mexico, but it’s certainly among the best.
13. Cascadas El Chiflon
By Zoe of Zoe Goes Places
Close to the Guatemalan border in Chiapas are the stunning Cascadas El Chiflon. With 5 waterfalls located along a 1200-meter stretch of river, it makes for a great day out.
If you’re taking a tour of the waterfalls from San Cristobal, this will likely be combined with visiting the nearby Montebello Lakes.
Alternatively, you can go without a guide or tour.
Simply take a bus to Comitan and then a colectivo to the entrance of the waterfalls. Both legs of the journey will cost less than $100 MXN per person each way. With an entry fee of just $50 MXN, this makes for a budget-friendly day out.
Once inside, you can enjoy food from the stalls and eat at the riverside palapas. Or, you can experience the thrill of 3 different zip lines crossing the waterfalls.
You’ll soon reach the best part of the park – the 120-meter-tall Cascada Velo de Novia waterfall. Here, you can stand on the viewing platform and experience the power of nature.
However, it’s important to remember this isn’t the last waterfall in the park– there are two more further up the river. Follow the signs so you can see it all!
14. Sample traditional regional cuisine on a food tour of San Cristobal de las Casas
If you’re curious about the culinary traditions of Chiapas, a food tour is a great way to learn more about authentic Chiapaneca cuisine.
As you meander through the vibrant neighborhoods on this walking tour, you’ll be introduced to a variety of Chiapas’ most mouth-watering traditional specialties.
Savor the rich and complex flavors of mole coleto and the comforting warmth of chipilin soup. As you enjoy these dishes, you’ll learn about the process of making them.
Along the way, you’ll learn about local herbs and spices and their fascinating uses in recipes and as healing remedies.
The tour will take you through some of San Cristobal’s local markets, where you’ll learn about what is grown in the region and how to select the freshest products.
You’ll also get a taste of the city’s broader culinary scene, which includes a variety of international cuisine.
You’ll finish the tour on a sweet note with delectable desserts, perfectly paired with a cup of freshly brewed Chiapaneca coffee!
15. Hiking Lagunas de Montebello
By Megan of Packing Up the Pieces
One of the more popular things to do in Chiapas is to visit Lagunas de Montebello National Park, a sprawling landscape comprised of forests, caves, and over 50 unique lakes.
The park sits close to the Guatemala border, and one of the lakes shares a border between both countries.
The National Park is 3 hours south of San Cristobal de las Casas, but the mountain village offers frequent day trips to the lakes. Since much of the journey is spent in the car, most tour companies only stop at the most popular lake, Laguna Montebello.
However, independent travelers can reach the park on a colectivo to Comitán. Here, transfer to another one that goes into the reserve. The entrance fee for the National Park is $50 MXN.
Independent travelers looking for something slightly off the beaten can hike the Cinco Lagos trail from Pojoj Lake. The trail weaves through beautiful forests and is dotted with breathtaking lookout points that twist past 5 bright blue lakes. At the end of the path, take a dip in the lake. The trail access fee is $25 MXN.
To make the most of a trip to Lagunas de Montebello, sleep in the tiny border town of Tziscao along another lake in a cabaña or bring a tent.
16. Learn to brew the perfect cup of Chiapaneca coffee
Chiapas is one of Mexico’s premier coffee-growing regions, so if you’re a fan of coffee culture, consider taking a class to learn how to brew the perfect cup!
Diving into a coffee class in the heart of Chiapas is not just about learning a skill—it’s an enriching cultural experience!
You’ll learn to handpick the best coffee beans and how to achieve the perfect grind. Along the way, you’ll learn about the distinct qualities and cultural significance of Chiapas coffee. And you’ll taste plenty of espresso throughout the experience.
What to Pack for Chiapas, Mexico
Packing for Chiapas can be challenging because the climate varies dramatically depending on your elevation. In areas of high elevation, like San Cristobal de las Casas, it is typically warm during the day and cold at night. Meanwhile, you can count on high temperatures on the coast or in canyons.
Pack clothing that you can easily layer. Additionally, since most activities you’ll enjoy are outdoors, activewear and hiking attire are the most practical clothing styles. Comfortable footwear is essential.
Here are a few items to pack:
- Patagonia Nano Puff jacket: This insulated jacket is a staple for me in Canada. It’s super warm and packs down into a small pouch. I never leave home without it.
- Merino layers: Merino is breathable and incredibly warm despite being lightweight. It makes the perfect base layer for a fluctuating climate. Click here to shop for merino bottoms. Click here to shop for merino tops.
- Sunscreen: Protect your skin with biodegradable sunscreen. Sun Bum is my favorite, but you can browse other great brands here.
- Chacos: Comfortable footwear is essential when roaming cobblestone streets or hiking in the jungles of Chiapas. Chacos (or something similar) are a practical and reliable option because they offer good traction and support, and you can get them wet.
- Daypack: The Osprey Daylite pack is my favorite daypack for active adventures. It’s super comfortable to wear and fits snacks, a water bottle, a camera, and an extra layer– everything you need for a day trip!
- Water bottle: Staying hydrated will help you combat heatstroke and maintain your energy on a busy day out. I recommend a Nalgene bottle because they’re light and durable.
Transportation: How to get to Chiapas
Below, I’ve included a quick overview of how to get to Chiapas and how to get around within the state.
I recommend speaking to locals when you get to Chiapas to see which transportation methods and/or routes they recommend taking. The road conditions vary, and roadblocks happen occasionally (whether due to protests or gang activity). Asking people on the ground is the best way to get up-to-date information about the current conditions.
Flying to Chiapas
Tuxtla Gutierrez International Airport (TGZ) is the main airport in Chiapas. It is located in Tuxtla Gutierrez and is served by several Mexican airlines, including AeroMexico, Viva Aerobus, and Volaris. It has flights to and from Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Cancun, Guatemala City, and other destinations within Mexico. Use Skyscanner to find flight deals to Chiapas.
Buses in Chiapas
The bus is one of the best ways to travel to Chiapas and an excellent way to get around the state. Buses are an efficient, safe, and reliable way to get from one destination to the next.
They run frequently, and there are different service levels available, meaning there’s always an option that will suit your budget. I recommend paying for the highest service that your budget affords because it will make your trip more comfortable.
Colectivos are shared passenger vans that run between towns throughout Mexico. These small vans are a popular transportation method in Chiapas. The schedules (if there are any) aren’t typically published anywhere, so this is something you’d investigate further once you get to Chiapas.
When I visited, I used shuttles to get from San Cristobal to the surrounding towns, including Chiapa de Corzo, Palenque, and beyond.
Rent a car
A rental car is a good option if you want complete control over your itinerary. Renting a car in Chiapas would allow you to poke around in some of the more remote parts of the state, but keep in mind that the roads are narrow, windy, and not always in great shape.
The best place to rent vehicles in Chiapas is the airport in Tuxtla Gutierrez.
I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best rates and reserve your rental in advance. Because they’re an aggregator, it’s crucial to read the reviews on the individual companies you find on the platform– they are not all created equal. Do your due diligence.
Where to Stay in Chiapas
Tuxtla Gutierrez, San Cristobal de las Casas, and Palenque are the three most popular cities in Chiapas to stay in.
San Cristobal is the most central city and offers plenty of charm and amenities. I recommend basing here for at least a few days while you check out some of the top attractions in the area, including Sumidero Canyon, San Juan Chamula, and Chiapa de Corzo.
Where to stay in San Cristobal de Las Casas:
- Posada del Abuelito: This beautiful hostel is located just a few blocks from the busy center of San Cris. Reviewers love its laid-back atmosphere (they emphasize that it’s NOT a party hostel) and rave about the breakfast. This accommodation caters to travelers of all ages, too, so if you’re worried that you’re “too old” for hostels (you’re not), I’m sure you’d feel welcome here. Click here to check rates.
- Hotel Grand Maria: In the center of San Cristobal, the Hotel Grand Maria occupies a romantic, colonial building with rooms surrounding a lush courtyard garden. There is an on-site restaurant and bar and a 24-hour front desk. Reviewers compliment the exceptional service, comfortable rooms, delicious breakfast, and the convenience of coordinating tours through the hotel. Click here to check rates and availability.
- Hotel Casa Margarita: Another gorgeous colonial property right in the center of San Cristobal. It has beautiful, rustic decor and a lovely courtyard. Past guests loved the location and the helpful staff and commented on how safe they felt in the area surrounding the hotel. Click here to book your stay.
You might also spend a few days in Palenque, so you’re closer to nearby attractions. Palenque is a must-visit place if you’re keen to experience the nature of Chiapas.
There are many waterfalls and lakes nearby and several jungle-oriented accommodations where you can soak up the ambiance. It also makes a good base for visiting Misol-Ha, the Palenque ruins, Agua Azul, and more.
Here are a couple of cool places to stay in Palenque:
- Cabañas Kin Balam Palenque: Located less than 2 miles from the Palenque ruins, this rustic lodge is set in the jungle and offers peaceful gardens, a pool, and an on-site restaurant and bar for guests. The rooms are basic but comfortable and provide the option for either a private or shared bathroom. Past guests were particularly fond of the fabulous setting and the fact that the Cabañas made it so easy to meet fellow travelers. Click here to check rates and availability.
- Hotel Chan-Kah Resort: This resort is ideal if you prefer a more luxurious nature escape. It’s located near Agua Azul and offers comfortable rooms. The on-site amenities include multiple restaurants, pools, and a spa. There is also air conditioning! Guests rave about the beautiful rooms, excellent amenities, and the fact that you can spot wildlife like monkeys and birds in the garden! Click here to reserve your stay.
Tuxtla Gutierrez is the capital of Chiapas, where the airport is located. I haven’t spent any time there personally, but it’s a logical choice if you’d like to spend a night close to the airport. Several well-known hotel chains operate in the city, including Holiday Inn Express, Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, and more.
If you’d like somewhere a little more unique to stay, here are some promising options:
- Hotel Palapa Palace Inn: Located a few minutes outside downtown Tuxtla, this hotel has reasonably priced basic rooms. There is an on-site restaurant, and airport shuttles are available upon request (for an additional charge). Past guests praised the hotel for being clean, comfortable, and convenient for airport stopovers. Click here to check rates at the Palapa Palace.
- Hotel Momotus: This hotel offers stylish, modern rooms with air conditioning and has a restaurant on-site. It’s not particularly close to the airport, but you can walk to downtown Tuxtla and a few other attractions from the property. There’s an on-site restaurant for your convenience, and parking on the property is free! Past guests praised the beautiful rooms and the location and expressed that it offers excellent value for the price. Click here to check rates at Hotel Momotus.
FAQ About the Best Things to Do in Chiapas
What is Chiapas known for?
Among travelers, Chiapas is best known for its incredible natural attractions and fascinating historical sites.
Culturally, the state is known for having a strong local identity. Locals routinely band together to protect their state and its natural resources from exploitation (such as during the Zapatista movement). Chiapas is home to the largest collection of indigenous groups in Mexico, and they are passionate about maintaining control over their homeland.
Is Chiapas worth visiting?
Absolutely! If you’re interested in nature, history, or Mexico’s indigenous cultures, Chiapas is one of the most fascinating parts of the country to learn and experience all of these things. But only if you don’t mind a bit more of a rustic/outdoorsy vibe.
The main cities aren’t rustic, but many of the best things to do in Chiapas involve spending time commuting to remote destinations to hike through the jungle or swim in natural waterfalls. If you’re more of an urban traveler, Chiapas probably isn’t your vibe.
How long do you need in Chiapas?
I would say the minimum amount of time to spend in Chiapas is seven days. There is SO MUCH to do. You will surely have an action-packed week, and you won’t get to everything I covered in this blog post, but that is enough time to see some highlights and leave you wanting more 😉
Getting to Chiapas can be a bit of a trek, so I don’t think it’s worth making the effort unless you have a full week to spend taking the region in. But you could easily spend a month and still not see everything.
Is Chiapas safe for tourists?
Chiapas is a tricky destination in terms of safety. I would say it generally is safe, but there are often political uprisings, protests, and the occasional cartel flare up that can pose safety threats in the region.
I wouldn’t say that travelers are a target in Chiapas, but there’s a chance that you could get caught in a bad situation if you don’t do your research prior to going.
Always check in local Facebook groups, read local newspapers, or ask travelers who have visited recently to gain insight into the current situation in the state, as things do change frequently.
Are there mosquitoes in Chiapas?
Yes! Mosquitoes and other pesky bugs are common in Chiapas, especially during the rainy season, which lasts from May to November. Pack bug repellent to ward off itchy bites.
Is there malaria in Chiapas?
Yes. Malaria isn’t super common in Mexico but, according to the CDC, Chiapas has reported some cases. Definitely pack bug repellent and take precautions against mosquitoes, just to be safe.
Are you excited to check out all these incredible things to do in Chiapas? What are you most interested in adding to your itinerary?
Mexico Travel Planning Resources
🌡️ Do I need travel insurance?
Yes! Healthcare in Mexico is affordable for minor ailments, but travel insurance will give you peace of mind if an emergency arises. Plus, you can add coverage for trip interruption, theft, etc. Get a quote from SafetyWing.
🏨 What’s the best way to find accommodation in Mexico?
I use a mix of Booking, Airbnb, and Hostelworld.
💸 How should I exchange money in Mexico?
Use local ATMS to withdraw cash. US travelers should open a Charles Schwab bank account because they’ll refund ATM fees at the end of the month.
Travelers from outside the US should open a Wise account to secure the best currency exchange rates.
📱 Where can I buy a local SIM card in Mexico?
Pick up a Telcel SIM card at any convenience store. Or, buy an Airalo eSIM online so you’re connected as soon as you land.
🗣️ Do I need to speak Spanish in Mexico?
No, but it definitely helps you feel more confident and connected.
✈️ What’s the best way to find affordable flights?
I use Skyscanner because it makes it easy to compare rates across different travel days.
🚖 How do I find a safe airport transfer?
I recommend GetTransfer for airport transfers anywhere in Mexico.
🚗 What’s the best way to find rental cars in Mexico?
I recommend Discover Cars because they aggregate prices across rental car companies, making it easy to find competitive rates.
🚐 How do I book bus tickets online in Mexico?
🤿 How do I find cool activities and tours in Mexico?
🇲🇽 How can I experience Mexico like a local?
Solo female travelers can hire a local female guide through Greether. Greeters will tailor tours based on your interests— it’s basically like experiencing a destination with a local bestie!
🧳 What’s the best luggage for Mexico?
Unless you’re staying at a resort, a travel pack is recommended. I’ve used this one from Osprey for the last 8+ years.
👯♀️ How do I connect with fellow travelers in Mexico?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!