Chiapas: a state that has something for everyone

194

Our road trip through Chiapas is one of those trips that made us fall in love with driving around Mexico and exploring all its corners.  The archaeological sites, food, and emblematic colonial cities made this a trip of a lifetime.  San Cristobal de las Casa, El Cañón del Sumidero, and the archaeological site of Palenque were some of the places that drew us there initially. However, when we drove through the state, we quickly found out there was so much more to see!

Chiapas has something to offer to every type of traveler. First, for the adventurers and explorers, Chiapas has one of the most impressive archaeological sites. Second, for the people who want to explore the local culture, a visit to Chamula offers a peek into indigenous rituals and Mayan burial grounds. Lastly, for the food lovers, Chiapas offers plenty for you to sink you teeth into. There are so many things to do in Chiapas, you simply cannot go wrong vising this state!Click here to checkout the full details on the logistics of this trip, including transportation and lodging.

Experience the Culture of San Cristobal de las Casas

Cited as one of the top pueblos mágicos in Mexico, San Cristobal had been on my bucket list for a very long time. I can say that San Cristobal did not disappoint! It is a slightly larger city than I expected, with a visible indigenous presence and lots of charm.

Things to do in Chiapas: San Cristobal de las Casas
Streets of San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas is on my list of the best pueblos mágicos!

San Cristobal is where I fell in love with chocolate all over again, and specifically with tascalateTascalate is a chocolate drink made from, believe it or not, roasted corn and chocolate. In fact, this tasty chocolate drink is very common in the state of Chiapas. Actually it was so good we had to buy a few packs to take home. 

TIP: Doña ame tamales (calle 5 de Mayo) has very tasty tamales with regional ingredients and the best tascalate!

You can spend the day walking around the small streets of San Cristobal, and eat some very tasty meals. As you walk through the town make sure visit the textile museum inside the the Templo de Santo Domingo. You can take weaving classes there and shop outside.

Things to do in Chiapas: Church of Guadalupe
Church of Guadalupe
Things to do in Chiapas: Church of Guadalupe
View from the Church of Guadalupe

Chamula & Mayan Burial Grounds

While in San Cristobal, we asked a few of the locals for their recommendation on things to do nearby.  More than one person recommended visiting Chamula and the Mayan burial grounds.  Chamula is just 30 to 40 minutes driving from San Cristobal so we decided to take a visit.

The one thing you immediately notice about the Romerillo Mayan burial ground are the towering blue crosses embedded with pine leaves. The use of blue colors and round ends of the crosses are actually typical of the Maya of the region. The pine leaves are considered sacred and replaced after they dry up.

Things to do in Chiapas: Mayan burial grounds

This place was very silent. You could feel this was a hollowed ground. You get a strong feeling of the tradition and the beliefs behind the burial ground. The clash between Christianity, brought by the Spanish, and the beliefs and culture of the indigenous people of the region are very evident.

The Iglesia de San Juan (Church of San Juan) in Chamula is not like any other.  This church was built by the Spaniards above a sacred Mayan site. Today, the church is controlled by the indigenous community. The rituals and ceremonies performed at the church are a blend of the Catholic and indigenous beliefs that have competed with each other for over 500 years.

The church is not like any other Catholic church. There are no pews inside or the traditional altar. There were a lot of families sitting or kneeling on the floor, which was covered in pine needles. The indigenous people perform their customary worship inside, which includes animal sacrifices (we didn’t witness any), as well as bringing food as offerings.

There is a fee to enter the church and you are strictly prohibited from taking pictures or video while inside.

Things to do in Chiapas: Chamula
Church in Chamula

Top Notch Archaeological Sites

During our Chiapas road trip we got to visit Palenque and Tonina.  These archaeological sites are not all that easy to reach, but that makes them much better to enjoy since there are less tourists. They have also retained some of their natural splendor. 

These two sites require dedicated day trips, so you need to plan accordingly. I definitely recommend you add this to your list of things to do in Chiapas.

Palenque is in my top 10 archaeological sites in Mexico.

Things to do in Chiapas: Palenque
Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque
Things to do in Chiapas: Palenque
Steps of the Temple of the Inscriptions
Things to do in Chiapas: Tonina
Ruins of Tonina

The Beautiful Cascadas de Agua Azul

On the road to Palenque, we had to make a stop and visit one of the several waterfalls Chiapas has to offer.  You can take some food, or buy some of the local food there and make a day of it.  You’re allowed to get in the water.

Waterfalls in Chiapas

Pueblo Mágico Chiapa de Corzo

Chiapa de Corzo is a very cozy, peaceful pueblo mágico.  The food was great and the people we warm and welcoming.  We actually spent Christmas Eve in Chiapa de Corzo. Our daughter got to play a bit during our stay here. 

Aside from the beauty of the town, Chiapa de Corzo also serves as an entrance to the natural wonder of the Cañón del Sumidero. You absolutely must take a boat to explore this amazing natural site!

Chipa de Corzo is on my list of the best pueblos mágicos!

Things to do in Chiapas: Chiapa de Corzo
Things to do in Chiapas: Chiapa de Corzo
Things to do in Chiapas: Chiapa de Corzo
Things to do in Chiapas: Chiapa de Corzo

Amazing Cañón del Sumidero

The picture below does not begin to help describe the experience of seeing this canyon with your own eyes.  You get to visit it on a boat, and you get to ride right through it.  You get to see animals like monkeys, and birds, and it is truly incredible to see in person.  The boat driver makes several stops so people can have an opportunity to take pictures.

Things to do in Chiapas: Canon del Sumidero
Cañón del Sumidero
Wild life during our tour of the canyon

Some Last Words

“Caminante no hay camino: se hace camino al andar”

Joan Manuel Serrat

The road to San Cristobal de las Casas takes a long time due to the road conditions and lack of highways. However, you get to experience amazing sites and excellent local food along the road. It’s impossible to not stop and taste the food and admire the sights.

Things to do in Chiapas: Admire the views
The road to San Cristobal de las Casas

Traveling through the jungles of Chiapas.

I hope you got a good taste of the different things to do in Chiapas. If you are ready to make this trip your own, click the button below to get a full itinerary and trip details. If you are looking for other travel destinations check out our list of itineraries. Click here to checkout the full details on the logistics of this trip, including transportation and lodging.Click here to check out itineraries of other awesome destinations!

Follow: Travel with Ivan

The Mazatlan Post