Updated May 2018
One of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, colonial San Cristobal de las Casas sits in a wide valley of the forested Central Highlands in the southern state of Chiapas. Founded in 1528, it’s not polished to a museum shine, but not rundown either. Its vibrant international scene blends seamlessly with the local Mayan population, many from nearby autonomous communities protected by the Zapatista army.
About five hours away is Palenque, an enormous, ancient Mayan city where you can climb tall pyramids and wander down jungle paths while streams bubble and howler monkeys howl.
A visit to Chiapas shows you an exotic side of Mexico full of friendly people and lovely landscapes. Forget a package tour, and dismiss your worries about security—traveling here is safe and easy on your own, even if you don't speak Spanish.
What does your Chiapas itinerary include?
Your Chiapas Adventure: San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque, Mexico 5-Day Itinerary is for the independent traveler who wants to experience the culture, history, and nature of one of Mexico’s most fascinating regions. Besides saving a lot of money, you will:
- Explore San Cristobal de las Casas, the “most magical” of Mexico’s Magic Towns.
- Visit San Juan Chamula, an autonomous Mayan community with a mystical, otherworldly church.
- Enter caves, go hiking, and ride ziplines in tranquil ecoparks in the mountains surrounding the city.
- Take a boat ride between the towering 1,000-meter walls of the Sumidero Canyon.
- Visit Zoomat, a jungle zoo with animals exclusively from Chiapas.
- Discover Palenque, the famous Mayan ruins in the jungle, and follow trails to hidden off-site waterfalls.
- Eat (and drink) like the locals, with Chiapan specialties like tamales, pox (corn moonshine), and pozol (corn drink).
- Get transport tips for arriving by plane or bus, including discount options from Mexico City.
- Have choices for memorable accommodation for all budgets in friendly hostels, colonial houses, or jungle lodges.
- Browse local markets, stroll down cobblestone pedestrian streets, and learn some Spanish, history, and culture. And, if time permits, explore more places in the region, including the Mayan village Ocosingo, the Zapatista community Oventik, the colonial town Comitán, the multicolored Montebello Lakes, the remote beach Boca del Cielo, and neighboring Guatemala, among others.
Who is your Chiapas travel guide?
Ted Campbell is a freelance writer, translator, and university teacher who has lived in Mexico since 2010. He travels extensively in the region, seeking out good deals and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Many of his travel articles and stories are published online and on his popular blog No Hay Bronca.
Why you should buy this Chiapas guide:
Each Unanchor travel guide is an itinerary written by a resident that includes a prioritized timeline of places to see, maps, and directions, including insider tips and alternative destinations. It's like having a personal tour guide in your pocket, but with the freedom to deviate from the plan and a much lower cost.
Your Chiapas Adventure: San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque, Mexico 5-day Itinerary offers complete hotel, restaurant, transportation, and sightseeing recommendations and includes an extensive appendix with sections like Food and Drinks, Places and Terminology, Useful Spanish Phrases, Money Matters, Safety, A Brief History, and Other Places to Go.
The itinerary will pay for itself the first time you follow the advice for a hotel, restaurant, bus, or museum. The author's email address is included, so you are welcome to write with any questions.