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  • Markus Miller

COMPLETE GUIDE For San Cristóbal De Las Casas - Top Things To Do In 2022

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

Planning to go to San Cristóbal de las Casas?


Here I tell you everything you need to know (things to do, where to stay etc.) to make the most out of your trip to this beautiful city!


So here is the ultimate guide for your trip to San Cristóbal de las Casas:


Table of contents

  1. The city center

  2. Cafés and restaurants

  3. Local markets and shopping

  4. Where to stay

  5. Hiking and Outdoor activities

  6. Day-Trips

  7. Ceremonies and retreats

  8. Nightlife

  9. Safety

  10. Best time to visit

  11. How to get to there


1. The city center


Being the base for backpackers and expats alike San Cristóbal is definitely a special city... If you stroll around the old streets in the center it feels more like a small village though. Many describe it as a pueblo magico...


(That is me and Chester, the hostel dog, walking around the streets of San Cristóbal...)


Free walking tour


I totally recommend to do the free walking tour which starts every day at 10 am and 5 pm from the Plaza de la Paz. It takes about 2 hours and the guides (who are super friendly and knowledgeable) are happy to answer all your questions you might have about San Cristóbal or Chiapas.


Lookouts


There are two lookouts that are in walking distance from the center. One is up at the Guadalupe Church at the end of the main walking street...



The other one is at the church Iglesia de San Cristóbalito. It is less known, so the place is really quiet.


TIPP: If you feel lazy, the rooftop of Kinoki offers some cool views of the city as well. It is a restaurant with a built in cinema where you can watch local movies for as little as 50 pesos (~ 2 USD).


2. Cafés & restaurants


Coffee & cacao


Like Oaxaca City, San Cristóbal is one of the cities in Mexico with an amazing coffee culture. You can find a lot of amazing (!) coffee places where you can buy regional coffee or enjoy a freshly made cappuccino, latte or espresso. Frontera is definitely my favorite one where I went almost daily. However, there are many many more!


If you're not into coffee, there is also a lot of high-quality cacao which you can enjoy as a hot chocolate or buy 100 % raw at really decent prices.


Food


You can find many delicious vegan restaurants in San Cristóbal, e.g. Veganos la Taqueria where you can get vegan tacos for 8 pesos every Tuesday. Te Quiero Verde has really delicious vegan food as well, however a bit pricier. Another cheap vegan option is across the street of Falafel 100 % Vegetariano (which is also super yummy!).


At the pizza place across you can order slices for as little as 10 pesos. The best pizza you can find though is at Satori Pizza...

Other good restaurants are: Pachamama and Masala Raf (Indian).


In general, dining out is pretty cheap in San Cristóbal.


Are you planning to go to Mexico during Covid? No problem, you can enter the country neither needing a Covid-test nor proof of vaccination. In the bigger cities are certain regulations in place like wearing a mask or social distancing, but overall you can have a really free travel experience.


3. Local markets and shopping


You might be wondering what to buy in San Cristóbal? Well, there is something for everybody...


The local markets


I was going to Mercado Viejo almost every day to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at super cheap prices. Depending on the season you can buy a huge bag of mangos for as little as 20 pesos (~ 1 USD).


A 5 min-walk away is Mercado de la Caridad y Santo Domingo where you can buy jewelry, clothes and other artisan things.


In the center, especially on the main walking street Real de Guadalupe are many small shops and street vendors that sell all different kinds of stuff. You can find a lot of beautifully hand-made handicrafts there.


If you're into thrift shopping, San Cristóbal might be your paradise! You can find many thrift shops where you can get really cool clothes for 1 or 2 bucks. Check them out!

(There is also a big mall where you can find popular clothing shops.)



4. Where to stay


There are many nice hostels in San Cristóbal that cost as little as 6 USD/night.


I loved my stay at Iguana Hostel where you can find a chill family vibe and a rooftop overlooking the city (6 USD/night).


If you're into party and drinking, Puerta Vieja might be just perfect for you. It's the biggest hostel in San Cristóbal and they have different events every night (like Mojito night). The price of 11 USD/night includes free breakfast AND dinner as well.


Another hostel I can recommend is Posada del Abuelito. It's a really cute place and comes with free breakfast (7 USD/night).


All of the three offer private rooms. At Iguana it costs about 400 pesos (~ 20 USD), at Puerta Vieja around 500 pesos ( ~25 USD) and at Posada del Abuelito around 600 pesos (~ 30 USD).



5. Hiking and Outdoor activities in San Cristóbal


Lookout Don Lauro


Don Lauro is a bit outside the city, so you might wanna take a taxi or colectivo to get there. The hike to the top takes about an hour. From there you have a really amazing view overlooking the whole city of San Cristóbal! There is also the possibility to do some rock-climbing there. You can book tours at Vertigo Rock Climbing.


Parks


El Encuentro is about 30 mins walking from the center. When you reach the entrance you need to walk another 15 mins along a river to get to the actual park. There's also the possibility to eat some delicious organically grown food in a small hut next to the river. The park is an open area surrounded by a mountain, a lot of trees and a small river. I've heard you can also camp there.


Montetik is a bit further outside. You can take a colectivo from here (next to Café Frontera) that gets you directly to the park (8 pesos). The park offers some amazing walks through needle forests. Since the trees are pretty high it reminded me a lot of the forests in California.


My personal favorite is El Arcotete. You can take a colectivo from here which directly brings you to the entrance (8 pesos). Arcotete has really beautiful nature and a lot of walks you can do around the area. There are also some caves to discover.



All the parks cost a small entrance fee and are closing before it gets dark.

Mountain-Biking


You can also go mountain-biking around Arcotete. If you don't have your own bike, you can rent one (optional with a guide). You pay 650 pesos (~ 32 USD) for a 4-hour bike-trip (including guide, bike and helmet). If you're interested, just send me a message for the contact.


Hiking


Reserva Huitepec


If you go to Chamula, you can get off at Reserva Huitepec. It's a beautiful 1 - 2 hour round trip through a thick forest. There is a gate, but we didn't have to pay an entrance fee.


Volcán Huitepec


The most beautiful hike I did around San Cristóbal was this one. It starts at Reserva Huitepec as well. Once you are at a small bench on the top, instead of continuing the loop, you just continue further up the hill. It's a small trail and at one point you reach two crossroads where you have to turn left.


NOTE: It's not an officially marked trail, so there is the possibility to get a little lost on this one. It's always helpful to remember from which trail you came and to hike with other people.

If you followed the right trails you reach an opening which soon leads to a small village close to Volcán Huitepec. From there you can walk down to the main road (or take a taxi/colectivo).

You might wanna take your time at the village, though. There are almost no cars, and you can really feel the silence and calmness above the clouds. Apart from a few friendly locals, there is no one...



NOTE: You can also get there by taking a colectivo to "San Felipe" from the old market which will drop you here. From there you can walk up or wait for another colectivo.


6. Day-Trips


Sumidero Canyon


The Cañon del Sumidero is certainly one of the most impressive things I saw on my trip through Mexico. It is a deep natural canyon with vertical cliffs as high as 1 000 m!


Photo by Gabriel Tovar

You can book a tour in your hostel in San Cristóbal which will probably cost around 550 pesos (~ 27 USD). You can also book it online for 29 USD. It includes the entry fee to the national park, all transportation and the boat tour.


You start early morning and it takes about 1.5 hours to the national park where you first stop at a few lookouts to admire the canyon. The view is amazing! Still, the boat trip through the canyon is the real highlight!


Be prepared, it is super touristic at the harbor. After entering the boat you first get taken to some floating vendors where you can buy beers, soft drinks and snacks.


After the commercial part is over, the real tour begins... There is a lot of wildlife to observe... All different kinds of birds, spider monkeys, butterflies and fish...

At one point you go to a small river island which is home to hundreds of vultures.

Chances are high that you gonna see some real crocodiles that are chilling along the river and that can get quite big there...


Photo by DEZALB

For the most part of the tour, you can see the huge steep walls of the canyon on either side. The longer you go, the more open and wider the area gets, though. Eventually you'll arrive in Chiapa de Corzo where you'll have some time for lunch before your shuttle takes you back to San Cristóbal.


NOTE: It is also possible to visit the national park by yourself. This makes sense if you have your own car or motorbike. Otherwise you need to get there by colectivo or taxi, pay the entrance fee (34 pesos) or the boat tour (200 pesos; including the entrance fee). So, in the end you don't save that much money.

Chamula


Another popular day-trip is to the village of Chamula. You can definitely do it on your own by taking a colectivo that leaves near the old market. It costs only 15 pesos (~ 0.7 USD) and takes about 30 mins.


There is also the possibility to book a shuttle to Chamula. It costs 15 USD, including the entry tickets. It leaves at 10 am and also goes to the traditional village of Zinacantan.


The other tour option is to book a horse-riding trip which takes you to the villages...


In Chamula the main tourist attraction is the church of Chamula. It is around a market place and is decorated with little flags...


Photo by Fabian Montano

What makes this church especially interesting are the local costumes there. It's a mix of traditional Mayan culture and catholic Western influences.


A thing that can seem a bit strange is that they kill living chicken inside the church and drink coca cola to "burp out" the bad spirits...


You are strictly not allowed to take pictures inside the church! The locals belief that taking pictures robs their spirits.


7. Ceremonies and retreats


San Cristóbal attracts a lot of spiritual seekers... Hence you can do there a lot of workshops and traditional ceremonies to dive deeper into your inner journey...


In case you're interested in my personal experiences in San Cristóbal, you can read about them in my Spirit blog.

Temazcal


One of the coolest things I did in San Cristóbal was taking part in a traditional temazcal ceremony.


You sit in a small wood cabin (aka sweat lodge) around hot coals singing some mantras to cleanse yourself of bad energies. The whole ceremony is usually divided in four parts and takes about 2 - 3 hours. It is often done at new- or full-moon.


Photo by Gummy Bone

I can say that it was a super deep experience for me and I really felt like reborn afterwards. I can recommend doing it with Carlos - write me a message if you want to contact him!


Bonus: After 2 hours of sweating you get a lot of fresh fruits like mangoes and pineapples which taste like heaven!

Cacao ceremony


San Cristóbal is very famous for its raw and pure cacao, so it makes sense that there are a lot of cacao ceremonies in town. Hostel La Isla offers one every Wednesday at 11 am.


Silent retreat


A bit outside the city you have the possibility to go on a 10-day silent retreat. Two friends of mine did it and they were totally amazed by the experience. You don't talk for the whole time and primarily focus on your inner self. It takes place in a beautiful house located in a forest offering the perfect space to do this...


Info-boards


Checking the info boards at hostels and cafés (e.g. at Frontera or Kinoki) is a good way to find out more what's on offer. You can find all sorts of workshops and interesting things like Breath Work or Reiki there...



8. Nightlife


Bars


One of the best bars to party, dance or just having a drink is Café Bar Revolución.

It offers live music, salsa nights and an overall cool atmosphere to have a fun time!

Another chill venue you should check out is La Viña de Bacco which offers a wide selection of wines for as little as 1 USD per glass, including free tapas.


Techno Rave: Every Friday there is a rave a bit outside the city where you can party until sunrise... There is also a "candy shop" close to Plaza de la Paz where you can "officially" buy magic mushrooms and other psychedelics. Best ask in your hostel for the exact location.


9. Safety


Is San Cristóbal safe to visit?


Well, in the past there have been some safety concerns, and to be honest: Yes, robberies do happen from time to time.

Like in most cities in Central America you should always walk around with some precaution and common sense. Some general recommendations are not to walk alone at night, to always watch your valuables and to stick to the main tourist areas. Trust your gut and try to avoid anything that seems a bit off, for example a small side alley in a dodgy area at night.

Of course, you can never guarantee 100 % safety, but I wouldn't have stayed there for that long, if I thought it was really dangerous.


Another important thing to mention is that you should avoid the tap water in San Cristóbal as much as you can. Don't brush your teeth or wash your vegetables with it. The water is not very clean and some people get sick because of it.



10. Best time to visit


San Cristóbal is a mountain town with an elevation of 2 200 m, so it can be a refreshing change to the hot and humid climate at Mexico's coast. However, it can get chilly there, especially at night.


In terms of weather, it's best to visit San Cristóbal between November and April. Although it is colder than in summer, there is less rain which means you probably get some nice sunny days!


From mid of May to end of October the temperatures are higher, but so is the rainfall. I would not recommend that time to visit since it can rain all day during that time...


The weather isn't everything when it comes to visiting a place. For example during rainy season there are less tourists which means it is less crowded and you can find some good deals on accommodation...

What to wear in San Cristóbal?


No matter which time of the year you are visiting, you should definitely bring some warm clothes. But don't worry if you only have board-shorts or bikinis in your bag!

You can buy everything you need for very little money, either on the local markets or in the many thrift shops around town.



11. How to get to San Cristóbal


From Mexico City:


1. Direct flight (+ taxi and colectivo):

Duration: 4 h

Cost: 60 - 70 USD


You can fly from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutíerrez (~ 40 - 50 USD).

From the airport you need to take a taxi to the center of Tuxtla (30 mins) and afterwards a colectivo to San Cristóbal which takes another hour.


2. Direct Bus:

Duration: 16 h

Cost: 80 USD


16 hours sounds like a long trip, however the ADO bus goes overnight, so you might sleep for most of the journey. It costs around 80 USD and leaves several times a day from the Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente in the center of Mexico City. To get there you can take a taxi or an uber.



From Puerto Escondido


1. Direct Bus (overnight):

Duration: 10 h

Cost: 50 USD


10 hours sounds like a long trip, however the most common way is to take an overnight ADO bus, so you might sleep for most of the journey. It costs 992 MXN (~ 50 USD) and leaves several times a day from the ADO bus terminal in the center of Puerto Escondido.

To get to the terminal from La Punta you can take a taxi for about 50 pesos or a colectivo from the main road for 10 pesos.


2. Indirect flight (+ taxi and colectivo):

Duration: 9 h

Cost: 80 - 120 USD


There is also the possibility to fly via Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutíerrez (~ 80 - 120 USD).

I don't recommend it since you probably won't be much faster since you still need to take a taxi from the airport to the center of Tuxtla (30 mins) and afterwards a colectivo to San Cristóbal which takes another hour.



From Oaxaca City


1. Direct Bus (overnight):

Duration: 12 hours

Cost: 50 USD


12 hours sounds like a long trip, however the most common way is to take an overnight ADO bus, so you might sleep for most of the journey. It costs around 50 USD and it leaves several times a day from the ADO bus terminal in the center of Oaxaca.


2. Indirect flight (+ taxi and colectivo):

Duration: 9 hours

Cost: 80 - 120 USD


There is also the possibility to fly via Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutíerrez (~ 80 - 120 USD).

I don't recommend it since you probably won't be much faster since you still need to take a taxi from the airport to the center of Tuxtla (30 mins) and afterwards a colectivo to San Cristóbal which takes another hour.



From Guatemala


1. Direct flight (+ taxi and colectivo):

Duration: 4 hours

Cost: 140 USD


There is a direct flight from Guatemala City to Tuxtla Gutíerrez for 120 USD.

From the airport in Tuxtla you need a taxi to the center of Tuxtla (30 mins) and afterwards a colectivo to San Cristóbal which takes another hour. However, it's still the fastest option.


2. Direct Shuttle:

Duration: 12 - 14 hours

Cost: 60 - 90 USD


You can book a direct shuttle. This option costs between 60 and 90 USD and takes 12 to 14 hours depending where you leave and which company you choose. The most popular route is from either Lake Atitlan or Antigua in Guatemala to San Cristóbal.


3. Chicken Bus:

Duration: 16 hours

Cost: 20 USD


You can also do the journey by yourself. In this article I show you step-by-step how to do it.



Heading to Guatemala afterwards?


Here is everything you need to know to get from San Cristóbal to Guatemala & 7 amazing things you can do there.



Heading to Puerto Escondido or Oaxaca City?


Here are 7 awesome things you can do in Mexico's state Oaxaca!


NOTE: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Safe travels and enjoy your trip!!




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