Full of mysticism and magic, Chiapas is all about beautiful nature, archaeological attractions, colonial treasures and museums, indigenous communities, and remote “fincas” with coffee plantations.
This beautiful state located in Mexico´s southern area was also inhabited by Mayan Civilization. Get into the magnificent temples this culture established just in the middle of the jungle. The perfect paradise for tourists who want to forget about ordinary trips and have unimaginable adventures with its unique nature marvels. Clearly, Chiapas is not usually known for beach destinations; however, it has the most amazing sceneries in the Pacific Coast. Come and explore these private and gentle resting-places. People of Chiapas will make you feel like a special guest; definitely, they are the perfect last element for making the experience of being in Chiapas an unforgettable one. If you had already visited fascinating Chiapas; don´t worry, you should know every time you visit this place you will be pleased with its endless magic.
Reasons to visit Chiapas
The climate and soil conditions of Chiapas are perfect for the growth and production of coffee. Coffee forms a core part of the gastronomic identity of the region. Chiapas is one of the world´s biggest producers of organic coffee. The views will be unforgettable. Explore the plantations and enjoy the local flora and fauna as well as the tranquility of this place. In fact, there is a coffee route through the most important and interesting plantations in the state. Finca Hamburgo is an old coffee plantation where tourists can learn about the coffee transformation process, since plantation to exportation procedures. Also, it owns a compelling museum exhibiting the “finca” history since 125 years ago. Another plantation that has to be known about is Argovia. This finca was founded around 1880 and nowadays it developed itself as a total ecologically sustainable coffee producer. For its organic coffee production, they have ecological practices as recycling techniques and used-water treatment techniques.
Chiapas is home to several indigenous groups descending from the Maya, who inhabit the highland villages surrounding San Cristobal. The indigenous people of Chiapas speak their own language (often in addition to Spanish), practice their own unique customs and can be identified by their traditional dress. In the highlands of Chiapas, indigenous villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan are located. In both Tzotzil Maya communities, the complex ethnic composition of Chiapas is well reflected and they still demonstrate a rich variety of customs and beliefs expressed in traditions of both pagan and Christian origin.
A tropical ecosystem full of green landscapes, extraordinary flora, and fauna; where the most engaging archaeological sites are hidden. This territory boasts incredible vegetation diversity with pine, mahogany, cedarwood and other types of trees along animal species like the jaguar, spider monkey, toucan, macaws and boa constrictor. Exploring this jungle is once in a lifetime experience. Get deep into Lacandon jungle in an incredible place: “Las Guacamayas”. This magical place is located close to Lacantun River, inside the Biosphere Reserve “Montes Azules”. As its name tells it’s the red macaws’ refugee.
Lacanjá Chansayab, a typical Lacandon village has its own river and archaeological site. This is a perfect destination point for getting to know about Lacandon Inhabitants. Even though they have changed their native way of living, these people still try to conserve their language, typical clothes, customs, traditions, and beliefs.
Ecotourism in Chiapas
Due to its natural beauty, this state has grown through the years into a distinguished eco-touristic destination. Definitely, Chiapas will captivate your senses with all the different options it has a true nature encounter. Adventure yourself into a fascinating ecologic park like Amikuu Park, this eco-park is both fun and educational. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to do a variety of activities, such as visit the aquarium, the serpentarium, and a whole lot more!
We can´t talk about Chiapas without mentioning the important and majestic archaeological sites that have been found in the area. Chiapas offers a great chapter of Mayan civilization; among its constructions that will totally immerse you into pre-Hispanic history. Visit the former rival city of Palenque: Tonina. This interesting, less visited site has various pyramids set on terraces rising some 71 meters (233 ft) above a plaza, a large ballgame court, and over 100 carved monuments, most dating from the 6th century through the 9th centuries AD. Toniná is also interesting because of its well-preserved stucco sculptures and particularly by its in-the-round carved monuments, produced to an extent not seen in Mesoamerica since the end of the much earlier Olmec civilization. Toniná was, once upon a time, a powerful kingdom and for much of its history, the city was engaged in wars with Palenque, its greatest rival.
Don´t forget to also visit the spectacular and world-known archaeological sites of Palenque, Yaxchilan, and Bonampak.
Mother Nature has gifted Chiapas with the most beautiful spectacles that will be found in Mexico and even in the world. These beautiful natural wonders are unique attractions that have made Chiapas a perfect destination for being in touch with nature. Beginning with Agua Azul waterfalls; its turquoise color, that makes these waterfalls so unique, comes from the high level of mineral content of the water. Enjoy the surrounding jungle environment, with a great diversity of flora and fauna, and go for a swim.
Near the border with Guatemala, Montebello Lagoons will impress you. This park is a huge natural reserve area with an extension of approximately 15,000 acres, including pine and Holm oak forests as well as jungle vegetation. Undoubtedly, the most important attractions of the park are the nearly 60 lagoons with colors ranging from jade green to turquoise blue. These lagoons fill this natural reserve with color and life. Originally these lagoons were old cenotes that through the time joined together.
Thanks to its close location to Palenque; Misol – Ha, is now one of the most popular attractions. These sensational waterfalls length 30 meters and create a gigantic natural “pond”. People can swim in here. This spectacle is perfect for tourists looking for a unique relaxing and beautiful destination.
The famous Sumidero Canyon was formed around 12 million years ago by a geologic mistake. It is an unbelievable attraction not only in Chiapas but in the entire country. Go on a boat ride into the canyon and admire the spectacular landscapes of ecosystem variations this National Park offers. Full of vegetation, it owns distinctive flora & fauna among its impressive caves you may visit during your trip. Also, it offers a lot of “miradores” where you´ll experience the most incredible views of your life. Another natural wonder is Sima de las Cotorras. This cave has a depth of 140 meters where countless of “cotorras” (a parrot species) inhabit, getting out at dawn and returning home when the night falls. It´s amazing how other kinds of animals have chosen to live in this area. If you explore a bit more you´ll find cave paintings 20 meters down from the top, the most characteristic ones: black & red hands painted through all the walls.
Enjoy the beauty of The Chiflon Waterfall; a turquoise cascade 80 meters (262 ft) high, and choose whether to climb 800 steps to reach the top, or to stay at the bottom to admire other small waterfalls and refresh yourself in natural pools.
Formed by the Santo Domingo River, Las Nubes is located within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve; the waterfalls of Las Nubes are one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the state of Chiapas yet only visited by few. Join an off-the-beaten-track adventure in the jungle, a real treat for nature lovers!
An extraordinary adventure is waiting for you in the spectacular Cenote Chucumaltik; with crystal water and a visibility of more than 40 meters. Observe petrified trees, a quartz reservoir, sulfur chimneys, caverns and stalagmites of algae. This excursion is for all the people who want to experience diving under the supervision of professionals. Instruction is given prior to the activity. No certificate or experience required certification.
Considered one of the most important ecological diversity centers and the second cave system in Mexico; El Ocote Jungle. There are many kinds of plants and animals that can be found in this ecosystem. We can also find the Venta river canyon which lengths around 400 meters.
Biosphere Reserve El Triunfo, known as one of the best places in the world for bird watching. Mainly this place is dedicated to the preservation of “Quetzal” bird that nowadays is in danger of extinction. While being in this place you may find water holes and little rivers as well as a lot of vegetation variations and climate changes.
Visiting Tuxtla Gutierrez means: Being around jungle vegetation and urban legends inside a very conservative city. The main city of Chiapas tries to share its own particular culture by offering interesting attractions; Zoom at and the Regional Chiapas museum. There are other attractions such as colonial buildings like the “San Marcos” Cathedral and Main Plaza. Also, there is the “Marimba” Garden where you can have a good time with traditional concerts from 6 to 9 pm.
San Cristobal de las Casas
One of Mexico’s best-preserved colonial towns; San Cristobal de las Casas makes tourists fall in love with its style, cobbled streets, artisanal crafts and conservative traditions. The town is laid out on a grid pattern and can be easily explored on foot. Several of the main streets leading through the center of town are closed to traffic and converge on the central park or Zocalo (main plaza). A steep stone staircase leads up to the Templo de San Cristobal (San Cristobal Church) and the town’s best “mirador” (lookout point). Climb to the top to enjoy spectacular views overlooking the town of San Cristobal, the surrounding mountains and countryside. With its laid-back, bohemian atmosphere, you can spend hours browsing the shops and markets.
Chiapa de Corzo
This place was the first settlement founded by the Spaniards in the region. Now it is a picturesque town with a famous 16th-century fountain, the former monastery of Santo Domingo, and portals with colorful crafts for sale. Its famous fountain “La Pila” is one of the oldest monuments and should be considered as an obligated destination for anyone in Chiapas State. Chiapa de Corzo is popular nowadays for its particular craft: Lacquered gourds and embroidery, this kind of art can be found on its Lacquer Museum and the famous Traditions School-House. Here, Artisans create the most amazing art pieces. Its gastronomy also contributes to creating the amazing experience in this place. The most popular plates are the Bread soup, Chanfaina (soup made with beef & chicken) and tamales. Also, you can find exquisite typical candies. Close enough to this town a stunning natural wonder is found: Sumidero Canyon. It´s the perfect setting for adventurers´ activities like biking, camping, photography, and climbing. Enjoy a ride at the Grijalva River, while you admire the beauty of the ancient geological formations of the canyon with cliffs that measure up to 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) high. An abundance of wildlife can be seen on the shores of the river (crocodiles, spider monkeys, and many different species of birds).
Comitán Pueblo Magico
A colonial and cultural town reflects Chiapas modern cultural history. It precisely shows the effects on towns when the Spaniards arrived at these lands. In Comitán you´ll find stunning architecture as well as interesting museums, theatres, and cultural centers. Don´t forget to try the place´s typical liquor “Comiteco”, an agave drink sweetened with brown sugar.
In your way back from Comitan, don´t forget to visit the remarkable “El Chiflon” waterfalls. These waterfalls create turquoise blue natural ponds that can be enjoyed within amazingly extensive vegetation. Undoubtedly, “El Chiflon” is a magnificent natural treasure in beautiful Chiapas. Take time to also admire the breathtaking Montebello Lagoons. Finally, go to Tziscao Lake; considered one of the most beautiful places in Chiapas. It’s a wonderful place for excursions and camping. Owns an incredibly dark blue color due to its great depth.
Imagine a place where jungle, mystery, mythical energy, tradition, legends, and archaeology go together. Palenque in Chiapas; shows another piece of Mayan Culture and turns into one of the most impressive Mexico’s ancient treasures. The mystical home of legendary Mayan King Pakal, guarded by howler monkeys who inhabit the surrounding jungle. It was inside the Pyramid of the Inscriptions where King Pakal’s sarcophagus and its carved gravestone were found. Enjoy the impressive structures as well as the breathtaking natural environment of this World Heritage Site.
Known for its painting murals; this ceremonial center is located in the jungle´s heart. While being in this spectacular place, you´ll discover beautiful constructions and paintings that exhibit ancient ages. Guides in this place are 100% “Lacandon” inhabitants making your experience in Bonampak even more incredible. The Temple of Murals has 3 sections where these paintings were found. In the first room, there are representations of the city´s throne, in the second one you´ll find paintings of prisoners and their torture methods and in the third one, representations of the city´s celebrations.
Located deep in the Lacandon jungle. Yaxchilan was, thanks to its strategic (commercial) location on the shores of the river, one of the most important classic Maya sites of the region. The ruins are famous for their ornaments. The archaeological site, with its spectacular jungle setting, is also a paradise for nature lovers. To reach the site, you need to travel approximately one hour by boat over the Rio Usumacinta.
A Tzotzil community where weaving artisan women will show you how they elaborate their textiles and waist looms. Also, they are really dedicated to raising flowers so you´ll be surprised by the multicolored sight in this village. You will also have a chance to taste delicious handmade tortillas made on a wood oven of a typical indigenous kitchen as well as typical regional gastronomy. The local people women will be more than happy to explain you about their cooking traditions and will serve you some of their traditional dishes.
San Juan Chamula
Interestingly, San Juan Chamula enjoys a unique autonomous status within Mexico, which has kept the village authentic. At the church of San Juan Chamula, you will witness healing rituals and prayers carried out in Tzotzil, the community’s native language. Try a cup of Posh, local artisanal sugar-cane-based liquor.
Come and discover these fascinating beaches Chiapas has to offer: Puerto Arista is the most important beach destination in Chiapas, still is one of the less visited in Mexico. This beautiful beach owns the “Prieto” Estuary where you may watch birds and crocodiles. Also, there can be found a Turtle Camp refugee where four turtle species arrive and lay their eggs. If you are lucky enough, at some moments in the year you may participate in turtle releases. Boca del Cielo is another beach destination on this coast, if you are into Pacific, calm and relaxing beaches this place is perfect for you. It is practically connected to Puerto Arista. In this beach, you will find many options to practice kayaking, jet skis, and boat riding. In Boca del Cielo you may visit la Joya lagoon or its Turtle camp.
Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, with a unique architecture and a mixture of European culture and Indigenous tradition; this is the most commercial city due to its border with Guatemala. Here you´ll find organic coffee farms where you may be pleased with an exquisite coffee tasting. Argovia & Hamburgo are the most famous coffee “fincas”.
A charming little village; principally known for its cheese production, specifically for its delicious “bola cheese”. Here you will get to know the stunning colonial churches; San Jacinto de Polonia church is the most important one. Very close to this town there´s Nahá. Nahá is a community located in the Lacandon Jungle between many ecosystems. A magic place where you can spend some time with the local natives and learn about their life and traditions.
Amatenango del Valle
Surrounded by cornfields, this Tzeltal town is famous for its traditional pottery production. For over 1,000 years the women of Amatenango have dedicated themselves to the making of earthenware pots and ornaments. The women are also skillful weavers and this can be seen in their stunning red and orange huipiles (traditional blouses). The art of pottery-making has been passed from generation to generation and it’s fascinating to watch the village girls at work, modeling small clay animals with astonishing skill.
Festivals and International Events
Chiapas Fair – November
An important event where Chiapas shares its folklore and tradition; presenting all kinds of cultural, artistic and entertainment activities.
International Baroque Cervantino Festival
This festival is performed in San Cristobal de las Casas. During 8 days on October; all kinds of arts are presented; dancing, music, theatre, expositions, and workshops creating a new share of Chiapas cultural art with all the country.
Celebrated in January, Chiapas most representative “fiesta” has been named Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This incredible festival presented in Chiapa de Corzo where all musical, culinary, cultural, artistic resources are gathered together showing Chiapas´ most folkloric traditions. One of these traditions is the famous “Parachicos Dance”. Dancers in this symbolic show are dressed in colorful clothes and wood made masks dancing and singing through the entire town. Music is played with drums and flutes in a joyful rhythm. They are joined by “Chiapanecas” and “Chuntaes” (men dressed as women). Definitely one of the most festive traditions Mexico shares with the world.
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