This beautiful colonial hillside town is so far off the beaten track it only makes sense to visit when you want to use it as a base to go to the Palenque ruins and/or you are on your way to/from Guatemala. The reward is huge though: not only is Palenque truly unique, San Cristobal de las Casas itself has a lovely authentic feel with lots of indigenous villages to explore all around.
It is hard to overestimate how biologically and ethnically diverse Mexico is. San Cristobal is a perfect example. The weather is as varied as its topography and its people. Far away from the sunny beaches, but close to the suffocating jungle and the Guatemalan volcanoes, this truly is a place so unique even Mexicans love to visit it.
(there is another article with more pictures of San Cristobal de las Casas)
Food and drinks
Activities / things to do
- Na Bolom is more of a research center, and a quirky place, full of photographs from Swiss-Danish archaeologists
- Mayan medicine museum: an ode to the enormous knowledge of the Mayas and how they discovered the healing properties of nature. This quirky small museum is also a statement against multinationals such as Bayer, that apparently ran away with a lot of the discoveries of the Mayas. The museum has a botanical garden as well. Unfortunately most information is in Spanish
- Jade museum: not nearly as big as its competitor in San Jose, Costa Rica, but this one has lots of character
- Climbing the stairs to the chapels: especially the Iglesia San Cristobal de las Casas is fun, because the stairs are littered with political street art. The Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe is on the eastern side of the city, also within walking distance
- Palenque: this is a LONG daytrip, that starts early in the morning and also takes in two waterfalls before you make it to the Mayan ruins in the jungle. Must-see though as this is a unique experience. All tourist agencies have daily tours
Getting to San Cristobal and getting around
- Long-distance buses usually come from Oaxaca city, but also go as far as Mexico City, Puerto Escondido or Yucatan province (Cancun, Campeche and Merida)
- You can also fly to Tuxtla Gutierrez from almost anywhere in Mexico. From there it is ninety minutes by bus
- From or to the Guatemalan side several tourist agencies operate daily minivans. They usually travel to Antigua, Panajachel (at Lake Atitlan, a popular hideout for expats) and Xela (officially Quetzaltenango)
- Within the city center of San Cristobal de las Casas everything is within walking distance
- Weather: very volatile. Because it is perched between the hills, rain can develop quickly and unexpectedly