San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico is a great place to base yourself for countless adventures throughout Chiapas. It’s a lovely and lively town in Southern Mexico, largely inhabited by indigenous people, which adds an interesting cultural flair. San Cristobal’s altitude and mountain location further contributes to this city’s appeal while also providing for many recreation pursuits throughout the surrounding area.
Rather than listing things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, this travel guide was written more so to provide travel inspiration for day trips all around San Cristobal de las Casas. Here you’ll find activity recommendations, directions on how to get there using a variety of methods, and travel tips along the way. We’ll still dish out plenty of suggestions for on things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas. Yet this guide goes on further to offer even more things to do from San Cristobal de las Casas.
Before you go on your first adventure, just realize that San Cristobal de las Casas rests at an elevation of 2,200 meters (~1.4 miles) in altitude, which makes for some chilly nights and even causes shortness of breath for those who have not yet acclimated. We suggest planning activities in the region to begin with light physical activities to get acclimated. Then work your way up to more strenuous pursuits such as a challenging uphill mountain bike excursion or a demanding mountain trek. Exploring the city’s museums and churches is a good low-energy idea to consider in the area to get warmed up on your first day of adventures around San Cristobal de las Casas.
1) Things To Do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico
If looking for things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, let us first suggest a visit to the Cathedral, which overlooks the main plaza in the center of town. If you’re into churches, don’t only visit the cathedral because you’ll find many beautifully adorned structures all around town. Perhaps most notably is the lovely Templo Santo Domingo. For those with extra energy, hoof it up to either of the two churches that are perched atop hills in San Cristobal de las Casas: Iglesia de Guadelupe and Iglesia de San Cristobal. You’ll not only be rewarded by the ornate churches themselves, but you’ll earn spectacular views of San Cristobal de las Casas.
You’ll also find over a half dozen museums throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. The Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya is arguably the best, highlighting textile production throughout the region. The intimate Na Bolom and Museo de Ambar are also culturally fascinating to many visitors.
Yet perhaps the best thing to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to stroll along the many pedestrian-friendly streets and simply soak it all in. Sip some local Chiapan coffee at a cafe in the morning and switch over to pox, a local liquor, by nightfall. There’s no shortage of shopping opportunities either as you can find an abundance of locally made handcrafts at the market.
While it’s great to get acquainted with the town itself, what we think are some of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico goes beyond the churches and museums in town. The mountains here contain plentiful natural beauty and adventure. There’s even quite a bit to do just within a short 15-minute drive from the center of town.
So without further ado, the remainder of our recommendations go into detail of what we think to be the best things to do around San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
2) Sumidero Canyon Tour
A boat tour of Sumidero Canyon is the quintessential day trip to take from San Cristobal de las Casas. And that’s for good reason. Sumidero Canyon is an extremely beautiful place, it’s not too far to reach, and it’s an inexpensive excursion from San Cristobal de las Casas. This is a must-do activity when visiting San Cristobal de las Casas.
A 45-minute drive will take you to you to the docks on the Grijalva River, where you’ll embark on a small motorboat to take you on a 2-hour ride through this impressive canyon. As you travel deeper and deeper, you’ll notice the canyon walls are seemingly growing. Eventually they’ll be towering nearly a kilometer in height over you!
Along the way, you’ll stop at points of interest such as a waterfall that spans the entire wall of the canyon, which may or may not be dried up during your visit. And if you’re lucky, you may spot some crocodiles or spider monkeys during the 2-hour voyage.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Sumidero Canyon
It is actually cheaper and far more convenient to go to Sumidero Canyon as part of a tour. So we’d recommend that, even for those who are typically more keen on independent travel. Rationale for traveling independently from San Cristobal de las Casas to Sumidero Canyon could be for those who wish to spend more time in the town of Chiapa de Corzo or those who want to incorporate a visit to Tuxtla Gutierrez. But if only wanting to see the canyon, then using a tour to get there from San Cristobal is definitely the best option.
Tour from San Cristobal de las Casas to Sumidero Canyon: This is a very popular tour and hence is sold by nearly every travel agency and hostel in town. Prices between operators do vary, so it may be worth your time to ask around. We paid $250 pesos per person using Tours por Chiapas located on Real de Guadalupe, just a half block from the plaza. Their tour departs San Cristobal de las Casas at 9:00 am and offers complimentary hotel pick-up. Most Sumidero Canyon tours also include an hour stop at Chiapa del Corzo for lunch and sightseeing. Some tours of Sumidero Canyon further include stops at the mirador atop the canyons walls. When booking, ask to ensure if that is included in your tour. Also, if having an English-speaking guide is important to you, be sure to enquire. Such additions may add to the cost of the tour, but it may prove to be worth it.
San Cristobal to Sumidero Canyon Using Public Transport: Catch a colectivo from San Cristobal de las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo. Find colectivos around the market for the $50 pesos, one-hour ride, each way. From Chiapa de Corzo, walk a few hundred meters alongside the riverbank to get to the docks where there are frequent boats giving the 2-hour tour for the fixed price of $200 pesos per person.
If you prefer not to spend your time in San Cristobal haggling with local tour agencies, you can also book this canyon tour online at Viator, which does includes an English tour guide and is only $23 USD.
3) El Chiflon Waterfalls
El Chiflon is a stunningly blue series of cascades that culminates with the enormous Velo de Novia waterfall, plunging a dramatic 120 meters. Walk up a path on the bank of the Rio San Vincente for about for about a kilometer and you’ll grow increasingly enamored with the sparklingly blue cascades, which reveal themselves one after the next.
As you traverse up the path, you’ll notice just how well manicured this park is, which has hammocks and benches to relax in along the way. Bring a swimsuit and towel if you want to take a dip in the cool blue waters below the waterfalls.
You can also bring a picnic, but we’d instead recommend stopping at one of the charming and economical cafes to enjoy a snack in front of the babbling brook. For adventure seekers, we recommend taking a ride on the zipline, which is covered in a subsequent section (#10) in this guide.
Plan to spend at least two hours at El Chiflon. And don’t miss it. Taking a day trip here was one of our favorite things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to El Chiflon
As a day trip, El Chiflon is most easily reached as part of a tour from San Cristobal de las Casas. It can be reached by public transport but will take considerably longer since you’ll have to transfer in Comitan. A tour from San Cristobal goes directly there and typical includes two hours at El Chiflon, which we found to be ample time. If you think you’d like to linger longer, consider basing yourself in Comitan for a few days, which will give you greater accessibility and flexibility to both El Chiflon and Lagunas Montebello. Or you can even stay in one of the cabanas at El Chiflon. But if trying to see El Chiflon in a day and return to San Cristobal, a day tour is best. These tours typically include stops at both El Chiflon and Lagos Montebello on a long yet packed day.
Public Transport to El Chiflon: You can catch a regular bus or colectivo from San Cristobal de las Casas to the town of Comitan, a nearly 2-hour ride. From Comitan, take one of the regular colectivos that depart every hour, which will bring you to a turn-off for the park, where you’ll need to walk about 15 minutes down the road to the actual park entrance.
Day Trip from San Cristobal to El Chiflon: You can book a day tour from San Cristobal de las Casas to El Chiflon that also includes subsequent visits to many of the Montebello Lakes. Prices for this tour are $300 pesos when booked in San Cristobal, making for great value. Just be prepared for long hours in the van due to travel times. We used Tours Por Chiapas to book our tour, yet the tour to El Chiflon and Lagos Montebello is offered by many agencies and hostels throughout San Cristobal de las Casas.
You can also book this tour online on Viator, currently listed at only $18 USD.
4) Lagunas de Montebello National Park
In extreme Southern Chiapas, just before the border to Guatemala, there are a series of beautiful lakes tucked amongst the oak & pine forests. These lakes are known for their varying hues of green and blue that glisten in the sunlight. But check the weather before you venture all this way, as the lakes can often be misty and overcast.
But go with the right weather, and you’ll be in for a treat. Either way, it’s a very peaceful and tranquil place to escape into nature. Yet there’s much more to do than just gawk at the lakes. You’ll find hiking trails, caves to explore, cenotes, horseback riding, kayaking, and even some small Mayan ruins.
You can also slip across the Guatemalan border to poke around the markets and buy some Guatemalan goods.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Lagunas Montebello
For those who really enjoy the outdoors, plan to spend at least a night at one of the cabañas so you can take in all of these activities and attractions. If you trying to experience Lagos Montebello all in one day, then self-driving or a tour is your best option. However, although the tour packed in several beautiful miradors (lookouts), we found that the tour limited your exploration of this vast National Park. Lagos Montebello probably deserved more time to be covered by way of hiking, horseback riding, and kayaking that is not possible to do during the short tour stops. Yet it was still a great way to experience this beautiful place in the world all in one day.
San Cristobal de las Casas to Lagunas Montebello by Public Transport: There are numerous buses everyday plying the nearly 2-hour route from San Cristobal de las Casas to Comitan. From Comitan transfer to one of the frequent colectivo vans which stop at all the major points of interest throughout the Lagunas Montebello area.
Tour to Lagunas Montebello: Many San Cristobal tour agencies book excursions to Lagos Montebello that include a stop at El Chiflon along the way. The long day tour is heavy on driving, which can make the various stops at the lakes feel brief. But it’s still a good way to be able to pack in a day quickly touring these picturesque lakes. We booked our Montebello Lakes + El Chiflon tour through Tours Por Chiapas for $300 pesos per person which included transportation and all admissions. (Lunch is extra.) We thought it was excellent value, considering all the ground that is covered.
This Lagunas Montebello tour can also be booked online here,currently listed at only $18 USD.
5) El Arcotete
This pleasant natural attraction is worth spending a few hours to enjoy. A river carves its way through a mountain to form a natural tunnel. It’s an interesting sight that’s quick and easy to reach from San Cristobal de las Casas!
At Arcotete you’ll also find a network of hiking trails, a lookout point, and a swing bridge, which are all included in the modest $10 peso price of admission. Palapa rentals are an additional $30 pesos. Ziplining is $100 pesos. A small boat ride up the river is $20 pesos.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Arcotete
It’s an easy trip to get to from town to Arcotete which makes it a a good option among things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas if you’re running short on time. For a longer outing, take a taxi there and then hike on the crude trail along the riverbank, taking you on an alternate route back into town. Or take a bike ride to Arcotete and back.
Taxi to Arcotete: It’s a fairly quick trip to reach Arcotete by taxi. Expect to pay somewhere between $50-$100 pesos each way from the center of town. Note: there didn’t seem to be any taxis waiting around there, so you may have to ask a park worker to call one or walk the ~2 kilometers from the park entrance back to the main road if wanting to take a taxi back from Arcotete.
Arcotete by bike: Cycling to Arcotete can be a tough incline to tackle on the way up, but you are rewarded with a fun cruise back into town on the return. Bike rentals are typically $50 pesos per hour in San Cristobal. Expect it to take one to two hours to get to Arcotete and perhaps only about 20 minutes to get back. (See more info on biking to Arcotete in #11 of this guide.)
6) Huitepec Ecological Reserve
In the Huitepec Ecological Reserve you’ll find a pleasant hike on the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas. The trail goes up the side of a mountain and winds through a lush forest. It’s known as a good place for birding. However, we saw more avian life from our backyard in San Cristobal than we did at Huitepec. Still, it’s a nice hike with big, beautiful trees full of dangling air plants. We’re in relatively good shape and it took us about an hour to complete the circuit trail. Expect the trek to take longer if you take your time or if you’re really trying to spot those elusive birds.
Huitepec isn’t necessarily one of the “must” things to do in San Cristobal, but we still recommend it as a pleasant diversion to get some exercise or fresh air for those with a prolonged stay in the area. We were charged $30 pesos per person to enter the reserve, although reports about the entrance fee vary.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Huitepec Ecological Reserve
You can get to Huitepec by walking, taxi, or collective. We recommend taking a taxi there and catching one of the many passing colectivos back into town. Or walk back. There is a trail along the side of the road for pedestrians, yet there’s nothing too particularly interesting on the route to/from Huitepec.
Taxi to Huitepec Ecological Reserve: A taxi costs $50 pesos, one way from the center of San Cristobal de las Casas to Huitepec.
Colectivo to Huitepec Ecological Reserve: The cost is $10 pesos per person and colectivos depart from the market. Take one heading on 190 towards Navenchauc.
7) Templo de San Juan in San Juan de Chamula
We highly recommend a visit to San Juan de Chamula to experience its extremely unique and fascinating church, which oddly blends together indigenous Tzotzil Mayan traditions with Catholicism. Among all of the cultural things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, this is our top recommendation.
From the outside, Templo de San Juan appears to be just like any other church we’ve seen in Mexico. But inside the San Juan church, it’s completely different from anything we’ve ever experienced. It remains the most interesting church we’ve ever stepped foot inside.
There are no pews inside Templo de San Juan. Instead, dry pine needles cover the tile floor. Soft rhythmic music and clouds of incense fill the air, as light beams in from the few windows on the east side. Mismatched tables line the walls of the church, topped with thousands of flickering candles of all shapes and sizes.
Worshipers kneel down on the pine needle covered floor. Men dress in black wool tunics that look as if they came fresh off a sheep. Don’t be alarmed by the ear-piercing blasts shaking the church. Outside, powerful firecrackers (dynamite?) is lit, another bizarre ritual.
Each churchgoer to Templo de San Juan has their own assortment of dozens tall skinny candles, big wide pillar candles, and small votive candles all dripping with wax onto the floor. They chant prayers in their native tongue. Yet perhaps most peculiar is watching them gulp carbonated orange sodas so that they can loudly burp into the incense-filled air. Apparently this is how they rid their evil spirits. If you’re really lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective), you’ll also witness some sacrifices at the alter, which often involves chickens.
It’s all very strange yet somehow remains peaceful. It’s a very intriguing place in the world that we’d recommend to any curious and open-minded travelers throughout Chiapas. There is a $20 peso entrance fee for visitors that you can pay directly at the church’s entrance. There are a few other points of interest to poke around in San Juan Chamula too but they are all afterthoughts in comparison to the captivating Templo de San Juan.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to San Juan de Chamula
This neighboring town is only 10 kilometers from San Cristobal de las Casas and thereby can be reached by a variety of methods including hiking, biking, horseback, colectivo, taxi, or tour.
Hiking to San Juan Chamula: It’s about a two-hour trek each way. Follow the road or ask around town for directions on a path.
Cycling to San Juan Chamula: Feel the burn as you pedal up the mountainous roads, but it’s a very doable cycle trip from San Cristobal to Chamula. Bike rentals start at about $50 pesos per hour.
Horseback from San Cristobal to San Juan Chamula: Go for a horseback ride between the two towns for $150 pesos. It takes about 60-90 minutes each way and you’ll have an hour to explore San Juan Chamula.
Colectivo to San Juan Chamula: Colectivos depart near the market and cost $15 pesos each way for the 30-minute drive.
Taxi to San Juan Chamula: You can hire a private taxi from San Cristobal to Chamula at negotiable prices.
Tour to San Juan Chamula: Many agencies in town offer tours from San Cristobal to San Chamula that also visits the indigenous town of Zinacantan. Such guided tours costs around $250 pesos per person and last about 5 hours total. Alternatively, you can book this tour of Zincantan and San Juan Chamula online with Viator, which is currently running at only $12 USD.
8) Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is listed as one of the “Pueblos Magicos” (Magical Towns) by the Mexico Tourism board and is less than an hour drive from San Cristobal de las Casas. The plaza acts as a focal point of small colonial town. Here you can check out the clock tower. Be sure to poke around the big tree – La Pochota – and the La Pila fountain which is said to pay tribute to the Spanish crown.
And like most towns in Mexico, there’s an impressive cathedral, of course. In Chiapa de Corzo, you can admire the Templo Santo Domingo, built in the late 1500’s.
Chiapa de Corzo’s position on the the Rio Grijava makes it an ideal jumping off point for boat trips up the Sumidero Canyon. You can easily locate the docks for this trip by strolling down the riverside walkway. There are many restaurants and cafes lining the riverbank to have a meal or just relax with a drink.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is best visited in combination with Sumidero Canyon, given its proximity to the docks for the boat tours. A tour from San Cristobal typically includes an hour stop at Chiapa de Corzo, but confirm this before booking. If you desire more time, consider taking a colectivo instead.
Sumidero Canyon Tour including Stop at Chiapa de Corzo: Price for tours from San Cristobal de las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo & Sumidero Canyon start at $250 pesos. See the Sumidero Canyon section of this guide (#2) for more info.
San Cristobal to Chiapa de Corzo by Colectivo: Find collectives to Chiapa de Corzo at the market for the $50 pesos, one-hour ride, each way.
9) Caving – Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
Just a short drive from San Cristobal de las Casas, you can find a caving system in a park that is set amongst towering pine trees. With entrance to the park a mere $5 pesos, it’s a bargain that’s waiting to be explored just outside of town.
The cave itself is nice and has a seprate entrance fee of $20 pesos. If you’ve done much spelunking in the past, you may be underwhelmed by Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. But we found these caves to definitely be worth the modest price of admission. And if you haven’t done much caving before, you’ll likely be fascinated. The smooth trail that winds through the cave is an easy walk and contains guardrails making it safe as well.
After a 5-10 minute leisurely stroll through the cave, the pathway ends and you’ll proceed on rougher terrain after being outfitted with a flashlight & helmet, and led by a guide. This optional extension takes you another 5 minutes or so deeper into the cave for an additional $35 pesos plus tip for the guide. For the uninitiated, it gives you a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to traverse through a wild cave.
Just outside the mouth of the cave are a number of restaurants serving giant quesadillas. If not for the unexceptional caves, just come Grutas de Rancho Nuevo for the huge quesadillas alone. They are the best quesadillas we’ve had in Mexico! Delicioso!
Grutas de Rancho Nuevo also has some big slides to slip down, included with your admission. Additional for fee activities at Grutas de Rancho Nuevo are a zip-line and horseback riding. You could easily spend a half-day here filled with activities and it seemed like an ideal place for things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas for those traveling with kids.
If you’re looking for a more intense caving experience in San Cristobal de las Casas, you could consider an excursion with PETRA Vertical adventures, which offers more extreme caving excursions throughout the San Cristobal de las Casas area.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
San Cristobal de las Casas to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo by Colectivo: You can find frequent colectivos at the market that pass by Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. Look for the colectivos heading to Teopisca and ask the driver to drop you off at the caves along the way. Expect to pay $10-$20 pesos per person each way.
San Cristobal de las Casas to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo by Taxi: A taxi to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo should cost about $50 pesos from the center of town to the caves. The drive takes about 15 minutes.
10) Zip-lining near San Cristobal de las Casas
The mountains around San Cristobal de las Casas hold numerous opportunities for those who seek the thrill of soaring through the tall trees that grow throughout this rugged landscape. Three places to zip-line near San Cristobal are:
- Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
- El Arcotete
- El Chiflon
Our recommendation on where to zipline near San Cristobal de las Casas is definitely El Chiflon! You soar above those spectacular blue waterfalls on a nearly half-kilometer zipline that you race through in just 40 seconds. It’s absolutely fantastic and we highly recommend for any thrill seekers visiting El Chiflon.
Equipment and operators here seemed safe in our view, but that’s something you’ll need to judge personally. The zip line was well staffed with multiple employees on both ends. The El Chiflon zip line has a weight limit of 100 kilos (220 pounds), so you’ll want to opt out of this activity if you exceed that. Cost to ride the zip line is $150 pesos that you pay directly to the zip line operators.
I’ve been on dozens of ziplines all around the world, and I’d say this is my favorite one. Ironically, it’s also probably the cheapest zip line I’ve ever done too!
Another zipline to consider near San Cristobal is the one at El Arcotete, which offers a big thrill, as it requires a frightening leap high from a cliff. For the more timid, I’d recommend the zip line at Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. It seemed least exciting of the three, as it simply flies over the restaurants and stables. Yet, that may be a good place for first-time zipliners to take the leap.
11) Mountain Biking around San Cristobal de las Casas
The mountains surrounding San Cristobal de las Casas contain some great trails to explore on two wheels. Without your own transport and local knowledge of the trail networks, you’ll need to book a tour in order to access some of the better single track in the Chiapas countryside.
If you prefer to cycle around on your own, you can rent a bike in San Cristobal and ride it up to El Arcocete which involves a fairly steep ascent. It’s about 8 kilometers from the center of town, mostly on paved roadways, which turns onto a dirt road for the final few kilometers. It’s well signposted and easy to navigate.
It’s a nice ride, particularly on the way back, which is almost entirely downhill! Yet if you’re looking for more of a true mountain biking trail, you’re better off joining a tour.
We rented our bikes from Jaguar Adventours who offers both bike rentals and daily tours on mountain biking trails throughout Chiapas. The bikes were all in good condition and rates are $50 pesos per hour or $250 pesos for the day.
12) Horseback Riding around San Cristobal de las Casas
There’s no shortage of horseback riding opportunities both from San Cristobal de las Casas and the surrounding area. Consider a trail ride at Lagos de Montebello or through the pine forests surrounding Grutas de Rancho Nuevo.
A classic horseback ride from San Cristobal de las Casas is to the nearby village of San Juan de Chamula. The trail ride is about 60-90 minutes each way, which winds its way through forest, meadows, farmland, and alongside a stream. It’s a pleasant trail ride that takes in a mix of nature and local life. Your butt will have an hour break off the saddle at San Juan de Chamula to explore the village. We think it’s a great way to get to Chamula and spend a half-day.
We booked our horse ride from San Cristobal to Chamula with Jalapeño Tours at a cost of $150 pesos plus a tip to the guide. Our horses appeared to be healthy, well taken care of, and obedient. Rides depart at 9:00 am and 1:00 pm and last about 4 hours.
13) A Day Trip to the Palenque Ruins
The Palenque ruins are a massive ancient Mayan site in Chiapas. These impressive Mayan ruins date back to 700 and 800’s AD and are set within the overgrowth of a jungle. There are tall temples which have been excavated, many of which you can climb up to get a birds-eye view of the neighboring temples.
Follow the paths through the vegetation and you’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you explore the Palenque temples that have been swallowed up by the jungle. Many of the structures have been left unexcavated or partially excavated, which adds to the ruins’ mystique, seeing them being strangled by tree roots.
For a little more of what this ruin site is like, you can see our full post featuring 20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Palenque.
Directions: How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque
From San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque is about a 4½-hour drive, so you may really want to consider an overnight stop in Palenque instead of a day trip. Yet it is still possible to go to Palenque and the nearby waterfalls all in one day, then return to San Cristobal. The two entrance fees for the National Park and the Palenque ruins themselves total $84 pesos per person which also includes entrance to the museum.
Tours from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque: You can book a very lengthy day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque and back. These typically depart early in the morning around 5:00 am and return around 10:00 pm at night, making for quite a long day and many hours in a van. But if you’re short on time and aren’t planning onward travel in that direction, this day trip can be a great way to include Palenque in your trip to Southern Mexico. In our opinion, it would be worth the early morning and the long drive to experience these impressive ruins. These day tours to Palenque also usually make stops at the Misol-Ha Cascades and Agua Azul Waterfalls. It is also possible to arrange a one-way transfer, which can often be more practical than taking a bus. Prices of these full day tours from San Cristobal to Palenque start at about $400 pesos when booked at tour agencies in town, making for good value.
Or try this day tour to Palenque that you can book online, which includes stops at the waterfalls and all entrance fees, making it a bargain at $25 USD.
Bus from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque: There are roughly a half dozen indirect ADO buses departing San Cristobal for a seven-hour ride to Palenque, ranging in price from $150-$350 pesos per person. A more direct bus takes less than five hours and is priced at $306 pesos but only has one departure each day. Visit the ADO bus site for an up-to-date timetable and costs. Note that the ADO buses cannot be booked online and they will only get you as far as Palenque town. A frequent $20-peso colectivo will then get you to the ruins.
14) Agua Azul Waterfalls
This waterfall makes for a beautiful natural attraction on the way to or from Palenque. The mineral content gives Agua Azul its namesake blue waters which you can also swim in. Take a stroll about a kilometer or so up the path along the riverbank and you’ll find a few swimming holes to take a dip. You’ll also notice several cafes set up by people trying to convince you to stop for a empanada or a cerveza. Any why not? It’s a beautiful view.
The Agua Azul cascades are best visited in combination with the Misol-Ha waterfall. See below.
15) Misol-Ha Cascades
The Misol-Ha Waterfall is taller than at Agua Azul yet lacks the magical blue waters. You can go behind the waterfall and let the mist hit you right in the face. Continue on and you’ll find a small cave where you can pay a guide to take you into it.
Misol-Ha and Agua Azul are two separate waterfalls that are in two different locations yet often grouped together, and in combination with a visit to Palenque. We don’t recommend coming to Misol-Ha or Agua Azul as a standalone trip from San Cristobal de las Casas, as it is better visited as a day tour that includes Palenque or visited on the way to Palenque. (See #13 for more info.)
Bonus: Eating in San Cristobal de las Casas
There are so many great restaurants and bars all throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. We only scratched the surface during our month long visit, yet we still wanted to leave you some recommendations of what were our five favorite restaurants in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Maya Pakal: This is our recommendation for an incredible value. Go for the set menus that range between 78-90 pesos which gives you a 3-course meal with wine and a lovely breadbasket & dipping spreads. Choose a beverage, a soup, a main course, a desert, and even coffee or tea. It’s really incredible value here for what comes out to less than $5. Located on Francisco I. Madero between Av Insurgentes and Benito Juarez.
La Lupe: This was our go-to place for a well-rounded restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casas. Great service, consistently good Mexican food, fair prices, live music, and the most extensive salsa bar we’ve ever seen. We recommend the tacos al pastor and then putting the salsa bar to use. It’s an easy to find location on Real de Guadelupe, between Av Cristobal Colon and Benito Juarez.
Tipica: The name of this small restaurant translates to “typical.” Yet it’s anything but. Build your own meal by choosing a base, a meat, and a sauce. We loved the combination of enchilada, chicken tinga and peanut sauce. The friendly and helpful service may even toss in a delicious homemade desert. Located on Benito Juarez near the corner of Maria Adelina Flores.
El Caldero: In this chilly mountain town, there’s no better way to warm up than with a big bowl of soup! El Caldero serves a variety of traditional caldos (soups) that are both hearty and filling, served as an entire meal. Pozole is one of the most common choices made from a broth of hominy (dried corn) and pork, and served in three different styles: white, green, and red. Our favorite is “caldo tlalpeno,” a thick stew of shredded chicken and chock full of fresh vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and green beans. Add your own hot sauce, lime, avocado, onion, and cilantro for your tastes. Located on Av Insurgentes 5-A, two blocks south of the Plaza.
El Bony: This is our top recommendation for a hole-in-the-wall, no frills, local joint in San Cristobal. It serves up some good fish tacos at cheap prices. Come with low expectations. Find El Bony on Isabel la Cathlica just north of Real de Guadelupe.
Bonus: Drinking Around San Cristobal de las Casas
La Vina de Bacco: It’s no wonder this wine bar on Real de Guadalupe is always packed. It seems they keep customers returning for the super friendly service, cheap prices, great live music, complimentary tapas, and the huge drink menu of not only wine but unique Chiapan spirits and craft beer too. This wine bar definitely tops our list of places to grab a drink in San Cristobal de las Casas.
500 Noches: This is the place in San Cristobal to try local Mexican cerveza artesanal (craft beer). It’s a trendy setting with well-trained staff who understands proper glassware and pours. 500 Noches has a vast menu of craft beer that only includes Mexican brews, organized by region. For a craft beer local to Chiapas, start with one of the Tzotzil bottles.
Café Bar Revolucion: This bar is usually rocking with their nightly live music that tends to start around 9:00 pm but Revolucion also gets bonus points for its craft beer. (Have you noticed we’re a little biased towards places with craft beer in San Cristobal de las Casas? 😉 )
Bonus: Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas
There are some great value hotels and hostels throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. But be sure to book a room before you arrive, particularly in high season, as all the best places do tend to get reserved in advance. We recommend finding somewhere within a half-mile walk from the center of town. Also, often while traveling throughout Mexico it’s usually best to ensure your room has air conditioning. But this is not at all needed in San Cristobal de las Casas. Yet you may want to ensure that there is heating. It can get cold up here!
Best Hostels in San Cristobal
Posada del Abuelito: Typically in our travel guides we like to recommend a few different hostels to give you some choices. But there’s no need for that in San Cristobal de las Casas, because Posada del Abuelito is the undisputed champion that has everything you look for in a hostel. Comfy beds, an awesome hot breakfast with eggs, clean kitchen, butterfly/hummingbird garden, chill social area, hot water showers with good pressure, a nice central location, reliable wifi, and great staff. It’s no wonder Posada del Abuelito not only has a consistent track record of top reviews but has even been awarded “The Best Hostel in Mexico” for the past few years. With all they offer, including their great breakfast, you’d expect prices to be pretty high. But beds in their shared dorms start at only $8 USD and private rooms for two run only $15 USD per night. Incredible value!
You can check availability for Posada del Abuelito on HostelWorld. (And we strongly urge you to book a room/bed here as far in advance as possible, because it usually does sell out early.)
If Posada del Abuelito is sold out, we recommending trying Puerta Vieja Hostel, which has one of the best locations of any hostel in San Cristobal, located only one block from the main plaza. Or also consider Iguana Hostel which is a good option if you’re looking for more of a social and party vibe.
For Great Value Hotels
If you’re looking for a good mid-range hotel room in San Cristobal, you can find some great bargains for around $30-$50 USD per night. Here are a some of our hotel recommendations that tick all the boxes and offer great value.
Note: For convenience, clicking on these links will take you to the respective HotelsCombined search page for each hotel, which searches all the major booking sites (Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline, etc.) to find you the best price for your dates.
- The Parador Margarita may be one of the best bargains in town. You can sometimes find rooms at this 4-star hotel for as low as $40 per night, including a great made-to-order breakfast! Excellent for couples.
- The Hotel Posada Primavera is a charming boutique hotel with tastefully decorated rooms and tranquil gardens that surround. The hotel maintains a rustic charisma even though it’s well located smack in the center of town.
- Hotel Casa Selah exudes colonial elegance right in the heart of San Cristobal.
Worth the Splurge in San Cristobal
It’s pretty amazing that you can find 5-star luxury accommodation in San Cristobal for $50-$100 per night. And there are some incredible places in town to do so. If you want to spend more, you can certainly find higher-priced luxury accommodation in San Cristobal, but we recommend these two for the excellent value they offer.
- The Casa Santa Lucia not only has class, but style. Each suite in the 9-room hotel is beautifully adorned with local Chiapas artwork and crafts.
- The Hotel Pasada Real Chiapas (aka The Mision Grand) features spacious rooms and great outdoor spaces. You’ll feel the elegance here and enjoy a perfect location.
Consider House or Apartment Rentals and Airbnb
There are also some sweet Airbnb listings throughout San Cristobal, which we find to be an ideal setup for longer term stays. We stayed in a private 1-bedroom apartment and absolutely loved our month-long rental in San Cristobal de las Casas. We particularly liked the $400 price for the month, which breaks down to less than $15 per day and even included a gardner and twice-per-week housekeeping service. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can use this link to get up to $40 off your first stay.
Are You Packed And Ready To Experience the Best of San Cristobal & Chiapas?
Before you depart on your trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, here’s a few final preparations to consider:
- What to Pack for Your Trip To Chiapas Mexico? San Cristobal gets chilly, particularly so at night. But temps will significantly warm up during lower altitude day trips throughout Chiapas, such as the Sumidero Canyon tour. You’ll need to pack for both warm and cool weather. To ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important, you can check out our Ultimate Packing Checklist which is full of packing tips and recommendations.
- Have You Purchased Your Travel Insurance Yet? You never know what could go wrong during a trip to Mexico. Possibilities include getting sick, a flight gets canceled, earthquakes (San Cristobal is in an active tectonic area), lost baggage, your phone falls in the water, your camera goes missing, etc. Travel insurance will have you covered. We never roam around Mexico without travel insurance. We use and have been happy with World Nomads, with what we’ve found to have the best price and coverage combination. Enter the dates for your trip to get a quick estimate.
- Where To Next? Check Out Our Other Mexico Travel Guides: If you found this San Cristobal de las Casas travel guide to be helpful, you may also like our guides to these other awesome travel destinations in Mexico:
Best Things To Do in San Cristobal de las Casas?
Those are what we think are the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas. Have you been? What are some of your favorite adventures to embark on from town? Let us know in the comments below!
Or if you stumbled across this blog because you’re going to Chiapas, what are you most excited to do in San Cristobal de las Casas? If you have any questions about the area, let us know in the comments and we’d happy to help if we can! Have a great trip!
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