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Chiapas, Mexico is a land rich in culture and natural beauty. It is home to some of Mexico’s most well-preserved ruins – from the ancient Maya city of Palenque to the nearby colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas.
For those looking to get away from the crowds, Chiapas’ many waterfalls and rivers offer a perfect retreat. Swimming in the cool waters of the Agua Azul waterfalls is an unforgettable experience! Adventure-seeking travelers can go zip-lining through the jungle or explore one of Chiapas’ many caves.
In addition to its many natural and historical attractions, Chiapas is also home to some of Mexico’s best coffee. A visit to a coffee plantation is a must for any coffee lover!
There is so much to see and do, from ancient ruins to beautiful waterfalls in this Mexican state. No matter what your interests are, there’s sure to be something for you in Chiapas!
In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the 21 best things to do in Chiapas, Mexico. These activities are spread out across the state, so it’s a great place to start when creating your Chiapas travel itinerary.
About Chiapas, Mexico
Chiapas is a stunning state in southern Mexico that is rich in history and culture. It is located in the southernmost part of the country, bordering Guatemala. Chiapas is a diverse and vibrant state with a rich history dating back to the Maya civilization, and its culture is greatly influenced by the Maya people.
Nowadays, Chiapas is known for its well-preserved ruins, natural beauty, and traditional culture. It’s rich in both indigenous and Spanish influences, making it a unique destination in Mexico. It is home to ancient Maya ruins, gorgeous natural scenery, and friendly people. Chiapas is the perfect place to escape everyday life’s hustle and bustle and experience true Mexican culture.
Chiapas is also home to many different animals including jaguars, monkeys, and birds. Tourists can expect to see plenty of amazing wildlife while visiting Chiapas.
Chiapas has everything you can imagine – from ancient ruins and colonial towns to stunning waterfalls, lakes, and rivers. It’s an incredibly diverse and fascinating state that should not be missed by anyone interested in Mexican culture or history. Chiapas is also one of the poorest states in Mexico, which makes it all the more important to support the local economy by visiting Chiapas and spending your money there!
There are a few different cities and towns that are popular places to visit in Chiapas. First of all Tuxtla Gutiérrez is the capital of Chiapas, and as such, is also the biggest city in the state. San Cristobal de Las Casas is smaller than Tuxtla, but located pretty close. This city is super picturesque with its colonial streets, making it a top choice for a tourist destination in Chiapas. And finally, if you’re after more of a “small town” feel then you will love Palenque. This smaller city is a little more remote but acts as a great base for exploring waterfalls and the famous Palenque Ruins.
You can base yourself in any of these cities and explore many of the best things to do in Chiapas from there. Below, you’ll find information about all of the best activities in Chiapas as well as where they are so that you can easily plan.
Things to do in Chiapas, Mexico
1. Palenque Ruins
A visit to the Palenque ruins is a must-do when in Chiapas. These well-preserved Maya ruins are some of the most impressive in all of Mexico.
The Palenque ruins date back to 226 BC and were once a major city of the Maya civilization. Around 2.5 square kilometers of the site has been excavated, however, this is believed to only be about 10% of the city. The area includes many temples, palaces, and pyramids.
Interestingly enough, many of these ancient structures were actually destroyed over time, by either natural disasters or man-made ones. Later, archaeologists used readings from the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls of temples to analyze what these structures may have looked like and then reconstructed them in a quest to preserve history.
The Temple of Inscriptions is one of the most popular and well-known temples in the Palenque ruins. This massive temple is home to the tomb of Pakal the Great – one of the city’s most famous rulers. The temple itself is over 20 meters (66 feet) tall and has 6 different piers (levels)! Visitors can enter the temple and climb to the top for an incredible view of the surrounding jungle.
The Palenque ruins are open every day from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, and tickets cost around $4 USD plus a $2 USD national park fee. We recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds and heat! You can explore the ruins on your own or take a guided tour. There is a public bus that heads to the Palenque Ruins from Palenque ($1 USD.)
As for a tour, we recommend this particular tour, which takes you on a private day tour of the Palenque Ruins with an expert guide. You’ll also visit some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region, like the Misol Ha Falls and the Cascadas de Agua Azul, and learn about the ancient culture of Palenque while taking in stunning views of the Mayan pyramids. You’re sure to be impressed by this ancient city!
Tickets for this tour start at $155 USD and include entrance fees, transportation with pick up and drop off from Palenque or San Cristobal, and an expert guide.
If you are planning a trip to Southern Mexico, you must visit the Palenque Ruins to see and learn about the glorious history of Mayan Culture and the other indigenous communities that continue to live there.
2. Misol Ha Waterfall
The Cascada de Misol-Há, or Misol-Ha waterfall, is a waterfall in the Salto de Agua municipality of Chiapas. This waterfall consists of a single 35-meter-high (over 100 ft tall!) cascade that falls into a single, nearly circular pool surrounded by tropical flora and vegetation. Misol-Ha Waterfall is located in a protected area near Palenque, and it’s easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chiapas.
The pool below the waterfall is about 25 meters (82 feet) deep, and the calm waters are perfect for swimming. There is even a grotto located behind the waterfall that you can explore and enjoy the waterfall from a different perspective.
Misol-Ha waterfall is located about 20 kilometers (32.2 miles) from Palenque on the road to San Cristóbal de las Casas. Misol-Ha Waterfalls are also closely located to Agua Azul falls and Roberto Barrios waterfall, which are located inside the same National Park, so you can easily visit all three in one day.
To reach the falls, you can take a bus or a car from Palenque or San Cristobal de las Casas. From Palenque, the drive takes around an hour; and from San Cristobal, it takes about 5 hours. Guided tours are also available and really are the best option if you don’t have your own car.
This particular tour from San Cristobal is a full-day tour that visits Mishol-Ha, Aqua Azul, and the Palenque Ruins. It’s a great choice since you can relax (and sleep!) on the drive to the falls in an air-conditioned vehicle.
From Palenque, this particular tour is a great choice since it’s super affordable at only $26 USD and also visits Aqua Azul (more on those falls below!)
The entrance fee to the waterfall starts at about 30 MXN ($1 USD) and it is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
3. Agua Azul Waterfalls
The Cascadas de Agua Azul, or Aqua Azul Waterfalls, are a series of waterfalls located along the Xanil River in Chiapas only a short drive from Misol-Ha Waterfall. The waterfalls are made up of a series of small cascades that flow into turquoise blue pools – hence the name “Agua Azul,” which means “blue water” in Spanish. This area has been designated a Biosphere Reserve site since 1980, and is a natural refuge for a large number of wildlife species in the region like monkeys, toucans, and other exotic birds.
The waterfalls here are made up of a series of mini cascades that follow one another toward the summit of the cascade sequence. The biggest cascades can reach heights of up to 6 meters (20 ft). The water descends in two streams for much of the course, with little islands in the middle. Once you reach the falls and after a short hike to the viewing platform, you’ll get an up-close look at the cascades and have the chance to swim in the pools at the base of the waterfalls.
It’s important to mention that the waterfalls are not all in one place, but rather scattered across a broad area. As a result, we encourage you to continue exploring the nearby area rather than staying at the first viewpoints, where there are typically a lot of people. There are so many cool places to get a nice view of the falls, so don’t be afraid to wander a bit.
Agua Azul falls are in the Tumbalá Municipality, around 69 kilometers (43 miles) from Palenque and close to the Mexican Federal Highway 199. You can get there easily by car or by bus, following in the same direction as Misol-Ha falls.
If you’re visiting Agua Azul waterfall, we also recommend checking out the Misol-Ha Waterfall too which is on the way if you’re driving from Palenque. As I mentioned above, you can also visit Agua Azul on a guided tour that also visits Misol-Ha. From San Cristobal, this tour is a great choice! And from Palenque, you can’t go wrong with this budget-friendly tour!
4. Roberto Barrios Waterfalls
If you’re looking for a breathtaking natural wonder, look no further than Roberto Barrios Waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico.
These stunning waterfalls are fed by a river that tumbles down from the nearby mountains, and it’s surrounded by lush vegetation. Visitors can expect to see a variety of colorful flowers and birds, and there are even some small caves to explore. Because it is less busy and has fewer souvenir vendors than other falls in the vicinity, some people prefer this waterfall to some of the other ones nearby. This is also, admittedly, one of our favorite waterfalls in Palenque.
The falls are not as high as some of the similar sites found near Palenque, but what makes Roberto Barrios unique is the sheer number of them. Roberto Barrios Waterfalls are actually made up of five different waterfalls! You can pick your favorite for a swim and some water fun, or join locals in the third pool, which they often use as a peaceful spa. People from all walks of life can be found taking a break from work, as well as families seeking relief from the heat of the day.
The history of the waterfall is just as fascinating as its appearance – it’s named after a Mexican revolutionary who fought for the rights of indigenous people.
The Roberto Barrios Waterfalls are easily accessible from Palenque’s town center via car or bus. They are around 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Palenque’s town center. Take a colectivo (city bus) or an arranged tour from the city. The trip provides some spectacular views of Chiapas’ scenery, including lush tropical green and gray mountain peaks.
This waterfall is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and it’s easy to see why. If you’re spending time in Chiapas and visiting Palenque, make sure to add the Roberto Barrios Waterfall to your itinerary!
5. Sumidero Canyon
If you’re looking for an adventure, look no further than the Sumidero Canyon. This natural wonder is a must-see when in Chiapas! The Sumidero Canyon is a river gorge that’s over 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) deep in some places. It’s located just outside of the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.
Sumidero Canyon is located in the same-named national park in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. The canyon is filled by a reservoir formed by the Chicoasén Dam, which is fed by the Grijalva River. The canyon’s soaring cliffs are dotted with viewpoints (miradores) where you can enjoy impressive views of the canyon and water below. River crocodiles, spider monkeys, and ocelots are among the endangered animals that inhabit the area and call this place home.
There are many ways to explore the canyon, but the most popular is by boat. This full-day tour from San Cristobal de las Casas combines visits to Sumidero Canyon and a walking tour in the nearby town of Chiapa de Corzo. On the tour, you’ll take a boat ride down the Grijalva River, seeing wildlife like crocodiles and monkeys along the way and stunning views of the canyon walls. Learn about local flora and wildlife from your expert guide as you cruise down the Grijalva river and admire the canyon walls towering above you!
Everything is included on this tour, which we loved because it really takes the stress of your vacation planning. You really don’t have to worry about anything except showing up and having a good time. Tickets for this tour start at $52 USD and include transportation, a bilingual guide, and a boat ride through the canyon. Hotel pick-up and drop-off, and National park fees are also included.
Alternatively, if you want to visit Sumidero Canyon from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, this particular tour is a great option. It includes hotel pick-up, a 2-hour boat cruise, as well as a visit to the most popular viewpoints!
6. El Chiflon Waterfall (Cascada El Chiflón)
El Chiflon is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Mexico. It’s located about a 3-hour drive from the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez and San Cristobal de Las Casas. Sure, it is a bit of a mission to get there, but a waterfall this stunning is totally worth it! To me, El Chiflon is a must-see for anyone taking a trip to Chiapas!
El Chiflon is known for its turquoise waters. It’s also one of the tallest waterfalls in Mexico, with a height of over 120 meters (400 ft)! You can take a dip in the refreshing waters or simply enjoy the view from the viewing platform. There are also several hiking trails nearby if you’re looking to explore the area further.
There are several ways to get to the waterfall, but we recommend taking a guided tour. This full-day tour takes you on a private day tour of the El Chiflon Waterfall with an expert guide. It departs from from Tuxtla Gutiérrez. You’ll also visit the nearby town of Chiapa de Corzo and learn about the local culture and history.
On the tour, you’ll hike to the waterfall, which is surrounded by lush jungle vegetation, and take in the stunning views of the waterfall as you cool off with a dip in the pool at its base. This trip also includes a trip to Montebello Lakes, a group of seven crater lakes that are each a different color! Tickets for this tour start at $78 USD and include transportation, a bilingual guide, and entrance fees. Hotel pick-up and drop-off in from Tuxtla Gutiérrez are also included.
If you are staying in San Cristobal de Las Casas, this tour to El Chiflon Waterfall is a perfect choice. It includes transport as well as a visit to the Montebello Lakes and is super affordable too!
7. Visit the famous Chamula Church
The Chamula Church, located in the town of Chamula, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chiapas – it’s just so beautiful! But there is more to this church than what meets the eye, Chamula Church is known for its unique blend of Catholic and indigenous beliefs.
When you enter the church, you’ll see people kneeling on the ground, covered in pine needles. This is part of a shamanistic ritual that is still practiced today. You’ll also see people drinking Coca-Cola and eating chicken, which they believe will cure them of illnesses. Coca-Cola is the official drink used in rituals – the carbonation that causes a burp is apparently thought to be a sign that the soul is rising to converse with the gods.
The Chamula used to prepare a fermented drink that took three weeks to make before discovering Coca-Cola, which produces the same reaction in a fraction of the time, and is even cheaper to buy than bottled water!
If you’re interested in learning more about the unique customs of the Chamula people, we recommend taking a guided tour. This particular tour includes round-trip transportation from San Cristobal de las Casas, a bilingual guide, and entrance fees to the church. You’ll get a chance to visit both Chamula and Zinacantán, learn about the history and culture of the Chamula people, and see their religious ceremonies up close.
You’ll also experience a shaman ritual in the native Tzotzil language, taste their traditional drink, and have a chance to buy local looms and handmade indigenous crafts from the locals. Get invited to their kitchen to taste traditional handmade tortillas before heading back to town. It was such a unique experience and was honestly one of our favorite things to do in Mexico so far.
This tour starts at $25 USD and includes transportation, a bilingual guide, and entrance fees to the church.
Tip for this tour: Enter with an open mind and leave your camera in your bag. Photos are forbidden inside the church.
8. Go on a coffee tour/stay at a Finca
Chiapas is the state in Mexico known for producing amazing coffee! So, it should come as no surprise that a coffee tour is one of the best things to do here!
While there are coffee plantations and coffee roasters located all throughout the state, the Soconusco region of Chiapas (near the city of Tapachula) is the best area to go to. Many coffee enthusiasts from around the worth visit to travel the “coffee trail”.
Finca Hamburgo is one of the best coffee plantations to visit in Chiapas. Founded in 1888, this Finca has plenty of historical significance and is even home to a small museum. This Finca also offers accommodation in the form of a boutique hotel, so plan to stay a night or two in this coffee paradise! Tour the grounds, learn all about how coffee is made, and of course, drink as much coffee as your heart desires! You can also relax in the beautiful infinity pool on the ground that offers breathtaking mountain views.
There are a couple of other fincas near Finca Hamburgo that are worth checking out too including Finca Irlanda, Finca Guadalupe Zajú, and Hotel Argovia Finca Resort. Argovia Finca Resort is absolutely stunning, and would be an incredible place to spend a night! Honestly, there are dozens more though, so just take your pick and stay a night or two amongst the fields of coffee beans.
If you don’t want to head out to one of these fincas, be sure to taste local coffee while in Chiapas. There are plenty of cafes in tourist destinations offering coffee made with locally-sourced beans!
9. Lagunas de Montebello National Park (Montebello Lakes)
You’ll find many different crater lakes in Lagos de Montebello National Park located in southeastern Chiapas. There are over 59 lakes here, which are this park’s main attraction.
Each of the lakes is a different color, ranging from deep blue to emerald green, and even purple and reddish black. The area is surrounded by lush vegetation and was established as Chiapas’ first-ever national park in 1959, and classified as a Biosphere Reserve in 2009.
Canoeing and kayaking are all permitted on many of the lakes. The park also contains cenotes and the Grutas San Rafael del Arco, a collection of limestone caves that may be explored on foot or by horseback. There are several trails that wind through the lakes, and you can even swim in some of them! We recommend taking a guided tour so that you can learn about the history and culture of the area from an expert guide.
Comitán is the closest city to the Lagos de Montebello and is located an hour to the west. San Cristóbal de las Casas, a renowned tourist destination in Chiapas, is about three hours away from the lakes and easily accessible by car. The lakes are about 4 hours from the capital city of Tuxtla Gutierrez.
Because of its remote location, the best way to visit Lagos de Montebello is on a guided tour where you can just relax during the long drive. On this full-day excursion from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, you’ll visit the Montebello Lakes National Park and the El Chiflon Waterfalls, two of Chiapas’ most popular attractions. Tuxtla Gutiérrez round-trip transportation is included, as well as a bilingual guide, and entrance fees to the park for $78 USD per person.
You can also book a day tour from San Cristobal de Las Casa. This particular tour is a full-day experience that includes your guide, transport, and it also visits El Chiflon waterfall!
10. Arco del Tiempo
Arco del Tiempo is a massive stone arch located in Chiapas Mexico. It is said, to be one of the largest natural stone arches in the world and stands over 500 feet (150 meters) tall!
The arch is visited typically on 2 day, 1-night tours from San Cristóbal de las Casas but there are also day tours from Tuxtla Gutiérrez. You’ll begin the tour with a 3 to 4-hour drive out towards the arch before hiking a difficult trail through the jungle and Venta Canyon. Once you reach the arch, there is one last challenge, a repel down 30 meters (98 feet) into the canyon.
Once below, you’ll explore Arco del Tiempo with your guide capturing some of the most spectacular photos as the sun sets. The camp will be set up and your guides will be preparing dinner before a good night’s rest. The next day involves more exploring before heading home.
This is such an epic adventure and easily one of the most unique things to do in Chiapas!
11. Bonampak Murals
If you’re looking for a blast from the past, the Bonampak Murals are a great place to start. These well-preserved Maya paintings date back to the 8th century and depict scenes from Maya life, including warfare, ceremonies, and sacrifice.
The Bonampak Murals are located inside a small temple that is part of the larger Bonampak archaeological site, surrounded by jungle. The site also includes several other temples and pyramids, as well as a museum with exhibits on Maya culture. This archeological site is relatively small, but it’s packed with lots to see.
The Bonampak Murals are located in a remote area of Chiapas, which can be reached by taking a bus or a car from Palenque. A bus trip from Palenque to Bonampak takes about 3 hours and will cost you only a few dollars.
There are quite a few rules you have to follow while within the site though, like no hats, no backpacks, and no flash photography. The park is also located outdoors and it tends to rain often in this area, so be prepared!
12. Repel down Sima de Las Cotorras
Adventure seekers will want to add Sima de Las Cotorras to their Chiapas itinerary. This massive sinkhole is over 140 meters (460 ft) deep and is home to a colony of more than 30,000 green parrots!
It’s one of several sinkholes in the region, all of which were formed by tectonic and erosive forces on the area’s limestone. Although it is neither the largest nor the deepest of the area’s sinkholes, it is best known for a tourism project centered around the thousands of Mexican green parakeets who spend the majority of the year here.
Sima de Las Cotorras is located about a 1.5-hour drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas. You can easily rent a car and drive yourself there, where you’ll pay an entrance fee of 50 MXN ($2.50 USD). Other activities are also available at the park including ziplining and rappelling, but these come at an additional cost.
Alternatively, you can go on a full-day guided tour from the city of Villahermosa. On this guided tour of Sima de Las Cotarras, you’ll rappel down 150 meters (492 feet) into the sinkhole, where you’ll have the opportunity to go bird-watching and see the archaeological remains of the Zoque culture in its natural state. This is an activity that is not for the faint of heart and is recommended for travelers with a moderate fitness level only, but it is an unforgettable experience!
The $135 USD cost of this tour includes all safety equipment, adventure insurance, a community permit, and round-trip transportation from Villahermosa. A complete photo/video package of the trip is also included in the booking price, so you can be sure to remember your experience for years to come!
13. El Arcotete Eco Park (El Arcotete Parque Ecoturístico)
El Arcotete Eco Park is a nature lover’s paradise! El Arcotete is located only about a 20-minute drive from the center of San Cristobal de Las Casa, so it’s easily accessible and as such, one of the most popular things to do in the state of Chiapas!
The main attraction at this eco-park is the walking trails. Along the trails, you’ll cross wooden suspension bridges, see plenty of lush jungles, visit Rio Bellavista (and go for a swim if you want!), and so much more. There are also some caves that are fun to explore! This park is home to an abundance of plant and animal species, including monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, and tapirs.
Travelers should be aware that the park is only open from sunrise to sunset and that there are no restaurants or hotels within the park’s boundaries (just a small shop selling drinks and a few snacks.) However, there are plenty of options for accommodation and dining in the nearby town of San Cristobal.
It costs 10 MXN ($0.50) to enter the park, and then another 15 MXN ($0.75) to enter the caves. There are also other activities in the park including ziplining, which is an additional cost.
If you want, you can visit El Arcotete on a guided tour from San Cristobal de Las Casas. This particular tour will have you exploring the caves with a guide, going into caves that many people miss! The tour includes transport and lasts for about 4-5 hours.
14. Grutas de Rancho Nuevo (Rancho Nuevo Eco-Tourist Park)
Grutas de Rancho Nuevo are a series of caves in a tourist park located just outside of San Cristobal de las Casas. The caves were used by the Maya as a place of refuge during times of war, but today they are a place for people to explore. You can go deep into the caves and see huge stalagmites and stalactites – it is super impressive!
The Grutas de Rancho Nuevo is located about 30 minutes from the town of San Cristobal de las Casas and can be reached by taking a bus or a car/taxi. It is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm. It’s also one of the cheapest things to do in Chiapas at only 10 MXN ($0.50) to enter to park, and 20 MXN ($1 USD) to enter the caves. You’ll be given a flashlight and hard hat before you enter any cave.
At the park, there are many other activities on offer too including ziplining and horseback riding. Honestly, just go there and see what looks like fun to you! All of the activities are super affordable too.
Note: Travelers planning to explore the caves should wear comfortable shoes. It’s also best to visit during the week (Monday to Friday) when the park is less busy since it’s a popular spot with locals on the weekends.
15. Don Lauro Mountain
Don Lauro Mountain (Cerro Don Lauro) is the perfect place to escape the city for a few hours and get some exercise. Hiking to the top of the mountain offers an incredible view of San Cristobal and the surrounding mountains. It’s a completely free activity and one of the best hikes in all of Chiapas.
The trailhead starts just outside of the city of San Cristobal. It is a little tricky to find, but it is located on Google maps on Calle Insurgentes.
You’ll know you’re on the right track when you encounter signs with motivational words and red arrows directing you to “El Mirador” or “Ruta del Aguila.” From there, you’ll have to navigate a sequence of curves and pass through orchid fields and small community farms. At the top, you’ll find a cleared area to the right with an altar to the Virgin Mary, where religious ceremonies and seminars are often held.
Although the trail is primarily uphill, it is short and fairly straightforward. The trail is about 2 kilometers long (1.2 miles). Don Lauro is open all year round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
To get to Don Lauro Mountain, it is best to take a taxi or an Uber from the center of San Cristobal, the ride should be fairly cheap too since it should take about 15 minutes or so.
16. Day trip to Metzabok Lagoon
Metzabok Lagoon is a must-see for any traveler visiting Chiapas! This gorgeous lagoon is located about 2 hours from Palenque and is surrounded by lush jungle and towering mountains.
Metzabok Lagoon is known for its abundant wildlife, and visitors often see a variety of birds, including parrots and macaws. The lagoon is also home to several species of fish, turtles, and crocodiles.
On this guided day trip from Palenque, you’ll have the opportunity to take a boat ride through the lagoon, go swimming in the refreshing waters, and relax on the beach. You’ll also get to explore the nearby town of Metzabaj and learn about the Maya culture from your knowledgeable guides. This trip is perfect for nature lovers who want to take a canoe ride to caves and cenotes and discover ancient Mayan cave paintings and biodiverse wildlife.
The day trip to Metzabok Lagoon starts at $85 USD per person and includes round-trip transportation from Palenque, entrance fees, an expert guide, and a delicious lunch. This trip is available every day except for Sunday, and departure times vary depending on the season.
This is an amazing opportunity to experience some of Chiapas’ best scenery and learn about its fascinating history, without having to plan the itinerary or worry about any of the transportation.
17. El Aguacero Waterfalls
The El Aguacero Waterfalls are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chiapas. The waterfalls are located about an hour from Tuxtla or 2.5 hours from San Cristobal de Las Casas. You can either drive there or take the bus.
The El Aguacero Waterfalls are less busy than many of the other waterfalls in Chiapas, and that’s mostly due to the huge staircase you need to walk down to get to them. Now, the walk down 750 stairs isn’t too bad, but the hike back up at the end if definitely a workout! You’ll also have to walk a short jungle path and wade through the river at the bottom of the stairs. It is quite an adventure, to say the least.
The El Aguacero Waterfalls are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, and entrance fees start at 50 MXN ($2.50). You can also camp overnight here (for an additional fee).
Note: The only bathrooms are located at the entrance gates, so go before you go…if you know what I mean!
18. Explore the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal de las Casas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chiapas. The city is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, vibrant marketplaces, and beautiful mountain views.
There are a number of great things to see and do in San Cristobal, including visiting the Cathedral of San Cristobal, exploring the Sumidero Canyon, and hiking to the nearby waterfalls. This charming city is also home to many indigenous people, and visitors can learn about their culture and traditions by taking a walking tour or visiting one of the many museums.
San Cristobal is a great place to shop for souvenirs, try traditional Mexican food, and enjoy the nightlife. There are also many day trips and tours that depart from San Cristobal, so it’s the perfect base for exploring the rest of Chiapas. In fact, many of the attractions mentioned already in this blog can be easily explored from San Cristobal! We definitely recommend staying here for at least a few days!
Visitors can also take a day trip to one of the nearby indigenous villages, such as San Juan Chamula or Zinacantan. These villages offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Maya people and are a great place to buy handmade souvenirs and try traditional foods.
San Cristobal is a great place to visit any time of year – this vibrant city has something to offer everyone!
Where to Stay in San Cristobal: You should plan to spend a couple of nights in San Cristobal and book a hotel. Luckily, there are plenty of hotels that cater to all budgets available in the city – browse them all here!
19. Bonampak and Yaxchilán Ruins
The Bonampak and Yaxchilán ruins are two other iconic landmarks in Chiapas and they are definitely worth a visit! They are located in a remote section of the Lacandon Jungle, about 3 hours away from Palenque, and are only accessible by boat.
The Bonampak ruins date all the way back to AD 580 to 800, and are best known for their brightly-colored murals that depict scenes of war, sacrifice, and daily life. The Yaxchilán ruins are even older, dating back to the 5th century! Those ruins are best known for their imposing pyramids and temples.
To get to the ruins, you need to take a trip through the Lacandon rainforest and a boat down the Usumacinta River from Palenque. The journey takes about 3 hours, and is rather complicated. The Yaxchilán ruins are located in the same general area as the Bonampak ruins, and you can take the same boat to get there.
Once you reach the ruins, you can explore the site on your own or take a guided tour, but we recommend taking a guided tour to learn about the history and culture of the Bonampak and Yaxchilán ruins.
A small-group guided tour of Bonampak and Yaxchilán is the best way to see the ruins from Palenque. You’ll look for monkeys and other wildlife in Lacandon Jungle, take a boat ride through the Usumacinta River and learn about the history of the ancient ruins from your expert guide.
The tour includes round-trip transportation, a boat ride, breakfast and lunch, and a guide who will teach you about the history of the sites. This tour starts in Palenque and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off in the booking price – all for about $131 USD! Honestly, a guided tour is the best way to visit since all the logistics of taking the boat is sorted out for you.
Visiting the Bonampak and Yaxchilán ruins is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s a great way to learn about the history and culture of Palenque and the surrounding area.
20. Indigenous villages of Chamula and Zinacantán
The indigenous villages of Chamula and Zinacantán are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Chiapas. Both villages are located near San Cristobal de las Casas, and they’re known for their traditional culture and colorful markets.
In Chamula, you’ll find a lively Sunday market selling everything from hand-woven textiles to fresh produce. Even if you aren’t there on Sunday, there are lots of places to buy traditional textiles from the area. You can also visit the village church, which is decorated with colorful flowers and traditional masks. Here you can experience traditional Mayan rituals and religious ceremonies.
In Zinacantán, you’ll find a women’s co-op selling handmade textiles made by a collection of women from the town.
The indigenous villages of Chamula and Zinacantán offer a unique glimpse into the traditional culture of Chiapas. They are located near San Cristobal de las Casas, and they can be reached by bus or taxi in under 30 minutes.
21. Cenote Chukumaltik
A trip to Chiapas is not complete without a dip in a cenote!
Cenote Chukumaltik is located 2.5 hours south of San Cristobal not far from the town of Comitán and is known for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful views. Named one of the most underrated cenotes in Mexico, Cenote Chukumaltik is a great place to go swimming, relax, and take in the scenery.
Cenote Chukumaltik is a popular place with locals in Chiapas but remains off the typical tourist trail. You can snorkel, scuba dive, and just jump off the cliffs around the cenote.
There is a small entrance fee to use the cenote, around 30 MXN ($1.50 USD) for adults. Cenote Chukumaltik is open every day from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
The best way to get to Cenote Chukumaltik is to take a collective from San Cristobal to Comitán. This costs a few dollars and takes 2 hours. From there, get a taxi to the cenote.
Related Read: There are so many things to do in Tulum
Where to Stay in Chiapas, Mexico
Chiapas is a large and varied state in southern Mexico. Its borders touch Guatemala, and it is home to the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, Bonampak, and Yaxchilan. The state capital is Tuxtla Gutierrez, and other popular destinations include San Cristobal de las Casas, Comitancillo, Tapachula, and Palenque.
With so much to see and do, it can be tough to decide where to stay in Chiapas. Here are a few of our top picks for accommodations in Chiapas, Mexico.
In the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez, you can have access to many Chiapas attractions and enjoy the vibrant feel of life in a big city.
Hotel RS Suites: This hotel is located just a 5 minutes drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez city center, and features an outdoor swimming pool, air-conditioned rooms, continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free parking, and even features an on-site restaurant that serves homemade food with an à la carte menu. All the rooms at RS offer a TV, a seating area, a coffee maker, and a private bathroom. Some rooms even have a private balcony. There is also a terrace where guests can have a coffee and relax. A standard double-bed room at this hotel starts at $33 USD per night.
Hotel del Carmen: This hotel is centrally located in Tuxtla Gutierrez near Marimba Park and Guadeloupe Church. The Zócalo Square and main restaurants are within walking distance. All air-conditioned rooms and suites here feature tiled floors and flat-screen TVs, a private bathroom comes with amenities and a shower. Suites also have a dining area and a seating area with a sofa bed. A buffet breakfast is offered in the hotel’s restaurant, La Pradera, as well as typical dishes for lunch and dinner.
San Cristóbal de las Casas
The colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas is a top Chiapas destination and an ideal area to stay in for those who want to experience the culture and history of the region.
Casa Azablanche: This hotel boasts a garden and a terrace, and is set in the city center, 850m from San Cristobal Cathedral and 1.2 km from Central Plaza & Park. This 3-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, a shared kitchen, and free WiFi. All rooms have a patio, a desk, and a seating area. A double room with a shared bathroom starts at $34 USD per night, while a double bed with a private bathroom will cost around $44 USD per night.
Magnolias Boutique Suites & Spa: This luxurious hotel features a garden and terrace, along with an on-site restaurant, room service, a shared lounge, and free WiFi throughout the property. At the hotel, every room is equipped with a desk, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom. All units at Magnolias Suites are equipped with a seating area and an à la carte breakfast is available daily at the accommodation. A room in a deluxe suite here will cost around $48 USD per night.
Palenque is home to some of the most impressive Maya ruins in Mexico and is great for those who want to spend time exploring the outdoors.
The best hotel choice out of the budget-friendly options in Palenque is Kin Balam Cabanas. The hotel rooms are divided into bungalows, with each overlooking the main gardens in which the hotel is built. There is a swimming pool to enjoy an early morning or late-night swim. There is also a spa service inside the hotel. You can also rent a cycle from the hotel and ride it within the hotel.
Hotel Chablis Palenque: This hotel is located in central Palenque. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, an outdoor pool, and a hot tub. Hotel Chablis rooms include a private bathroom with a shower and air conditioning. The rooms have tile floors and are equipped with cable TV and free toiletries. The hotel’s Kinich Kan Balam restaurant offers both regional and international plates, and guests can use the shuttle service available to explore the surrounding area. A double-bed room with a balcony at this hotel will cost around $61 USD per night.
Hotel Maya Rue: Located 200 m from the main square of Palenque, Hotel Maya Rue offers a café and air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi. The rooms here feature functional décor, cable TV, and a small seating area. Guests can enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, and other facilities offered at Hotel Maya Rue like a tour desk and a laundry. Rooms here start at around $40 USD per night.
Related Read: Be sure to explore Chichen Itza so see some more really impressive ruins in the Yucatan!
Renting a Car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Mexico in 2019, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading my guide to some of the best things to do in Chiapas, Mexico! This Mexican state is packed with history, culture, and natural beauty, and there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to add some (or all!) of these Chiapas attractions to your Mexico travel itinerary!
Looking for more things to do in Mexico? Check out our other Mexico guides for some ideas on some of the best things to do, eat, see, and explore while in Mexico:
BEST things to do in Mexico City
Experiencing the Chichen Itza Night Show
Sunday 16th of October 2022
Thank you so much for sharing this very complete blog. I was wondering, if we rent a car and drive ourselves to these attractions, will there be cheaper entrance or tour on site? B/c most of your recommendations include transportation from the big cities. So excited to be planning our trip.
Monday 17th of October 2022
some attractions certainly will but others will not. It is best to ask your hotel in Chiapas!