Reasons to Visit
Mexico is an historian’s paradise with an abundance of ancient sites from Olmec to Zapotec to Mayan at every turn. Added to the excitement of being able to transport you back in time to when these cities were teeming with life, the setting of these magnificent ruins is an attraction in itself, whether it is being engulfed in jungle surrounded by the howls of monkeys or atop a plateau with a magnificent view.
Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is famous for its white sand beaches and turquoise sea, perfect for relaxing, and we have some wonderful hideaways to recommend. The Pacific coast and the Baja peninsula are also well-known for their beaches, rolling surf and dramatic coastline. Less visited by the British, we have researched a fantastic selection of hotels here from boutique, activity based, friendly eco-lodge or plush resort-style.
You will find some of the best preserved examples of colonial history throughout many of Mexico’s cities. They not only retain some beautiful classic architecture but something of their historical soul which has been incorporated into modern bustling lives. They are a delight to simply wander round, or to shop, browse markets, sit in cafes, absorb local life and visit museums.
On the 1st of November, Mexico celebrates its 'Day of the Dead', a colourful synergy of ancient cultures and Catholicism, involving decorated skulls, candles, banners and parades. Celebrations take place across the country but there's something particularly enchanting about experiencing this tradition in the colonial towns and it's well worth timing your visit to coincide with these festivities.
Mexican food varies tremendously by region due to climate, geography and the degree of Spanish influence. Absolutely delicious, it suits all tastes, from fresh ceviche to sizzling steak to the more traditional tortillas, frijoles (beans) and guacamole. For the more adventurous, dishes such as spicy mole sauce (a combination of chocolate and chilli) or Chiles Rellenos (chillis stuffed with meat) work perfectly. All washed down with a swift tequila or an ice-cold Corona!
Whether it be visiting the colourful market towns around Oaxaca, the bustling colonial cities, the Indian highland villages of Chiapas or the harsh mountain communities of the Tarahumara around the Copper Canyon you will experience a diverse range of fascinating cultures during a trip to Mexico.
The Sea of Cortez and Baja California is fast becoming known as 'Mexico's Galapagos'. Best experienced by a wilderness focused adventure cruise this remarkable area is prolific with whales and dolphins and other wildlife during November-April.
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The charming colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, formally known as the 'Ciudad Real', or the 'Royal City', was formed in 1528 by Spanish Conquistadors, led by Diego de Mazariegos after a four year battle to pacify a hostile indigenous population.
The Spanish ran a regime of exploitation of the native peoples until in 1545 the Dominican Friar Bartolome de las Casas arrived in the town and in his position as bishop, began to fight for their rights. His name has been lent to the town in honour of his work although the indigenous problem did not disappear as became apparent in 1994 when several thousand lightly armed peasants occupied San Cristóbal demanding an overhaul of Mexico's antiquated political system and improved rights and conditions for the indigenous people of Chiapas.
Today's San Cristóbal reflects both the colonial history of the area and its indigenous heritage. Outside the low, colourful stone buildings, cobbled streets and colourful churches of the colonial era stand women in traditional dress selling artisan goods and locally made food.
Downtown San Cristóbal is easily explored on foot and a pleasant afternoon can be spent wandering the streets, visiting some of its many museums, peering into courtyards or buying gifts and souvenirs. Chiapas is well known for its amber jewellery and there are some particularly good shops along 2 de Noviembre, the main pedestrianised street joining the Zocalo with the Church of Santo Domingo.
Outside the town, remarkable villages can be visited where colonial churches are vividly part of a pre-Hispanic age, with Christian icons all but buried amongst chanting shamans, idols and hundreds of flickering candles
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Include a visit to San Cristobal de las Casas on your tailor-made trip around Mexico by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in MexicoWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout MexicoCountry Guides
Other countries in Central America, Mexico & Cuba:BelizeCosta RicaCubaGuatemalaHondurasNicaraguaPanama
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