Any 'Chapaneco' (resident of the state of Chiapas) will tell you that theirs is the finest, most culturally-rich state in Mexico. They have a point.
Economically, Chiapas may be Mexico’s poorest state but it boasts long sandy Pacific beaches, steamy tropical jungle, rugged mountains and wonderful Mayan ruins, as well as a rich indigenous culture that is still very much alive.
Most people base themselves in the charming colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas with its cobbled streets, museums and churches thronged with locals wearing traditional costume. Outside the town, remarkable villages can be found 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.
The nearby Sumidero Canyon is historically interesting; the local indians chose to jump over its edge rather than submit to Spanish rule, today it is a haven for wildlife.
Chiapas is also home to some of the country's most famous Mayan ruins, all within driving distance of San Cristóbal or accessible by air from Mexico City to the airport of Villahermosa.
Mystical, jungle-clad Palenque is the largest and most famous site which once commanded an area stretching across the coastal plain as far as the Gulf of Mexico. Backed by the Chiapan mountains, it was home to tens of thousands of people and is a spectacular vortex of history, myth and reality.
The setting is truly magical - right in the heart of the forest surrounded by the shriek of tropical birds and guttural growls of howler monkeys. If you take a moment to just imagine you can easily be transported back in time.
The ruins of Yaxchilan and Bonampak are further off the beaten track but well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in the history of this fascinating culture.
Places to visit in Chiapas
Featuring heavily on our experiences of visiting Chiapas, these selected places are destinations that also prove consistently popular with our travellers. Our specialists can help you choose how to include them in your wider trip, based on your preferences.
Suggested itineraries featuring Chiapas
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Chiapas, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.