If you are planning to travel to Merida, Mexico and you are not sure what “recuerditos” you should buy as gifts, or souvenirs from your trip, this article has you covered.
There are tons of great artisanal products that you can find in this part of Mexico, as well as many places that you can shop and support local vendors and indigenous artisans so that you can really give back to the community.
I have been living in Merida for the last two years and love the handicrafts, artwork and regional food in this area so much that my home is absolutely filled with these things.
18 Best Merida Souvenirs to Buy During Your Trip
There is so much variety for great souvenirs that you can buy from Merida as well as across Mexico in general. My top recommendations would perhaps be hand-carved wooden Mayan masks, henequen accessories, hammocks and Yucatecan honey or other artisanal food stuffs.
We will look in detail at some other great Merida souvenirs on this post. Generally the best places to buy souvenirs in Merida are:
- The cute souvenir stores set in converted train carriages in Parque a la Plancha
- Mercado Lucas de Galvez and Mercado San Benito for artisanal goods
- Paseo de Montejo and independent stores in the historic center of Merida
- Boutique stores and designers in Cholul and Itzimna
Henequen products and accessories
Historically, Merida and the wider Yucatan has always been famous for its henequen. Henequen is a natural fiber that is cultivated from the sisal plant and is used to make accessories, ropes, hammocks, baskets and cords.
In the 19th century, the henequen boom saw so much demand for these natural fibre products that Merida became the richest city in the world, and a series of grand, ornate haciendas popped up around the region to work on henequen production and satisfy the demand.
The invention of synthetic fibres saw a lot of the demand for henequen disappear, and many Yucatan haciendas fell into a state of abandon. However, today you will still find many stores operated by a new wave of henequen artisans that produce bags, shoes, and household items.
There are some great stores around calle 59 and throughout the historic center of Merida. If you are renting a car in Merida, I would highly recommend heading out to Hunucma for a day and visiting Moises Poots henequen store.
Poot is a disabled Yucatecan designer who, after having little success in finding a job, decided to set up his own store selling henequen items to support his family. He goes through the labor-intensive process of treating and dyeing henequen and makes the most gorgeous shoes and bags.
The prices are reasonable and I honestly wanted to buy everything in the store!
The arts and culture scene is thriving in Merida and there are some excellent up-and-coming Yucatan artists in the area. Particularly unique are the artists that paint buildings and scenes from Merida or create pieces depicting Yucatecan life and traditions.
Head to the Paseo de Montejo on a sunday morning when the road is closed off to traffic and local artists set up stalls to sell their creations. I wanted to add a touch of the Yucatan to my home in Merida so I bought several pieces for my living and dining rooms.
The artists that I bought pieces from and particularly like, are Efrain Mondragon, and Marco Gutierrez, who paints Yucatan doors. You can expect to pay between 350 and 1500 pesos for pieces depending on the size, finish, etc.
Yucatecan honey makes a wonderful gift or edible reminder of your time in Southeastern Mexico and it has a much runnier consistency and sweeter taste than say, American or European honey. It is harvested from a type of stingless Yucatan bee known as “Xunan Kab” that was revered by the Ancient Mayans for supposedly having magical healing properties.
It goes great with Mexican pancakes (“hotcakes”), granola, fruit and yoghurt, in cups of tea, and just as something to enjoy by itself by the spoonful. You will find that lots of souvenir stores in Merida sell jars of honey and if you head to the charming district of Itzimna (and you should), you can check out Maya Honey on Calle 15 to browse through their extensive selection of honey products.
Yucatecan honey is a little more expensive than “regular” honey because the xunan kab bees only produce about a half a liter or so over the course of the year. Keeping them is a dying art and it is estimated that there are less than 100 Yucatecan bee keepers that remain across the peninsula today.
If your Yucatan itinerary allows you the time, and I hope it does, you can visit the pueblo magico of Mani in the central part of the Yucatan state. Mani is famous for its “meliponarios” (bee farms) and here you can buy honey directly from the beekeepers and learn all about their process.
Handcarved wooden Mayan maks
Pre-hispanic, painted wooden Mayan masks are some of the best Merida souvenirs you can buy. You will find them sold in the artisanal section of the Lucas de Galvez market, in souvenir stores around Merida historic center, and sold by vendors at Yucatan Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
Personally, I like to collect masks from around the world and mount them on my walls. (I also bought some great “tshechu” dance masks from Bhutan which I love).
Since the masks come in such a variety of sizes and designs, feel free to shop around until you find ones that you love. If you find yourself in Yaxunah or in Piste en route to Chichen Itza, you will have a chance to meet the artisans that make them.
Many are happy to welcome you into their workshops and show you how they carve the masks from Chakah wood, and paint them using colors made from natural materials. Woodcarvers often dont receive much money for their work and tend to do it as a side project to their regular income.
Tourist stores in Merida, Cancun, and other cities buy masks from them but retain the majority of the profits since they are the direct connection to the tourists so if you can go direct to the woodcarver and offer them a little extra, it will go a long way.
Yucatecan hamacas (hammocks) play such an integral role in life in the Yucatan and many Mayans consider it essential to have a hammock in their home. (And new houses are literally built with hooks for hammocks on the walls).
Many people use hammocks instead of bed, also largely because it gets so hot and humid here during the summer months that hammocks often feel breezier and more comfortable. Many communities in the Yucatan wave hammocks by hand and you can find them sold in various sizes and colors.
They make a great addition to any garden. You will see tourist stores in Merida selling hammocks but the prices are often inflated.
Since many Yucatecans are also in the market to buy hammocks, look out for the large hammock stores on the outskirts of the city center. Failing that, some of the most beautiful and intricate hammocks I have seen were in the yellow city of Izamal.
Sculptures of Mayan ruins and deities
If you are not in the market to buy a huge Mayan wooden mask to decorate your home, and you are perhaps looking for a smaller reminder of your Yucatan trip, you can find some great little sculptures and figures for sale in stores in Merida and across the peninsula.
For instance, little miniature sculptures of Chichen Itza, tiny carved statues of the reclining deity Chac Mool, or miniature masks of the rain god Chaac. These make great decorations for bookshelves.
Bohemian furnishings and wicker accessories
Something that is more common in Tulum and tourist areas around the Riviera Maya, but which is increasingly becoming a “thing” in Merida, are boho-chic wicker housing accessories. For instance, wicker lampshades, hanging decorations for gardens, etc.
You will see a couple of stalls selling these types of furnishings and home accessories on the outskirts of the city, and sometimes they just “pop up” at roundabouts at random.
Clothing made by local designers
There are some gorgeous thrift and concept stores in Merida where you can buy one-of-a-kind clothing pieces and accessories that nobody else will have, while supporting local designers in the process. A personal favorite is Casa Toh on the Paseo Montejo (P.º de Montejo 498, Zona Paseo Montejo).
Casa T’oh is an aperitivo bar, restaurant, and concept store all in one set inside two gorgeous converted French mansions. It has an ever-changing selection of products sold by various local designers, with everything from resortwear, handbags, fragrances and art on display.
If you are interested in clothing that places a contemporary twist on traditional Yucatecan designs, you will love the creations of Aldrin Ayuso, a Yucatecan designer who offers a fresh take on regional clothing like guayaberas and huipils.
Juana Y Jo and Color Amor are two more great boutiques to add to your radar and if you spend a day in Cholul (and you should, because there are lots of amazing coffee and brunch spots in the area), check out Mexicanos and Arbol House Boutique.
Did you know that chocolate was invented in Mexico thousands of years ago? There is some debate as to exactly which prehispanic civilization was the first to discover it, and whether it was the Olmecs, the Mayans or the Aztecs.
The word chocolate is believed to have two main possible origins: from the Mayan word “xocolatl” or from the Nahuatl word (associated with the Aztecs) “chocolātl”. Regardless, there are numerous great chocolatiers across Mexico today as a result, including in Merida.
Perhaps the best known local chocolate store here is Ki’Xocolatl. They have branches in various locations around town, including in Parque Santa Lucia and in the new Paseo 60 food hall/shopping complex.
Their chocolate bars are pretty good, and usually contain different special ingredients from across Mexico. For instance, corn from Sinaloa, dark chocolate cacao nibs grown locally and pox liquor from Chiapas.
You can also get chocolate-infused soaps and beauty products, and chocolate molded into various shapes and designs which make great edible gifts. There is also a small chocolate museum on Paseo de Montejo, as well as the Choco Story Museum close to the Uxmal ruins, and you can learn about how chocolate is made, try samples, and shop for products in both locations.
There are dozens of different types of Mexican alcoholic beverages that go way beyond just tequila and mezcal. (Both make great souvenirs, and yes, there are lots of great brands of mezcal and tequila that you never really see outside of Mexico, but these drinks are produced in Oaxaca and Jalisco and not the Yucatan).
In the Yucatan, you can buy Xtabentún. This is an anise-flavored liquor that blends the best of the two cultures that have made the Yucatan what it is today: anise from Spain, and Mayan honey from the Yucatan.
Bitter orange Yucatecan liquor
In recent years, new beverages have been created around the region. For example, a couple of university students from Chan San Antonio near Tizimin, created a bitter orange flavored liquor called “Chan Antonio” which makes a great aperitif, sort of like a limoncello or a grappa.
Yucatan salt (Mayan fleur de sal)
Thousands of years ago, before the Spanish colonization of Mexico, one of many products that the Ancient Mayans would export from the Yucatan peninsula was salt. In particular, they harvested salt from the salt lakes close to Telchac Puerto and the ancient city of Xcambo.
Today, many of the famous Yucatecan pink lakes are still in operation as salt farms. Local men harvest and clean the salt by hand rather than by using any kind of industrial machinery, obtaining a homemade product that preserves all the mineral properties of the salt.
You will find fancy, nicely packaged jars of salt sold in the souvenir stores and markets of Merida buy you can also just buy a more raw chunk of rock salt from the lakes themselves. (For a lesser known pink lake, check out Laguna Rosada).
Traditional Mexican candies make great souvenirs and gifts for the Mexophiles in your life. There are various dulces (candies) that you will find all over Mexico, and those that are only really found in the Yucatan.
A great idea is to stop by traditional dulcerieas and candy stalls at Merida mercados, select a variety of different sweets and make up a little gift hamper. Meringue, made with egg whites and sugar, is one of the most famous in the region and is commonly sold by street vendors along the beaches near Merida, as they walk up and down the sand with trays of candies balanced on their heads.
Guava paste and almond marzipan are also beloved in this area, as are Yucatecan zapatitos (translation: “little shoes”) which are candies made in the shape of fruit using sugar and pumpkin, before being topped with cinnamon.
Coffee table books
Every household needs a coffee table read or two, even if they are just there for decorative purposes or for guests to flick through on occasion. You will find that many museums, Yucatan resorts, and gift shops sell books about the Yucatan peninsula.
These might be beautiful, hard cover photo collections of birds of the Yucatan, or destinations and pueblos in the region, or they might be books that give you a dictionary of various different words in Mayan. Either way, if you feel a special affinity with this part of the world, they can be nice additions to your home library.
Hanal Pixan decor items
Dia de los Muertos is one of the best-known Mexican traditions but in the Yucatan, people celebrate a different holiday known as “Hanal Pixan” (festival of souls”). There are both similarities and differences between the two celebrations, which both take place on the same dates in November. (Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November 2024).
The festivities for Hanal Pixan often go on for as much as two weeks, with various parades (desfiles). In the lead up to the official date, you will find that stores around Merida stock catrina and calavera sculptures and ornaments, edible sugar skulls, Hanal Pixan themed paintings, and other items that
Habanero pepper salsa
If you can handle your spice, you might want to pick up a bottle of hot sauce or two when you head back from your trip to Mexico. You can buy all the best known Mexican brands like salsa huichol and salsa valentina at any supermarket or food store, but many smaller mercados will make and sell their own habanero pepper salsa.
It is extremely spicy so literally only one droplet is enough to make a really spicy taco.
Achiote and other regional ingredients
Achiote is a natural red food coloring that is often used to prepare Yucatecan cuisine. It is mild in heat/flavor, but it is mostly used to add color.
You will find achiote added to dishes like pollo pibil and cochinita pibil and if you decide to take a Yucatecan cooking class while you are in Merida, you can then go ahead and replicate the recipe back at home. Epazote and Yucatan oregano are also worth looking out for.
In the mercados and artisanal stores of Merida, you will find some great artisans selling gorgeous Mexican clay tableware, cazuelas (large pots for cooking soups, etc), frijoleras (bean pots), and salsa dishes.
These come in different colors and designs and I loved them so much when encountering them on my travels around Mexico, that I bought a full cooking and dinner set in Dolores Hidalgo. Obviously these things are not that easy to transport internationally but the vendor can help you wrap them up securely for safe travel.
If you dont want a full tableware set, you can also look at buying smaller items, like maybe a pot or mugs for making cafe de olla (Mexican cinnamon coffee), or clay cups to make cantaritos (grapefruit and tequila cocktails).
Tortilla warmers and other cute kitchen items
If you cook Mexican food regularly at home, or you are of Mexican descent, you will love some of the homewares items that you will find in Merida. My partner and I bought a couple of cute hand-woven henequen tortilla warmers and they make a great centerpiece for the table when we have dinner parties too!
You can find them at the various mercados, and also at Moises Poots store out in Hunucma.
Final thoughts on the best souvenirs to buy in Merida Mexico
I hope you were able to take some inspiration away from the suggestions of Merida souvenirs in this post. I have also written this more general guide to buying souvenirs in Mexico that you might also find useful.
Pretty much all of the items on that list can be found in Merida and the Yucatan too, but I wanted to focus on things that were distinctly Yucatecan.
If you have any more questions about traveling to Merida or Mexico in general, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below or reach out to me by email/social media. As I mentioned, I have been living in Merida for the last two years and have tried to get to know my new home as much as possible.
I am always happy to chat about your plans to travel here. Buen Viaje and enjoy Mexico!