Chiapa de Corzo is often overlooked from most people’s Chiapas itineraries. If anything, it is only visited as a brief stopping point en route to San Cristobal de las Casas.
However, it is every bit as charming as San Cristobal and it is absolutely deserved of a day or two of your time if your schedule allows. Better yet, Chiapa de Corzo remains relatively void of tourists – at least for the time being. This aids in having a more authentic Chiapas travel experience.
Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo was recognized as a Mexican Pueblo Magico in 2012. If you are not familiar with the concept, Pueblos Magicos are Mexican towns or villages that are particularly beautiful, historic, or boast notable local gastronomy.
Towns are awarded this status by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism. Generally speaking, when you see that somewhere is designated as such, you know that it is worth visiting.
Chiapa de Corzo is one of the oldest towns in the Americas. It was founded by Diego de Mazariegos in 1528 and was inhabited by the Spanish Conquistadors that first arrived in the region.
When the area’s desert-like heat became difficult for them to contend with, they relocated to the cooler climes and high-altitude mountains of San Cristobal de las Casas. Chiapa de Corzo was originally known as ¨Chiapa de los Indios” in honor of the indigenous peoples who made up a large percentage of the population.
It was later renamed to Chiapa de Corzo in honor of Don Ángel Albino Corzo. Corzo was a prominent politician in Chiapas state during the 19th century. Today, approximately 112,000 call the town their home.
Things to do in Chiapa de Corzo
There are enough things to do in Chiapa de Corzo to keep you occupied for a day. You can also use the little town as a base to head out to the Sumidero canyon nearby. You can perhaps stretch your visit to 2-3 days if you want to explore at a more laid-back pace and enjoy hanging out in the various traditional cafes and restaurants.
Admire the ¨La Pila¨ Fountain and the Zocalo
The central piazzas in Mexican towns are known as ¨Zocalos¨. Chiapa de Corzo´s is particularly charming and acts as a popular rendezvous point for locals.
You will find a lot of indigenous Zoque women and their children here wearing traditional dresses and selling vibrantly colored apparel items and tapestries to tourists. Many are happy to take photos with tourists for a small fee.
You will also note the town name spelled out in large, colorful letters as you will find in most Mexican towns and cities. The piece de resistance of the zocalo, however, is the ¨La Pila¨ fountain.
It was constructed in 1562 in Moorish style and made of brick in the shape of a diamond. Even if you are not particularly into architecture, you will no doubt find that there is something special about the fountain. The adjoining cylindrical tower once served as a watchtower for defensive purposes.
Enjoy a Traditional Chiapescan Breakfast
As far as most Mexicans are concerned, breakfast (desuyanos) is one of the most important meals of the day. Most people will start their day with a hearty serving of eggs or chilaquiles (torn-up, fried tortillas).
These are often enjoyed alongside fruit platters, strong cups of coffee, and fresh fruit juice or agua frescas. If you want to enjoy something quintessentially Chiapescan, order huevos chiapanecos.
The eggs are prepared by making an omelet of fried tostadas, eggs, and beans. Then, creamy, Chiapescan double cream cheese, avocados, cream, and jalapeno peppers are placed on the top.
Most Chiapa de Corzo hotels serve breakfast. You can also consider stopping by Jardines de Chiapa Restaurant (Francisco I. Madero 395, San Jacinto, 29160), El Campanario Restaurant (Av. Coronel Salvador Urbina 5, San Jacinto, 29160) or La cocina de la Tía (Francisco I. Madero 491-12, San Jacinto, 29160).
Take a Tour of the Sumidero Canyon
Chiapa de Corzo makes a great jump-off point for visiting the Sumidero Canyon. Many local companies operate small-group tours with pick up from your hotel in Chiapa de Corzo or from nearby Tuxtla Gutierrez.
These tours usually combine a boat journey through the canyon, with a number of hiking trails that are conquered on foot. The latter enables you to experience the most breathtaking viewpoints across the canyon.
Sumidero Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural sites in Mexico. However, internationally, few people have even heard of it.
This natural canyon was formed approximately 35 million years ago. Its vertical walls reach as high as 1,000 meters (3,300 ft).
They dwarf you as you sail amongst them in your wooden boat and the experience is every bit as spectacular as visiting the Norwegian fjords. Since the Sumidero Canyon is still relatively off the beaten track (for now), most tourists to the area are Mexican domestic travelers.
There are a few things to keep your eyes peeled for during your tour. Crocodiles, spider monkeys, iguanas, and raccoons call the canyon home.
Your guide will often head to areas where these animals have been spotted so that you can observe them in their natural habitats while still maintaining a respectful distance. Look out for the impressive waterfall here known as the Christmas Tree and a little chapel that has been carved into the rocks and is known as the Cave of Colors.
Recommended Sumidero Canyon Tours
A selection of reputable Sumidero Canyon tours is detailed below. Book in advance to avoid disappointment!
- Sumidero Canyon, Chiapa de Corzo and San Cristobal tour
- Sumidero Canyon and Chiapa de Corzo day tour from Tuxtla
- Chiapa de Corzo and Sumidero Canyon from San Cristobal
Sample Chiapas Coffee at a Charming Coffee Shop
One of the lesser-known facts about Mexico is that the country is one of the largest exporters of organic coffee in the world! Approximately 40% of Mexican coffee is produced in Chiapas.
Many of the coffee plantations are just a few hours away from Chiapa de Corzo – in Ocosingo or the Sierra Madre mountains. So, it makes sense that there are several coffee shops and stalls where you can sample exquisite Chiapas coffee.
Cafe TRES50 (Av. Coronel Salvador Urbina 342, San Miguel, 29160) is a very cute and charming cafe and exhibition space. It opens daily between 5 pm and 10 pm and serves a selection of coffees and other Mexican drinks and light bites.
Chiapas coffee is known for its light, delicate flavor and rich, brisk acidity with a light to medium body. Some local coffee shops allow you to choose what beans you would like in your coffee. You can always ask the waiter/barista for their recommendation if overwhelmed!
Stroll Along the Malecon
Chiapa de Corzo is best explored on foot. Take the time to meander down the various side streets and passageways, checking out the various artisanal stores as you go.
The Malecon is the town’s waterfront promenade that runs beside the Grijalva river. It is this body of water that leads toward the majestic Sumidero Canyon.
There are several restaurants and cafes overlooking the water. You will also find a lot of street vendors here selling everything from homemade crafts and textiles to street food like elotes and marquesitas.
Purchase Chiapas Cheese
One of the lesser-known artisanal food products that originate from Chiapas is the ultra-creamy Chiapas doble crema cheese. This is a soft, fresh, crumbly white cheese made with additional cream to make it creamier.
It’s based on the most common Mexican cheese, Queso Fresco. Different variations of the cheese exist, with each local producer putting their own spin on how they choose to produce it.
However, Chiapas doble crema cheese is only produced in Chiapas state and in parts of nearby Tabasco. It is likely to become a product of designated origin in the coming years.
There are several fromageries in Chiapa de Corzo. Doble crema makes a great Mexico souvenir or gift from your time in Chiapas.
Most Chiapa de Corzo cheese stores also allow you to taste plenty of different cheese before you commit to a purchase too. Stop by Quesería Carmelita (Tierra y Libertad, Benito Juárez, 29160), or Mi Casita Quesos, Cosas Y Más ( C. Mexicanidad de Chiapas, San Jacinto, 29160).
Stop by the Marimba Museum
The Casa Museo de la Marimba Nandayapa is a small museum dedicated to demonstrating the history of the marimba and the xylophone. The marimba is an instrument from the percussion family that consists of wooden bars that are struck by mallets.
You will no doubt hear an abundance of marimba music during your travels in Chiapas – either in live performances or by cab drivers playing it as they drive. Marimba music is affectionately referred to as being ¨the ancestral voice of Chiapas¨.
This little museum costs just 10 pesos ($0.50 cents) to enter. It shows how the instruments are made and you can listen to some of the music created too.
There is also a slightly larger marimba museum, with five different galleries and a production workshop in Tuxtla Gutierrez. So, you can choose to visit one or the other depending on what is more convenient.
Hunt for Beautiful Street Art
Many of the streets and storefronts of Chiapa de Corzo have been decorated with vibrant murals and street art pieces. They have been created by local artists or a union of local indigenous women.
Some simply display beautiful, eccentric scenes. Others showcase important aspects of Mexican culture or notable figures in Chiapas history.
Opting to embark on a self-guided street art tour also gives you the opportunity to discover neighborhoods that you may not venture to otherwise. Many of the most notable pieces are found close to the Templo de San Sebastian.
A few notable murals to look out for, along with their locations, are detailed below.
- Chiapa de Corzo Vive con Alegria – Avenida Independencia 36, San Jacinto
- Elf with runaway reindeer – Avenida Independencia 36, San Jacinto
- Catrina – Calle Tomas Cuesta 320, San Jacinto, 29160
- Combate Naval by Greta Lazaro 2020 – Calle Franzo Lazaro Gomez, San Sebastian
- Paint by Alfredo Suarez – Calle Franzo Lazaro Gomez, San Sebastian
- Indigenous mask – Calle Franzo Lazaro Gomez, San Sebastian
- Senor De Las Flores and Senora De Las Flores – Calle Franzo Lazaro Gomez 286
- Cuarandero healer – Calle Franzo Lazaro Gomez 286
- Parachico dancers murasl -Avenida 21 de Octubre 502, Santo Tomas
Check out the ruins of the Templo de San Sebastian
The ruins of the Templo de San Sebastian are situated on the hill of San Gregorio in the eastern part of town. This part of Chiapa de Corzo is so hilly that it would give San Francisco a run for its money!
Indeed, the views across the valleys of Chiapas from up here are second to none. The ruins of the Templo de San Sebastian are what remains of a 17th-century catholic church that was largely destroyed by an earthquake that rocked Chiapas in the 19th century.
Much of the structure has been largely reconstructed. It is free to enter and look around. Some of the best street art in town can be found on the street of Franco Lázaro Gómez which runs beside the church.
Visit the Temple and Ex Convent of Santo Domingo
The ex-convent and church of Santo Domingo were built in the 16th century. The monastery was later secularized. However, the church retains its original function.
This gorgeous red and white structure can be seen across the town. It has been decorated in Mudejar style with Arabic and Gothic detailing.
Today, the monastery houses the ex-convent of Santo Domingo cultural center and a lacquering museum (Museo de la Laca). Unfortunately, as of May 2022, both sites are currently temporarily closed due to necessary repair and maintenance works. The gates to the premises are locked so it is only possible to admire the structure from the outside for the time being.
The museum houses hundreds of lacquered pieces of artwork from across Mexico, Guatemala, and a select few Asian countries. It was opened in 1952 by the National Indigenous Institute (NGI).
There is also a separate temporary exhibition hall that houses an ever-changing array of exhibits. Everything from indigenous art exhibits to street photography exhibits has passed through here.
Tour the Chiapa de Corzo Archealogical Site
The Chiapa de Corzo archaeological site is a small pre-Columbian Mesoamerica site that is located just east of Chiapa de Corzo. The site was inhabited around 500-700BC.
It is pretty off the beaten path so you will often find that you have the ruins almost entirely to yourself. If you wake up before it gets too hot, you can walk there.
It takes about 30 minutes to cross town to the ruins. Alternatively, your hotel can help you get a cab as there are currently no buses that run to the site.
3 Zoque pyramids and a number of artifacts have been discovered here in recent years. One of the pyramid tombs here is the oldest ever discovered in Mesoamerica!
Attend the Grand Festival
If you happen to be traveling to Mexico in January, you can stop by Chiapa de Corzo for the Grand Festival. This celebration runs between January 15th and the 23rd every year.
Music, dance, crafts, gastronomy, religious ceremonies, and entertainment are part of this festivity. The festival is held in honor of Our Lord of Esquipulas and two Catholic saints, San Antonio Abad and San Sebastián.
The most notable part of the celebration, however, and the raison d’etre that most people stop by, is the opportunity to see the parachico dancers. Parachicos are traditional dancers that wear a wooden, painted mask and a colored poncho called “sarape”.
They wear an unusual type of helmet on their heads called a montera. This headwear has been created to resemble the blond hair of the Spanish colonizers.
The parachicos dance is such a special Mexican tradition, that it has even been recognized by UNESCO. Indeed, it was inscribed as an intangible cultural asset in 2010.
Take a Day Trip to the El Chorreado Waterfall
If your schedule permits, you can take a day trip out from Chiapa de Corzo to the El Chorreado waterfall. Take a cab from the zocalo to Juan Del Grijalva.
The falls are not quite as spectacular as the better known El Chiflón falls but this is a nice day out in nature nonetheless. You can swim in the translucent cerulean pool at the foot of the falls.
This is a nice way to cool off during a hot summer’s day in Chiapas. El Chorreado rarely gets crowded, unlike its more popular counterparts.
Browse Chiapa de Corzo Markets
The Mercado Municipal public market is an interesting place to people-watch and try local street foods. The stalls here sell perfectly-polished fruits and vegetables, artisanal products, textiles, souvenirs, and sweets.
Look out for the ladies selling empanadas. You can get four delicious handmade empanadas for just 25 pesos ($1.26).
As far as Chiapescan delicacies are concerned, you will note that most food stalls sell cochito al horno. This is Chiapas-style roasted pork that is slow-cooked with ancho peppers and spices.
Be sure to order yourself a steaming hot cup of pozol. This is a chocolate drink made from cacao and fermented corn dough. If you like it a lot, you can also buy bags of pozol mix here.
Where to Stay in Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo offers a range of accommodation options for every budget and travel style. The great thing is that even hotels on the more luxurious end of the spectrum here do not break the bank.
A four-star hotel in Chiapa de Corzo will set you back no more than $35-$40 a night. Budget options are still very clean, and comfortable and come with all the amenities that you need.
A two-star hotel here will cost you approximately $20 per night. Many of the properties can assist you with organizing transfers to and from Tuxtla Gutierrez airport and to any surrounding towns and attractions as needed.
Recommended Hotels in Chiapa de Corzo
- La Ceiba Hotel Spa – modern, comfy hotel with an on-site restaurant, spa, and pool
- Hotel Grande Hotel Centro Historico – affordable luxury in the heart of the town center
- Capital O Los Angeles – comfortable budget choice with complimentary continental breakfast
Getting to Chiapa de Corzo
Tuxtla Gutierrez City to Chiapa de Corzo
There is a distance of 15.1km between the Chiapas capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez and Chiapa de Corzo. You can make the journey by colectivo or private taxi.
A colectivo is a shared minivan that departs at frequent intervals throughout the day and leaves when full. The journey from Tuxtla Gutierrez to Chiapa de Corzo takes around 45 minutes and a ticket costs just 10 pesos.
You will be dropped off in the zocalo, the main square in town. If you want to make the same journey in reverse, you take the colectivo to Tuxtla Gutierrez from the same place.
Just lookout for the colectivo that has ¨TUXTLA GUTIERREZ¨ on the front in capital letters. Your hotel can point you in the right direction.
Ángel Albino Corzo International Airport to Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapas taxis line up outside Ángel Albino Corzo International Airport throughout the day. This is a safe and reliable way of getting from Ángel Albino Corzo International Airport to Chiapa de Corzo.
Be sure to confirm the price with your driver before you get in the car to avoid any surprises. The journey should cost around 380 pesos ($19) for up to 4 passengers including luggage.
San Cristobal de Las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo
There is no direct bus or colectivo that runs between San Cristobal de Las Casas and Chiapa de Corzo and vice versa, However, from San Cristobal, you can board an ADO or OCC bus bound for Tuxtla Gutierrez.
The bus will pass by a stop called Santa Fe which is just north of Chiapa de Corzo. However this is not a scheduled stop and so, you will need to tell the bus driver that you want to get off the bus here.
He will notify you when it is time to get off. It is worth having an offline map app like Maps Me installed on your phone so that you can track your route too.
The bus to and from San Cristobal to Santa Fe is around 90 pesos ($4.50) You can take a taxi from Santa Fe to Chiapa de Corzo (and vice versa) for 70 pesos ($3.50). Buses run past this stop every 15-20 minutes so you will not be waiting too long.
If you prefer to take a cab from San Cristobal de las Casas, the journey should cost around 850 pesos ($43) for up to 4 people. There is a distance of 53.2 km between Chiapa de Corzo and San Cristobal.
This should take around an hour and ten minutes if traveling by car. You should allow slightly longer by colectivo as the bus will make frequent stops.
Renting a Car in Chiapas
Renting a car in Mexico, generally, is not as intimidating as it may sound. However, you need to be a little more careful in Chiapas as some of the roads here are both poorly maintained and hazardous.
When you travel to places in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo, the roads are excellent because they are frequented by tourists. Chiapas is a little more off the beaten track and driving here is a different kettle of fish altogether.
It is worth keeping that in mind as driving around the Yucatan and other touristic parts of Mexico can lull you into a false sense of thinking that driving in Mexico is a piece of cake. Some roads in Chiapas are filled with potholes, steep topes (speedbumps) and hairpin turns along the mountain passes.
You should avoid driving at night. This is not just to avoid crime.
The roads here are very poorly lit and you will often encounter hazards such as wild animals wandering into the road. The road between Palenque and San Cristobal is notorious for being one of the most dangerous in Mexico.
Avoid driving through Ocosingo if you can. Local rebel groups in the area often lay down spikes along the road and refuse to let drivers pass until they have paid a specified sum of money.
This is usually no more than around 100 pesos ($5). However, it is not unheard of to be held up for several hours on this road.
However, at the same time, if you are experienced with driving overseas, you may enjoy the freedom and flexibility that driving around Chiapas offers you. You will have more opportunities to travel to off-the-beaten-path ruins and villages within the state.
Chiapa de Corzo Tours
If you have a very limited amount of time to spend in Chiapas, you can spend a couple of hours visiting Chiapa de Corzo on a tour. Many organized excursions stop briefly in the town en route to San Cristobal or nearby Sumidero Canyon.
A number of reputable tour options are detailed below. The great thing about visiting the area on a tour is that you will have an ¨expert¨ local guide on hand to provide you with more context and information than you would have when traveling independently.
It is a good idea to book your tour online, in advance where possible to secure your place and avoid any disappointment.
- Sumidero Canyon and Chiapa de Corzo day tour from Tuxtla Gutierrez
- Sumidero Canyon, Chiapa de Corzo and San Cristobal tour
Chiapa de Corzo FAQs
Is Chiapa de Corzo Safe?
Chiapa de Corzo is a very safe place. For the most part, the people here are very friendly and welcoming and eager to show tourists the beauty of their town.
You will not feel any creepiness while exploring the town, even as a solo traveler. Just use the same common sense that you would anywhere else. In other words, don’t walk alone at night, etc.
Chiapa de Corzo Climate
Chiapa de Corzo has a hot, dry heat. The town is located in the Chiapas lowlands and as such, it has a substantially different climate compared to San Cristobal de Las Casas in the mountains.
The dry season runs from November to April and the wet season starts in May. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 64°F to 96°F.
Pack a rain mac and/or an umbrella if you are traveling from May onwards just in case. Otherwise, shorts, T-shirts, sundresses, and your typical summer wardrobe items are fine for Chiapa de Corzo.
You will note that most local women here tend to wear long pants or skirts rather than shorts. Rest assured that you aren’t going to cause offense by wearing shorts, it’s just the culture in Chiapas.
However, if you are traveling through Mexico as a solo female, you may prefer to also dress more modestly just to not draw attention to yourself. Pack layers and a light cardigan for San Cristobal de Las Casas as it often gets chilly, especially at night.
Chiapa de Corzo: Final Thoughts
Have you visited Chiapa de Corzo or other parts of Chiapas? What did you think?
How did they compare to other parts of Mexico you have visited? Have a wonderful time traveling in Mexico!
Safe travels, Melissa xo