San Cristobal de las Casas is a town located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was the capital of the state until 1892 and is still considered the cultural capital of Chiapas.
The indigenous people of Chiapas speak their own language, practice their own unique customs and can be identified by their traditional dress that varies from group to group. This ancient Mayan culture continues to depend primarily on agriculture for their economic well-being, although in recent years and with the growth of tourism in the region, it is not unusual to see them traveling into San Cristobal to sell their handmade crafts and to shop in the markets for everyday items to take back to their villages.
San Juan Chamula, a small town located 6 miles northwest of San Cristobal de las Casas, is home to an independent Tzotzil community. The Tzotzil Mayans are one of the largest indigenous groups in Chiapas, making up about one third of the indigenous population. You can identify the people of San Juan Chamula by their traditional dress. The men wear black or white wool ”chujes” that are belted around the waist, while the women dress in embroidered blouses, shawls and long black linen skirts.
Many argue that the natural beauty of this area has no parallel in Mexico, as deep green valleys, awesome waterfalls and high mountains with deep canyons and gorges make this area one of Mexico’s most beautiful natural habitats, and a prime location for the ever-growing ecotourism market.
If you do visit the area, don’t forget about the coffee. Chiapas is one of the world’s premier coffee growing regions. Make sure that you taste some local blends, as they are organic, and exceptionally tasteful.
Travel to Chiapas is made easy by a main highway, that runs from the state’s capital city, Tuxtla Gutierrez, and that boasts fairly decent supporting infrastructure and amenities. It is no surprise that San Cristobal is Chiapas’ top destination and a hub for hungry travelers who want to explore the alluring region of southern Mexico.