Chiapas is a treasure trove of natural beauty and indigenous culture. Here’s a list of the 12 best places to visit in Chiapas Mexico.
Plan your trip to Chiapas
👩🏻 Best guided tours in Chiapas
Palenque Ruins, Agua Azul and Misol-Ha from Palenque (⭐ 4/5)
Montebello and Chiflon Waterfalls from San Cristobal (⭐ 4.5/5)
Customs of indigenous villages of Chiapas (⭐ 5/5)
🏡 Where to stay in Chiapas
If you want to experience a unique corner of Mexico, go to Chiapas.
In this guide, I’ll show you the 12 best things to do in Chiapas.
You’ve got waterfalls, lush jungle, mountains, ancient Mayan sites, and vibrant indigenous cultures. You’re going to love Chiapas as much as Thomas and I did.
Let’s dig in!
Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico and shares a long border with Guatemala.
Unlike much of Mexico, Chiapas is not about white sand beaches.
Instead, Chiapas has mountainous highlands, Mayan temples, and lush rainforests. It’s also home to the largest number of indigenous communities in Mexico, so you’ll get a unique cultural experience here.
Read next: 10 amazing Chiapas Tours you shouldn’t miss
Map of Chiapas
Safety in Chiapas
San Cristóbal and other spots in Chiapas are generally safe for tourists, but it’s good to know a bit about the state’s safety.
Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico and has seen clashes with the government. You might encounter road protests or unofficial tolls, and there have been some reports of violence. Do pay the small amount, if you’re stopped. It’s best to avoid trouble.
We never had any issue while in Chiapas, even when we were stopped at an unofficial toll. We simply paid and got on our way.
Traveling through Ocosingo by rental car isn’t recommended due to unrest. A safer route is the highway from Villahermosa to San Cristóbal via Tuxtla-Gutierrez.
Don’t let this put you off, though! Chiapas is stunning and full of friendly people. Just stay aware and do your research to decide what you’re comfortable with.
In this region, be extra careful with photography. Never take photos inside churches, of rituals, religious leaders, or healers.
If you do, you might face consequences like having produce thrown at you, your camera taken away, fines, or even imprisonment.
However, if you’re respectful and ask for permission, you will be fine.
The best places to visit in Chiapas Mexico
1. Palenque Ruins
Palenque Ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to 600-800 AD. Surrounded by dense jungle, they’ll give you a mystical glimpse into history.
Nestled in a jungle, these ancient ruins showcase incredible architecture and detailed carvings, like in the famous Temple of the Inscriptions.
I recommend getting a guided tour so you can understand the meaning of the archeological site.
2. Agua Azul Waterfalls
The Agua Azul Waterfalls are also located in the Mexican state of Chiapas, near Palenque.
Agua Azul means “blue water” in English, and true to their name, the water shines with a blue hue.
You can swim in the pools at the base and follow the riverside trail to see multiple cascades.
3. Sumidero Canyon
Sumidero Canyon is seriously impressive.
It’s got massive walls and a deep river slicing through it. Definitely a top spot in southern Mexico.
The best way to see Sumidero Canyon is on a 2-hour boat tour on the Grijalva River. Plus, you can check out some great viewpoints along the canyon’s rim.
Keep an eye out for the ‘Christmas Tree Waterfall’, spider monkeys, and crocodiles by the river.
Book a tour – Sumidero Canyon – Lookouts – Chiapa de Corzo
4. San Cristóbal de las Casas
Make sure to visit the local markets, enjoy the vibrant streets and buildings with a streetside coffee, visit the Jade and Amber museums, or hike to city hills for views.
Don’t miss tasting local foods like tascalate (a chilled cocoa drink), pox (a corn-based distilled drink of the Tzotzil Maya), and tamales (filled steamed masa dough).
5. Montebello National Park
Just outside San Cristobal de las Casas is Lagos de Montebello – a series of beautiful lakes with varying shades of blue and green.
You can hike, kayak, or even take a swim there. It’s a great place to really get into what Chiapas has to offer nature-wise.
6. Yaxchilán Ruins
To explore more ancient Mayan cities near Palenque, visit Yaxchilan Ruins.
It’s about three hours south of Palenque and requires a boat trip on the Usumacinta River, the border between Mexico and Guatemala.
The remote Yaxchilan and Bonampak ruins are typically seen together on the same tour.
7. Bonampak Ruins
Bonampak might be a small archaeological site, but it’s significant.
The murals there, dating back to 790 A.D., are some of the best examples of classic Mayan frescoes ever found.
So, Bonampak is well worth a visit.
8. Misol-Ha Waterfall
Misol-Ha Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Mexico.
In a single-drop cascade, it plunges into a pool where you can swim, so bring your swimsuit.
The best feature of Misol-Ha is that you can walk behind the waterfall into a cave. Expect to get a bit wet from the spray, but it’s a great experience!
9. El Chiflón Waterfalls
El Chiflon waterfall is about 100km south of San Cristobal in Chiapas.
It’s a series of five waterfalls, including Cascada Velo de Novia, which is the most popular and main waterfall of the El Chiflon Waterfalls.
Besides viewing, there’s a chance to swim and zipline, which makes it a solid day trip in Chiapas.
10. Zinacantán and Chemula
Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula are two indigenous Tzotzil Maya towns in Mexico’s Chiapas Highland.
Zinacantan is known for its colorful textiles and traditional weaving techniques, and the small town of San Juan Chamula stands out for its strong Mayan beliefs and traditional clothing.
Although the towns are close, they’re very different. Both have their own local police force, customs, and special celebrations.
I highly recommend visiting on a day trip from San Cristobal – it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Book here – Customs of indigenous villages of Chiapas
11. Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is one of the magic towns in Chiapas. ‘Magic town’ is a status by the Mexican government that is given if a town has “magical” or charming qualities, like nature or historical importance.
Chiapa de Corzo is one of the continent’s oldest cities, and it’s unique for its Mudejar-style architecture, like the Santo Domingo temple and the eye-catching fountain in the main square.
If you’re doing a Sumidero Canyon tour from San Cristobal, you’ll stop here for a few hours.
Book a tour – Sumidero Canyon – Lookouts – Chiapa de Corzo
12. Arcotete Park
When in Chiapas, make sure to visit Arcotete Ecotourist Park (El Arcotete Parque Ecoturístico).
This spot has an impressive cave system with a large limestone arch and a river flowing through it.
You can hit some hiking trails, check out caves, or go ziplining. Definitely worth a visit – it’s just a 20-minute drive from San Cristóbal de las Casas.
FAQ – best places to visit in Chiapas Mexico
What is Chiapas best known for?
Chiapas is famous for its Sumidero Canyon, the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, the Agua Azul, and Misol-Ha waterfalls, and the colorful indigenous cultures in towns like San Cristóbal de las Casas and Zinacantán.
Chiapas is also the poorest state in Mexico.
What are the magic towns in Chiapas?
Chiapas has four Magic Towns: San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapa de Corzo, Comitán, and Palenque.
A Magic Town, or Pueblo Mágico, is a title given by the Mexican government to towns that stand out for their natural beauty, historical relevance, or cultural richness. This designation highlights their unique and “magical” qualities.
What are the best months to visit Chiapas?
The best time to visit Chiapas is from November to April. During this time, the weather is drier and cooler, making it ideal for exploring the region’s attractions.
How many days do you need in Chiapas?
You should spend about 5 to 7 days in Chiapas to properly explore key attractions like Palenque, San Cristóbal de las Casas, and Sumidero Canyon, and to discover some off-the-beaten-path places.
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