Lying in a typically lush valley of the Chiapas province, San Cristobal sums up the charming highland life of Mexico.

Having long been a symbolic place for the country’s indigenous peoples and culture, this colonial town and its surrounding Mayan villages makes it one of Mexico’s most ethnically diverse areas, pastoral in character, with a hint of the bohemian too.

The picture is a familiar one of multi-coloured colonial stucco houses lining its cobbled streets where the lifestyle is rustic and simple. However, the main draw here is the extraordinary melting pot of customs and cultures intensified by the long-standing Mayan traditions, and Christian religions and settlers that have shaped this region.

The town is a good base for exploring the ruins of Palenque, the waterfalls of Agua Azul, or perhaps some hiking or horse-riding to the surrounding mountain villages of San Juan Chamula, for a real insight into indigenous communities and highland life that has resisted the tides of time. San Cristobal is also an incredibly enchanting place to just stroll around its downtown streets and plazas, stopping at the market places to buy some of the best locally-made handicrafts and textiles made in all of Mexico.

What to do

  • Visit indigenous villages for their traditional customs, melting pot of religions, festivities and culture.
  • In the town itself there are excursions to the museum Na Bolom, cathedrals, local caves, church of Santo Domingo, Ambar workshops and museum, weaving workshops and lively open markets where the locals and natives sell their art and handcrafts
  • Side trips to Palenque or the Agua Azul waterfalls are possible from San Cristobal