After spending over a week in Chiapas I learned some good information. So I wanted to share with you some tips that may help you to plan your visit to this southern Mexican state. Here are my 7 Peppy tips for traveling in Chiapas:
1. LANGUAGE- This is the very first item I have to cover: Few people speak English, so you’ll have to somehow communicate in Spanish. There’s a lot of tourism in all of Chiapas due to its natural beauty. However, must of the tourism is internal, meaning Mexicans flock to Chiapas during holidays or any time of the year.
The international tourism is limited, probably due to the bad press that the state received during the 1990s. This is probably the reason why not many people speak foreign languages. In fact, the people that do speak Spanish have an accent. One of our tour guides said that there are many languages spoken in Chiapas besides Spanish. Most people learn Spanish once they go to school. Otherwise, if they didn’t go to school they won’t even speak Spanish. Teachers come from different regions of Chiapas so that the students are forced to communicate in Spanish.
2. TUXTLA AIRPORT- The airport in Tuxtla is small and with NO place to exchange money. Make sure you have some pesos available, dollars and euros become worthless. This is something that happened to us, we didn’t exchange money in Mexico City. I thought well, Tuxtla is an international airport and as such, it should have an exchange house. Boy was I wrong! At some point, there was an exchange house but it was closed down. We wanted to rent a car and pay cash but they wouldn’t take dollars. They said: “We’ll have to go to San Cristobal de las Casas to exchange the money and that’s so far away!” Keep in mind that is only one hour away.
Going out of Tuxtla was easy, there’s a restaurant on the second floor that serves decent food and a Cacao Nativa before you go through security. Once you’re in the gate area there’s only one small coffee shop.
4. CASH- All the big restaurants and shops take credit cards but they will charge a 5% fee on each transaction. It’s always good to have some cash available, as smaller places may not take credit cards.
5. EXCHANGING MONEY- There are only three or four places to exchange money in all of San Cristobal. We found the best rate was a Banco Azteca, which is inside the Electra store located in the main square. We were lucky that the owner of the hotel where we stayed, also exchanged some money for us.
6. WEATHER- Tuxtla Gutierrez and Palenque have a hot climate, while San Cristobal is cold. This is due to the fact that this charming town is located up in the mountains. Make sure you pack accordingly.
7. EAT- Try all the food, it is flavourful. The local cuisine is very unique and diverse. I tried different soups. In Tuxtla Gutierrez we tried a delicious ceviche served with jicama and sorbet…amazing! The drinks are just as distinct. A local drink called that I tried was: Tascalate made of chocolate with water or milk, roasted corn, chocolate, achiote, vanilla, and sugar. It is served cold.
The coffee and hot chocolate are delicious. Chiapas harvests all the coffee that is consumed across the Mexican republic, so you know it has to be good.
We really enjoyed our time in Chiapas. Its natural beauty is mesmerizing, and I hope you also give it a chance to charm you with all its allure.