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  • Writer's pictureKristin

4 Easy Spots to Visit in Chiapas, Mexico if Short on Time

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

The southern-most Mexico State of Chaipas was honestly one that I didn’t know much about. However, as we were planning our trip toward Guatemala, I knew we would be traveling right through it, so I started to research things to do there. What I found was a goldmine of places to explore! This state isn’t well known amongst international tourists, but there were so many places of natural beauty and unique cultural & historical experiences. I’ll be straight up, we only really explored the tip of the iceberg of places to see in Chiapas, mainly as we were a bit short on time and there is some significant driving between spots. However, we look forward to coming back one day and exploring more! These are 4 spots to visit in Chiapas if you have 4-5 days in the area.

Aguacero Waterfall

This off the beaten path location may have had 750 steps to take down to the waterfall, and then back up again, but it was so worth it! However, the only way to access it is by vehicle, so you either have to have your own or hire a car/taxi. Admission was $54 Pesos ($2.60 USD/$3.33 CDN) per person over 5 years old.

This waterfall is tucked in a canyon as part of Selva Ocote Biosphere Reserve but it was such a cool spot to escape. Once down at the bottom of the stairs you can either follow the shoreline over to the waterfall or the water was shallow enough that we were able to walk in the water further upstream. The kids started to swim and play in the water, although it was a bit too cold for my liking in January. They were fine until the breeze picked up a bit and the sun went under the clouds, which then required a quick clothing change – so make sure to bring dry clothes along.

Woman looking up at the El Aguacera Cascada
The magnificent El Aguacero Waterfall in Chiapas, Mexico.

The best part was that we had the place to ourselves on a weekday afternoon in January, other than a fisherman catching some fish. (We did run into one or two other people as we were leaving.) There are supposedly even caves that you can explore further downstream as well as a longer pathway, but the kids were content playing by the falls, so we just spent our time there.

As we weren’t able to visit some of the other waterfalls in Chiapas – Agua Azul and Chiflon Falls – we were happy that we still got a taste of waterfalls from our visit to Aguacero and it was awesome that it was only a 50 to 60-minute drive from Tuxtla Guiterrez.

Sumidero Canyon

If in Chiapas you can’t miss this impressive canyon only 25 minutes east from Tuxtla Guiterrez. Often referred to as the Grand Canyon as Mexico, it was impressive in stature and unique in its own right as there is a river that runs through it. The main way to view the canyon is by taking a boat ride through it.

There are a couple of different locations to catch the boat. Our original plan was to catch the boat from the main embarkment point of Embarcadero Cahuare where the advertised price was 275 Pesos per person for the boat ride. We arrived in the mid-afternoon and there weren’t quite enough people to go on the boat ride yet, as they wait for at least 15 people before taking a boat load out. We waited for about an hour to see if more people showed up and at that point there were still only 4-6 others waiting. After chatting with two other couples we decided to head to a different location where the boats leave and see if we could still catch a boat prior to the end of the day. Luckily we didn’t pay for the ticket, as we wanted to make sure that we had enough people before putting any money down, so we weren’t out any money.

Therefore, we headed to Chiapa de Corzo and with the 8 of us, as well as some others that were there we were able to get on a boat ride before the end of the day. It also helped that we had some local Mexicans negotiate the deal for us. We paid slightly more - $310 Pesos per person ($15 USD/$19 CDN) – but we think there was some commission added in. However, it was good that we were able to get the boat ride in yet that afternoon.

Girl & Boy standing in front of Chiapa de Cortes Sign - a Pueblo Magico City in Mexico.
Chiapa de Cortes - The Other Boat Departure Point for Sumidero Canyon

The nearly 2-hour boat ride took us in the National Park and through the canyon where we were able to marvel at this unique canyon, which some believe was a result of the splitting of the earth. At points, the canyon walls were 1,000 meters high. There was also a section of the canyon that was covered in moss that is known as the Christmas Tree, and during the wet season you’re able to see the water trickling down it.

However, one of the bonus highlights of the boat ride was all the wildlife we saw. There were a large variety of birds – including large groups of birds that flew alongside the boat – as well as crocodiles and monkeys! As we were watching the monkey he even knocked some rocks into the water!

Also, we’d recommend allowing enough time to check out Chaipa de Corzo. Near the pier where the boats depart, there were markets and restaurants that are buzzing during the day, but as our boat was one of the last ones of the day when we got back many of them were closing up for the day. However, there is still beautiful churches, a town square and other places to explore in this Pueblo Magico City.

San Cristobal de las Casas

This colorful and charming town was great to walk around and explore! It is also at higher elevation, so it can be a break from the heat; or in the winter, can be a tad chilly overnight. This city is also a Pueblo Magico, which is a classification given to it by the Mexican government. It was a great city not only to explore, but as a base for exploring the region.

There is such an assortment of cafes, restaurants and just a fun little time to get out and explore. The town is lively in the main square, but the church was currently under reconstruction when we were there. There are also a variety of markets to go out and explore.


Only a 20-minute drive from San Cristobal this is a town that is home to the indigenous Tzotzil people. On a Sunday morning, the streets were lined with the local market & vendors selling a variety of things. This is a very traditional town where locals dress in their traditional attire and also value their privacy. Therefore, it is important to be careful of what you’re taking photos of and make sure you aren’t getting photos of people, unless asking their permission.

At the center is the Church of San Juan and it one of the most unique church experiences we have had. The locals here worship as a mix between Catholic and Mayan and actually find St. John the Baptist (San Juan) to be more holy than Jesus. The indigenous people from all over the area come here for special events, requests and general worship. For tourists there is a small admission fee to enter – 30 Pesos per adult (the kids didn’t have to pay). However, it is strictly enforced that there are no cameras or videos inside the church.

Church of San Juan, Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico.
Church of San Juan in Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico

The aura of the church is so unique with the floor covered with pine needles, candles lit in lines on the floor with worshippers praying & even offering sacrifices, such a chickens. They even used drinks such as Coca Cola or other pop-like beverages as part of their worship practices. Outside in the courtyard of the church, we found large groups of people gathered and fellowshipping with one another with food & drink. It was one of our favorite and most unique cultural experiences in Mexico. It’s really something you have to experience in person.

Other Places to Keep in Mind

As mentioned above, these are just the tip of the iceberg for things in Chiapas to see; unfortunately, we just ran out of time as we had to be in Guatemala by a certain date, plus most of these other spots were almost a 4-5 hour drive from San Cristobal de las Casas or Tutxla Guiturrez. Other places of interest include: Palenque Ruins, Agua Azul, Chiflon Waterfall and Lagunas de las Montebello. The last two are actually south of San Cristobal de las Casas and on the way into Guatemala. Lagunas de las Montebello is right on the border with Guatemala but was unfortunately not next to the suggested border crossing into Guatemala. El Chiflon Cascada was on the way, but we had to get tested in San Cristobal de las Casas the morning of our departure to Guatemala and there just wasn’t enough time to stop to enjoy the waterfall the same day as crossing the border.

Even though our time in Chiapas was briefer than we would have liked, we were so grateful for the opportunity to be able to explore some of these lesser-known areas of Mexico. If you’re short on time, but find yourself near Chiapas, we highly recommend that you still check out some of these highlights.

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