Chiapas, located in Southeast Mexico, is one of the country's 31 official states. The state is home to ancient Mayan civilizations.
Chiapas also has diverse geography of plains, mountains, and lush green jungles.
Turquoise blue waterfalls, ancient Mayan ruins in the jungle, and colorful colonial cities are just a few of the things that make the Chiapas region so special.
San Cristobal de las Casas
This charming Spanish colonial town has cobblestone streets and red-tiled roofs that everyone recognizes by far.
It's very cultural, colorful, vibrant, bohemian, gypsy, delicious, and interesting for any kind of traveler. The city has many places to see, such as large colorful churches, museums, a large open-air market, and many traditional and international restaurants.
San Cristóbal is a very tourist-friendly town. You easily can find a ton of awesome hostels and even boutique hotels.
From there you can arrange many of the tours mentioned in this article
San Juan Chamula
Once in SanCristobal, you should check out one of the nearby indigenous people towns - San Juan Chamula. Inhabited by the Tzotzil Mayans they remain independent, growing vegetables and making textiles. They speak their own Tzotzil language and continue practicing many ancient traditions to this day. In Chamula town, you can visit their church that is a unique place of worship. No benches. Fresh pine straw all over the floor. Hundreds of candles burning directly onto the ground. A chicken in a box, waiting to be sacrificed at the end of a ritual...
Strictly no photo or video allowed.
Another Tzotzil town nearby is Zinacantan. It has a very colorful church, not as impressive as Chamula.
This town is well known for its colorful textiles and you can visit one of many workshops.
Sumidero Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in the Chiapas.
A tour of the Sumidero Canyon costs around 300 pesos ($15 USD) per person.
You can jump on one of the multiple boats that will take you for a spectacular 1.5h boat ride, you can expect to see waterfalls along the ride, caves, spider monkeys and crocodiles.
With giant 1km high walls, the size of this canyon just takes your breath away – similar to the Grand Canyon in the US.
Alternatively, you can hire a taxi and go see Sumidero Canyon from above. There are 5 viewpoints allowing you to overview the river and magnificent landscape.
Chiapas is abundant in natural treasures. And Cascadas El Chiflon definitely s one of them. Giant waterfalls with several turquoise blue water swimming pools hidden behind a beautiful hiking trail.
The main waterfall - Velo de Novia is 120 m high.
If you're in need of an adrenaline rush there is also a zip line you can take across the canyon.
Lagunas de Montebello
Chiapas is home to some magnificent lakes with turquoise and green colors, surrounded by picturesque forests and hills. In Lagunas de Montebello you can find more than 50 lakes, many are not easily accessible by road. Whether you take your time exploring with your own transport or go on a guided tour these will impress.
There are small street food carts by many of the lakes.
It also offers tons of activities including swimming, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and taking a raft to a cenote.
Agua Azul waterfall is one of the most beautiful attractions in this whole state.
This waterfall is located on the Rio Xanil River in the northern part of Chiapas. It is popular for its beautiful turquoise blue color and multiple cascades.
But remember - as one of the most popular attractions in Chiapas, Agua Azul waterfall can get very crowded.
The entrance fee is 40 pesos. After you have parked your car you will find lots of restaurants, souvenir stalls, paved trails, and multiple viewpoints of the waterfalls. You can even go for a swim in a cascade.
Cascadas Misol-Ha stars a high waterfall that falls into a large pool that’s perfect for swimming. You can also pay 10 pesos to explore the hidden cave behind the falls with another waterfall inside and many bats. This waterfall is the place where Arnold's Schwarzenegger movie The Predator was shot.
As one of the biggest and most elaborate Mayan sites in the world, the Palenque Ruins is a must for anyone visiting the Chiapas region.
It is one of the most impressive ancient Mayan cities located in the midst of the Mexico jungle.
Palenque was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason.
The Palenque Ruins are big and even after a few hours of walking around, you will find new buildings and pyramids to climb and explore.
If you plan to visit Palenque Ruins on your own, try to get there as soon as it opens around 8 am. A few hours later this site will be packed full with tour buses.
This is Mayan town as it should be - hard to reach and hidden in dense jungle.
Located on the Usumacinta River by the Mexico-Guatemala border, Yaxchilán Ruins can only be accessible by boat. It takes about 4 hours to tour the Yaxchilán Archeological Site including an hour of transfer there and back.
You can hike through overgrown paths, listen to howler monkeys in the distance, observe toucan birds, and bats flying out of old hidden Mayan ruins. And most likely - on your own with no mass tourism.
Boat tours to Yaxchilán Ruins can be arranged from locals in Frontera Corozal town.
This tour costs around 300 pesos per person (highly depending on your negotiation skills.
Frontera Corozal town itself is very small so most visitors don’t actually stay here and use Palenque as their home base or visit Lacanja village for overnight stay.
Located in Selva Lacandon this archeological site is famous because of its picturesque and colorful paintings on a mural wall.
You can combine the visit with Yaxchilan and base in Lacanja village with local indigenous people.