Oaxaca & Chiapas Holidays: An Overview

Between the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and to the south of Mexico City, the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas offer one of the most culturally diverse experiences a luxury holiday in Mexico can supply.

Image of Will Boocock
Image of Saskia Wilson

Saskia and Will are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • The current UK trend for Mexican street food owes a lot to Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers' London restaurant Wahaca. Probably a good move to spell it phonetically rather than Oaxaca, the city that inspired the award-winning cuisine
  • Oaxaca is one of the most indigenous regions of Mexico, and all around the city you'll find small villages specialising in different artisanal crafts - perfect for a bit of souvenir shopping

Luxury Holidays to Oaxaca & Chiapas

Oaxaca is undoubtedly Mexico's creative hub. Much of the country's most recognisable arts and crafts such as the brightly coloured carved wooden animals, famous black pottery and vivid textiles, hail from the artisanal villages dotted around the region, which are easy to visit in a day trip from the city of Oaxaca. The city itself is as impressive as its surroundings. The huge tree-shaded Zocalo square, the imposing Santo Domingo Church and the numerous indigenous markets are all within walking distance from each other, making this a great place to explore on foot. What's more, the city is home to some of the best restaurants and street stalls in the country and there is no better way to soak up Oaxaca's vibrant café culture than over a delicious hot tamale or for the really brave, some grasshoppers.

The region's dramatic mountain landscape also make this an adventurers' dream, with everything from hiking and biking to climbing and riding all available. For something a little more cultural, the impressive Zapotec site of Monte Alban just outside the city shouldn't be missed.


Continuing south, Chiapas is Mexico's most southern state, bordering one of our favourite countries - Guatemala - and full to the brim with archaeological and natural wonders. Take a boat ride through the mighty Sumidero Canyon before taking the windy road up to the pretty mountain top town of San Cristobal de las Casas, with its charming cobbled streets and interesting mix and colonial and indigenous cultures. The animistic church in nearby San Juan de Chamula is particularly memorable - fresh pine needles cover the floors where church pews once stood and traditional Christian symbols have been replaced by wailing shamans and patients, who rubs eggs over each other and sacrifice chickens to draw out evil spirits.

The Mayan Ceremonial site of Palenque is arguably the country's most picturesque archaeological ruin and Chiapas' biggest attractions. Despite the tourists, this is a magical place buried deep in the jungle, where howler monkeys shriek and tropical birds squawk among the dense foliage. Further from the beaten track, Yaxchilan and Bonampak are smaller Mayan sites, but the chances are you'll have them all to yourselves which makes them just as, if not more, special.


Original Highlight

Yaxchilan, Chiapas
Image of Nick Newbury

Don't miss the remote ruins of Yaxchilan and Bonampak when you visit Chiapas. They may be a bit of a mission to get to, but they're definitely worth it.

Nick, Original Traveller

A note on price

A cheeky week on the beach can cost from around £2000 per person including flights, whereas an adventurous (and luxurious!) journey around the best bits of Mexico might cost more like £6000 or upwards. Learn more about our pricing

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Top picks for Oaxaca & Chiapas

Hotel Bo

Hotel Bo

Oaxaca & Chiapas

In complete contrast to most San Cristobal hotels, Hotel Bo is a design forward boutique hotel, located a short stroll from the heart of town.

Where to stay

Monte Alban Ruins

Mayan Ruins of Monte Alban

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Dating back to 500BC, the impressive Mayan ruins of Monte Albán lie just 6 miles from the city of Oaxaca, and so are a must-visit in our humble opinion.

What to do

Quinta Chanabnal

Quinta Chanabnal

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Quinta Chanabal is a modern Mayan palace, and is just a ten minute drive from the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque.

Where to stay

Mexican chillies

Gastronomy in Oaxaca

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Mexican cuisine was recently granted UNESCO World Heritage status, making this the first national cuisine to merit such exalted eminence. We’re yet to hear how the French have reacted to this slight, but while we wait, head to Mexico’s epicurean epicentre, Oaxaca.

What to do

Yaxhilan and Bonampak

Yaxchilan & Bonampak

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Gaining access to the Yaxchilan site is notoriously difficult, meaning very few visitors make the trip. However we have had a word with our Mexican friends, and have managed to pull a few strings…

What to do

Day of the Dead, Mexico

Day of the Dead Celebrations

Oaxaca & Chiapas

The Day of the Dead festival takes place from Halloween until the night of the 2nd November, and this most Mexican of events is best experienced in Oaxaca.

What to do

Parador San Juan De Dios

Parador San Juan De Dios

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Located in the oldest part of town, Parador San Juan is a converted hacienda that offers guests an authentic yet luxurious experience.

Where to stay

Quinta Real

Quinta Real

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Built in 1576, Quinta Real Oaxaca was formerly a convent, before being taken over and turned into municipal offices at the height of political turmoil in 1862. Restoration began in 1972, under the watchful eye of The National Institute of Anthropology and History, with the beautiful frescoes restored by experts, and artistic treasures repaired.

Where to stay

Mexican crafts

Arts & Crafts in Oaxaca

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Forget the food (OK, ignore that) - Oaxaca is also Mexico’s craft capital. We can arrange visits to artisanal villages such as Teotitlan del Valle where you will see local craftsmen in action and learn how they weave carpets using natural plant and animal dyes to create the unmistakably colourful Oaxacan patterns. The town also specialises in making hand-made beeswax candles and decorative paper flowers.

What to do

Doorway to San Juan de Chamula

San Juan de Chamula

Oaxaca & Chiapas

The fairly banal (in comparison) exterior does not prepare you for the surreal goings-on inside, and to see it really is to believe it.

What to do

Temple of the Inscriptions, Palenque


Oaxaca & Chiapas

Located on the western edge of the Mayan empire within the state of Chiapas, the ancient and UNESCO protected site of Palenque is one of the most outstanding, and well preserved archaeological sites in the region.

What to do

Pool at Casa Oaxaca, luxury hotel in Mexico

Casa Oaxaca

Oaxaca & Chiapas

Housed in an 18th Century colonial house, Casa Oaxaca has been painstakingly restored and modernised to create a designer boutique hotel.

Where to stay

The whole time no-one was anything but happy


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