Our Trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

It gets a bit warm here in the Riviera Maya during the summer, so Linda and I usually plan at least one getaway to a place with a cooler climate. Last year, we visited Puebla and loved it.

This year, we decided to see some place new and decided to check out San Cristobal de las Casas in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It’s a city of almost 200,000 residents is located 2,200 m (7,200 ft) above sea level, and during the month of August, the average high is 22.5°C (72°F) and the low is 10.5°C (50.9°F).

Just in case some of our readers are as geographically challenged as I am, I took the liberty of including a map. Feel free to keep zooming out until something looks familiar.

Temperature wasn’t the only reason we wanted to see San Cristobal. This city comes highly recommended by other travelers online and was named as an official Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) by the Mexican government in 2003.

Safety and Security

Whenever we travel to an unfamiliar part of Mexico, I always do some research first to see if there are any safety concerns. I check the crime statistics for the last six months on Semáforo Delectivo, and then review the safety/police section of the local newspapers online.

San Cristobal checked out fine and actually has a low crime rate compared to many other cities its size.

The Heart of the City

The city center is where we spent most of our time. San Cristobal was founded in 1528 and the Spanish colonial architecture has been well maintained throughout the city center.

We enjoyed strolling along the cobblestone streets and occasionally stopping to visit one of the numerous shops, restaurants and bars.

Transportation and Hotel

We flew on Viva Aerobus from Cancun to the Tuxtla Gutiérrez International Airport. From there, we took a private transport to San Cristobal, just over an hour away.

We stayed at a boutique hotel built in the Spanish colonial style called Grand Guadalupe by Immense. It was about a 10 minute walk to the main plaza. The hotel was very nice and the staff was great.

The only thing we didn’t like is that we had to leave the windows open most of the time to keep the room cool because it didn’t have air conditioning or even a fan. The temperature was fine, but with the windows open, there was a lot of noise. There was road traffic, loud music, car horns, voices and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks going off all hours of the day and night.

We didn’t get much sleep at all the first night, but by the second night, we were so exhausted from walking all day that we slept just fine.

Round Trip Airfare: $335 USD (for both)

Hotel: $384 USD for five nights / included breakfast

Wining and Dining

We ate at a wide variety of restaurants ranging from local cuisine to Argentinian steak houses. The prices for food and alcohol were typically 15%-20% lower than where we live in the Riviera Maya.

Our Only Tour

We took a tour to visit two nearby indigenous towns, San Juan Chamula and  Zinacantán, where the residents are Tzotziles. It was very interesting and we highly recommend it.

Tour Price – $45 USD (for both)

One word of advice though — always ask before taking any pictures. Some areas are completely off limits, like inside the temple, and our guide said that violators can be arrested and fined up to $5000 pesos.

We were granted permission to take these pics:

Inside a textile cooperative where all of the garments are handmade

They prepared a snack for the tour group

Let’s Wrap This Up

We had a great time in San Cristobal, but after almost a week there, we were ready to get back to the beaches of the Riviera Maya. What can I say? There’s just no place like home.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

35 Comments on "Our Trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico"

  1. Some friends of ours went there in Jan or Feb. It was cold enough that the town had a snow making machine. There we wearing winter type clothes.

  2. Fran aka Ethel Merts | August 21, 2019 at 1:18 pm |

    Looks like a beautiful place. I like that they have maintained the Spanish colonial architecture. Glad you enjoyed your trip, but you are correct, “There’s no place like home!”

  3. Marien Kaifesh | August 21, 2019 at 1:30 pm |

    Travelling through Mexico is one of the things I’d like to do when we are living in Cancun part of the year. So many places to explore!

  4. We loved our visit to San Cristobal where we also went to Zinacantan and San Juan Chemula. Such beauty and mazing people. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Fun blog guys! Giving me so many great ideas for my own personal retirement in 9 years!

  6. Charles Gallagher | August 21, 2019 at 2:14 pm |

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  7. Rosalind Pattyn | August 21, 2019 at 2:39 pm |

    So glad that you enjoyed San Cristobal de las Casas, we were there 2 years ago in June and it was freezing and hardly stopped raining. The Old City Market was amazing, a real maze of stalls with the most amazing (and cheap) tacos and all sorts of fruit, veggies and everything that you could possibly want. Our other favorite place to hang out was Real de Guadalupe, a pedestrian area filled with eating places, coffee shops and various artisanal shops. There was a really great place there where ex-pats hang out and where they provide free tapas with every drink ordered .. a very social place. El Chiflon waterfall and Lagunas de Montebello National Park are must see places if you head back in that direction.

    • We’ve heard people complain about the rain there, but we got lucky and it only rained twice and only for less than an hour each time.

      Thanks for the tips too. I’m sure we’ll pass back through that area someday. Linda says there are still things she wants to see in Chiapas.

  8. The streets look to be smooth and in good condition. Unlike Ajijic where most streets are cobblestone and in terrible condition. Sadly the high elevation is not to my liking

    • The streets were well maintained, but like you, I’m not a fan of the high altitude. It left me winded a few times.

      • Janet Oakley Gorski | August 21, 2019 at 4:33 pm |

        We visited the city 5 years ago and loved it! That time we drove, and while it was wonderful to visit Palenque and Cascades Azul, it was a loooooong and winding road! Thanks for the reminder of how wonderful Chiapas is!

  9. A few questions: !. Where is Tuxtla Gutiérrez International Airport? 2. What do you mean by private transport to San Cristobal? 3. What is a Tzotziles? LOL!!

    • Hahaha, that’s a lot of questions.

      1) Tuxtla Gutiérrez International Airport is in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. 2) we hired a guy recommended by the hotel to drive us from the airport to the hotel, and 3) and Tzotziles are an indigenous people who are part of the Mayan family.

  10. and one more: How did you handle going from nearly 0 altitude to over 7,000?

    • I got a little winded sometimes walking up and down the hills and steps. Fortunately, there were plenty of bars where we could stop, have a beer and rest a bit.

  11. We lived in San Cristobal de las Casas for 4 months, and I finally said that I did not retire to Mexico to freeze to death! Granted, it was wonderful. We had rented a sweet house and we were able to have family and friends from all over come visit while we were there, BUT, a cosy wood fire in both the kitchen and “Living Room” was a must in August in the mornings and Wow, by November essential. Early morning showers were dicey as you could see your breath. Wonderful City! Awesome, colorful, exciting market, unbelievable Crafts and Art Works, fantastic restaurants, great prices. If you visit again, Sumidero Canyon is a great adventure and the Zoo in Tuxtla Gutierrez is surprisingly advanced. Tuxtla is lower, and warmer, but far more crowded. The same people who owned the house we rented, had a place in Puerto Escondido. We visited their property there and moved and stayed there for a year and a half before settling here in Motul. Glad you found it fun, safe and affordable!

    • Thanks for the tips! During our trip, we started chatting with an American at a bar that has been renting there since December or so. He said the winters are way too cold and that he’ll probably seek a warmer climate before November comes around.

  12. Love your story. The sense of adventure you two have is very inspiring.

  13. wow! u guys look so young to be retired! have u been to san miguel de allende? another great spot to explore!

  14. So, when do you head out to Michoacan?

    • No plans yet, but I’m sure we’ll make it out there some day. What town in particular would you recommend?

      • mounddweller | August 25, 2019 at 10:03 am |

        My vote is for Patzcuaro. However, I’m sure Ms. Rose will vote for Morelia which is also very nice;-)

  15. Great article! Very useful…..This place is on our bucket list!

  16. Bella’s B&B was a wonderful place to stay there – loved the city and Chiapas!

  17. Betsye McDonald | August 22, 2019 at 1:06 pm |

    Thank you for the photos and other information! ! I can’t wait to visit there!!

  18. Next Year try San Miguel de Allende. We’re in the mountains. 2,000 feet with an average summer temperature of 75 degrees. You can stay at my El Centro home. I have a guest room!

  19. Vicki Stirkey | August 22, 2019 at 8:30 pm |

    Sounds magical. How long was the flight from Cancun?

  20. James McConnell | August 27, 2019 at 1:23 pm |

    Hi guys, Elaine and I are heading to San Cristobal on Friday. Cutious as to the best transportation from the airport. Can you tell me how much it cost for your airport transfer?
    Cheers, Jim McConnell

    • We booked it through the hotel. It was a private car and it was very pricey. It was $4,200 pesos round trip.

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