It is shocking how underrated Chiapas Mexico attractions are. The southernmost state in Mexico is one of the most beautiful regions I have visited in North America. Not only is Chiapas home of one of the largest indigenous populations in the country, but it is also Mexico’s breadbasket. A culturally and naturally rich destination, sprinkled with high sierras, deep canyons, traditional indigenous villages, and off-the-beaten-path Maya ruins.
Of all places I’ve visited on four different Mexico holidays, this region was the most surprising. While I still have much to explore, I’m thrilled to share with you my top 5 things to do in Chiapas.
My Top 5 Chiapas Mexico Attractions
Sumidero Canyon National Park
Known as Cañón del Sumidero in Spanish, this spectacular national park features gorges that go as deep as 250 meters – in addition to towering peaks reaching up to 1000 meters above sea level.
The 21,789-hectare protected area is a must visit in Chiapas not only because of its topography, but also due to its flora and fauna. Sumidero is, in fact, one of the most biodiverse canyons in the continent.
Its relative proximity to the Tuxtla Gutiérrez (TGZ) airport means a boat trip through this national park is doable shortly after your flight. I highly recommend it, as it was one of the highlights of my trip!
Ancient Maya City of Palenque
Pre-Columbian cities such as Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza may overshadow it, but the Maya city of Palenque is impressive in its own right.
Although this ancient archaeological zone already boasts some of the best preserved Mayan ruins in Mexico, it is believed that over 90% of its total area remains either underground or swallowed by the jungle. We can only imagine what treasures still lie beneath, dating from circa 226 BC to A.D. 799…
Colonial San Cristobal de Las Casas
Over 90% of Chiapas state’s population may live in this picturesque colonial city, but that doesn’t take away from its intrinsic charm.
Founded in 1528 by Spanish conquistador Diego de Mazariegos, San Cristobal de Las Casas is a history buff’s dream. Its pedestrian-only cobblestone streets, Spanish-style interior patios, and terra-cotta rooftops will transport you to a different era.
I stayed at Hotel Casa Vieja, a converted convent run by a local family. I enjoyed impeccable service, a strategic location, gorgeous architecture, and à la carte breakfast. I felt like I was living in the 18th century for a few days!
There was nothing more refreshing than a visit to the rain forest after a long day of hiking.
As its Spanish name suggests, Agua Azul is a group of bright sky-blue waterfalls. They rush from the Chiapas highlands, cutting through big boulders downstream. At the bottom of the river, a few natural pools form as well, making it a safe place to take a dip.
Do keep in mind though that if you visit during the rainy season like I did, Agua Azul will be more like “agua chocolate.” Still, it is a great pit stop on your way to Palenque.
Speaking of pit stops between Chiapas and Yucatán: Misol-Ha is another beautiful waterfall worth visiting. It is located about 12.4 miles from Palenque, on the way to San Cristobal de Las Casas, in the Salto de Agua municipality. The site is equipped with facilities, from cabins and a restaurant to guided tours.
I stopped at Misol-Ha on my way from Chiapas to Quintana Roo, so I just spent an hour or two there. Fair warning: don’t approach it if you don’t want to get wet like I did! You’ll be soaked after walking over the bridge leading to the waterfall.
It’s so worth it though, as you can see from the video above. Walking behind a raging waterfall is an incredible experience.
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