How to Visit Zinacantan, the Flower Town of Chiapas


Zinacantan: A Guide to the Tzotzil Community in Chiapas

Zinacantán is a town of Tzotzil people, famous for its fruits, flowers and handicrafts. It lies near San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.

It is an autonomous community that has its own laws and rules. It does not rely on external police to enforce them.

Visitors have to pay an entrance fee to enter the town, and they are strictly prohibited from taking pictures inside the church. Otherwise, they might face jail time!

Perhaps this is why some people believe that visitors are not welcome in Zinacantán, but this is completely untrue, according to our guide.

I had no idea what to expect from this town, whose name in Nahuatl means “place of the bats”. It sounded rather ominous and mysterious. But when I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by its beauty and colorfulness!

In this complete guide to Zinacantán, I will tell you everything you need to know about this town: what to do, how to get there with a tour or on your own, and where to stay.

All the Best Things to do in Zinacantan

There are two main attractions in Zinacantán: the church of San Lorenzo, where you can learn about the Tzotzil beliefs, and the traditional local handicrafts, especially the textiles.

The church of San Lorenzo

On my first visit, the church bore the scars of the September 2017 earthquake, obscuring its original facade from view. Yet, when I returned four years later, it was a joy to find the building beautifully restored!

Beyond its architecture, what truly captivates is the interior, a vivid testament to the local beliefs.

As I said before, taking pictures inside the church is strictly forbidden. This is a rule that you have to follow, or you will face serious consequences.

The church is a place where Mayan and Catholic beliefs are mixed. But it is not a typical church: people come here to pray, but also to celebrate by smoking and drinking pox (the local liquor) inside the church.

On the walls, there are many saints with mirrors. They say that seeing yourself while praying creates a special connection with the saint, a kind of self-reflection. There are also many statues of sacred animals, the nahuales, where candles are placed.

The “mayordomos”, who wear black clothes, are in charge of taking care of the saints. They put flowers on them, and other things. It is a great honor and a big responsibility, because if they do a good job, the saints will protect the people of the town.

In the main plaza, there are three crosses connected to the ceiba, the Mayan tree of life. They are painted green, which means fertility and life. They are also decorated with red flowers (for the sun and the blood of the ancestors), yellow flowers (for wealth) and white flowers (for purity).

pueblo zinacantan

zinacantán en méxico
zinacantan in mexico
iglesia Zinacantán
Zinacantán chapel
zinacantan plaza
Zinacantan’s main church, fortunately repaired on my 2nd visit!


Traditional textiles

Zinacantán is known for its amazing textile art and its colorful clothes that stand out from the crowd.

Women wear blouses, skirts with belts, and mochevals (capes). Men usually wear pants and shirts.

And they all have one thing in common: their clothes are always embroidered with flowers!

The flowers change in shape, size, and color according to the latest fashion trends. Families show their new designs every six months during the festivals of San Sebastian in January and San Lorenzo in August.

In recent years, purple has been the most popular color and you can see it everywhere on both men and women.

My advice
You can admire some beautiful examples of Zinacantan clothing at the Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya in San Cristobal de las Casas.
traje típico Zinacantán
traje típico Zinacantán

If you want to see how the traditional weaving techniques are done, you should visit a workshop.

The weaver kneels on the floor and wears the loom on her belt. She uses a wooden tool to move the woolen threads in a figure-eight pattern.

It is amazing to watch such skillful work. Some pieces take up to 8 months to finish!

Demonstration of traditional weaving techniques at Zinacantán

textil chiapas zinacantan

chiapas textiles
Weaving in Zinacantan

I was surprised to see a large altar inside the house, with Mayan nahuales and Catholic crosses, just like in the church. It shows the incredible cultural fusion of this town.

tradiciones chiapas
tradiciones chiapas

And before you leave, don’t miss the chance to try pox, the local liquor of Chiapas. They offered 3 different kinds for free. It was a bit early for me, but I couldn’t say no to the “original” one, which I shared with another traveler. It was strong, but tasty.

In the back of the kitchen, there were also three women making tortillas by hand, and then warming them up on a griddle, just like they do in the traditional way. People were having a lot of fun.

pox mexico
El pox tradicional de Chiapas

How to visit Zinacantán?

With a tour

I chose to take a tour from San Cristobal de las Casas that included both Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula.

We traveled in a small van, with a few other travelers, and a very engaging guide. I was very satisfied with my choice!

If you want to visit Chiapas, you can book your tour here:

On your own

  • By public transport: you can catch a bus from the Municipal Market of San Cristobal de las Casas (20 pesos per person).
  • By cab: a cab ride should cost around 100 pesos, but make sure to agree on the price beforehand.
  • By car: follow the road to San Juan Chamula and turn to Zinacantán at km 9.

Where to stay when visiting Zinacantán?

San Cristobal de las Casas is the perfect place to stay in the area and is very close to Zinacantan. Here are some of the best hotels that I recommend, for different budgets:

  • The Coffee Bean Hostel: A very cozy hostel with nice common areas, a restaurant and bar, a garden, terrace with hammocks, pool tables and several breakfast options, starting at 12 $usd in a shared dorm!
  • Parador Margarita: Only 3 blocks from the main square and the bus station, it is a small haven of peace with a garden and very comfortable beds. Wifi and breakfast are included, only 46 $usd per night!
  • Hotel Diego de Mazariegos: A magnificent 18th century mansion with a preserved Mexican colonial style, a charming interior courtyard with a fountain and classic decoration in warm tones. The hotel has two restaurants and a bar. Wifi and breakfast included, from only 73 $usd per night!
  • Casa Lum Hotel Boutique: My favorite hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas! It is a small and sophisticated hotel decorated between modernity and traditional design. Includes a great restaurant, a terrace with a panoramic view over the city and a garden. A few steps from the main square, it is the ideal place for lovers, from 164 $usd per night!

Rent a car in Mexico

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Chiapas and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

How to get to Chiapas by plane

There are no direct international flights to Chiapas, you must first fly to Cancun or Mexico City and then take a domestic flight (Tuxtla Gutierrez, Palenque or Tapachula).

To find a cheap flight to Chiapas, or an international flight to Mexico, I recommend you to use our flight comparator in partnership with Skyscanner, it’s the guarantee to get it for the best price!

Book your trip now and save money!

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visit Zinacantan Chiapas


I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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