Ancient ruins, lacquer artisans, traditional Parachico dancers, and a bustling Spanish square… Welcome to the beautiful town of Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas, Mexico. This declared Magic Town (Pueblo Magico) was the first colonial city to be founded in Chiapas state by the Spanish in 1528. As such, the town boasts a historic colonial-style plaza in its center, an excellent base from which to explore the cobbled streets and hidden nooks of the pueblo.
Many travelers come to visit Chiapa de Corzo on a day trip from San Cristobal de Las Casas, another charming Magic Town but this time set in the mountains of the Chiapas Highlands.
Chiapa de Corzo is considered the gateway to the Sumidero Canyon. The main Cahuaré Dock, where tourists can take a boat tour through the canyon on the Grijalva River, is located but a short 10-minute drive from the main plaza.
If you’re coming to Chiapa de Corzo, it’s most likely to pass through to visit Sumidero Canyon National Park. But in this guide to Chiapa de Corzo, I’ll show you why you should come and spend a few hours exploring the pueblo’s rich culture, traditions, and history.
Below are 10 awesome things to do in Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas, Mexico!
Ultimate Guide to Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas, Mexico
How to Get to Chiapa de Corzo
To get to Chiapa de Corzo from San Cristobal, it takes around 50 minutes to drive via Highway 190 and is 33 miles (54 km) away. From Tuxtla, Chiapa de Corzo is only a 10-mile (15 km) drive away. The closest airport is the Ángel Albino Corzo International Airport in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
If you don’t rent a car from Tuxtla Gutiérrez airport, then the easiest (and cheapest) way to get to Chiapa de Corzo is by bus or colectivo. Buses from San Cristobal run daily to Tuxtla and cost only $70 pesos. Just ask the driver to drop you off at the entrance to Chiapa de Corzo along the highway. From there, there will be local colectivos who can take you downtown for $10-13 pesos.
Best Hotels in Chiapa de Corzo
Since there’s so much to see and do in Chiapa de Corzo, I would highly recommend spending at least one night in a hotel or Airbnb.
Also, because Chiapa de Corzo is nestled riverside in the Grijalva Valley, there are a handful of cute accommodation options that offer amazing views on the water. I was curious to see how much it would be and was surprised to find some really adorable places to stay cost as little as $20-25 USD/night!
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel for the night, you won’t find a more traditional and charming location than the Casa Grande Hotel located just off the main plaza in the historic center of Chiapa de Corzo. You will be relieved from the heat in its air-conditioned rooms. Casa Grande also features a charming inner garden and courtyard and all the guests have free wifi in their rooms.
Top 10 Magical Things to Do in Chiapa de Corzo
1. Explore the Main Plaza & Fountain La Pila
The main square in Chiapa de Corzo is where you’ll begin your explorations. This Spanish-style plaza is officially named after one of the town’s previous politicians Angel Albino Corzo (hence Chiapa “de Corzo”).
On this large and open-air square, you will find several buildings and structures, including the most famous and iconic of Chiapa de Corzo: the 16th-century Moorish-style fountain named La Pila. As you stroll around its eight arches, you’ll notice its fine brickwork and its cylinder tower, which actually served as a watchtower at one point.
Apart from La Pila Fountain and the colorful “Chiapa de Corzo” tourism board sign, you will also spot many locals and indigenous Zoque women and children hanging around to sell their local handicrafts and textiles to tourists.
On the main square, there is also a neat clocktower straight in front of La Pila and a few buildings to take note of, mainly the municipal building, former home of Angel Albino Corzo, and the building with the impressive hallway of corridors which features colonial-style archways and houses a number of local businesses, such as the Marimba Museum.
2. Visit the Marimba Museum
The marimba instrument is a cultural staple of Chiapa de Corzo. You will no doubt hear its whimsical tune as you stroll the streets of Chiapa de Corzo. It is used daily in the town, but especially so for holidays, celebrations, or festival days, and is considered as the “ancestral voice of Chiapas.”
The museum is owned by the local Nandayapa Vargas family who has been making traditional marimbas in Chiapa de Corzo for well over a century. Their work is so even known internationally. The marimba is made from a keyboard and a sandboard for which both natural ant wood and redwood are used and then polished.
You can observe the marimba making process from start to finish, as well as learn about its history, inside the museum. You will also have the chance to hear the marimba played live by a few local musicians (you can even try it yourself!).
The Museo de Marimba is open every day from 10 AM to 8 PM and the entry fee costs only $10 MXN.
3. Boat Trip in Sumidero Canyon National Park
You can’t come to Chiapa de Corzo without visiting the Sumidero Canyon National Park – whether it’s to visit the five stunning viewpoints from atop its towering cliffs or to take an epic 2-hour boat tour through the canyon on the Grijalva River.
To take the boat tour, head to the Cahuaré Dock located 10-minutes from Chiapa de Corzo. Local colectivos run there and back from the center very often, so you should have no trouble finding transport. The price should only cost $10-13 pesos.
Once at the boat embarkment of Cahuaré, you will need to pay for the Sumidero Canyon National Park fee which costs $36 pesos. Then you will need to purchase your ticket for the boat tour which costs $270 pesos. Gratuity for the boat driver, who acts as a guide during the 2-hour trip, is not included. (You’re expected to donate a minimum of $50 pesos).
Note: Due to current travel restrictions, the viewpoints of Sumidero Canyon are semi-accessible. Our tour guide told us they were only open 2 days/week and can receive a maximum of 150 visitors/day or 4 persons/vehicle.
4. Tour the San Sebastián Church Ruins
The Temple ruins of San Sebastian perched atop the San Gregorio hill is a fun thing to do in Chiapa de Corzo if you enjoy history. This temple was originally built, and thrived, in the 17th century but was badly damaged by an earthquake in the late 19th century. The ruins stand today and its empty hallways and arches could normally be toured (however, due to travel restrictions and remodeling efforts, it is closed). However, you can still go and marvel at its Mudejar architecture and facades.
5. Visit the Santo Domingo Temple & Laquer Museum
One of the most impressive sights to see in Chiapa de Corzo is the red and white Santo Domingo Temple, which sits just a block behind the town’s central plaza. This imposing church was once a Dominican covenant that served as a monastery for multiple surrounding towns and municipalities.
Inside the Temple Santo Domingo de Guzman lies hidden the ex-covenant Santo Domingo Cultural Center. Here, you’ll find stunning archways and courtyards, plus the incredible Museo de la Laca (Lacquer Museum), which houses exhibition rooms featuring over 450 pieces of lacquered pieces from Chiapas, Michoacán, Guerrero, Guatemala, and a few Asian countries.
Lacquering is one of Chiapa de Corzo’s artisanal crafts and specialties. You will find many products, such as gourdes, bowls, Parachico masks, and other wooden items, painted in decorative lacquer by local artisans.
The Museo de la Laca is open M-F from 8 AM to 6 PM. General entry costs $45 MXN.
6. Explore the Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Site
The Chiapa de Corzo is a Mesoamerican ruins site where it is said that Olmecs (the earliest known civilization in Mesoamerica) inhabited sometime between 500-700 BC.
Actually, this site was discovered in 2010 to house the oldest pyramid tomb (2,700 yrs old) in all of Mesoamerica. Inside the tomb lied two ancient rulers, each decorated head to toe in red pigment and jewels, such as jade, pearls, and obsidian.
Archaeologists are still puzzled as to how the Zoques emerged from the Olmecs, which shared borders with the Mayas. What’s certain is that the Chiapa de Corzo archaeological site still holds many secrets yet unknown to us. It is not at all on the tourist trail, so it’s best to ask a local taxi in Chiapa de Corzo to take you there for $150 pesos.
7. Watch the Parachicos Dancers
Los Parachicos Fiesta Grande, or Grand Festival, is a big celebration in January (15th-23rd) in which traditional Parachicos dancers from Chiapa de Corzo, dressed in colorful clothing, wigs, and lacquered masks, dance and perform in the streets in honor of Our Lord of Esquipulas and San Sebastián and San Antonio Abad – two Catholic saints.
The Parachicos dancers are iconic of Chiapa de Corzo culture and tradition. In fact, their dance was listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Music, gastronomy, religious practices, crafts, and entertainment are on full display during this explosive 8-day celebration.
If you are visiting the state of Chiapas during this time, you must visit Chiapa de Corzo for the festivities. If you miss out, you can still find Parachico performers in the town during other times in the year. You can also observe the traditional Parachicos dance in San Cristobal de Las Casas at the Las Pinchachas Restaurant.
8. Shop/Eat at the Local Mercado
The local market (mercado) in Chiapa de Corzo is a necessary go-to to witness the local culture and taste the local cuisine. Chiapa de Corzo serves up a traditional pozol drink made from corn and cocoa, empanadas, tamales, and nuégados – fried dumplings covered in raw cane sugar. Although Chiapa de Corzo has its more typical restaurants, eating out in the market is one of the best experiences to have here.
9. Visit the Sacred “Pochota” Tree
La Pochota is a well-known ceiba tree on the main plaza in Chiapa de Corzo. Legend has it that this large tree was living at the foundation of the city in 1528 and has since witnessed life evolving and changing in Chiapa de Corzo. The Chiapanecan Indians believed the ceiba tree was sacred, and as such, it has become a symbol of the village.
In fact, this tree is so well-known that the governor of 1993 declared it the “first Historic and Notable Tree” in the state of Chiapas. If you take a tour of Chiapa de Corzo, you will no doubt come across this magnificent and enchanting tree.
10. El Chorreadero Waterfall
If you have extra time to spare in Chiapa de Corzo, then take a mini day trip out in nature to the El Chorreadero Waterfall. This waterfall spits out from a large cave entrance in the rock wall. You can swim in the clear green pool below to escape the heat of the day or snack out at the on-site restaurant (menu $60-120 MXN).
To get there, you can either take a taxi or colectivo from the center of Chiapa de Corzo to Juan del Grijalva. From there, colectivos or taxis will take you to the Cascada El Chorreadero. The cost to access the waterfall is $20 MXN per person.
Final Tips for Visiting Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo weather is hot and humid – you don’t want – or rather need – to bring your sweater necessary for visiting San Cristobal de Las Casas in the mountains. Here in Chiapa de Corzo, the days are bright and the sun is strong. Bring and wear sunscreen and a sun hat for protection!
There is a lot more to discover in Chiapa de Corzo than people give it credit for. You can wander the bustling and historically important main plaza, take a boat ride through the majestic Sumidero Canyon, eat your way through the local specialties of the region at the lively market, or go chasing waterfalls (literally).
Are you ready for a magical experience?
I hope this guide to the pueblo mágico of Chiapa de Corzo helps plan your trip! Before you go, make sure to check out my other travel guides to Chiapas, Mexico.
- How to Visit the Majestic Cañón del Sumidero
- 5 Adventurous Things to Do in El Arcotete Ecotourism Park
- How to Visit San Juan Chamula
- Zinacantán & the Indigenous Women’s Weaving Co-op
- Inside Casa Na Bolom: The House Museum of Lacandon Culture
Pin this guide to Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico for inspiration!