Located high in the hills of interior Guatemala you will find Central America’s liveliest town…or at least on Thursdays and Sundays. The Chichicastenango Market is the largest of its kind in Central America and has been drawing vendors and visitors from across the country for centuries. On one hot day in December, that included me. A day trip to Chichicastenango was a highlight of my time in Guatemala, but not just because of its colorful market.
Get in & out
Originally we were going to spend 2 days in Chichicastenango but after doing some reading and because it was over Christmas we opted to stay in nearby Panajachel. From our Los Volcanes hotel, we made a day trip to Chichicastenango on market day. This 3-hour+ return transfer cost $12-15 US per person and was worth it’s for the comfort and time as opposed to taking a chicken bus. A day trip to Chichicastenango can be arranged from Antigua and Guatemala City on market days as well.
The market sprawls through the city streets as well as inside the community centre and public square. At first, it’s not clear on how to navigate beyond the fact that vendors selling the same items are in the same areas. On our day trip to Chichicastenango, we were buying our secret Santa gifts. This meant spending time in the area selling fireworks as well as perusing the many Mayan made craft and jewellery stands.
Beyond the Market
Although the main reason for our visit was to see the market, there is only so much time you can spend in it. The streets are narrow and packed. Add in the midday sun and it can take its toll. To escape the crowds we took to one of the many patio restaurants above it all for relief. Seeing the stands from above also gives you perspective on just how big the Chichicastenango market is.
From there we took a look at the incense burning outside the Iglesia de Santo Tomás Church before making our way to the colourful Chichicastenango cemetery.
With its aboveground and colourfully painted graves, the Chichicastenango cemetery shouldn’t be missed on a day trip to Chichicastenango.
For more images please check out my photo walk through the Chichicastenango cemetery!
Just A day trip to Chichicastenango
After our cemetery stroll, our day concluded with the drive back down to Panajachel. In the end, I am glad we settled on a day trip to Chichicastenango and not staying the night. My friends weren’t as convinced. Not that we shouldn’t have stayed but gone at all. The markets in Panajachel have the same items and can be shopped in a less crowded and hectic way. Given the choice again, the three girls I travelled with would have passed on the day trip to Chichicastenango. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the scenery and culture. The stroll through the colourful cemetery was a pleasant bonus and was happy to have made the trek.
Chichicastenango Good to Know
Bus: Leaves from Antigua, Guat City, and Panajachel – all for around $15 USD
Buy: Handcrafted goods and fireworks!
Barter: Arrive early for best prices or just before stalls close. Tourist prices in full effect. Barter.
Don’t Miss: Market break from above and the cemetery!
What say you?
Thoughts on A day trip to Chichicastenango?
Let’s hear it!
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My day trip to Chichicastenango Cemetery was arranged by the Posada de Los Volcanes. As always, the experience, opinions, and picture snapping are my own.
Chichicastenango looks like such a colourful and vibrant market to visit and definitely a fascinating cultural experience! I can’t wait to go there in November for a day trip. 🙂