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Chichicastenango Market Guide (Including how to get there)

When in Guatemala, Chichicastenango market is a must-do travel bucket list item. Its the largest market in Central America and a pretty epic day trip in Guatemala.

However, if you are going purely for the shopping there are better places to shop. Take it from someone who lived in Guatemala. I’ll get more into that a bit later.

But if you are going to soak up the most incredible open-aired market in Central America read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting Chichicastenango including how to get there and what do do while you are there.

When Is Chichicastenango Market Open

Chichicastenango Market happens each week on a Thursday and Sunday morning. It starts pretty early and continues through the afternoon.

Because of the location of Chichicastenango Market, I would not recommend trying to get there from Antigua on public transport. Either make your way to Panajachel the day before so you can leave early in the morning.

If you are staying in Lake Atitlan and you want to get to Chichicastenango for the Thursday or Sunday markets there are a few ways you can do it.

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

Reasons to visit Chichicastenango

Reasons not to visit Chichicastenango market

You can get the same things in markets all over Guatemala for cheaper and with less chaos. I didn’t actually buy anything at Chichicastenango. I went looking for some nice sandals and a unique piece of jewelry. Both of which I bought in Panajachel when I got back from Chichicastenango market as it was nicer and I got a better deal.

How to get to Chichicastenango 

There are two ways I would recommend traveling from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango

  • The cheap and cheerful way that’s a bit more complicated
  • The more expensive and simpler way

I would 100% recommend the cheap and cheerful way. It’s more fun saves you money and you have more control over time. But I know not everyone is as adventurous like me so you may prefer to play it safe and book your transport in advance.

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

The best way to get to Chichicastenango if you are coming from Antigua or Guatemala City is to take a direct shuttle. You can book your shuttle through GuateGo here.

If you want to travel to Chichicastenango from Lake Atitlan you will need to make your way to Panajachel. From there you can either book a shuttle or you can take the chicken bus (well it’s actually 3 chicken buses!).

If your Spanish is nonexistent and you don’t like the idea of taking the Chicken bus then book a shuttle with GuateGo. Or if you want to go on a little adventure then take the chicken bus to Chichicastenango. It really is a lot easier than you may think.

Planning my trip to get to Chichicastenango I was a little bit nervous at the prospect of 2 ferries 6 busses (and a Tuk-tuk) to get there but it was so simple I really had nothing to worry about!

Option 1 – Book yourself on to a Tourist Shuttle

Head to one of the numerous tour operators around the lake and book a tour bus from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango. Or even better book online with GuateGo. It’s that simple. They will tell you a pickup time and tell you what time they will bring you back.

Normally pick up is around 8 am and they will bring you back at around 2 pm. The price could set you back $22 roughly. That’s about 150Q. It may be slightly cheaper to first travel to Panajachel and arrange transport from there. The ferry takes about 30-40 mins and costs 25Q each way.

Guatemala Chichicastenango

Option 2Do as the locals do and take public transport from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango

Now please don’t be put off by how complicated it may seem to get from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango, it really couldn’t be simpler!

The first part of your journey is to take the water taxi to Pana from wherever you are on the lake. It takes around 30-40 minutes and costs 25Q.

I would recommend spending the night in Panajachel. Book a hotel close to Calle Santander, explore Panna, get a coffee at Crossroads and have a chat with the legendary owner Mike, and watch the beautiful sunset from Bar del Sol (get there early to get a good seat).

Then get up early and take the chicken bus to Solola. The bus will stop outside the “Pollo Campero” (fried chicken shop) you will find it at the top of Calle Santander. If you are worried grab a Tuk Tuk and tell them you want the bus for Solola, they will take you straight there.

How to get from San Pedro to Chichicastenango

When you get there-there will likely be a few men shouting “Solola” they will usher you in. Take a seat and enjoy the 20-minute crazy ride up the mountain to Solola. It’s the last stop so you don’t need to worry about missing it. Just get off when everyone else does. The cost is about 3-5Q and someone will come and collect it when the bus gets going.

Once you get to Solola you should see another Chicken Bus just across the road. Again there will be men shouting “Encuentros”. That’s the bus you want. It’s likely others from your first bus will be heading there too so follow the crowd.

Check the front of the bus says “Encuentros” and hop on. Like the first bus, it’s 3-5Q and they will collect when you get going.

You should be on the bus for about 40 minutes and once again you want the last stop. When you get off in Encuentros yo will see ahead of you a load of mini vans. Head towards them and ask for Chichi. You will be ushered into one.

Top Tip: Try and sit at the back if you can. They will put as many people in as they possibly can! I spend the 40-minute drive with a teenager pretty much sat on me… all part of the experience!

The cost is 5-7Q for this on. They will take you directly to the market. Pay attention to where you get off as you will need to find your way back there for the return journey.

Getting back is just the reverse of this. There really isn’t much time difference in the journey by tourist transfer and local busses. I know all of the changes sound like a lot but there was no waiting around at all and it saved me enough for a night in a hostel!

What to do when you arrive in Chichi

Have Breakfast in the Market

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

When you arrive in Chichicastenango head in a straight line down through the market from your drop off point. When you almost get to the end turn in (right) and you will see an undercover part of the market where there is a lot of food.

Grab yourself a Guatemalan breakfast and some cafe (coffee). Don’t expect any milk or a skinny latte on the menu… you’re in Guatemala. The coffee comes black and sweet with a few bits floating in the bottom.

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

Explore the market

Once you are fed and watered wander around the market and look at the incredible colors of the textiles and crafts available.

I’m British, and in general bartering isn’t our thing, but here it’s a way of life. As a general rule whatever they ask half it and then take it from there.

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

If animal cruelty makes you upset I would seriously give it a miss. I saw quite a lot of animals ties up in cages etc and it wasn’t nice. They have a very different view culturally towards animals in many countries so it’s good to be aware so you can avoid it.

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

How long do you need to spend in Chichicastenango?

I spent about 2 hours there and I was ready to go home. I was so glad I came on the public bus and not the tour bus as I would have had to wait for hours there. It’s pretty full on and its hard to find a place you can go and chill out for a while.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Chichicastenango?

There isn’t much in the way of accommodation there but here are the listings for Chichicastenango.

Guatemala Guides | Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

A note about photography in Guatemala:

While I was there I witnessed but groups, of mostly older white North Americans, barging around putting cameras in people’s faces. They were quite clearly there on some kind of photo trip and had little to no intention of actually buying anything.

It was pretty insensitive.

Please remember while running around wielding your camera that these are people going about their work.

They are not exhibits there for you to photograph.

Yes take photographs but be discreet and sensitive. If you are photographing someone it’s always nice to get consent or buy something from them.

Guatemala Chichicastenango

If you want to book a tour to Chichicastenango or book a shuttle the only company I recommend is GuateGo. They are a Guatemala-owned company that has painstakingly brought together all of the transport and tour options in one easy-to-use website.

You can book transport in Guatemala with them here and Guatemalan tours with them here.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Lake Atitlan?

If you want to stay in San Pedro then I’d recommend Zoola San Pedro AtitlanAmiGosHotel Tinamit, or Cristalinas Cafe, Hotel & Restaurant at Lake. If you are planning on staying in San Marcos and enjoy yoga then I cannot recommend Eagle’s Nest Atitlán enough. If yoga isn’t your thing and you want something bit more upmarket then you can’t go wrong with Lush Atitlan.

My friend Julia is developing an incredible retreat center close to San Marcos. They have several places to stay and I can’t recommend them enough! I stayed there and it was the most blissed-out I’ve been in years. Click here to learn more. In Panajachel, I recommend PanaHouse or Selina Atitlan

Visiting Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

This post was proofread by Grammarly