Want to go to Chichicastenango Market? The market in Chi Chi is pretty epic, so if you have the time in your Guatemalan itinerary, you really should try to visit. It’s one of the largest outdoor markets in Central America, and even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s worth visiting just to soak up the atmosphere and get a taste of local like in rural Guatemala.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything! Travel insurance has always been high my list of things to get before I travel but now more than ever its at the top of my list.
I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So when looking for travel insurance it’s important to check it covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, Hey Mondo, Passport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master all provide cover for this.
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover. You even have the option to start the cover when you are already on your trip, although you won’t be covered for the first 72 hours. For me my favourite feature is their app which offers you a 24/7 Dr chat and the ability to file a claim direct in the app.
Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. The game changer with them is that you have a red card and if you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.
Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. They have an excess of $250 and it’s simple to make a claim through their website. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy and I like that it renews on a monthly basis, so I don’t have to pay out a big lump sum up front.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation type trips.
If you are doing shorter trips or an extended backpacking trip then Hey Mondo or Travel Insurance Master are the best option. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for Passport Nomads or SafetyWing.
When does the Chichicastenango Market happen
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. Or book a tour from Antigua with Heart of Travel, click here for more information.
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. In this guide, I will walk you through all of the ways you can get from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango.
There are two ways I would recommend traveling from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango
- The cheap and cheerful way that is 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 times. But I know not everyone is as adventurous like me so you may prefer to play it safe and book your transport in advance.
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. 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.
Option 2 – Do 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.
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. Its likely others from you 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!
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 a lot but there was no waiting around at all and it saved me enough for a night in a hotel. Plus as I said before it was much more fun and part of the Guatemala experience.
I hope you have found this guide to getting from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango helpful. I have written lots of different guides on Guatemala so be sure to stick around and read a few more! ps. don’t forget to pin it for later.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Lake Atitlan?
If you want to stay in San Pedro then I’d recommend Zoola San Pedro Atitlan, AmiGos, Hotel 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 a 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. In Panajachel, I recommend PanaHouse or Selina Atitlan
I also wrote a whole accommodation guide for Antigua, Guatemala City, and Lake Atitlan. And I have gathered all the best places to eat in Antigua here in case you need any recs.
Thursday 1st of December 2022
Hey Claire muchas gracias por esta guia. I figured there must be a way to see the market from San Pedro as a day trip without paying 150 Q. This guide was exactly how it went (except started and ended in Pedro); I even had a few hours to explore Pana. Thanks!
Friday 2nd of December 2022
That's awesome! So glad it helped you :)
Thursday 28th of October 2021
Loved it, very helpful. Actually I'm about to go next week from Pana, so how early is early lol You mentioned to take the first bus from Pana early in the morning. What time exactly would you recommend?
Thursday 1st of December 2022
@Psti, i left San Pedro at 9 am and got back to Pana around 2:30. I also walked around chichi for a while, going up to pascual abaj and stuff. Whole journey is like 1.5 hours from Pana. Easy!
Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala – Brazils on Tour
Sunday 11th of April 2021
[…] but if you want to do as the locals do and make it more of an adventure we found this guide here really […]
Saturday 4th of May 2019
I am leaving Chicago headed to Lake Atitlan in a week. Your site has been so helpful. Looking forward to the adventure of the chicken buses, language school and my homestay. I chose the same school as you. Unfortunately I will only be going for 17 days. This is the trial run though. Next time hopefully for a month or two.
Lake Atitlan Guatemala - All you need to know - Only Once Today
Saturday 15th of September 2018
[…] local feel. We visited in a day trip from our hostel in San Pedro. The ride from Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango took about two hours. Right before reaching Chichi, Guatemala police inspected our bus on fruits […]