Chichicastenango market is a must do Guatemala travel bucket list item. Now if you are going purely for the shopping there are better places to shop. 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.
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.
Reasons to visit Chichicastenango
- Chichicastenango is the biggest market in Central America
- It’s crazy and part of the Guatemalan travel experience
- The journey to Chichicastenango is a lot of fun if you choose chicken bus
- The colors
- You can take some pretty incredible photographs of the traditional Guatemalan market
When to go to Chichicastenango
The market is on every Thursday or Sunday. Go early to beat the crowds. I arrived there at 9:30 am with was perfect.
How to get to Chichicastenango
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 non existent 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. I wrote all about traveling to Chichicastenango from San Pedro or Panajachel read my post here.
What to do when you arrive in Chichi
Have Breakfast in the Market
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.
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, 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.
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.
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 booking.com listings for Chichicastenango.
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. Ther 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.
If you want to book a tour Chichicastenango or book a shuttle the only company I recommend is GuateGo. They are a Guatemala owned company who have 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 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 bit more upmarket then you can’t go wrong with Lush Atitlan. Or this cute Airbnb is just outside of San Marcos, I stayed here and the views are worth the walk into town.
My friend Julia is developing an incredible retreat center close to San Marcos. They have two places to stay on Airbnb 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
Would you like up to $29 off Airbnb? Just use this link.
Planning a Trip to Guatemala? You might be interested in these articles:
This post was proofread by Grammarly
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.