San Cristobal (Mexico)
Introducing San Cristobal
They say you have not done Mexico if you have not done Chiapas… San Cristobal or, San Cristobal De Las Casas as per the full name, was the old center of the Chiapas region. Today San Cris as it is affectionately known has recovered from the high-profile conflict in the region which began in 1994. Fundamentally this culminated with parts of the region being given semi-autonomy and the capital being moved to nearby Tuxtla. This gives an altogether different vibe to the Chiapas region.
San Cristobal is a small city, a big city in one. Encapsulated by circling mountains it gives both the city center craze and the country life combined. Everything apart from a shopping mall, although they have Walmart.
Cafes, co-works, live music, culture, museums, fine dining, colonial architecture. Even some heavy parties more akin to Ibiza than the rest of the continent can be found Tuesdays and Saturdays as their famous nightly warehouse raves attract a crowd.
Today San Cristobal remains one of the safest and cheapest areas of Mexico, ready to suit all budgets.
A place where you can still find communities still just about living off the land, where natural medicines are plenty. Although Coca-Cola has made a stronghold here and contaminated the water supply as a result.
Neighboring town Chamulu is reaped in mysticism and is also an important town. Here inhabitants drink on average, a staggering 2 liters of the addictive Coca-Cola beverage daily. They say it helps with their custom burping. This aids their religious ceremonies where they believe burping expels evil spirits trapped in the stomach cavity. As an autonomous region, don´t be surprised by different laws. You might see weapons or even a bazooka being casually worn like a watch or accessory. Weapons are allowed in Chamalu.
Costs For Living In San Cristobal – Expats Travellers & Digital Nomads
Historically San Cristobal was one of the cheapest spots around. In many cases, this remains for the frugal and well-planned traveler. Rents just out of town are available for $100 to $200 per month. Menu del Dia´s can be picked up for about $3-$4 dollars.
Yet in a post-pandemic world where San Cristobal remained healthy and possibly the most open destination in the World, it subsequently attracted a huge influx of foreigners. This has raised some prices considerably. Business by nature has taken the opportunity and raised prices where possible and to whoever possible.
Money & Withdrawing Money In San Cristobal
Like most of Mexico’s banks and ATMs are plentiful. HSBC and Santander offer good rates and their main branches can be found just off the main square.
Finding Accommodation In San Cristobal
Airbnb is a useful go-to, but prices are generally high. Booking.com provides similar rates.
Walking preferred areas and asking locals of quiet neighborhoods when you get the chance can uncover some gems.
Alternatively, Facebook groups often have properties for rent. Or you can leave a post too.
San Cristobal Transport in the City
San Cristobal is generally a very walkable city. The center is quite compact and a 30 minutes walk can take you in all directions.
Taxis are cheap and for around 50 pesos you can get anywhere in the city.
Safety In San Cristobal
San Cristobal is safe, though occasionally issues are reported almost always late at night and with the usual drunken affair.
Drinking water on the other hand is a major problem. They say coca cola built their factory next to the water treatment facility which is subsequently also next to the local sewage. When it rains heavy sewage floods into the drinking water. Just a couple of drops brushing your teeth or on your salad or glass and potentially a major stomach upset to come. Daily Kombucha or Kefir can be essential for some.
Where to Work – Co-working or Cafe-working In San Cristobal
A variety of coffee shops and restaurants throughout the city are only too happy to have people working from them, but wifi is often patchy. More and more CoWorking spaces are opening up.
Best cafes for Wifi
- Amor Negro Café https://goo.gl/maps/ty6rrmsdVMchtVGx5
- Cafe Sarajevo https://g.page/sarajevosancris
- Zuzu Espacio Creativo https://goo.gl/maps/mcwQqvft49BztVhq8
- Centrality https://g.page/CentralitaCowork
- Nómadas Digitales Cowork Café https://g.page/Coworkingsancristobal
- Brücken Centro Cowork https://goo.gl/maps/oBuUdjAv2hSRxKpt9
- Brücken San Cristóbal Cowork https://goo.gl/maps/RGpqmX9fAC8Vm7zV9
- Co.404 Coliving/Coworking https://goo.gl/maps/VhcDVGTMXRvSeLMQ7Co.404 Coliving/Coworking https://goo.gl/maps/hCdBLT2exjYsF2ue7
Best Vegan/Veggie Friendly Food In San Cristobal
Cafe Sarajevo – Maybe the best place in town. Think Parisian cafe with a modern and Mexican twist. Menu del dia for 100 Pesos, maybe the best menu del dia ever.
Cafe Sarajevo https://g.page/sarajevosancris
Top City Sights, Experiences – Alternative Favorite Picks For San Cristobal
Temazcal: The original Sauna, used by the indigenous for Melania to clean those toxins and regenerate. An entry into Ancestral medicine or just the best Spa you are going to get in Mexico.
A few to choose from:
- Xmal Mayan Temazcal +52 967 128 7581 Ave Jose Marti 15 Colonia America Libre. www.facebook.com/Santuariodelaspiedras/
- Temazcal “Casa Corazón”: +52 1 984 279 0253 Parque Montetik, Periferico Sur Barrio Articulo 115
Kinoki – Independent film at Kinoki, a truly unique and special experience for San Cristobal. Old classics, independent premiers, and various documentaries give an eye-opener into the region. With a cafe and restaurant combined, you can even get a restaurant service brought to your seat. The ultimate munchies… https://g.page/kinokisancris
Don Lauro – Trekking is pretty easy in San Cristobal and Don Lauro is the must-do trek. Light rambles up this beautiful path giving you some prehistoric landscapes once you get to the top. Walking up takes about 45 minutes. San Cristobal is encircled by hilly mountains of similarly spectacular terrain so a lot of options if prepared to rough it. What makes Don Lauro unique though is a monk once called this hilly spot his home. He spent his time landscaping it, which has resulted in an incredible blend of nature and nurture. The energy and air quality is magic and a striking difference to San Cristobal Centro. https://goo.gl/maps/PKEEmtxREdXPsCyk8
Nightlife – The San Cristobal nightlife is on the up. Whether you like the wine bars or street performers of Real de Guadalupe. Or even the 24-hour warehouse parties, more akin to Ibiza, San Cristobal has you covered.
Andador La Penitencia de San Cristobalito – These steps can be seen throughout the city. Strolling up takes you through a central city pine forest that you can ramble to. If you head right to the top you find a pretty church, an outdoor gym, and lots of loved-up couples taking in the views. https://goo.gl/maps/dqawf8kWdnm9PK5G7
Chamula – The indigenous of this region were integral in the Zapatista movement and their uprising in the area. Somewhat unique the indigenous here have held onto their routes. The Church is a hybrid version of Christianity mixed with its own traditions. These include the daily sacrifices of Chickens. They have their own laws and police. Don´t be surprised if you see someone strolling armed. https://goo.gl/maps/CqEkrDCT72Y82aiL8
Cultural Centers – popular El Wapani is a great insight into cultural centers that the locals of San Cristobal often frequent, many daily. https://goo.gl/maps/mgXkj4U2fpoQoHH7A
Cañon del Sumidero – A day trip from San Cris and you find spectacular views into the canyon and a boat trip to remember as you traverse the waters from inside. https://goo.gl/maps/uTzxtbxq1XdwHqrJ8
Other interesting sights: Horse Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking the town, and checking out some of the Colonial highlights.
Getting To & From San Cristobal
Bus – Terminal ADO sets up bus journeys long and short. Playa, Tuxtla, Palanque, or even Mexico City. Arrive early in case of queues and book in advance. https://goo.gl/maps/73hpteASRxfo6NEg6
Flights – Tuxtla airport is modern and picturesque. Get anywhere in the country from here.https://goo.gl/maps/Z46Bs89ZNKHMg6939
After San Cristobal
Palanque & Waterfalls – Although many tours advertise these spectacular sites as a day trip, the tourists don´t look so comfortable on return. Better advised to head to these direct and stay at least a few days. https://goo.gl/maps/7qBisQE8nCoyKNw29
Visa run to Cuauhtemoc Immigration 600+594 Pesos, Bus plus immigration fee: https://goo.gl/maps/4RB5RcUzRTqTRnAi8
Interesting fact of San Cristobal
Roughly 20 years ago Chiapas and specifically San Cristobal saw an uprising. The Zapatistas as they became known marched a few hundred into central San Cristobal with rifles and muskets and practically undeterred took over the town hall and declared independence. Mexico bought in the troops and heavily militarized the area. Eventually, a truce was called and subsequently, the Zapatistas and the Chiapas region were granted semi-autonomy which is still in place today.