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Oaxaca Travel Info

If you go . . . here are a few practical ideas that worked for us:


The best we have found are the ones from Lonely Planet and Moon.

Lonely Planet publishes a guide to Mexico, which shows its backpacker heritage in all the “how to eat vegetarian for $2 a day” and “feel guilty if you used any hydrocarbons to get here” material, but still the most comprehensive guide overall. To travel light, we cut out the pages on the region we’re visiting and leave the heavy book at home.

Moon Publications has three excellent guidebooks to Mexico that we carry aboard Raven. Archaeological Mexico by Alexander Coe is detailed enough on each site, without being overwhelming. Colonial Mexico concentrates on seventeen cities whose histories date back to early Spanish colonial days. Pacific Mexico Handbook is a general coverage guide for the Pacific coastal area, and includes Oaxaca. Moon has several guides to other regions of Mexico, which have coverage as good as Lonely Planet and are easier to carry.


We flew Mexicana Air from Puerto Vallarta to Oaxaca, changing planes in Mexico City. The planes were seemingly new, comfortable Fokker 100 jets, which left and arrived on time for all our flights both ways. There are several flights a day in each direction. We were very happy with the service.


El Camino Real is The hotel in Oaxaca, with prices to match. It’s close to the zócalo (central plaza) in a beautifully-restored convent, with courtyards, gardens, pools, painted ceilings, even ecclesiastical chants playing softly in the background at the restaurants. We couldn’t get a reservation because of all the people from Mexico City coming in for the weekend, so we stayed at the very nice Hostal de la Noria, in an attractive old home with a central courtyard. In any case, do ask for a quiet room, as the traffic can be quite noisy in the central part of the city. Staying in the centro offers the advantage of being able to walk around town and in the zócalo anytime, without having to take shuttle buses.


The big Saturday morning market in Oaxaca is not to be missed, for its enormous variety and sheer size. Must be a couple of thousand stalls and vendors. But the best market we went to, as described in the Oaxaca page, was in a nearby pueblo named Ocotlán. The pueblos surrounding Oaxaca have their markets on different days. The Dominican monks set up the system centuries ago, so the campesinos could always find places to sell their wares. Here’s a partial list, which you can correlate with the crafts list below:

Zimatlan                               Wednesday
San Pedro y San Pablo            Wednesday
Zaachila                               Thursday
Ocotlán                                Friday
Teotitlán del Valle                  Saturday
Tlacolula                              Sunday


Within the city of Oaxaca, there are many shops selling the handicrafts that the region is so famous for. Do shop around for the best quality; after a few shop visits, you will begin to notice the differences. The best two shops we found are:

La Mano Mágica (not a misspelling; mano is a feminine noun), 203 Alcala, a couple of blocks from the zócalo. Has the best quality and often the highest prices, but it’s mostly worth the premium.

ARIPO, 809 Garcia Vigil, several blocks uphill from the zócalo, but well worth the walk. This one is run by the state government and has a massive inventory. Prices and quality vary, and there are lots of good buys. Seems to be wholesale-oriented, but also welcomes retail shoppers.

The Mercado de Artesanías, Garcia & Zaragoza, is touristy but comprehensive, especially if you can’t get out to the pueblos.

The surrounding pueblos have their specialties in crafts, too:

Arrazola - Alebrijes: fanciful carved animals, brightly painted
Ocotlán - Knives, cutlery, clay figures by the Aguilar sisters, green pottery
Santo Tomas Jalieza - Colorful weavings of all types (wonderful)
Tlacolula - Mescal (liquor distilled from maguey)
San B. Coyotepec - Black pottery

This page was last updated on 04/13/04.


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