Discover the heart of the Maya-Quiché highlands
With its winding cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, Chichicastenango is the ideal place from which to explore the Maya-Quiché highlands. Whilst the locals tend to call the town Chichi, it is also known as Santo Tomas. It is a charming market town flanked on all sides by steep mountains.
With its small population of around 1,000 people, Chichicastenango is closer in feel to a village most days. But on Thursdays and Sundays it explodes into colourful life when more than 20,000 people from the surrounding hills descend upon the town to trade in the marketplace. Here on these bustling market days you’ll be able to discover crafts and produce from right across the highlands. Everything from rugs, masks and musical instruments, to brightly coloured fruit and vegetables are on sale.
If heritage is something that intrigues you, then you’ll also want to look around the town’s two churches. Both combine Mayan customs with the Catholic faith. They’re decorated with copal candles, flower petals and traditional iconography discreetly hidden in small niches. Look out for old men in local dress wearing embroidered sashes and kerchiefs around the head too. It all offers a host of perfect photo opportunities.
Accommodation is basic in Chichicastenango, but we recommend staying in town if you want to beat the crowds from Guatemala City to the best deals at the market. We know the town well, so let us help you find the best place to stay.