Let’s be honest: You didn’t come all the way to Chiapas to hang out in a big busy city like Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Home to a half million people, Tuxtla is a world apart from the lush forests, colonial cities, and indigenous villages most travelers associate with Mexico’s most rural state. Tuxtla’s hotels, museums, and architecture are of mostly 20th-century extraction—even the main cathedral, though quite impressive, is a modern revision of the colonial-era original.
But don’t write off Tuxtla altogether! Some of Chiapas’s top sights are just outside the city. They include Cañón del Sumidero, a long winding canyon with jaw-dropping thousand-meter walls; Sima de las Cotorras, a massive sinkhole that’s home to squawking multitudes of green parrots; and beautiful wind-wisped Aguacero waterfall. The small town of Chiapa de Corzo has several architectural gems, including a gorgeous 16th-century fountain, and a two-week-long festival that draws crowds of visitors. Northwest of Tuxtla is the Ruta Zoque (Zoque Route), a little-traveled loop in the Chiapanecan hinterland that includes low-key towns and terrific colonial churches.
And the city itself is not without its attractions. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love Tuxtla’s great zoo and the huge convivencia infantil, or children’s park. A science museum opened in 2006 and there’s an excellent archaeological museum, albeit rather dated in style. And every night of the week you’ll find a friendly crowd and live marimba music at Parque Marimba, the city’s loveliest spot.
If your jaunt through southern Mexico has left you in need of a big-city fix, whether that means Wal-Mart or a hot shower and HBO at the Camino Real, Tuxtla Gutiérrez is your guilty pleasure. (Don’t worry, no one back home has to know.)
Planning Your Time
Tuxtla Gutiérrez itself it worth a day—time enough to visit the zoo and a museum or two, then while away the evening at Parque Marimba or a bar. Chiapa de Corzo and Cañón del Sumidero warrant a full day too, but can be done as a day trip from San Cristóbal if you’re based there. Sima de las Cotorras, El Aguacero, and the Ruta Zoque are all on the far side of Tuxtla away from San Cristóbal (and best visited with a rental car) so an overnight trip makes more sense. Of the group, Sima de las Cotorras has the best accommodations, and if you stay the night you’ll be there when the parrots come and go, in the evening and early morning.
Tourist Information and Practicalities
There’s a city tourism office at Parque Marimba and a smaller kiosk on the southwest corner of the Plaza Cívica; both are open 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–8 p.m. daily. Service can be quite thorough and helpful—or not—depending on who’s on duty when you pass by.
Try your best to pry any useful information from the staffers at the state tourism office (Blvd. Belisario Domínguez at 15 Calle Pte. Nte., tel. 961/617-0550, ext. 35012, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri.); better yet, just stick to requesting maps and brochures. The state tourism office also maintains a tourist information kiosk (9 a.m.–3 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) at the zoo.
Hospital Sanatorio Rojas (2 Av. Sur Pte. 1487, tel. 961/602-5138) is a private hospital with 24-hour emergency services. For meds, Farmacias del Ahorro (Av. Central, no phone, 24 hours) is conveniently located across from the cathedral.
There is no police station near the center, but officers usually patrol the area on foot. For emergency assistance, call toll-free 066.
HSBC (Calle Central Nte., 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat.) faces the central plaza and has a reliable ATM.
Bancomer (9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.) is near the outlying hotels, and across from Plaza Crystal mall. All the malls have ATM machines from various banks, and some have walk-in branches as well.
The post office (8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–noon Sat.), is inside the large gated federal complex on the east side of the central plaza.
Tuxtla’s center area has a zillion Internet cafés, some large and high tech, others holes-in-the-wall with just a handful of computers. El Comuno Internet (Av Central Ote. btwn. 3a and 4a Calles Central, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$0.50/hr) is an agreeable spot, with a fast connection, air-conditioning on hot days, and Skype, scanning, printing, and other services.
The immigration office (Libramiento Nte. Ote. s/n, tel. 961/614-3288, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Mon.– Fri.) is located on the outskirts of town, next to the Universidad Pablo Guardado Chávez.
Lavandería Zaac (2a Av. Nte. Pte. near 3a Calle Pte. Nte., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. and 4–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.) charges US$2.50 per three kilos of laundry.
The ADO bus station (5a Av. Nte. Pte. at Blvd. Antonio Pariente Algarín, tel. 961/125-1580) has a 24-hour guarda equipaje, or luggage storage. Rates are US$0.50–1.20 per hour, or US$5–12 per day, depending on the size of the bag.