Chichicastenango, or “Chichi,” is a quaint, charming town whose occasional modern constructions are offset by traditional adobe houses and cobblestone streets. It is easily accessed via one of the economical chicken buses from Atitlán’s main station.
Chichicastenango literally translates to “the place of the nettles” in the indigenous language of Nahuatl. There is little in this sleepy pueblo to hold you overnight, but you should definitely hit up the town’s prime attraction: the astronomical market.
In fact, Chichicastenango’s market is the largest in all of Central America!
In order to ensure that you don’t miss out on this colorful and culturally immersive experience, schedule you day trip for a Thursday or Sunday.
Twice a week Chichi’s market dominates the center of town, and locals and tourists alike flock to the streets to take advantage of the impressive selection and great deals. Vendors come from near and far to layout blankets and set up their stands. The streets brim with salespeople, artisans, handicrafts and fresh produce.
Bring your bargaining face to test out your haggling skills and take a lesson or two from the locals on shopping like a Central American. Everyone eagerly promotes their product to passersby, and all prices are negotiable. Sample some of the regional fruits, and let the intoxicating mix of smells and vibrant pandemonium guide you from isle to isle.
In recent years the market has begun to appeal more and more to tourists by offering up a wide array of products other than produce. If you are looking for something to take home with you, consider picking up a traditional hand carved wooden mask, a typical woven tapestry, a vibrant painting, or some locally made ceramics.
Have you ever been to the Chichicastenango Market? Leave us a comment below about your experience!