Combine the best of both worlds with a trip to both Oaxaca and Chiapas, two of our favorite Mexican states. Rich in history, arts and culture as well as teeming with an abundance of natural beauty, you will be spoiled with things to do on this Mexican road trip and should easily plan a full month to truly be able to experience everything on offer here.
Get lost in the ruins of Palenque
Begin your Oaxaca to Chiapas road trip with the arts, cultural and culinary scene in Oaxaca City, the state’s capital. You can easily spend a week in Oaxaca wandering the cobbled streets, visiting art galleries, exploring nearby ancient ruins, eating outstanding Oaxacan food, tasting mezcal, and more. As you have already read in our highlights of an Oaxaca road trip, the list of things to do in the state’s capital is endless.
After exploring all that the state’s capital has to offer, this self-drive Mexico adventure takes you south towards the stunning coastline but first stopping at the gorgeous mountain town of San Jose del Pacifico. Known for its hongos magicos (or psychedelic mushrooms), it is all about going back to nature in San Jose. There isn’t much to do here but simply relax and enjoy the nature that abounds for a few nights before continuing onward to the Oaxacan beaches.
Oaxaca is known for having some of the best beaches in Mexico so you will want to make sure you spend quality time here. We recommend visiting the beaches of Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite as part of this epic road trip. These beaches are roughly 10 kilometers apart and are easily accessible when exploring the area. If you would rather enjoy a bit of surfing during your time in Oaxaca, it is best to extend your trip further north to the popular surfing beaches of Puerto Escondido.
Mazunte, San Agustinillo, and Zipolite and recognizable by their lush, jungle-clad headlands, brilliant blue waters, and laid-back lifestyle. Here you will have vegan cafes, trendy bars, and bohemian cafes, all with a bit of a Mexican flair. Zipolite is also Oaxaca’s nude beach, just remember to lather up on sunscreen.
After a few relaxing days on these three iconic beaches, explore the lesser-known Playa San Agustín Huatulco. On the edge of one of Oaxaca’s protected national parks, it is a great place to be a bit local. Here you won’t find many (if any) modern conveniences, but a true Mexican beach town. Hire a boat from Don Taco and explore the beautiful bays of Huatulco National Park for stunning, unspoiled beaches.
After visiting Playa San Agustín Huatulco, it is time for a bit of driving to reach the state capital in Chiapas. If you have camping gear or are traveling by van, you can also stop at one of our favorite beaches in Oaxaca, Playa San Diego. Down a dirt track and past a few farmlands, you will find this stunning, desolate beach. You won’t find anything here so being self-sufficient here is key. No hotels, restaurants, or stores. Just kilometers and kilometers of unspoiled beaches, headlands, and peacefulness.
If you aren’t self-sufficient, this leg of the journey will be long as you drive from the beaches in Oaxaca to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Chiapas is widely known for its outdoor adventures which is evident even in the state’s capital. The great Sumidero Canyon sits at the doorstep of Tuxtla and is easily one of the best things to do in Chiapas.
The outdoor adventures don’t end in Tuxtla with the Aguacero Waterfall and La Venta River Canyon in the nearby Ocote Biosphere Reserve, the mighty El Chiflon Waterfall just two hours away, and the cave network of the Cascada El Chorreadero just 30 minutes away. Tuxtla is a great place to base yourself for a few days to explore these great natural wonders in Chiapas.
Your last stop on this Oaxaca to Chiapas road trip is none other than the beautiful San Cristobal de las Casas. A town in Mexico quickly making a name for itself, San Cristobal de las Casas is on the rise in popularity for expats and retirees. Its cool climate and laid-back lifestyle are only a few of the reasons many people are starting to call this place home.
Outside of the charming city itself, the small town of San Cristobal is also becoming a culinary destination and gastronomic hub similar to San Miguel de Allende and the city of Oaxaca. Take a few days to enjoy the international flavors in San Cristobal de las Casas to celebrate this amazing road trip through two of Mexico’s most diverse states.