Oaxaca, Mexico: Everything You Need to Know When Traveling
Oaxaca is interestingly known as the culinary hub of Mexico. Now, for you to understand how big of a deal that is, Mexico is enormous and every place that we have visited in Mexico so far has its own subculture and food. Today we’re going to be talking about Oaxaca, Mexico.
If you go to Oaxaca for tourist reasons, the Zocolo walking around, it’s beautiful. But you mainly also go for their food, the Oaxacan mole, which is a part of their Oaxacan food culture, very strong roots, the Oaxacan chocolate, and mezcal, because you are literally in the heart of the mezcal-making region.
Oaxaca City itself is interesting because we stayed there for nine days. The main reason we went there is obviously to visit Oaxaca, but also because Oaxaca has really great rock climbing. And I have an entire episode about rock climbing in Oaxaca.
Our new thing is to really stay in a place and really get to know the place, do some tours, and for my family to go climbing as well. It’s funny because we arrived in Oaxaca right after San Cristóbal de las Casas, and we absolutely fell in love with San Juan Chamula in Chiapas.
When we first arrived, we were like, oh my God, Oaxaca is chaotic and this and that, because it’s a lot bigger on every scale. But there’s something about Oaxaca that really grows on you.
First, it is so colorful. It has beautiful street art. It has all these beautiful parks and artisan markets and outdoor markets and food markets and churches and plazas and tons of pedestrian streets where they have all these restaurants and bars and mescal everywhere and Mezcalarias, I guess that you could call them.
There are all these outdoor food stands, and you want to really enjoy the food and the drinks and just get into Oaxaca City itself.
The Zocolo is pretty much Central Park, and it is humongous and there are always things going on and music and people and restaurants.
Visiting the markets, like Tlacolula Market, the type of foods and stuff that you could have in the markets because it’s the local foods that you really want to try. In Oaxaca to eat their local food you go to places like comedores, which is where the majority of the locals eat, especially in the markets and their cocinas economicas which are all over the place, pretty much like comdores.
Tours in Oaxaca
You definitely need to go and do a mescal tour. Even if you don’t drink. We personally don’t drink. We don’t even like mescal. But it’s such a part of their culture and it’s such an interesting experience. And you could take your kids. We took our twelve-year-old, and even he really enjoyed it because of mescal, the agave plant, or the margais, they call it, that whole landscape.
It’s a really interesting experience.
Hierve El Agua
Also, I recommend if you have time go to Hierva El Agua, which is an entire day tour. Again, I have an entire post, and an entire podcast all about Hierva El Agua, which is really cool because it’s petrified waterfalls, so you want to give yourself time for that as well.
We also rented bikes. Oaxaca Interestingly enough, it’s an incredible bike town. Again, I have a podcast all about biking in Oaxaca and doing a mini bike trip to El Tule Tree, which is the largest, and the widest tree in the world, but the village will completely astound you because it’s just adorable. It’s called Pueblo Magico, which literally means Magic Village.
How Much Time to Stay?
Oaxaca itself has just so much to offer that you have to go at least. I personally at this point recommend spending at least five days to over a week in Oaxaca simply because Oaxaca itself has so much to do. Just visiting the markets will take walking around and visiting the churches and all of that, and the central parks and the little parks and the local areas will at least take you two to three days to really feel it and enjoy it.
Is Oaxaca Safe?
It just feels like a really safe town. We actually stayed in an area by the university, which is about 20 minute’s walk from the center of Oaxaca, and we did that walk all the time, day, and night. It just felt safe and good. If you do want to take a taxi, the taxi was less than $5 to get to our place.
I cannot recommend going there enough. It is an incredible place, and you might even be adventurous enough to try their crickets, which is one of their also very important cuisines and probably one of their star dishes. I personally am not that adventurous, but, hey, you can try it. They are sold everywhere and definitely go for the mole and even just try the mezcal, even if you don’t drink or don’t like it, we did, and it was that much more fun.
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