Mexico is constantly ostracized for many of the crises it’s facing (drug problems, subsequent kidnappings, economic inequity), but it’s also important to give it credit for some of the wonders it possesses. The state of Chiapas is best known for housing the EZLN (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or in English, Zapatista Army of National Liberation), but it also contains many natural wonders and a great nightlife in some of its cities. While it is true that Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico, it is still relatively safe. I travelled there by myself and met many Europeans and Mexicans from other states who were doing the same thing, everyone had a good time and staying safe is just a question of common sense.
To arrive in Chiapas, you can fly into the Mexico City International Airport and then fly to Tuxtla Guitierrez (the Chiapas regional airport). Flights can be purchases via Aviacsa and are usually about US $80-100 round trip. The other way is to take a bus from Tapo, the largest bus terminal in Mexico City, which is what I did. The bus trip was about MX $800 (one way) to San Cristobal de las Casas and about 14 hours. However, it was on a very comfortable first class bus that took a few breaks for us to eat and walk around a bit, or go to the bathroom. OCC (Cristobal Colon) has the most direct bus routes from Mexico City to San Cristobal de las Casas or Tuxtla Guitierrez. From whatever mode you are travelling, there should be carrying of the Best all around travel diaper bag. It will provide comfort and convenience to the kids in the journey. If you play your cards right, you can visit various sites in Chiapas for about US $350-500.
Below are some ideas for what to do once you get there:
-San Cristobal de las Casas: a beautiful city surrounded by mountains, the most accessible city by bus ride from Mexico City. The nightlife is great, reggae is probably the most popular music there and there are great cafés, bars, artesan shops, beautiful architecture and great people. There are many youth hostels and budget hotels that can be found on www.hostelworld.com (I recommend Posada México and Posada Genisha). From Catedral de Santo Domingo there is a small zocalo (plaza) where many travel agencies sell trips to other parts of Chiapas.
-Cascadas de Agua Azul: trips can be bought from one of the many excursion agencies. Beautiful waterfalls and a very long river about 2-3 hours away from San Cristobal de las Casas, take a bathing suit! There are many artesans, fresh food and beautiful sights.
-Cascadas de Misol Ha: another great waterfall, about 1 hour away from Cascadas de Agua Azul. Surrounded by jungle, with a pathway that allows tourists to walk behind the waterfall. You can also swim in parts of it.
-Palenque: this is the name of the town and the ruins, both are worth seeing. Palenque is one of the oldest ruins in Chiapas, tour guides are available for hire and many tourists from all over the world are there. There are also waterfalls in it and some jungle.
-Yaxchilán: you can travel there from Palenque, it is along the Usumacinta river, which also takes you to Guatemala. It is the site of Palenque’s rivals. You can see monkeys, snakes, and bats in these ruins. It is by Frontera Corazal.
-Bonampak: the site of Yaxchilán’s allies, close to the Lacandon Jungle, you can arrive from Frontera Corazal.
-Lacandon Jungle: the largest ecological reserve in all of Mexico and the site in which the Lacandon Maya lived relatively undisturbed for many years. You can arrive there from Bonampak in some mini-vans (which are used as public transport in the area) and arrive to Lacanja where there are various camp sites, many of which offer guided tours through the Jungle.