Is Comitan worth visiting? Yes. Let’s just get that out of the way. One of the most pleasant surprises during my time in Chiapas was my visit to Comitan de Dominguez. I had passed by the city several times while in transit from San Cristobal to Chiapas’ most breathtaking natural attractions. At some point, I wondered why I wasn’t using Comitan as a home base, considering it would have cut out 4-5 hours of travel time each day compared to San Cristobal.
So eventually, I did. I dragged a few friends along with me, just in case it completely sucked, and took the 60 peso colectivo ride from San Cristobal to Comitan. We checked into our hotel right next to the main plaza and then took to the streets of Comitan. Despite being the fourth largest city in Chiapas and boasting a population of nearly 150,000 people, the main tourist hub of Comitan feels quite small and cozy.
It is weird how a city like Comitan can go severely overlooked, considering just how many amazing qualities it has to it. As soon as I got to exploring, I was shocked that I had never even considered coming down here. After all, it was only two hours away from San Cristobal, a city that I ended up spending nearly two months in.
Comitan is like a smaller and far less touristy San Cristobal. The future of Comitan has unlimited potential as a travel destination. The main plaza of the city is one of the most beautiful and peaceful squares I’ve visited in Mexico. Cute cafes and wine bars with outdoor seating line the sides of the plaza. It felt like I was transported back to Salta, Argentina, or even somewhere in France. As we sat at one of the wine bars and sipped on our drinks, we counted only two other travelers our entire time people-watching. Pop a squat at Viña de Bacco along San Cristobal’s walking street, and you’ll count a hundred before you down your 25 peso glass of wine.
Comitan feels like a secret that I want to share with the world, but also feel torn about sharing.
The city center isn’t as extensive as San Cristobal’s, but for a few days, Comitan is a dream to roam around in. While the city has a lot of charm to it, the real attractions lie outside the city’s confines.
Catch a colectivo to El Chiflon Waterfalls and spend the day there before coming back to Comitan and having a masterpiece of a dinner at Ta Bonitio. Cap the night with a glass of wine at the main plaza and go to bed early so you can check out the stunning Lagos de Montebello the next day. Or maybe, you want to take a day off and just hang at one of the many plazas of Comitan. Look to the skies to find a towering church, and there’s surely a quaint little park nearby to relax and soak in the tranquility of Comitan. The street food scene, while not as big as other Mexican cities, is worth checking out. Tamales and a scalding hot cup of ponche are a combo that I didn’t know I needed in my life.
Staying in Comitan thrusts you right in the heart of Chiapas’ natural wonders. Aside from the famed Lagos de Montebello and El Chiflon Waterfalls, there is also Cenote Chukumaltik and Cascadas 3 Tzimoleras within an hour of the city. If you left from San Cristobal, you’d lose most of the day just getting there and back. It truly boggles my mind at how much more sense it makes to use Comitan as your home base, but how few people actually do. Although I can’t really talk either. I stayed in San Cristobal for seven weeks. It was probably week six by the time I got bored enough to go to Comitan on a whim. I’m glad I did because my short time in Comitan was amazing.
Comitan may not be as lively as San Cristobal, in fact, it’s not even close. But sometimes, that peace and calm is what you need after immersing yourself in the multitude of outdoors adventures in Chiapas. It is significantly more local than San Cristobal, whose colonial city center does not waste a square inch of space. Every building in San Cristobal’s downtown is occupied by a restaurant, cafe, bar, boutique, art gallery, or whatever. In Comitan, the downtown area still feels mostly residential.
Outside of the Zocalo, you’ll find what feels like a big city. I remember the first time we drove through and stopped at an Oxxo on the main road. Across the street was a Walmart and a Burger King. Because of that, I had no desire to visit Comitan for the longest time. Most people who visit San Cristobal make the mistake of never visiting at all. The main road, lined with gas stations, convenience stores, and American chains are all most travelers know Comitan for. However, just a few blocks away from the main road is a beautiful, vibrant, and charming city waiting to be explored.