One of Mexico’s most vibrant states, Oaxaca oozes with rich flavor, both literally and figuratively. From small batches of smoky artisanal mezcal, to complex moles, spiced hot chocolates and balls of stringy quesillo. Oaxaca is a food and spirit lover’s playground. The delight to the senses doesn’t end there! In Oaxaca you can find yourself sitting on the edge of a turquoise water pool, high up in the mountains, looking out at the petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua by morning and later conclude your evening joining a celebratory street pretend. With an occasion for celebration most days out of the year, there’s never a dull moment in Oaxaca, especially during the Day of the Dead festivities. While Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s more economically challenged states, it is rich in culture, resilience and creativity. Not to mention, it’s home to some of the most beautiful and ornate Zapotec weavings as well as impressive pottery and artwork so shoppers, be sure to bring an extra suitcase to take your goodies home!
Mexico has no official language at the federal level, however, Spanish is the dominant language throughout the country. That being said, there are many different languages spoken today in Mexico and the government recognizes 68 national languages, 63 of which are indigenous, including around 350 dialects of those languages. The large majority of the population is monolingual in Spanish with some immigrant and indigenous populations being bilingual. There are also populations of indigenous people who are monolingual in their native languages. Mexican Sign Language is spoken by much of the deaf population, and there are one or two indigenous sign languages as well.
The 16 indigenous languages spoken in Oaxaca are:
- Náhuatl – the languages of 1 million speakers throughout central Mexico.
- Zapoteca – spoken by 400,000 people and has 5 regional dialects.
- Mixteca – 320,000 speakers and 29 dialects throughout Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla.
- Mazateca – spoken by 150,000 people in Oaxaca, Veracruz and Puebla.
- Chinanteco – 6 dialectal variants and 77,000 speakers.
- Mixe – 70,000 speakers and 4 dialects.
- Amuzgo – spoken in Oaxaca and Guerrero by approximately 20,000 people
- Chatino – 20,000 speakers and 3 dialects.
- Zoque – spoken in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco by 20,000 speakers.
- Chicateco – 14,000 speakers.
- Popolaca – has 12,000 speakers in Puebla and Oaxaca
- Chontal – 2 dialects and 10,000 speakers.
- Huave – 10,000 speakers in southwest Oaxaca
- Triqui – 8,000 speakers throughout Oaxaca, Mexico City, Baja California, Sonora and the U.S.
- Chocho – 3,000 speakers in Oaxaca
- Ixcateco – just 2,000 speakers in Oaxaca.
What will the food be like on my trip?
Though Mexican cuisine is a blend of indigenous and Spanish influences, most Mexicans continue to eat more native foods, such as corn, beans, and peppers. Such foods are cheap and widely available. Bread and pastries are sold, but the tortilla, homemade or bought daily at the local tortillería (tortilla stand), is the basis of the typical meal. Flour tortillas are also eaten, especially in northern Mexico, but the corn variety is most popular.
Can I drink the water in Oaxaca?
We do not recommend drinking tap water in Mexico. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water; ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It’s also advisable to peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Is it safe to travel through Oaxaca?
As far as crime goes, Oaxaca is one of the safest states in Mexico.
Like all other major cities, certain areas should be avoided and necessary precautions taken to ensure your security. Visitors are highly encouraged to remain aware of their surroundings to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
Are credit cards/debit cards accepted?
Credit cards are accepted widely at most larger hotels and restaurants. However, you should carry some cash wherever you go, as many small merchants won’t take cards.
What documents do I need to visit Oaxaca?
As of January 23rd 2007, all passengers—including US citizens—traveling to or through the USA by air will need to hold a valid passport. US Citizens are no longer able to use their birth certificate or driver’s licence to enter the US by air from Mexico.
Do Americans need a visa to visit Oaxaca?
If you’re holding a normal passport, you’re not required to obtain a visa to enter Mexico. Tourists and business visitors can stay in Mexico for up to 180 days.
Do I have to pay for a Oaxaca departure tax?
Yes. The departure tax is around. 900 Mexican Pesos – approx. £45, $65 or €48 – payable locally in cash only which should be included in your ticket fare. The only one airline that does not include that tax in its fare is Thomson, so if travelling with Thomson then you have to pay it when leaving.
What’s the rule of thumb for tipping?
Tipping is a personal choice and depends on the service rendered, but 10-20% is standard.
What is the weather like in Oaxaca?
Average temperatures in Oaxaca vary little. Considering humidity, temperatures feel nice most of the year, excluding some hot weeks in the summer, with a low chance of precipitation most of the year. The warmest time of year is generally early to mid-May where highs are regularly around 93.7°F (34.3°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 60.2°F (15.7°C) at night.
Do I need an adaptor for my electronics?
Electricity in Mexico is 110 volts, the same as the US. Visitors from outside of the US should bring an adapter. Plugs are either two flat prongs or two flat prongs with an additional round grounding pin.
What is Oaxaca's currency?
The symbol for the Mexican Peso is $. To distinguish this from the Dollar, you sometimes see it presented as MX$ or the value with the letters “MN” after it, e.g. $100 MN. The MN stands for Moneda Nacional, meaning National Currency.
Mexican Bank notes are printed in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos. The most commonly seen and used are the 50, 100 and 200 peso notes.
Can I use my cell phone in Oaxaca?
Most restaurants and hotels have Wi-Fi, but if you’d like to be connected outside of Wi-Fi zones, you can buy a Mexican chip for your phone so that you can make and receive calls on a pay-as-you-go basis.