You can’t avoid shopping in Mexico.
Mexico is filled with vibrant, fun and unique art & crafts. Each city has their own specialty products and style. During my entire travels throughout Mexico, it was hard for me not to open my wallet when I passed by all the beautiful art and crafts stalls.
Here in Mexico shopping guide, I list the best and most authentic products I’ve purchased in my 15 months of traveling in Mexico. Most of these are local, high-quality products that are handmade by expert artisans.
Please keep in mind that prices can be more expensive than you expect. (Though still much cheaper than purchasing any of these items back home).
1. Handwoven Wool Rugs from Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca
My most favorite item that I purchased in all of Mexico is our floor runner, handmade in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca state. These rugs are the #1 item we would recommend in this Mexican shopping guide.
Teotitlán del Valle is tiny town famous for handwoven wool rugs and all-natural dyes. You can visit the studio we visited, El Tono de la Cochinilla, where you can take a private tour (in English!) and learn the process of creating handmade wool rugs.
Rosario, who speaks great English, lets you try to spin your very own wool strands. (Warning, it’s way harder than it looks!)
You will also learn how each of the natural dyes are made. Our favorite dye ingredient is a cactus parasite (cochinilla) that turns a deep red when boiled.
In the end, Rosario will take you to their shop to peruse their selection of carpets. We had a extremely hard time picking which rug to purchase because they were all so beautiful, but we settled on a floor runner that fit perfectly in the aisle space of our campervan.
Now this rug has made our van increasingly photogenic and we get quite a few inquiries from social media asking where I got it from. Our tour was free, but certainly they hope you purchase something in the end.
These rugs aren’t cheap, however, especially if you are used to the low cost of living in Mexico. You might be surprised.
Depending on the size, a handmade wool rug can sell for anywhere between US$100-$500.
Please be considerate and try to purchasing something if you happen to take the tour. There are also small products like coasters, table mats, and other products that are much lower in price than the rugs.
Purchasing anything helps the local people, and their communities, with their business, and it is the best way to thank them for their free private tour.
2. Leather shoes from Mercado San Juan de Dios, Guadalajara
I really have a hard time resisting pretty shoes. Who knew! But now that I live in a van, I try to be extremely selective about what I purchase.
However, this pair of handmade shoes was love at first sight. I didn’t have to think twice and I quickly bought this pair of shoes in the Guadalajara market, Mercado San Juan de Dios.
I later learned that Guadalajara is known for its shoe craftsmanship. But more than shoes are sold here. In fact, this market is HUGE. If you are looking for other leather products or silver jewelry you can literally spend an entire day here just shopping and eating.
This is one of those places in Mexico that I had to really stop myself from opening my wallet…
The shoes I bought were about 15 USD. They’re surprisingly comfortable and as you wear them more, the leather becomes soft and continue to better fit your feet.
3. Poncho from San Cristóbal de las casas, Chiapas
There are so many clothing stores in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and after 5 months living in this town, my absolute favorite brand there is Folklora. Their specialty are ponchos that are hand woven by master weavers, who belong to one of 11 communities in the Highlands of Chiapas. Each poncho sold in their store has specific characteristics, as well as its own textile techniques, depending on the local community where the poncho was produced.
Before I came to Mexico, I wondered why Mexican people wear thick ponchos under the hot and relentless summer sun. After wearing my poncho all throughout Mexico, my poncho has been a lifesaver! It protects me from the sun’s strong rays, yet it’s airy and cool and lets my skin breathe.
I love the ponchos from Folklora not only because of their beautiful designs, but also because they offer ponchos with a variety of thicknesses. I chose one woven with a lighter material and it’s been protecting my skin from the harsh sun ever since.
4. Alebrijes from San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca
San Martín Tilcajete is a small town about 20km south from Oaxaca city, well known for the creation of brightly colored wood carvings of mythical animals called “Alebrijes”.
Although alebrijes are commonly sold in markets throughout Mexico, the best alebrijes require years of training in wood carving and painting. There are a number of schools started by master alebrije artesans, and now young adults are being trained to be professional artists themselves.
One of the most famous schools and workshops is by Jacobo y Maria Angeles, located in San Martín Tilcajete. You can take a free guided tour where you can see the entire process of making these beautiful alebrije artwork.
In the end of the tour at Jacobo and Maria’s workshop, you will be guided to their sales shop. The alebrijes sold here are considerably more expensive than the smaller figures you can find in the local markets, but their products are much more refined and detailed.
Unfortunately we live in a van with limited space, so we only purchased two small figurines. But we love them both! Each alebrije was roughly $35 USD.
5. Copper crafts from Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán
If you’re looking to purchase a copper sink for a kitchen or bathroom, Santa Clara del Cobre is the place to be.
A small “pueblo magico (magic town)”, Santa Clara del Cobre is known for making high-quality copper products with extreme craftsmanship.
The copper work in this town was actually featured in the popular Netflix show, Taco Chronicles (Season 1, Episode 2). Brilliant copper pots from this town are used to cook the famous carnitas tacos from Quiroga.
Before you jump in the shopping spree, I recommend visiting the tiny Museo Nacional del Cobre to learn a little bit about the history of the town, for free of charge. They also have a list of the best studios that you can visit for a workshop tour.
Unfortunately we had no room to build another sink in our campervan, so we purchased this cute Turkish-style coffeepot and a pair of copper cups lined with silver instead.
Now Eric loves to make Turkish coffee whenever he can!
The coffee pot and the two small cups cost about $40 in total.
If you are interested to learn more about Michoacán, head over to our Michoacán Travel Guide.
6. Complete your souvenir shopping in Coyoacán, Mexico City
If you are a fan of Frida Kahlo, you MUST visit the Coyoacán district in Mexico city.
This is the district where Frida lived and spent her days until she passed away. Here you can also visit Frida’s famous “The Blue House” Museo Frida Kahlo.
To visit the museum, it’s best to make a reservation online. 15 years ago when I first visited the museum, I could easily enter without a prior reservation. But because of Frida’s increasing popularity, it’s impossible to get in without lining up for several hours without an prior reservation.
There is also a market called Mercado de Coyoacán, and if you are looking for cheap and cute souvenirs to hand out to your co-workers or friends, this is the place to be. There are many Frida-inspired items, and you can find a sampling of arts & crafts from all over Mexico. So if you missed buying something for your friend from a prior place in Mexico, you can complete your shopping here!
I love spending time in the Coyoacán district because as a quiet neighborhood it’s more peaceful and relaxing than the center of Mexico City. After exhausting your energy from visiting museums and shopping in the markets you can sip a coffee over yummy tasty pastries in hip cafes all over Coyoacán.
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