At this place (papeleria & abarrotes San José, red building) they sell gaz in 10L, 20L, etc. I don't know if they have diesel. Of course the price is higher than in a Pemex but it does the job! Lots of people come here and staff is so sweet.
If heading south, next "real" gaz station is in Pochutla. There are few places like here that sells gaz along the road if you forgot but better to fill up here.
If going north (Oaxaca), we were told the next gaz station is in about 30 minutes.
In both case, when leaving San José you are driving down the mountains so you won't use a lot of gaz but lots of breaks. It's good to feel safe anyway. Go visit the other towns around with that extra gaz!
|Paco's original temazcal||
If you are interested to experience an original temazcal, go with Paco. There's a board in front of the tattoo shop (Arbolcromatico in the main street) where it's written when is the next temazcal. Paco is extremely respected here for his help with the community. If I got it right, I understood that he has been doing temazcal all his life and his family too. He is located in the forest (about 30-45 minutes by walk from the main street). You won't be disappointed with his ceremonies. At other places, we heard from people that they have been pushed in the temazcal and the "shaman" was not with them and was not hosting a ceremony at all. So many people just want to do business. Paco is a real one!
|El Derrumbe Hospedaje||
This is the most beautiful place we have been in all Mexico. We stayed one month in February but we forgot to add the spot. We stopped by another time on our way back to Canada.
Depending on the season you have a different sunset everyday and it's truly magical. You can see the Pacific ocean from here (this is how this town got its name).
Alejandro and his mom are so adorable. They might invite you for a café and a chat in their house. They will let you use their toilets and (warm) shower. They have running water to wash your dishes. There's no wifi but it's only 10p/1hour at the café in town. Right next to where you park, there is a fire pit with the most beautiful views. They rent two beautiful cabañas and they have space for tents too. We think we were the first to stay here in a van. There is place for 2-3 small rigs or maybe 1-2 medium (21 ft max) but we're not sure. At first she told us to pay the price we wanted. As we stayed for more than a month we paid +/-20 pesos (1 night 2 person 1 dog) and a little present and she was really happy with that! Maybe now they have a fixed price.
San José has so much to offer. Even tough it is know for its mushrooms you don't have to try them to enjoy this town. The mountains, the nature, the weather...everything is beautiful and the area is so peaceful. It gives you a break of traveling and the stress of the cities. There are many trails around and also beautiful waterfalls (10 mins by car+45 mins hike). You can experience a temazcal (we highly recommend Paco's ceremonies) or go to San Sebastian where the artisans live and work (many trails there too!) Locals here are so so sweet! Enjoy your stay!!
|Arbolcromatico - tattoos/art gallery/homemade products/temazcal||
Carlos Bautistab is a mexican artist living in San José. He is well known here for his incredible talent. Here you can see some of his artwork and tattoo designs. His wife does natural handmade products (Relato Nativo) from their garden. They are soooo sweet and both speak english. They also sell some snacks and other natural products made by locals.
We stayed in this town for more than a month and everyday we see people coming at the shop and many of them get tattooed. I got many. I can only recommend him. Give him ideas and he will come up with a original design in only 1-3 days! What a great travel souvenir!
Go check his Facebook and Instagram: carlosbautistab
Also, if you are interested to experience an original temazcal, go with Paco. There's a board in front of the tattoo shop where it's written when is the next temazcal. Paco is extremely respected here for his help with the community. If I got it right, I understood that he has been doing temazcal all his life and his family too. He is located in the forest (about 30-45 minutes by walk from the main street). You won't be disappointed with his ceremonies. At other places, we heard from people that they have been pushed in the temazcal and the "shaman" was not with them and was not hosting a ceremony at all. So many people just want to do business. Paco is a real one!
|Pemex Ciudad Ixtepec - OK, FREE||
Guard said it was fine to sleep here when we asked, then we set up the van and he came back to ask 50 pesos.
DON'T TIP PEOPLE ON FREE SPOTS LIKE HERE. Give them tortillas or whatever you have but NO MONEY. This is a Pemex, they don't charge trucks so they are not supposed to charge you, especially if you just paid 1000 pesos for gaz ;)
Well we paid because they were super friendly and we were all set and very tired of driving. They kindly showed us the shower and toilets (24hrs). The man that was working that day at the station gave us the wifi code of the hotel. He said it was a secret because the hotel doesn't know. From where we were parked (between the cuota and the tienda) we could use the wifi easily. Can't promise if he will give the code again but it's great to ask! Really quiet at night, some mosquitoes, very hot but colder than at the beach for sure.
Lovely place! The garden is very peaceful and staff very welcoming. The coffee and the dishes are delicious. They serve breakfast and lunch and have vegan and vegetarian options. (Veggie empanadas are so yummy!)
The wifi is great and it's pet-friendly! They have a cat but they put him in another room while we were there with our dog.
|Corazon Maya Spanish School||
Beautiful and peaceful garden by the lake! They offer different activities for students every weeks: movie nights, volleyball, swimming pool, temazcal, etc. Every friday they cook local food with teachers and students.
We really enjoyed the location compared to other schools because it's very quiet, not in the middle of restaurants and bars. Plus, it's pet-friendly! They let our dog running in the garden:)))) and they have a cat!
Price per person in april 2018:
We had feedback from students here having homestay and they highly recommend it! They paid a bit more than 600Q per person and they had 2-3 meals a day. No idea if food was included in the price or if the family was just very generous.
Only cons: 50% of the money you give goes to your teacher. There are other schools that give more to the teachers.....we learned it after. I guess the extra money goes in all the activities for students which is really cool.....for the students!
|Licor Marrón - cacao tour, shop, ceremonies||
Very beautiful workshop with friendly staff! The cacao tour is short and free. They sell cacao tea, semillas, hot chocolate, bars and more. Everything is made here.
We also did the cacao ceremony and highly recommend it! It is with Anna, her brother and her mother in their very welcoming house. It's a very spiritual private ceremony. It has nothing to do with the one with Keith in San Marcos (which we do not recommend).
The family who runs this place is a gem!!!! We practiced our spanish a lot with the kids, they are very good teachers! We played sports with them, bring them for ice cream treats, went to their church etc. Beautiful immersion with a local family:))))
Price is 150Q for a week. Clean bathroom, cold shower and a sink for dishes. The location is perfect bc it's not to close not to far from the tourists attraction, restaurants and bars. It's way more quiet than the Cafe Chuasinayi and really close to the centro (big mercado for food). Our dog had enough space to run:)))
At the moment, Diego y Reina are the owners but they told us it's only temporary.
Xtra huuuuge massive plates! Easy to share! I'd say price range is between 20Q-40Q and definitely worth the money. We came here many times and met other people doing the same. Locals and foreigners know how big and delicious their plates are!
Many vegetarian and vegan options, but it's not written. (Their veggie patty is the biggest I've seen! Loved the vegetarian fajitas and soup!)
Very nice staff!!!! Fast wifi and their playlists are sooo nice. Comfy couches to chill. Pet friendly, but they have a ninja mama cat protecting her babies > she first tried to kick out our dog and did it with others too haha. She's super sweet with humans tho.
Best deal for worst tacos tbh. Well, the veggie ones are not good. The tortilla itself isn't tasty.
Just to mention, the tacos are of a size of a 5yo kid's hand. They are very mini so at the end you'll pay 30Q bc with only 3 you will still be hungry. Not worth the money if you come here for the deal. You'd find better option on the street.
|Salud Para Vida Health Food Store||
I agree it's a nice place with lots of vegan/vegetarian options but $$$ considering we're in Guatemala. In the grocery section, tofu is 28Q. Sorry but we found other restaurants (owned by locals!!!!!) that serve huge and delicious vegan plate for less than that :/
Let's be honest, there are many things that are affordable too and super tasty! I'm just very critical when it comes to tofu;)
On the medicine section, half of the brands they sell are not that good and super pricey. Funny to see health products that are not afordable at all for the locals. They want to heal people or not?
For infos, they sell natural parasite treatments. If you are one lucky person that got parasite infection (super common here) then you can try this instead of antibiotics. The brand we bought (purple bottle) had two different instructions written on bottle and paper.......very professional. Turned out we didn't get parasites so I can't make any reviews on this product.
|Hotel El Sol||
This is by far the cheapest place to park n sleep in Pana! 50Q a night (for 2 people 1 dog 1 car) and you have access to all the facilities (toilet, shower, lobby, community kitchen, wifi, free tea and coffee, etc).
The owners are sooo nice and welcoming!
The only cons would be that they have 4 rabbits running free in their courtyard (parking lot) so our dog had to stay on a very short leach or in the car while we were there.
|Perfect road w no potholes!||
Update. We took this road back (of course) and had no issue at all. It's really not that steep so if you think you won't make it to the lake to San Pablo/Marcos/Pedro (with RD SOL-4), take this one (RN-1) and go to Panajachel instead.
On the same day we took RD SOL-4 to go to San Pedro and the road is definitely much much much steeper than the other. Going back won't be easy.
Parked in the grassy field just before the McDo. It's fine for a night and very convenient bc there are bathrooms and wifi a few meters.
At first we tought we could park in the McDo's parking lot but the guards told us to park next to it (grass field). So yeah, follow what others said in comments: take the little path BEFORE the McDo otherwise you will have to do u-turns to come back (bc it's a one way).
|Perfect road w no potholes!||
This road (RN-1) is in perfect condition! There is absolutely no potholes and only 3-4 topes. There are two lanes and easy access (many huge buses and trucks). Yes it's steep after Solola but not that much! Superrrrr easyyyyy! The road from the PanAm (CA-1 from La Cuchilla) to Solola and Panajachel is perfect!
We first wanted to go to San Marcos but the reviews about the road conditions and the fact there were only two camp spots (on iOv) for the van made us change our mind and we opted to take the daily boats.
For infos, we drive a Chevy astro van 2005, 2WD and V6 motor. Our clearance is not that high. We experienced many probs with our brakes in the last months in the mountains (up and down) and never really found the problem. We took this road in 2nd gear and it was perfect!
|Ciudad Cuahtemoc, Chiapas, Mexico to Las Mesilla, Huehuetenango, Guatemala||
Super easy aduana with v v v helpful and welcoming people! Took less than an hour a Monday morning.
For those who have dogs, they asked to see the papers (of course) at the fumigation building then you have to pay at the "bank" (same place to pay for the TVIP). I showed them all we had: Certificado de salud from San Cristobal (3 days old), vaccinations papers (but he barely looked at it), a health certificate from Canada (4 months old lol) and the adoption papers. Idk what he wanted to see but he was superrrr happy with what he got! They didn't ask to see the dog food (I saw somewhere that they would keep all the opened bags of dog food). They actually didn't ask to see the dog, same as we experienced with CA, US and MX borders!
We didn't cancel the car permit as we are coming back before the expiration date but we did have our passports stamped to exit Mexico in Ciudad Cuahtemoc. Dunno if that step was requested, they told us yes but we don't know as we have very basic spanish. I couldn't find the answer through the comments below. We'll have to pay for the tourist card again on our way back......
|Camping with Palapas & River||
Right after you pay at the entrance (20p) turn left and follow the sign to the archeological site. You'll have to cross 2-3 "rivers" with your car then you will see a sign saying the parking is 30p. We decided to park there and pay the fee per day and parked at the back under trees, near palapas #10. The spot was perfect with lot of shades!
We slept one night by the laguna near to the main entrada and didn't like it at all. It was super noisy and there were cars running all night. Toilets are closed after 6pm and cost 3 pesos during daytime. We slept here (in the 30 pesos parking) two other nights and really enjoyed! Toilets are open all night and don't cost anything. Plus, the spot to swim is better, clear and clean water.
The ruins are not too far by walk from there and worth the visit! You can still park your car nearer the site if you want.
(Be careful while crossing the river, we lost a part of the van (under the fuel tank) lol it was very rusty anyway.)
|Lagos de Colón||
We slept one night by the laguna near to the main entrada and didn't like it at all. It was super noisy and there were cars running all night. Toilets are closed after 6pm and cost 3 pesos during daytime.
We slept two other nights at the spot called "Camping with Palapas & River" on iOverlander. Just follow the sign to the archeological site, you will cross 2-3 rivers. We stayed in the parking for 30 pesos per day and really enjoyed (take a look at our review on the app). Toilets are open all night and don't cost anything. Plus, the spot to swim is better, clear and clean water.
The ruins are worth to see!
We stayed here for more than two weeks. We agreed with them to pay only for the night and not for the entrada (10$pp) because we were always going in San Cristobal during the daytime.
This place is very calm and peacefull compared to San Cris so we really enjoyed to sleep there. Very well maintained, beautiful hike and grutas. Nice climbing spot as well! We met lot of overlanders, cheers to them:)))))
We negotiated to pay only 25$ per night per person.
|la Garita cabañas||
We stayed here five nights because we got really really sick in San Cris. This was a good option to slowly recover. We were supposed to pay 150 pesos for a small cabaña but ended up paying extra fee for the dog (50$) and the secured and gated parking lot for the van (50$). The owner said that usually you have to park in front of the gates and it is safe enough with the cameras but we didn't feel like it and decided to pay the extra. We were too sick for negotiations I guess.
Clean bathrooms, very hot shower in the mornin, very nice community kitchen and living room. Wifi was fast near the living room, but we were still getting it in the cabaña!
|Street camping in San Cristobal below Iglesia Guadalupe||
We parked here during daytime for about 2 weeks. We left the van at te same spot under the shade and everything was fine.
We were not sleeping here. We preferred to go to Arcotete for the nights as it is super calm and there's lot of green space for the dog:))))
|Todo Vegano - Second restaurant||
Very good artesanal sandwiches in San Cris! 100% vegan
The place is so beautiful and comfy, there are two fireplaces. Staff is sooo sweet and friendly.
They serve burgers, wraps, grilled cheese, blt, soups, salads etc.
There's a buffet every sunday, you can try all the sandwiches plus a soup for only 100 pesos:))))
There's another Todo Vegano on Real de Guadelupe with different products (mostly to go). But if you feel like sitting down and take your time, you are better here. And both are dog-friendly:)
|Todo Vegano - Best vegan restaurant||
The family who runs it is soooo welcoming and friendly:)))))
Prices are very cheap and food is more than delicious! There's only one table because they mainly sell to go.
Try the "chicken wings"! We came here almost everyday and tried mostly everything. They have pizza, lasagna, mexican sausages, baozi, mandu, sushi, curry, desserts, etc.
PS: there is another Todo Vegano on the other street, it's owned by the ex business partner of the women here. They don't sell the same products. Both are dog-friendly:)))))
|Lavanderia - Eco and biodegradable||
They use ecological and biodegradable products!
|Agua Purificada Santa Cruz||
Super super friendly staff! We paid 8 pesos for 23 liters.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 8am to 18pm
|Public lakeside recreational area||
This place looks dead right now:(
The bathrooms are clean, but the lake doesn't look so nice to swim in. When we came there were a lot of people, nobody was in the water even though it was super hot outside....it's up to you.
You can make a donation for the roof. Seems like without the restaurant, this place looks a bit sad...
|Balneario Ojo De Agua Tlacotepec||
We paid 60$ for the night (2 people 1 dog). It was a nice spot on our way to San Cris. The pools were very warm and the weather too at this time of the year.
Dogs are not allowed in the pools but otherwise it's pet-friendly!
We saw a sign saying they had wifi but we didn't use it. 1hr: 15$ 2hrs: 25$
|picnic and camp spot||
Had lunch here but didn't stay for the night. It's a nice quiet place and it looks safe.
Paid 15 pesos for about 35 liters.