La Ciudad de Oaxaca has some of the most popular markets in Mexico. Nearby towns have their own markets and market days. An analogy: If markets are Mexico’s own tree of life, then Oaxaca is the trunk.
I had the pleasure of living in Oaxaca from 2001-2013 where I enjoyed the markets as a place to meet up with old friends and a place to make new acquaintances. My estancia was during the time the social web rose as a means of communication. Nearby villages went from having one or two community phones to having cybercafes and mobile phone coverage.
When you buy local, you are helping support responsible travel! Money spent in these markets circulate quickly and supports the local economy. It’s also a good pretext to eat some delicious food and meet some great people.
July is the month of Guelaguetza, so I’m updating this page and related links. Please go visit some of my friends and have a wonderful time.
Videos of the Week
Sánchez Pascuas (June 2018)
Recommendations for a Market Tour
For visitors to Oaxaca markets we have recommendations to make the most of your visit.
Learn the lingo – Learn how to say ‘thank you’ in the local lingo. Oaxaca has 16 Indigenous groups and more than 100 languages. Here are a few greetings.
Leave a positive footprint – When you’re figuring which markets, restaurants and parks to visit, think about walking!
Buy something – See something you like? Make a purchase!
Bring small bills – Don’t expect to get change for a small purchase if you are paying with a 200 or 500 peso note.
Bring change – Exact change is always appreciated.
Bring your own bags – No need to ask for a new bag if you can reuse an old one!
Pay attention – Tourists in markets are easy targets for thieves. Lessen the chances of robbery by paying attention.
Don’t block the corridors – Remember that the market is a work environment. If you’re in a group or traveling by yourself, keep the corridors clear for other clients.
Ask before taking pictures – It’s common courtesy, particularly for close-up shots.
Ron’s Foodie Favorites
If you were to ask me for my Top Foodie favorites:
Tacos de barbacoa in the Abasto(s) Market.
Cafe de la Confianza in the Benito Juárez.
Carnes asadas in the 20 de Noviembre Market.
If you’d like to take our Market Challenge: Print a photo from the Flickr Collection and seek out the vendor or artisan. Give them the print-out.
Learn how to say ‘thank you’ in an Indigenous language.
Ask permission before taking photos.
Ask permission and take photo of signage, preferably eco signs! Add these photos with the name of the market to World Signs
More things you can do …
Ask what’s in season.
Look for a food you’ve never seen before.
Eat something made with corn, chocolate or … corn and chocolate.
Traditional markets include 20 de Noviembre y Benito Juárez, Artesanias, Abastos and Sanchez Pascuas.
Newer markets include Pochote, Pochote Xochimilco and La Cosecha. Stores created by vendors include Xiguela.
While buying and selling is an important aspect, the other prime motivator of the markets is that it provides an opportunity for people to socialize.
Markets are vital public gathering places that provide a meeting point in time and space for locals to gossip and for visitors to get a chance to take a peak at the ‘real’ Mexico. Experience the markets as living empathy museums. They are also a good way to meet the locals and for locals to meet visitors.
If you are seeking produce for today or tomorrow, be specific. vendors are pleased (and at times insistent) in choosing the right produce.
What to buy
In a traditional market, visitors can buy food and crafts. Meals are often available as are fresh juices.
Kitsch and loveable in the United States and Europe are the durable market bags, made of synthetics and often embossed with a design or the merchant’s name. What better thing to buy in a market than a market bag? It’s like buying postcards at the post office!
Other goodies – oilcloth (mantel del hule), leather sandals (sandalias de cuero), palm hats (sombreros de palma), chocolate and wrestling masks (mascaras de lucha libre).
Traditionally, market purchases were placed into a basket (canasta). Market baskets were made very broad so that purchases would not be packed on top of each other. Baskets have been replaced by deeper market bags, some of which are quite attractive.
Traditionally, purchases would be wrapped in natural materials such as corn husks (totomoxtle). For example, higuerilla leaves would be used to wrap grasshoppers.
During holidays, temporary markets spring up throughout Mexico. Visitors may think these markets are open all year long. It comes as a surprise to many that during low season the streets are empty of the temporary markets. Examples – the Easter Market.
Celebrating August 1
August 1 Día del Comerciante = Merchants’ Day
- How is ‘Día del Comerciante’ translated in other languages? Bonus points for Indigenous languages! #usatuvoz
- Where does the procession start and end?
- How did the celebration begin (some 50+ years ago)
- How have celebrations changed in the past 10 years?
Oaxaca Market Project
Oaxaca Market Project is an initiative of Planeta.com and friends in Oaxaca. We ask visitors to print photos (seen here archived on Flickr) and give them to the vendors. This puts a new spin on the traditional ‘take only photographs’ mantra by giving the photos back and raising awareness and increasing purchases of traditional crafts and local food. What might be a rushed visit becomes a search for familiar faces and seasonal products. This guide encourages you to learn about the markets before a visit. Enjoy!
Moon Travel Oaxaca
¿Qué mercados y puestos de Oaxaca tienen páginas en Facebook?
Which Oaxaca markets and stalls have pages on Facebook?
Central de Abasto(s)
Central de Abasto(s), Lista de Compras, 04.2008
1st Aniversario – Tianguis Ecologico La Estacion
Como evitar el uso de bolsas de plastico (Estacion)
2008 Easter Market
Canastas del Oro (Pochote)
Flor de Maguey (Pochote)
Pink requeson (Pochote)
El área de carnes en el Mercado de #Tlacolula 😋
— Marco Antonio (@AyuukMarco) August 29, 2019
Pablo Neruda dijo que “México esta en los mercados”, pero, tú ¿sabrías que estás en un mercado sólo con escuchar las voces? Inténtalo y escucha la primera cápsula de Suena México. #RadioINAH te presenta en esta ocasión: #Oaxaca Link: https://t.co/5o1J6DJhba pic.twitter.com/fTqlVS1b39
— INAHmx (@INAHmx) August 20, 2018
Los mercados de #Oaxaca te esperan con su colorido, artesanías, además de una gran cantidad y diversidad de productos que sorprenderán tus sentidos. #Turismo @alejandromurat @SECTUR_mx @edelamadrid pic.twitter.com/HHKkt7V3FQ
— Juan Carlos Rivera Castellanos (@JuanCRiveraC) March 29, 2018
— Federación Mercados (@AmancioPerezR) July 28, 2017
El Gobernador @alejandromurat y el Presidente Municipal @JAHFraguas disfrutan de la gastronomía del Mercado orgánico La Cosecha e invita a los oaxaqueños y al turismo a visitar el mercadito de la octava calle de Alcalá, en el centro histórico de Oaxaca. @VoceriaGobOax pic.twitter.com/oqmnLefP4S
— Agencia Oaxaca Mx (@agenciaoaxacamx) July 15, 2018
— Misael Sánchez (@misaelsanchezmx) July 14, 2017
¡Estas fotos y videos nos hacen felices! … These pictures and video make us happy! Direct from La Cosecha Market. Saludos @MIGUEAMARQUEZ @qiqe_matadamas @LeoFuen3https://t.co/bmtCs0Gnmz #mexiconow #oaxacatoday #usatuvoz pic.twitter.com/OLvhYoiGOf
— planetanews (@planetanews) November 26, 2017
Yu' doo btsëny lo Chucluat re' bineti chi ru' lani Ndua' // In Oaxaca, you'll enjoy a foamy hot chocolate during parties // Chocolate Oaxaqueño: caliento y espumoso. #UsaTuVoz #DocuLab2018 pic.twitter.com/2oWrpckOe3
— Moisés García Guzmán (@BnZunni) July 15, 2018