To be honest each and every day across the towns and villages provide market days in Guatemala. Sadly, for the traveler, the markets promoted to tourists are not always the best or most authentic ones. Here we’ve provided a sampling of our favorites.
Chichicastenango, located about 140 km and 2-3 hours drive northwest of Guatemala City, is home to what is surely the most colorful native market in North and Central America, perhaps in all the Americas. Market days are Sundays and Thursdays, and draw not only the K’iche’ Maya of the surrounding region, but vendors from all over Guatemala, representing many of Guatemala’s linguistic groups such as Mam, Ixil, Kaqchikel and others, each hawking his or her products in a riotous cacophony of color, dialects and costumes, smoke, and smells. Though it’s hugely promoted as a tourist destination, it’s still worth taking in the market days in Guatemala via “Chichi.”
Vendors begin setting up portable booths in the main plaza and adjacent streets of Chichi the night before and set-up continues in the early daylight hours. Cohetes (homemade rockets) carrying aloft loud bombas (firecrackers) commence early in the morning and continue sporadically through the day, adding the smell of fireworks to the incense burned in copious quantities on the steps and in the nave of the 400-year old church of Santo Tomás.
Solola, holds market days on Friday. It’s market draws a crowd since Solola is the capital of the department of Solola, an area that includes 19 municipalities around Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. The majority (approximately 90%) of the city’s inhabitants are Cakchiquel Indians who proudly retain their heritage. It is one of the few municipalities where both men and women routinely wear their traditional Mayan dress.
Women often carry their wares in the traditional Mayan market basket, balancing a few vegetables from their garden, tortillas, textiles or even a couple of chickens that they hope to sell at market. The common blue plastic pans are scales used to compare the weight of different products.
Panajachel (Pana) is a town in the southwestern Guatemalan Highlands, in the department of Sololá. It serves as the administrative centre for the surrounding municipality of the same name. The altitude is 1,597 metres (5,240 ft). The population is 11,142.
The town of Panajachel is located on the shore of Lake Atitlán, and has become a centre for the tourist trade in the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to visit other towns and villages. In Pana, every day is market day in Guatemala as the main road into Pana and lake is lined with hundreds of vendors selling mostly clothing. This is more of a tourist market which requires bartering for goods. Pana also has a fresh produce and meat market that offers the best in produce grown locally in the region.