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Puerto Chiapas Basics

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Chiapas Beach

Puerto Chiapas, formerly known as Puerto Madero, and before that Puerto de San Benito, is an important commercial port in the state of Chiapas. The port was built in 1975, providing a shipping terminal for the area's agricultural produce, and to promote tourism to the Soconusco region.

The town of Puerto Chiapas itself holds little of touristic interest; the main town in the area is Tapachula, a city of just over 190,000 people. Tapachula is the second largest town in Chiapas state, after the capital Tuxtla Gutierrez.

German immigration to the area in the 1880s led to the establishment of many coffee plantations in the region. During that period, many Japanese and Chinese immigrants also made their way to the Soconusco region to work on the new railway lines and work in the fields and mines. Coffee cultivation and other agricultural-related businesses are the mainstays of the area's economy.

Puerto Chiapas has a very hot and humid tropical climate, with year-round average daily temperatures in the mid-80s F (about 30° C).

Puerto Chiapas Map


First Impressions


Puerto Chiapas is a small port town that handles the export of agricultural products grown in the Soconusco region, an area of rich lowlands and foothills. The surrounding area has some beautiful beaches, including Playa Linda in Puerto Chiapas and San Benito.

Your ship will dock at the Puerto Chiapas Cruise Terminal. On arrival, don't be surprised to see musicians and dancers in colorful costumes performing on the pier as you disembark. The park-like terminal consists of two buildings: one is home to the pier market, with several vendors selling their wares, as well as a performance space. The other building features a bar and restaurant, along with internet access. All of the tours offered by the cruise lines will begin ship side in the terminal. Here you'll also find the desks of several tour agencies that offer guided excursions (with English-speaking guides) to the area's sights, as well as taxi drivers who also offer day tours of Tapachula, the Izapa ruins and the area's beaches.

Puerto Chiapas is the staging point for all of your day's activities for the area. Tapachula, the main commercial center of the area, is a 30-minute drive away. Paradoxically, despite the general poverty of the area, the city has one of the highest per capita gross domestic incomes in Mexico. The archaeological ruin of Izapa is also nearby.

In December 2012, the world's attention was drawn to Chiapas--and particularly the Izapa ruins--as this site is believed to be where the Mayan calendar was developed. The calendar is 5,126 years long, and its last day is December 21, 2012. This was to be the end of the world, and people and media from near and far made their way to witness this cataclysmic event at the ruins. Alas, the end has yet to come, but that just gives you extra time to visit Puerto Chiapas and all that it offers. Many cruise passengers say that this is at the top of their favorite ports.

The Soconusco region is also the entry point for many undocumented aliens transiting from Central America to points north. After all, in this area you're only several miles away from the Guatemalan border.

Grapes in Chiapas Market

Time Zone


Puerto Chiapas is on Central Time, six hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during standard time, or five hours during daylight savings time. Daylight savings time begins on the first Sunday of April, and ends on the last Sunday of October.

 

Language


Spanish is universally spoken in Puerto Chiapas and Tapachula; English is infrequently spoken by the shopkeepers.


Travel Advisory


The U. S. Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico.

"Since 2006, the Mexican government has engaged in an extensive effort to combat transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). The TCOs, meanwhile, have been engaged in a vicious struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity...

"There is no evidence that U.S. tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship. Nonetheless, while in Mexico you should be aware of your surroundings at all times and exercise particular caution in unfamiliar areas..."


Dealing with Money in Puerto Chiapas


Currency

The Peso is Mexico's official currency, and uses the "$" sign to denote the peso amount. Each peso is made up of 100 centavos. Bills come in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000 pesos. Coinage comes in denominations of 50 centavos, and $1, $2, $5 and $10 pesos.

Just be aware that larger notes (e.g., $500 Peso notes) are often difficult to change.

The current US Dollar/Mexican Peso exchange rate is as follows:

Banks and ATMs

Banks with ATM machines are found throughout the downtown area of Tapachula and some tourist venues. ATM machines in Tapachula can be found at the following locations:

  • BBVA Bancomer: Central Poniente 19 and 4th Avenida Norte, Tapachula.

  • Banamex/Citibank: Citibank has 14 ATM machines in Tapachula, including one at 14 Av. Norte #100, and another at 8a. Av. Norte #19.

  • Banco Inbursa: Calle 17 Oriente No. 76, in Tapachula.

See our Tapachula ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs.

Using US Dollars in Puerto Chiapas and Tapachula

Pesos, or credit cards for that matter, would probably be a better way to pay for the things you're going to buy in Puerto Chiapas or Tapachula. Some shops and restaurants will accept US dollars, but your exchange rate will be less than the market rate. And if you do use dollars in a smaller shop, they more than likely won't have change for anything larger than a $20 bill, unless the change is in pesos.

fx rates

Weather


Puerto Chiapas and Tapachula have a hot and humid tropical climate. The mean high and low temperatures vary very little during the year, with average monthly highs in the middle 80s F and the average monthly lows in the low 70s.

It is very humid in the Puerto Chiapas area, particularly during rainy season.

The rainy season begins in earnest in June, with the season lasting through October. The annual rainfall averages 87 inches. When rainfall comes, the storms are usually relatively short, with a tendency toward sudden, heavy afternoon and evening showers or rainstorms.


Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula Average Temperatures

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High - F 86 86 87 88 87 85 86 86 84 85 86 86
Avg High - C 30 30 31 31 31 29 30 30 29 29 30 30
Avg Low - F 70 70 72 74 74 73 72 73 72 72 72 70
Avg Low - C 21 21 22 23 23 23 22 23 22 22 22 21

Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula Average Precipitation

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg, Inches 0.2 0.2 0.9 2.3 11.1 17.5 13.5 12.1 18.5 15.4 2.4 0.5
Avg, mm 5 5 23 58 282 445 343 307 470 391 61 13

Orchid

Keeping In Touch


Internet Cafes in Tapachula

You can find several cyber cafes in Tapachula. Rates are reasonable, running from $20 to $50 pesos per hour. There is an internet cafe in the Cruise Terminal of Puerto Chiapas, across from where your ship docks; you ship's crew enjoy using this facility. Here are a few additional choices for cyber cafes in Tapachula:

  • TapachulaWeb, No. 7 Poniente 19, Tapachula

  • Cyber Cafe "The Zone", Av Central Sur 92A, Tapachula

  • Cyber y Capturas de Tesis, 20-A Calle Poniente No.24, Tapachula

Wi-Fi Access in Tapachula

Most of the hotels in Tapachula offer free Wi-Fi to their guests, but finding free Wi-Fi in other locations is a bit tougher. Here's a short list of places where you can find free Wi-Fi:

  • Angeles Alta Reposteria & Cafe, Calle 2a Oriente 11, Tapachula. A modern air conditioned cafe that serves up free Wi-Fi with tasty desserts and good coffee, in addition to other items. Open from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm.

  • Burger King, 4a. Avenida Sur, Hortalizas Japonezas, Tapachula

  • Vips, 4a. Avenida Sur 155, Tapachula. This restaurant chain, owned by Walmart, offers Wi-Fi in their stores in Mexico.

See our Map of Tapachula Internet Access Points for the locations of the above internet access points.

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Travelers with American cell phones should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones are used in Mexico. You can also buy a "Mexico plan" from your carrier; check with your carrier for the precise details.

The Mexican area code for Tapachula and the surrounding area is 962.

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area is provided by local partner Iusacell.
Data services: Through partner Iusacell, Verizon offers EVDO coverage in the greater Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area is provided by Telcel and Telefonica.
Data services: AT&T offers 3G service in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area through its partners Telcel and Telefonica.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area is provided by partner Iusacell, and with partners Telcel and Telefonica when using a quad-band GSM phone.
Data services: Through Iusacel, Sprint offers EVDO coverage in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area. Sprint also offers 3G coverage in Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area through its partners Telefonica and Iusacell.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service in the Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula area through its partners Telefonica and Iusacell.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage maps.

Kindle Connectivity

In Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula, you can download your Kindle 3G data through Telcel's EDGE/GPRS coverage in the area.

Internet Cafe

Samsung Galaxy S III

Local Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Tapachula and Puerto Chiapas in 2014:

  • Ano Nuevo (New Year's Day), January 1. A national holiday celebrated with Mass, parades and fireworks.

  • Dia de los Santos Reyes (Day of the Three Kings), January 6. A national holiday celebrating the New Testament story of the arrival of the three wise men who each brought a gift to the Christ child. It's the day that children receive gifts as well as shoes full of candy, and people buy a pastry called rosca de reyes.

  • Dia de la Constitucion (Constitution Day), February 5. Public holiday commemorating the signing of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. The day is usually marked by festivals and street celebrations.

  • La Feria Internacional Tapachula (International Fair of Tapachula), February 28 to March 16. One of the most important fairs in Chiapas, with cattle agricultural, crafts and sporting exhibitions, entertainment and fireworks.

  • Carnaval (Mardis Gras), February 26 to March 4. A festive time is to be had by all in Tapachula, culminating in a big party in the central square on the 4th.

  • Birthday of Benito Juarez, March 21. A public holiday celebrating the birthday of Benito Juarez, who rose from humble origins to occupy the Presidency of the Republic in the second half of the 19th century.

  • Semana Santa (Easter Week), April 13 to 20. The week before Easter is filled with celebrations in Chiapas, with daily parades, processions and celebration of Mass. In some towns, the Burning of Judas ritual takes place, represented by papier mache figures and cartoons of historical or contemporary personalities.

  • Primero de Mayo (Labor Day), May 1. A national holiday.

  • Cinco de Mayo, May 5. A Mexican holiday commemorating the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when the Mexican army defeated a French force twice its size just south of Mexico City. Not as big a deal in Mexico as it is in the United States.

  • Festival of St. Augustine, August 20 to 30. Ten days of celebration of Tapachula's patron saint, with parades and traditional Masses.

  • Independence Day, September 16. Look for the delivery of the "El Grito de Dolores," the official grunt that marks the day.

  • Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), November 1 to 2. Celebrants build private altars to honor the deceased, using sugar skulls, flowers and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

  • Revolution Day, November 20. A national holiday celebrating the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

  • Fiesta de la Inmaculada (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), December 8. Marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration season.

  • Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe), December 12. Commemorates the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint.

  • Navidad (Christmas Day), December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.
Virgin of Guadalupe

Cruise Port Schedules


Puerto Chiapas is a boutique port for Holland America, NCL and Regent Cruises ships, as well as ships from the smaller luxury cruise line Oceania Cruises.

As a general rule, ships arrive at the port's cruise ship pier between 7:00 am and 8:00 am, and depart between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm.

In 2014, Puerto Chiapas is slated to host 45,000 passengers sailing on 27 ships, down 2% and 4%, respectively, from 2013. For further information, see our Puerto Chiapas Cruise Ship Schedule - 2014.

Coffee Beans

Cruise Lines Making Port in Puerto Chiapas


The following cruise lines will make port in Puerto Chiapas in 2014:

Princess icon Princess Cruises Holland America icon Holland America
NCL icon NCL Oceania icon Oceania Cruises
Regent icon Regent Cruises Silversea icon Silversea Cruises
Cruise Ship


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