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Puerto Chiapas Basics

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Scenes of Chiapas

Fast Facts: Puerto Chiapas


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


Tapachula

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 was 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.


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 second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

Mexican flag Puerto Chiapas Local Time
 


Language


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


Travel Advisory


Dept of State

The U. S. Department of State has issued this Travel Warning, dated August 22, 2017, to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico.

Chiapas (includes Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas): U.S. government personnel must remain in tourist areas and are not allowed to use public transportation.


Dealing with Money in Puerto Chiapas


Currency



Mexican Peso

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.

Tapachula ATM Map


Map icon

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.


Weather


Orchid

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.

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation



Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Puerto Chiapas and Tapachula

Internet access through Cyber Cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots is available in both Puerto Chiapas and Tapachula. In Puerto Chiapas, they've got an internet cafe in one of the two terminal buildings.

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.

Tapachula Internet Access Map


Map icon

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


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Customers of U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Puerto Chiapas:

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.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula Telephone Information

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 an international roaming plan and/or a "Mexico plan" from your carrier; check with your carrier for the precise details.

If you plan on using your cell phone a lot while on your cruise, you may want to consider getting a SIM card for your trip from OneSimCard.com. These SIMs work in over 200 countries, and provide very affordable prepaid talk, text and data plans. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you'll also avoid a big cell bill surprise when you get home.

Country Code: 52

Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula Area Code: 962

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Calling Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula from the US or Canada: Dial 011-52-962-XXX-XXXX

Using your US or Canadian cell phone in Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula

To make a call from:

Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula to the US or Canada: Dial 001 (area code) XXX-XXXX

Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula to a US or Canadian cell in Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula: Dial 001 (area code) XXX-XXXX

Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula to a local Puerto Chiapas/Tapachula number: Dial 001-52-962-XXX-XXXX

Woman with a cell phone

OneSimCard - prepaid international roaming, works in over 200 countries, free calls in over 150 countries

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


Local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Tapachula and Puerto Chiapas in 2018:

  • Ano Nuevo (New Year's Day), Monday, January 1. National holiday celebrated with dances and fiestas.

  • Dia de los Santos Reyes (Day of the Three Kings), Saturday, 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 their Christmas gifts as well as shoes full of candy, and people buy a pastry called the rosca de reyes.

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

  • Carnaval (Mardis Gras), Wednesday, February 7 to Tuesday, February 13. The big party is held on Tuesday night, the 13th. A festive time is to be had by all in Tapachula, culminating in a big party in the central square on the 9th.

  • Tapachula fair
  • La Feria Internacional Tapachula (International Fair of Tapachula), Friday, March 2 to Sunday, March 18. One of the most important fairs in Chiapas, with cattle agricultural, crafts and sporting exhibitions, entertainment and fireworks. 2018 marks the 56th year of the fair.

  • Birthday of Benito Juarez, Wednesday, 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. Since the day falls on a Wednesday, Mexicans get Monday, the 19th, off to observe the holiday.

  • Semana Santa (Holy Week), Sunday March 25 to Saturday March 31. A religious and a secular holiday in Mexico, where you'll see processions and passion plays taking place in the city. Easter takes place on Sunday, April 1. During Semana Santa, banks are closed on Maundy Thursday, March 29 and Good Friday, March 30.

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

  • Cinco de Mayo, Saturday, May 5. A Mexican holiday that commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when the Mexican army defeated a French force twice its size just south of Mexico City. This holiday is really only celebrated (outside of the Gringo bars) in Puebla.

  • Festival of St. Augustine, Saturday, August 18 to Tuesday, August 28. Ten days of celebration of Tapachula's patron saint, with parades and traditional Masses.

  • Dia de Independencia (Independence Day), Sunday, September 16. Look for the delivery of the "El Grito de Dolores," the official grunt that marks the day. Since the day falls on a Sunday, Mexicans also get Monday, the 17th, as a day off.

  • Mariachis
    ©2013 Inocencio Vasquez Melchor, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license
  • Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Wednesday, November 1 (which is All Saints's Day) and Thursday, November 2 (which is All Souls' Day). Celebrants build private altars to honor the deceased, using sugar skulls, flowers and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

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

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

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

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

Cruise Port Schedules


Ship in Puerto Chiapas

Puerto Chiapas is a boutique port for Holland America, NCL and Princess Cruises' ships, as well as ships from the smaller luxury cruise lines Seabourn and Azamara 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 2018, cruise ship passengers can expect to spend around 9 hours in port.

In 2018, Puerto Chiapas is slated to host 25,900 passengers sailing on 16 ships. See our Puerto Chiapas Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018 for further information.


Cruise Lines Making Port in Puerto Chiapas


The following cruise lines will make port in Puerto Chiapas in 2018:

Princess icon Princess Cruises Holland America icon Holland America
NCL icon NCL Silversea icon Silversea
Azamara Crystal
Regent  
Cruise Ship


       
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