Todos Santos Cuchumatan Traditional Clothing

Top 8 Things to do in Todos Santos Cuchumatan

In City Guides, Guatemala, Traditional Villages & Markets by Erik @ DIY Travel HQ2 Comments

Todos Santos Cuchumatan is a unique village tucked away in the Guatemala Highlands – find out all the attractions, accommodation & transport options in our Todos Santos Travel Guide.

* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to Guatemala. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years. It’s the best-value provider we’ve found but there are other important things to consider. Check out our post and find out which of our claims were successful or denied.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan: Overview

Todos Santos Cuchumatan aka Todos Santos, a land of Mayan-Mam, is the last place you would expect to find people speaking English!

It is no longer a major tourist draw, but has the infrastructure ready for a resurgence. We here at DIY Travel HQ loved it here & we would recommend Todos Santos as one of the top destinations in Guatemala.

Many locals have family in Oakland, California. There are currently over 1,000 that have emigrated there, despite being a village of only 4,100 people.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Main Street
The village may not be pretty, but the surrounding hikes are!

The economy is driven by three industries. These include farming, tourism, and remittances.

It is not uncommon for family members in the US to regularly send money so locals can purchase traditional clothes instead of weaving the fabric.

This is the only place in Guatemala where we saw Suzuki SUV’s being used as taxis in addition to tuk-tuks.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Taxi Drivers
Todos Santos Cuchumatan is a land of contrast between those with remittances, and those without.

Surprisingly, Todos Santos Cuchumatan remains a low-key destination.

Backpackers on a budget will rejoice at the affordable accommodation, food, and transportation.

We also recommend Lonely Planet’s Guatemala travel guide, or Lonely Planet’s Central America on a Shoestring to help you plan your trip.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Tacos 3 for Q10
Look no further than around the main plaza for all the street food you could want.

Traditional Guatemalan Clothing

Todos Santos Cuchumatan is one of the few places in Guatemala where both men and women wear traditional clothing.

Men’s outfits are called tipicos, and women wear huipiles.

Tipicos consist of pinstriped shirts with woven collars and colorful accents on both sides, and red pants with white stripes.

Some men also wear half-length black chaps over their pants, and wide-brimmed hats with ribbons.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Friendly Men in Traditional Clothing
These Todosanteros are dressed from head to toe in traditional clothing.

The traditional clothing for women is more common in Guatemala, but the colors differ.

It consists of a dark blue cortes (skirt), and woven purple huipile (blouse).

Both men and women can be seen carrying a woven handbag.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Men and Woman Traditional Clothing
It is common for women in the Guatemalan Highlands to wear traditional clothing, but all eyes are on the men in Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

Things to do in Todos Santos Cuchumatan

1. People Watch

This is going to sound bad, but the main thing to do in Todos Santos Cuchumatan is people watch.

This is especially entertaining during the drunken horse races for the Day of the Dead Festival in November each year.

The hard part is taking pictures without them realizing. Be aware that a Japanese tourist was killed by a mob in the year 2000 for taking pictures of children. There was, and maybe still is, rumors that foreigners kidnap local children.

To say the least, people in Todos Santos Cuchumatan don’t like cameras in their faces, and to be felt like an animal in the zoo while they live their lives.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Boys Shoppnig for DVDs
Remember to be discreet when taking pictures in Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

2. Main Plaza

Walking around Todos Santos Cuchumatan, you will see many men in traditional clothing.

The best place may be at the main plaza where locals can be seen leaning on the railing at all hours of the day. You can also use this location to take pictures of people walking by without them knowing.

Otherwise, kids shining shoes makes for a disheartening picture.

It is also possible to get Wi-Fi at an internet shop across the street from the main plaza.The owner charges Q1 / $0.14 for 10 minutes, but often forgets to change the password afterwards.

We enjoyed the WiFi service sitting on a bench in the main plaza one day after paying.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Men in Traditional Clothing Hanging Around Main Plaza
The main plaza is a great place to people watch, and use Wi-Fi that you didn’t pay for.

3. Church

A short distance from the main plaza is Todos Santos Cuchumatan’s church – it would later remind us of the white church at Chichicastenango.

The white exterior is in stark contrast to the blue, and often gray sky.

The interior is plane, similar to the exterior, but has colorful drapes hanging from the ceiling.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Church Exterior
Only if you visit the church early morning can you catch a blue sky in the background.

4. Market

There is a small market every day in Todos Santos Cuchumatan – unlike the huge Friday animal market at San Francisco El Alto.

However, the weekly market takes place on Saturday and on Wednesday to some extent.

These days provide an excellent opportunity for people watching.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Traditional Clothing Men and Women
The smaller Wednesday market starts to take over the streets.

The market consists of normal items, but look how large they grow their carrots here!

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Market Giant Carrot
This isn’t an optical illusion. This is just a really, really, large carrot.

5. Getting Lost

Part of the fun of visiting a small village is that you can’t get lost. Wander at will.

While we were doing so, we came across a lot of MEN sewing clothing, kids playing pinball machines, and people going about their lives.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Man Sewing Traditional Clothing

    This Todosantero knows how to combine work and play.

6. Shopping

There are shops near the main plaza selling traditional clothing if you can’t resist becoming an honorarium Todosantero.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Traditional Clothing Shop
Don’t forget to stock up on all your Todos Santos Cuchumatan traditional clothing.

7. Tucumanchum

Tucumanchum is a small Mayan site located a short walk above Todos Santos Cuchumatan – but don’t get your hopes up, it’s definitely no Tikal!

There are a few mounds surrounding a make-shift temple with pine trees providing shade.

The site is still used to make sacrificial animal offerings.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Tucumanchum Mounds
I wonder if these mounds will ever be excavated.

8. Chuj

The Chuj is a traditional sauna for the Mayan-Mam found in the Guatemalan Highlands. It is common for each house to have one, whether in their yard or part of their house.

The structure is concrete and has a raised metal container that contains rocks inside. A fire heats up the rocks, and creates steam when water is sprinkled on top.

The Mayan-Mam perform this cleansing weekly, the night before the big market day.

We were instructed to wear old clothes inside, and not a bathing suit like we imagined.

The room is traditionally dark when you enter, but a red light can be installed for tourists upon request at some places.

Depending on the size, you either have a platform to sit or lay down on.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Hotel Mam Chuj
Traditional Chuj saunas are a mix of pain with a little gain.

Hiking in Todos Santos Cuchumatan

There are three hikes to do around Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

They include the day hikes to:

  • La Torre
  • San Juan Atitan
  • 4-6 day hike to Nebaj
Nebaj Main Plaza
Even if you don’t do the hike to Nebaj, consider visiting for nearby Chajul.

Climbing La Torre

La Torre is a straightforward climb to Central America’s highest non-volcanic peak.

Despite being 3,837 meters above sea level, you start off around 3,400 meters in La Ventosa.

This makes tackling the climb much easier, and doable in less than 4 hours.

Consider combining this with your exploration of Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

Hike La Torre Craggy Peak
Enjoy the view from Central America’s highest non-volcanic point.

San Juan Atitan Hike

We hiked La Torre first, and were undecided about also hiking to San Juan Atitan.

Luckily, the owner of our hotel knocked on our door at 6 am and wanted to join.

We couldn’t say no at that point, and we were happy to have went.

Hike to San Juan Atitan Road
The road to San Juan Atitan.

The hike takes the full day between the 5-7 hour hike, and transportation back to Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

Along the way you:

  • pass Tucumanchum
  • oversee the whole of Todos Santos Cuchumatan
  • dip into a remote valley
  • witness the excellent traditional clothing of San Juan Atitan
San Juan Atitan Traditional Clothing
It is tough to decide which village has the better traditional clothing.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan: Accomodation

Most people check into Hotel Casa Familiar when they arrive in Todos Santos Cuchumatan. Don’t!

At least visit Hotel Mam on the same side street as Hotelito Todos Santos first.

The owner is extremely nice, and they have the best prices in town (Q35-40 / $4.80-5.50 per person).

All the rooms are large, and have shared bathrooms with hot water.

Take advantage of the chuj (traditional sauna) on the roof as well. He charges Q25 / $3.45 per person, and needs several hours notice to prepare the room.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Hotel Mam Room
Hotel Mam is basic, but clean and cheap. Everything a backpacker needs.

Jose, the owner of Hotel Mam, also offers his services as a trekking guide and Spanish teacher.

He joined us on a hike to San Juan Atitan, and led the way so we can vouch for his ability.

Surprisingly, he is also one of the few people we could have a conversation with despite our limited Spanish – this was before we took Spanish lessons at San Pedro de la Laguna! He spoke slowly and clearly.

Hike to San Juan Atitan Viewpoint with Sheena and Jose
Jose from Hotel Mam can ‘accommodate’ all your requests in Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan: Food and Drinks

All the street food in Todos Santos Cuchumatan is centered on the main plaza.

During the day, the small market above the taxi stand is your best bet. There are :

  • tacos (3 for Q10 / $1.35)
  • fried chicken (Q5 / $0.70)
  • large plates of fries (Q3 / $0.40)
Todos Santos Cuchumatan French Fries for Q3
Todos Santos Cuchumatan has the best value fries in Guatemala. Look at the serve for Q3.

The best addition late in the day comes from a lady that sets up by the church at the T-intersection.

She sells tostados, and hot tea with real chunks of fruit.

Try not to wait until too late in the evening to find food as most places shut at 8 pm.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Street Vendor Tostado
Yum yum. Surprisingly, the fruit tea costs more than the tostados.

Those looking for a nightcap should stock up early as well.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan is a semi-dry town, and beer can only be found in shops several hundred meters down the road to Huehuetenango.

Hard liquor is not on offer.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Semi-Dry Town Brahva Beer
You have to search for an alcoholic drink in semi-dry Todos Santos Cuchumatan.

A fully stocked bakery, Panaderia Jimenez, is across from the church, and up an awkward set of stairs.

The cookies (Q1.5 / $0.20) are hearty, and sandwiches (Q6 / $0.80) are great items to take along for breakfast on a hike.

Hike to San Juan Atitan Breakfast Cookies
These heavy cookies from Panaderia Jimenez will keep you going all morning.

Todos Santos Cuchumatan: Transport

In order to reach Todos Santos Cuchumatan, you first need to reach Huehuetenango.

At the bus terminal in Huehuetenango, find the ‘chicken’ bus for Todos Santos Cuchumatan (Q20 / $2.75, 2 hours).

Purchase a ticket at the Transporte Flor de Maria office directly behind the bus, and mark your seats with pegs in the wooden board.

Buses depart at 10:20 am, 11:20 am, 2 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4:15 pm.

Huehuetenango Chicken Bus to Todos Santos Cuchumatan Peg Board
You don’t get much simpler than this for keeping track of bus seats.

We were coming from Nebaj, which involved catching two rides before the final connection in Huehuetenango.

The first leg is a microbus from Nebaj to Sacapulas (Q15 / $2.05, 45 minutes), which can be found 1 block behind the church.

The connection was easy as the driver’s assistant let us out directly across from the departing microbus to Huehuetenango (Q20 / $2.75, 100 minutes).

Huehuetenango Bus Terminal
Xela buses run frequently from Huehuetenango Terminal.

Our destination after Todos Santos Cuchumatan was Quetzaltenango (Xela).

Catch a microbus next to the taxi stand at 11 am to Huehuetenango (Q20 / $2.75, 2 hours).

At the terminal, switch to a ‘chicken’ bus to Quetzaltenango (Q20 / $2.75, 2.5 hours).

Todos Santos Cuchumatan Microbus
Microbuses for Huehuetenango or La Ventosa stop next to the taxi stand.

***The Final Word – All backpackers should visit Todos Santos Cuchumatan. The locals are friendly and unique, hiking is safe and beautiful, and prices are affordable ***

What traditional clothing do you like best in the world?

Visited in July 2016
Updated February 2020

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means that we receive a small commission if you click on a link and purchase something that we’ve recommended, at no extra cost to you.


  1. “You can take pictures of people without them looking”…? these are human beings, not zoo animals. How would you feel if someone took pictures of you without you looking just because your clothes might be different from theirs. I am disgusted by this dehumanization and insensitivity. You are promoting the worst kind of travel.

    1. Hi. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you caught on to the portion of the article where I state that they shouldn’t be treated like zoo animals. Here is the excerpt for anyone that might have missed it. “To say the least, people in Todos Santos Cuchumatan don’t like cameras in their faces, and to be felt like an animal in the zoo while they live their lives.”

      To that extent, the main reason people visit Todos Santos is to admire the unique clothes the locals wear. Jamming a camera in someone’s face would be rude, but discretely capturing the moment is not. As a Caucasian, it is common for locals in Asia to constantly take pictures of foreigners because they are different. Personally, I enjoyed feeling what it was like to be a celebrity despite earning none of the attention.

      So what got you interested in Todos Santos?

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