Authentic Souvenirs – Mexico Shopping Guide

Mexico is filled with vibrant, fun, and unique arts & crafts. Each city has its specialty products and style. During my travels throughout Mexico, it was hard for me not to open my wallet when I passed all the beautiful art and crafts stalls.

In our Mexico shopping guide, I list the best and most authentic products I’ve purchased in my 15 months of traveling in Mexico. Most of these are local, high-quality products handmade by expert artisans.

Please keep in mind that prices can be more expensive than you expect. (Though still much cheaper than purchasing any of these items back home).

1. Handwoven Wool Rugs From Teotitlán Del Valle, Oaxaca

My favorite item I purchased in Mexico is our floor runner, handmade in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca state. These rugs are the #1 item we would recommend in this Mexican shopping guide.

Teotitlán del Valle is a tiny town famous for handwoven wool rugs and all-natural dyes. You can visit the studio we visited, El Tono de la Cochinilla, where you can take a private tour (in English!) and learn how to create handmade wool rugs.

Rosario, who speaks excellent English, lets you try to spin your very own wool strands. (Warning: it’s way more complicated than it looks!)

You will also learn how each of the natural dyes is made. Our favorite dye ingredient is a cactus parasite (cochinilla) that turns red when boiled.

Eric trying his hand at spinning wool
Eric trying his hand at spinning wool

In the end, Rosario will take you to their shop to peruse their selection of carpets. We had a tough time picking which rug to purchase because they were all so beautiful, but we settled on a floor runner that fit perfectly in the aisle space of our campervan.

However, these rugs aren’t cheap, especially if you are used to the low cost of living in Mexico. You might be surprised. Depending on the size, a handmade wool rug can sell for anywhere between US$100 to $500.

Please be considerate and try to purchase something if you happen to take the tour. There are also small products like coasters, table mats, and other products that are much lower in price than the rugs.

Purchasing anything helps the local people and their communities with their business, and it is the best way to thank them for their free private tour.

2. Leather Shoes From Mercado San Juan De Dios, Guadalajara

Two feet wearing a pair of Mexican colorful leather shoes
Yuko showing off her leather shoes

I have a hard time resisting pretty shoes. Who knew? But now that I live in a van, I try to be highly selective about my purchases.

However, this pair of handmade shoes was love at first sight. I didn’t have to think twice and quickly bought this pair of shoes in the Guadalajara market, Mercado San Juan de Dios.

Shopping In Mexico - Shoe Stall In Market
Credit: Huarache Blog

I later learned that Guadalajara is known for its shoe craftsmanship. But more than shoes are sold here. This market is HUGE. If you are looking for other leather products or silver jewelry, you can spend an entire day here just shopping and eating.

The shoes I bought were about 15 USD. They’re surprisingly comfortable, and as you wear them more, the leather becomes soft and continues to fit your feet better.

3. Poncho From San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

There are so many clothing stores in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and after five months of living in this town, my absolute favorite brand there is Folklora. Their specialty is ponchos, hand-woven by master weavers who belong to one of 11 communities in the Highlands of Chiapas. Each poncho sold in their store has specific characteristics and its own textile techniques, depending on the local community where the poncho was produced.

Before coming to Mexico, I wondered why people wear thick ponchos under the hot and relentless summer sun. Wearing my poncho throughout Mexico has been a lifesaver! It protects me from the sun’s intense rays, yet it’s airy and cool and lets my skin breathe.

I love the ponchos from Folklora not only because of their beautiful designs but also because they offer various thicknesses. I chose one woven with a lighter material, and it’s been protecting my skin from the harsh sun ever since.

4. Alebrijes From San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca

Shopping In Mexico - Alebrijes
Painting A Coyote At The Workshop

San Martín Tilcajete is a small town about 20km south of Oaxaca city, well known for creating brightly colored wood carvings of mythical animals called “Alebrijes.”

Although alebrijes are commonly sold in markets throughout Mexico, the best alebrijes require years of wood carving and painting training. Master alebrije artisans started several schools, and now young adults are being trained to be professional artists themselves.

One of the most famous schools and workshops is by Jacobo y Maria Angeles, in San Martín Tilcajete. You can take a free guided tour to see the entire process of making these beautiful alebrije artworks.

Large alebrije statue in front of Jacobo and Maria's workshop
The entrance of Jacobo and Maria’s workshop

At the end of the tour at Jacobo and Maria’s workshop, you will be guided to their sales shop. The alebrijes sold here are considerably more expensive than the more miniature figures in the local markets, but their products are much more refined and detailed.

Unfortunately, we live in a van with limited space, so we only purchased two small figurines. But we love them both! Each alebrije was roughly $35 USD.

5. Copper Crafts From Santa Clara Del Cobre, Michoacán

Two copper espresso cups and an Turkish copper coffee pot
Two espresso cups and a Turkish coffee pot

Santa Clara del Cobre is the place to be if you’re looking to purchase a copper sink for a kitchen or bathroom.

A small “pueblo magico (magic town),” Santa Clara del Cobre is known for making high-quality copper products with extreme craftsmanship.

The popular Netflix show Taco Chronicles featured this town’s copper work. Brilliant copper pots from this town are used to cook the famous carnitas tacos from Quiroga.

Copper chess pieces
Copper chess pieces

Before you jump on the shopping spree, I recommend visiting the tiny  Museo Nacional del Cobre to learn a little bit about the town’s history, free of charge. They also have a list of the best studios that you can visit for a workshop tour.

Unfortunately, we had no room to build another sink in our campervan, so we purchased this cute Turkish-style coffee pot and a pair of copper cups lined with silver instead.

Now Eric loves to make Turkish coffee whenever he can!

The coffee pot and the two small cups cost about $40.

To learn more about Michoacán, visit our Michoacán Travel Guide.

6. Complete Your Souvenir Shopping in Coyoacán, Mexico City

Postcard with Frida's picture on it
Friday postcard taped up in our van

If you are a fan of Frida Kahlo, you MUST visit the Coyoacán district in Mexico City.

This is the district where Frida lived and spent her days until she passed away. You can also visit Frida’s famous “The Blue House” Museo Frida Kahlo here.

To visit the museum, it’s best to make a reservation online. Fifteen years ago, when I first visited the museum, I could easily enter without reservation. But because of Frida’s increasing popularity, getting in without lining up for several hours without a prior reservation is impossible.

Souvenir market in Coyoacan
Coyoacan Mexico City market

There is also a market called Mercado de Coyoacán, and if you are looking for cheap and cute souvenirs to hand out to your co-workers or friends, this is the place to be. There are many Frida-inspired items, and you can find a sampling of arts & crafts from all over Mexico. So, if you missed buying something for your friend from a prior place in Mexico, you can complete your shopping here!

I love spending time in the Coyoacán district because, as a quiet neighborhood, it’s more peaceful and relaxing than the center of Mexico City. After exhausting your energy from visiting museums and shopping in the markets, you can sip coffee over yummy pastries in hip cafes all over Coyoacán.

If yo have any questions about the type of souvenirs sold in Mexico, please let us know in the comments section below.

Happy traveling!

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