In Mexico, the weekly village markets – often referred to as los tianguis – are a primary social and economic activity dating back to the pre-Hispanic era. Unlike stationary markets, these open-air markets are made up of vendors from various regions who travel to different villages every day of the week to offer their products. These days of commerce and community are part of the story of Mexico.
The origin of the word tianguis comes from the Nahuatl tianquiztli which means market. Initially, the activities of exchange and circulation of products among the inhabitants could be broken down by two important exchanges: communication and barter. By moving the location of the market on a daily basis, an efficient system of communication between remote communities was built. Vendors had more security and smaller communities had access to more produce and goods.
In Oaxaca, the tianguis continue with market days rotating throughout the region. As the neighborhood tianguis sets up, local residents meet for breakfast and conversation in the food stalls before buying fresh produce, meats, homewares and clothing. There is a comfort and familiarity in seeing the same community members and the same vendors each week. The tianguis provide a consistent source of income to vendors and a source of fresh food to local communities. They also provide a colourful, fragrant and boisterous soundtrack to visitors who can observe cultural and commercial exchanges in action, up close and personal.
There is a set weekly schedule for tianguis throughout the Oaxaca region. We’ve included a few notes on what each market is best known for. You’ll also find fresh produce, meats, locally made cheeses and food stalls serving regional cuisine at every market.
Teotitlán del Valle
The official tianguis is Monday, but the Teotitlán artisan market is almost always open so you can access the exquisite textiles that distinguish this region including rugs, sarapes, and rebozos (shawls) made on looms with an extraordinary technique and dyed with natural colours.
Amplia variedad de verduras, frutas, café, pan de trigo, tostadas, entre otros
Santa Ana del Valle
An artisan market with woollen clothes and textiles
Functional and beautiful bowls, pots, dishes and art made from locally harvested clay. You will find a variety of Oaxacan pottery.
Known for its locally-made quesillo, a stretchy cheese sold in ropes. Etla is also famous for its pan amarillo (yellow bread), vegetables and tasajo, a Oaxacan specialty, which is thin, soft and a bit more salty than regular beef fillets.
A large variety including cattle, food, meat and homewares. People drive a long way to eat barbacoa (barbecued meats) here.
A very large market where you can find many fresh products, especially fruits, vegetables and a variety of local herbs responsible for giving Oaxaca food its unique flavor. It is also famous for its barbacoa.
Famous for Ejuteca sausages and traditional sweets.
One of the largest local markets, this market has a large number of handicrafts, including the embroidery from nearby San Antonino Castillo Velasco. Among the culinary specialties here, you can enjoy empanadas de amarillo, filled with a light raw yellow mole and chicken.
The Central de Abastos is a massive market on a daily basis, but on Saturdays it grows even larger as the tianguis vendors arrive with their produce and crafts. This is an important day for many local businesses to replenish their stock and buy supplies for the next week.
Considered one of the most important tianguis in Oaxaca for its immense size and the wide variety of items available from many regions of the valley. You can find fruits, legumes, the traditional Zapotec drink tejate, mezcal, mole, barbacoa, tools, birds and handicrafts.
Barbacoa, pulque (a fermented drink made from maguey), empanadas and vegetables.
Travel to the Tianguis
To visit any of the weekly tianguis we recommend using colectivos (shared taxis). These colectivos go to all of the surrounding towns and cost between 8 – 30 pesos. The most popular routes leave from Central de Abastos or the Eduardo Vasconcelos Baseball Stadium.