How to visit Mercado Tlacolula, the Oaxaca Sunday market you can’t pass up
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Tlacolula Market: what beautiful chaos! If you’re in the city on a Sunday, it’s an absolute must that you experience this Oaxaca Sunday market in Tlacolula. The small town of Tlacolula (full name Tlacolula de Matamoros) is 45 minutes by bus from the centre of Oaxaca.
Local people come weekly from towns and villages all around to sell their wares, and the market spreads for seemingly miles.
This guide is going to take you through what to expect at the Oaxaca Sunday market, how to get there and some Tlacolula Market safety considerations.
After you’ve read this post on how to visit Mercado Tlacolula, the Oaxaca Sunday market, check out these other Mexico guides next:
Mercado Tlacolula has everything from tourist tat to artisanal wonders, to street food, to machetes & farm equipment, to clothing, to leather goods, to fruits & veg, to meat, to toys, to breads, to household items, to literally anything else you can think of.
Most of this Oaxaca Sunday market is set outside with tarpaulin over the top of stalls for shade, but the big building in the middle is where you’ll find a lot of the bread and raw meat – avoid this if you’re squeamish about this kind of thing. There’s a little food court in the centre of the building if you want to sit down for a quick lunch.
Mercado Tlacolula is not a tourist trap, and for the most part is aimed at locals needing to stock up on food and clothes, but there are certain streets of the market where you can find beautiful souvenirs at decent prices made with foreigners in mind.
What can you eat at Tlacolula?
Tlacolula Market also gives you a fantastic opportunity to try Oaxacan street food, and at such low prices there’s no reason not to buy a little bit of everything!
If you see street food that looks interesting, I say buy first, ask what is it is second (allergies allowing!).
You’ll find quesadillas, tamales, memelas, pan de elote, tejate (a traditional cacao drink), agua fresca (a very fruity drink that comes in all different combos), pollo asado/frito, chapulines (grasshoppers), and much more!
If you see a Oaxacan street food sign with ‘tuna’ on it, keep in mind that it’s referring to a sweet cactus, not a fish 🙂
How to get to this Oaxaca Sunday market independently:
You can get to the Oaxaca Sunday market via colectivo taxi or bus, which travel along the same route to Tlacolula.
Pick one up from the 2nd Class Bus Terminal in the West of Oaxaca, or flag one down outside the Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos baseball stadium/in front to the Telcel car park, just like you do when getting to Hierve el Agua. Colectivo means it leaves when it’s full, so you won’t have the taxi to yourself unless there are 4-5 of you in your group.
A bus will cost you 25 pesos, and a colectivo taxi costs 40. Do your best to have exact change.
Colectivo means it leaves when it’s full, so you won’t have the taxi to yourself unless there are 4-5 of you in your group, or you pay for the extra seats not filled – an unlikely arrangement as it means locals will lose out on time trying to flag the next one. Everyone is making a living here so try to be fair.
The journey to Tlacolula de Matamoros town takes 45-60 minutes down the highway, and you’ll get dropped off on the main road a corner away from one of the market’s entrances on Juárez. Just follow the crowds!
You could also try a private taxi such as Uber, but you may have difficulty calling one on the way back.
To get back to Oaxaca after you’ve visited Tlacolula market with a colectivo taxi or bus, simply stand on the other side of the road you got dropped off on and flag a bus or taxi. Locals will be very happy to point you in the right direction.
Picking up a private taxi from the main road petrol station is strangely much cheaper than flagging it down on the street leading out of Tlacolula Market, so it’s worth the extra 3-minute walk.
Tuktuks are available if you’re just going down the road to a mezcalería on Caminos de Mezcal, but not a great choice for the highway back to Oaxaca.
Don’t want to brave Tlacolula alone?
That’s perfectly ok! If you want a guide to get you there in comfort, help you negotiate and teach you what everything is, catch a space on this top-rated small group tour that lets you experience the market like a local.
I saw a few of these tours going round as I explored Tlacolula independently and they do a pretty interesting route of it.
Is Tlacolula Market safe to visit?
It feels more or less safe despite the sheer number of people (to be honest, most Oaxaca day trips are fairly safe unless you’re trying your hardest not to be sensible), but I still recommend taking only a small bag and keeping it close as you head into Tlacolula’s crowds. As always, split your cards and cash between your day bag and the bag you leave at your accommodation (in a locker or safe!) so that you’re never completely done for if something happens.
Just keep your wits about you; people are generally very friendly and there to make an honest living, but you should never fully forget about safety in Mexico. My safety tips for South America very much still apply up in this part of the world, too.
If you’re going in a group (especially if there are kids), establish a meet-point should one of you get lost. The Capilla del Señor de Tlacolula church is quite a good idea for this as it’s right in the middle of Tlacolula market and you can see its spires from most streets.
Extra tips for Tlacolula Market
Bring cash in small denominations; no one takes card, and the queue for the ATM is about an hour long as a lot of the vendors live in places that don’t have a bank, so this is their only chance to get cash out each week
Go to the toilet before you enter the market, you’ll have few opportunities to find a decent one once in there. The San Miguel del Valle bus terminal has fairly clean toilets and toilet roll for just 5 pesos
You can barter for larger items at Tlacolula Market, but be reasonable! Most of the prices are really good to begin with
Mercado Tlacolula in photos
This is quite a short post by my standards, and there are so many more photos of this Oaxaca Sunday market that I wanted to share that didn’t find a place within the text, so I’ll put a few more here for you… 😉
These are just taken on a phone, mind you; I chose to leave my professional gear at home for this Mexico trip.
Now that you’ve read this post on how to visit Mercado Tlacolula, the Oaxaca Sunday market, check out these other helpful Mexico guides: