We had heard that the market town of Chichicastenango really comes to life on Sundays, with local people from surrounding villages coming on the day to sell their products. We also learned that all tours to the market go out early morning and return just after lunchtime.
With that information we decided we should arrive in the afternoon post the tourist crowd and just a few hours before closing, the logic for this? As we wanted to buy a couple of items we figured the prices would be more favourable just before closing time and post the tourist shuttles. And we were right!
We had read in the guide-book that market prices in Panajachel would be lower but we found Chichicastenango to be far easier to pick up a bargain, so much so that vendors were instantly dropping 50% on prices the minute you said too expensive.
And even if you weren’t interested they would follow you continuously lowering their price, something we did not find in Panajachel.
Our advice, if you want to some shopping get there from 3pm as the market starts to shut down around 5pm.
The market itself is a mix of crafts and groceries, unlike other markets I have visited, so it is not as big as you first imagine when you arrive. It is set up around the church and despite it seeming like a maze if you use the church as your marker you can get around easily in a couple of hours.
Chichicastenango is a very crowded place but we found it to be very safe nonetheless. We arrived from Lago de Atitlan so had one of our backpacks with us but at no time did we feel worried about being pickpocketed or the like. Although as with everything common sense is needed.