Location: Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-ha-ka) is located in the Southwestern part of Mexico about 6 hours via car or 1 hour via plane from Mexico City.
How to get there: To get to Oaxaca (the city) from Mexico City you have a couple of options.
By bus: The bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca takes between 6-7 hours. I recommend taking an overnight ADO bus which costs between $400-$1000 pesos (If you are a student in Mexico you get half off your bus ticket). The prices vary on which type of bus you take. The more expensive, typically means a faster, more comfortable ride. My recommendation is taking an 11:30 bus arriving in Oaxaca around 6am. The easiest buses to Oaxaca depart from the Southern or Northern bus terminals in the city of Mexico, and arrive at the ADO bus station in Oaxaca. You can purchase your tickets in person or online- be warned the ADO website isn’t the best and you may have to try multiple times before you the purchase goes through. Check out this website for prices:
By plane: If you plan in advance you can get a round trip plane for about $70 USD. If you’re more like me, and wait until the last minute, prices are typically around $100-$150 round trip. I actually didn’t buy a round trip ticket and instead bought a flight to Oaxaca and then a return flight from Puerto Escondido, which I will talk about next week.
Setting: Oaxaca is known for it’s amazing food, beautiful scenery, and large indigenous populations. There are official 16 recognized indigenous groups in the State of Oaxaca. Though the Spaniards did their best to eliminate the indigenous populations, these groups have been able to preserve their culture better then most because they live in largely secluded and hard to get to locations. The city of Oaxaca is filled with large, old stone buildings brimming with a diverse number of restaurants and markets.
Recommendations: I stayed at Hostal la Chochinilla and it was only ok. I had a downstairs room which was hot and muggy. The breakfast was nice with pancakes, cereal, and some fruit, and the people were very friendly. I would give it a 6/10. We did not go to Mercado 20 de Noviembre as multiple people told us it was incredibly overpriced. If you are there on a Sunday I would highly recommend taking the 30 minute trip out to the Sunday Market, Mercado Tlacolula. It costs 25 pesos one way in a shared taxi and in my opinion HIGHLY worth it.
Experience: My friend R and I had planned for weeks to visit Oaxaca at the end of our program. We were really excited to visit this part of the country and explore the region. So of course I got really sick with a bacterial infection 2 days before we were supposed to leave. I almost didn’t go, but at the end decided this wasn’t an experience I wanted to miss. Thankfully R was really flexible and understanding. I purchased my tickets about 4 hours before the plane was set to take off and used what little energy I had remaining to pack and head to the airport. I arrived around 10pm at my hostel and wandered around the city before grabbing a quick bite to eat and going to bed. The following morning I met up with R at the bus station, we bought our tickets for the overnight bus to Puerto Escondido, and we set off to explore. We spent the first half of the day at the Sunday Market before grabbing food in the City Center and going to the museum of Cultures in Oaxaca. After our brief museum visit we explored some of the local markets before catching an overnight bus to Puerto Escondido.