Part of the fun – and stress – of a trip anywhere is buying souvenirs for yourself (fun) and gifts for those back home (stress). This is no different in Yucatán. So, what to buy and where?
Some of the things you shouldn’t necessarily buy here in Yucatán include items that people think of when they hear the word “México.” Vanilla is one such item. Back in the day when tourism was scarcer and the world was a more regionalized place, in Veracruz, where most of the vanilla is grown, you could find real, non-adulterated vanilla at very low prices. People coming to México in the pre-foodie era would seek out this product to take it home. Now, in a global economy, most of the really great vanilla is bought by international conglomerates and you will be better off buying pure vanilla from your local Costco, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s.
Silver is another popular item, but thick silver crafts are not Yucatecan; they are found mostly in central México. If this is your only stop in México, and you must buy something in silver, you might find something to your liking at Uxmal de Taxco on Calle 60 at 47, across from the Santa Ana market. If bangles and thick silver are not so important, keep reading. Yucatán is well-known for its delicate silver filigree jewelry.
Filigrana de Plata can be found at the Casa de Artesanías store on Calle 63, a block or two from the Plaza Grande. These delicate silver wire creations are perfect for gifts as they are light, not that expensive but still are silver, which is appreciated. Expect to pay anywhere from $200 pesos for a basic ring or earring set, and up to $5,000 pesos for something more elaborate.
On a sweeter note, Yucatecan honey is becoming increasingly popular as more people commercialize this natural sweetener. A soda (Coke) bottle will run you $50 – 60 pesos per half-liter and $80 – 100 pesos per liter in the market. The fancy honey with the unique label and glass bottle will be more expensive and there tends to be a better quality-control process in place (less chance of dilution); it will also be easier to get through customs when returning home. Also popular is the local Melipona honey, this will be significantly more expensive as these tiny stingless bees produce only about 1 liter of honey per hive per year. Expect to pay closer to $500 pesos for a 250 ml jar. On the other hand, Melipona honey has been used since the time of the Maya for its unique flavor and medicinal properties.
Chocolate is another popular souvenir option around the world, and things are no different here in Yucatán where the Maya valued cacao so much, it was used as currency. If you’re looking to take home a unique confection, produced by a local company, check out Ki’Xocolatl (they have several locations, including one in Parque de Santa Lucía).
A great option for shopping for almost everything from chocolate and honey to hammocks, blouses, and jewelry is the state-government-run Casa de las Artesanías (Mérida Centro and Uxmal location). Prices are extremely reasonable, fixed, and on full display. No haggling, no one trying to take advantage of you. Plus, the money really does go to the people making the products! If you like to haggle, put on your best poker face and brave the many other shops out there. Have fun!
Editorial by Ralf Hollmann
A Yucatecan born in Germany and raised in Canada, with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Ralf has experience in leisure tourism, journalism, research, editing, writing, and creative writing. He’s also a musician.
Photography by Amandina, Yucatán Today, and Maggie Rosado for use in Yucatán Today.
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