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The hard-to-pronounce city and state of Oaxaca (wah-ha-kah) is known for its diversity, colourful festivals and cuisine. The most famous dish is mole, a thick sauce made from as many as 30 ingredients, sometimes taking a day to prepare. There are seven traditional moles to try whilst visiting Oaxaca - all with distinctive flavours and commonly served with meat. Don’t miss tlayudas, a mouth-watering dish often nicknamed “Mexican pizza". Oaxaca is also known for tequila's smoky cousin, mezcal, an alcoholic drink distilled from the agave plant.
Oaxaca is home to 16 distinct indigenous groups, whose culture and traditions have filled the streets with life and colour. A walk through the historic neighbourhood of Santo Domingo will showcase some of the most unique handicrafts and arts while Santo Domingo church will wow you with its gorgeous Baroque facade and incredible gilded interior. There are craft villages and Zapotec Indian communities that can be visited on day trips from the city.
Want to escape the city? Take a bus or fly from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido, translating to "Hidden Port", but definitely no secret amongst those visiting the state of Oaxaca. Relax on palm-fringed beaches with thatched roofed bars and luxury beach-side hotels. Witness the release of baby turtles and the phenomenon of the bioluminescent lagoon, where you can admire plankton illuminating the shoreline.
Oaxaca is a walkable city with grid-like streets lined with colourful buildings and vibrant Mexican culture. The most popular area is the historical heart of the city - the Santo Domingo neighbourhood. This area offers boutique and luxury hotels located inside former colonial mansions and bustling main squares, where you can find an array of restaurants serving traditional foods native to Oaxaca.
Barrio de Xochimilco is the oldest neighbourhood in Oaxaca. This area has a village-like feel, with quiet streets, cosy cafes, textile workshops and a small handful of accommodation options.
You can also stay in the northern neighbourhood called Reforma, a more modern and affluent neighbourhood. Here you can find international dining options mixed with trendy bars and boutique shops.
Oaxaca city has two distinctive seasons: dry and wet. The dry season usually lasts from October to April, whilst the wet season is from May to October. Even though the highest rainfall is from September to October, it is considered the best time to visit Oaxaca as there are fewer crowds, cheaper hotels and milder temperatures. Keep in mind that crowds will spike again around the Day of the Dead celebrations held on October 31st. Try and coincide your visit with Guelaguetza festival held in July, which celebrates the diversity of Oaxacan culture.
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