Mexico's Stylish Village Retreat
If your notions of scenic Mexico are limited to beach resorts and Mayan temples, prepare for an adjustment. Oaxaca lacks both but manages to be one of Mexico's top tourist draws. Oaxaca is chic yet simple, refined yet rustic. Indigenous cultures mingle with boutique hotels and world-class spas. You can sip mezcal -- which might contain a worm or even a scorpion -- in a trendy café; for a concoction less intoxicating but no less indulgent, opt for an Oaxacan hot chocolate in a stone mug from a streetside stall. Check out the Mercado de Abastos on a Saturday to buy crafts, baskets, cheese, tortillas, fruit, rugs, turkeys, or fried grasshoppers while dodging the other photo-hungry tourists. For the rest of the week, head out to the surrounding indigenous villages, home to 16 different cultural groups, for their own daily markets, each with its own unique crafts. When shopping palls, wander around the zócalo to Mestizo churches like Santo Domingo, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, or one of the countless galleries or theaters.