Santa Elena markets come with an "almost no gringos" guaruntee

By Matthew Bossons

The markets of Santa Elena, Guatemala, are much different than the shops across the water in the more touristy town of Flores.

For starters, the markets in Santa Elena don’t sell the standard tourist trinkets. No bracelets, masks, t-shirts, or shot glasses.

Photo by Matthew Bossons

The other noticeable difference is the clientele. In the Santa Elena market tourists are greatly outnumbered by locals doing their daily shopping, whereas in Flores this is often not the case.

These two qualities alone make this market worth a visit. You can imagine my surprise after wandering the small, tightly packed alleyways for an hour and a half without seeing another gringo.

The market doesn’t serve as a great place to pick up gifts for friends back home as the majority of the products for sale are practical goods used for the day to day lives of the locals. There are stands selling pots and pans, and others selling used running shoes.

Then there’s the stalls selling fresh produce, which is totally worth buying.

There are even a few small pubs along the street sides, although they are very basic establishments.

Regardless this market is worth a look.


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