In Mexico you have plenty of opportunity to purchase locally-made artesanía (handicrafts) that reflects the country's almost boundless creativity. Among the best places to buy handicrafts are in rural towns and villages. Alternatively, cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and San Miguel de Allende have terrific craft markets that showcase handicrafts from the region and beyond.
Every Mexican town has a mercado (market); most are produce markets, but many will have a row or two dedicated to local crafts. In large cities such as Mexico City and Oaxaca, there are specialised food markets where you can pick up the exotic ingredients necessary to recreate your favorite Mexican dish at home, as well as craft markets where you can take your pick of regional handicrafts. Haggling and bargaining is still practised, but success is dependent on your language skills and skilful application of bargaining tricks. Shop around first and only haggle for an object that you're prepared to buy.
Mexican designers ply their trade primarily in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Look out for labels such as Pineda Covalin, Yakampot, Julia y Renata, Lorena Saravia, Trista and Mancandy. Locally-made funky t-shirts with Mexican motifs (plenty of skulls, Mayan-style patterns, etc) can be picked up all over the country.
Textile-making predates the Spanish conquest and handmade textiles with colorful embroidery can be found all over the country. However, the villages in Oaxaca and Michoacán are particularly renowned for their hand-woven cloth of extremely high quality, colored with natural dyes.
Mexico has a long history of intricate metalwork, and to this day the country remains one of the world's largest silver producers. Silversmithing in a thriving industry, particularly in Taxco, Guerrero, where you can find some wonderfully elaborate silver jewelry.
There's an enormous range of wood-based crafts in Mexico, from the ironwood animal carvings made in Sonora and Baja and the whimsical, colorful painted animal figurines from Oaxaca to the lacquered chest and trays in Guerrero and the mahogany-wood furniture made from licensed forests in southern Mexico
León in Guanajuato is the leather capital of Mexico, and the best place to find hand-crafted shoes, hats and other clothing and accessories that revolve around the cowboy lifestyle. If you're looking for an elaborate saddle for your steed, look no further than Coscomatepec, Veracruz.
Arts & Crafts
The range and quality of crafts produced in Mexico is mind-blowing. Look out for ceramics and earthenware (produced all over Mexico, though Oaxaca is famous for its black clay and Puebla for its Talavera-ware). Alebrijes (elaborately hand-painted wooden figurines or larger papier-mâché sculptures stretched over a wire frame) make terrific gifts. Other unique gifts include carved, hand-painted gourds, amate bark paintings, copper ornaments, hand-crafted masks, wooden figures covered with elaborate Huichol beadwork, and woven hammocks in Mérida.