Perhaps the most common faux pas committed by foreign travelers in Mexico is wearing shorts when not appropriate. Mexicans rarely wear shorts outside the home or off the beach, while many foreign travelers seem to have packed nothing but. It’s somewhat moot in San Cristóbal , where it’s often too chilly for shorts anyway, and there’s always a bit more flexibility along the coast.
But in Palenque , Tuxtla , and elsewhere—and certainly when attending any sort of performance or visiting a church or indigenous village—long pants are more appropriate and respectful than shorts, even when it’s hot and muggy.
Needless to say, topless and nude sunbathing is virtually unheard-of in Chiapas .
No one enjoys having a stranger take his or her picture for no good reason, and indigenous people are no different. The best policy is simply not to take these photographs unless you’ve first asked the person’s permission and he or she has agreed.
Tip: If the potential subject of your photo is a vendor, buy something and then ask if you can take a photo—you’re more likely to get a positive response.
Even a small amount of Spanish can go a long way in showing respect and consideration for people you encounter. Make a point of learning basic greetings like buenos días and buenas tardes and using them in passing, or as a preface to a conversation; it is considered somewhat impolite to launch into a discussion without greeting the other person first.