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How to See the Best Oaxacan Textiles: Review of Las Bugambilias Tours

oaxacan textiles

The first time I ever came to Oaxaca was mainly due to the rich textile culture here. I've always been on the search for the best Oaxacan textiles: the most traditional techniques, high quality fibers, beautiful natural dyes and amazing huipiles.

Guided Tour vs. Solo Exploring for the Best Oaxacan Textiles

When you have a limited time in a city, how do you decide what activities, sights, and experiences to have and which to leave out?

And if that city is Oaxaca, the number of choices are massive: multiple ancient ruins, colonial churches and architecture, nature sites and hikes, amazing food experiences, mezcal farms and distilleries, and many pueblos with interesting artisan crafts like textiles, pottery, alebrijes (small colorful sculptures), etc..

I go back and forth on whether I want to take an organized tour while traveling. It can be nice to sight-see on your own, without a big group of tourists, and take your time to see sights. However, tours are often very time efficient, getting you to see many things all in one day. And if you pick the right tour operator, the guide can be super knowledgeable and take you to see things you wouldn’t otherwise know how to find.

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I had the good fortune of taking an awesome and informative day trip with Las Bugambilias tours a few years ago. I had already seen many of the biggest tourist sights, but was intrigued to take a textile intensive tour, visiting the best weavers in the Valles Centrales of Oaxaca. It has been said that the great amount of biodiversity in the area has created the biggest variety of fibers and dyes in the whole country.

My background as a fashion designer gives me a deep love and appreciation for well made textiles, so I was excited to learn about the traditional techniques that the famous Zapotec weavers in the region use to create the vibrant Oaxacan textiles the region is so well known for. During our Oaxaca tour, we also made two unplanned stops along the way that were super interesting and exciting, helping us to learn about the region in a deeper way.

Tons More Oaxaca Food and Travel Posts

My giant Oaxaca food guide with all the best restaurants in the city

How to take a Oaxaca mezcal tour and the best palenques to visit

Where to stay in Oaxaca

Complete list of Oaxaca city posts

Complete list of Oaxaca coast and beach posts

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Below you'll find all the highlights of the day + my overall review of Las Bugambilias tours. And if you are interested in the delicious traditional spirit of mezcal, check out my post about the amazing Oaxaca mezcal tour I took with Las Bugambilias tours.

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What Was Great: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

The Weaver Presentations: Best Oaxacan Textiles

During our full-day tour we met with three exceptional weavers making beautiful Oaxacan textiles in various pueblos outside the city.

Teotitlán del Valle - Master Weaver Jacobo Mendoza Ruiz:

Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

Our first stop was at the studio of master weaver Jacobo Mendoza Ruiz. Jacobo is one of the most famous and accomplished weavers in all of Oaxaca. He won a national award for his outstanding and complex woven rug.

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Jacobo uses natural and local fibers like wool and silk. He also only uses natural dyes made from local ingredients. It has become more and more common for weavers to use synthetic dyes, giving finished textiles a different look and affecting the color fastness over time.


Jacobo continues to use traditional ingredients like ground cochineal (a small insect found on cacti leaves), indigo, and sapote fruit. All of the materials are mixed in different ways to achieve a myriad of different colors and shades. Fibers are cleaned and prepped with other natural ingredients and soaps to allow the dyes to set properly.


cochinil for dyeing oaxaca

Cactus leaves with the small cochineal insects, used to create a rich red dye.

We watched his wife María Luisa Vásquez de Mendoza, a master weaver herself, clean the wool using two brushes combed against each other with the fiber in between. This process is really difficult, and takes a lot of arm strength! Next Maria spun the cleaned fibers into yarn.

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Then she showed us what ingredients they use for the dyes and how she grinds them on traditional metates, or stone boards with a grinding element similar to a rolling pin.


grinding indigo textiles oaxaca
oaxacan textiles
Sapote fruit - used for creating a brown dye

Sapote fruit is used for creating a rich brown dye

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Grinding indigo on a traditional stone metate.

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Next we went out back to the dyeing area. It was a semi covered corner of the yard with a wood burning stove. Two giant pots were steaming in the corner - one with indigo (blue) and one with cochineal (red).

natural dyes in oaxaca


There was as separate pot with a boiled mango mixture that must be added to the indigo to get the blue color to absorb into the yarn. We watched as they dyed skein after skein of yarn in various colors. Jacobo and María would just add different ingredients to adjust the colors as they went along.


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dyeing yarn teotitlan del valle
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María stirs yarn in a boiling pot of natural dyes until the color sets.

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Jacobo washes the yarn with natural soaps before the dyeing process.


The rows of skeins were hung up to dry in a row on a rack, making a vibrant rainbow of color.

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jacobo mendoza ruiz and María Luisa Vásquez de Mendoza

Finally we returned to the studio to see how Jacobo weaves his intricate rugs. He showed us the giant looms he works on, and how he changes color and makes the patterns as he goes along. Most of the designs are done visually as he works, without guides or tracing.


Jacobo Mendoza Ruiz

(951) 524 4157

Avenida Benito Juárez #91

Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca
*It's recommended to make an appointment to visit the weavers. If you choose to visit without a guide, tours are given in Spanish.

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Get Your Guide

Mitla - Arturo Hernández Quero:

Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

Next we visited the shop of Arturo Hernández Quero. Arturo weaves by traditional backstrap loom, as well as by large wooden looms. He showed us the backstrap loom first. It is literally strapped behind the wearer’s back and tied to a pole or a tree. The weaver stands several feet away from the pole so that the tension allows the piece to be stretched out in front of them as they work.

backstrap loom weaving mitla oaxaca


They use traditional wooden poles and tools to separate the colors of yarn and tighten the woven textile as they go. The technique is complex, but Arturo makes it look easy as he creates a traditional textile, with Zapotec symbols like cacao and corn.

backstrap loom weaving mitla
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In contrast, he showed us how the large wooden looms work. He uses foot pedals as well as a hand lever that send the yarn back and forth across the textile. The textiles can be made much more quickly with this technique.

loom weaving mitla oaxaca
weaving loom mitla oaxaca


Next he showed us his dyeing process. He also uses natural dyes like indigo and cochineal.


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Mitla - Arturo Hernández Quero

951 243 2711

Carretera Oaxaca Mitla (250.67 mi)
San Pablo Villa de Mitla 70430

*It's recommended to make an appointment to visit the weavers.

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arturo hernandez quero mitla weaver
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I couldn't resist a photo of this cute vw bug in Arturo's studio.


Santo Tomás Jalieza - Crispina Navarro Gómez:

Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

Our last stop on the weaving tour was in the small village of Santo Tomás Jalieza south of Oaxaca city. We visited the home of the Navarro Gómez family - 4 sisters and their mother all weaving together in a circle everyday by traditional backstrap loom. Their textiles were colorful and vibrant.

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Crispina Navarro Gómez is the most famous weaver in the village and has won national awards for her intricate work.


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Crispina Navarro Gómez, an award winning and accomplished traditional weaver. best oaxacan textiles tour

We loved watching them work and laugh together. Watching multiple generations spend the day together and continue this traditional weaving technique was inspiring and beautiful.



Crispina Navarro Gómez

951 528 1114
Benito Juárez # 42,
Santo Tomás Jalieza, Ocotlán, Oaxaca

*It's recommended to make an appointment to visit the weavers

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Very cool one-of-a-kind hand drawn t-shirts sold alongside the textiles.

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The Tour Guide: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

René is a pleasure to spend time with. He’s knowledgeable about the culture, history, and traditions in Oaxaca and the Valles Centrales. But he never comes off like he’s reading from a script (like many other tour guides I’ve experienced). He’s very personable and conversational which I loved. We were free to ask any questions we had along the way, and he was happy to answer them.

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His knowledge of the area also allowed us to make two unexpected but very welcome stops along the way...

A Couple Unexpected Stops Along the Way: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

Because René’s tours are totally customizable, there is freedom and flexibility to see exactly what interests you the most.


As we were driving from the lunch restaurant to the 3rd weaving village, Rene asked if we had tried Pulque before. I replied that we had once in Mexico City, but didn’t love it there and wanted to try it again.

He replied that there was a great Pulquería right on our way in Santiago Matatlán. We pulled in front of a brightly colored but tiny shop and were promptly served fresh pulque made that morning. To my surprise, it was light, sparkling and refreshing - so different from the (dare I say, slimy?) version I had tried before in CDMX. I loved it so much I bought 2 liters to bring home. René kindly stored it in his cooler in the back of the van.

pulqueria santiago matitlan
best oaxacan textiles tour

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The second pleasant surprise came shortly after. René asked if we liked mezcal. I replied “of course!” and he informed us that there was a woman in a nearby town who was famous within mezcal enthusiast circles. She sells the mezcal straight out of her home, and her son makes the mezcal nearby.

We walked into her home and were shown the two types she had - Espadin (the standard variety of maguey) and one type of Silvestre (a wild maguey plant). We sampled both and were blown away, especially by the wild variety. We immediately asked to buy some. We handed her an empty plastic bottle, and she filled it up from her giant jug.

mezcal oaxaca seller in Santa Catarina Minas

Meeting Angela Angeles, a famous off-the-beaten path mezcal seller.

mezcal oaxaca angela angeles

The Lunch: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

I have been on quite a few tours in my time, and one thing I can always count on is a bad to mediocore lunch. It’s almost expected for a tour to stop at one of the overrun and giant restaurants that cater to bus and van tours.

The lunch on this tour was totally different. We did stop at a big restaurant on the main road that caters to tourists, but the food was really good. The restaurant was called Zapata, and the building was an old mezcal distillery with kitschy decor throughout and a cactus garden in the back.

zapata restaurant oaxaca

The service was impeccable and the food a pleasant surprise. We shared a chapulines and guacamole dish to start served with tortillas. Then we sampled the tlayuda arrachera and the sopa Oaxaqueña. Everything was fresh and flavorful.

tlayuda zapata restaurant oaxacan textiles tour

The Comfort: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

The Las Bugambilias tour van is very new and comfortable. It seats a large group, if you have one, with plush seats and A/C available. René also supplies purified water during the day.

We were able to sit back and relax, and let René take care of all the details.

What Could Be Improved:

Nothing. Really and truly nothing. It was such a wonderful day, learning about longstanding cultural traditions, artisan techniques, history, and the local people. I felt so lucky to have been able to meet all the talented weavers and as well as the off-the-beaten path mezcal seller and the pulque vendor.

René was a pleasure to spend time with. He made conversation, gave helpful information about the towns, people, and traditions, and then also gave us some space to relax during one of the longer car rides between towns.

Conclusion: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

Las Bugambilias Tours are a great resource to finding the best local artisans and also some off-the-beaten path experiences. The tours are totally customizable so you can choose if you want to focus on one subject - like Oaxacan textiles - or if you want a variety of experiences, like ruins, artisans, and mezcal distilleries. René also provides a special Oaxaca tour for holidays like Day of the Dead, Christmas, and Semana Santa.

Tour name: Las Bugambilias Tours

Social Sites: Facebook

Price: For a private 8/hr Tour - $25/hr for 2 people, $35/hr for 3-8 people, $25/hr for 9-18 people. (All prices $USD)

Includes: Free purified water, comfortable van with A/C

Office Location: Reforma 402, Centro, C.P. 68000, Oaxaca, Oax. México

Contact: tours@lasbugambilias.com

Booking: https://lasbugambilias.com/tours/


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Video Tour: Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

Disclosure: I was offered a tour with Las Bugambilias in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own!

Where to Stay in Oaxaca:

Best Oaxacan Textiles Tour

If you're looking for a great hotel to stay in during your Oaxaca weaving tour - I can't recommend Casa de las Bugambilias enough, a boutique hotel run by the same family as the tours.

You can check out my full blog post about where to stay in Oaxaca with suggestions for every budget and travel style.

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Other Oaxaca Travel Guides:

My giant Oaxaca food guide with all the best restaurants in the city

11 dishes you must try and where to find them. 

What to eat in Oaxaca markets

How to take a Oaxaca mezcal tour and the best palenques to visit

My full Oaxaca city tag for lots more posts.

My Oaxaca coast tag for beach guides.

19 Responses

  1. Melody H.
    | Reply

    Beautiful! Heart warming to know these people are keeping this wonderful art alive. The cost of the tours are incredible – why would anyone want to attempt organizing something like this by themselves, especially when Las Bugambilius is willing to handle such small groups! Cool Susan!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Thanks for the comment Melody!

      It is a beautiful tradition and well worth learning about and supporting. 🙂

  2. Ivy
    | Reply

    I totally agree- we like exploring on our own without a big group of people but sometimes tours are just that much more efficient. I had NO idea dyes could be made from cactus leaves. How cool is that?! I’d love to see how the ombre-look is created using dyes. We missed out on a textile/dye tour opportunity in Lake Atitlan and I’m really regretting it now after seeing this post. It’s amazing what Latin Americans can accomplish with textiles! I

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Agreed! Tours can be so efficient, especially if you’re time crunched. The nice thing about Las Bugambilias tours is that they are private and totally customizable. We had such an amazing day getting to know the culture and the area. I actually show a bit about the ombre technique in the video in the post 🙂 I loved seeing how the weaver was able to make that look. The textiles in Guatemala are so incredible as well!

  3. Julie
    | Reply

    This tour looks amazing! Its interesting how they get the colors! I had no idea this was the process. Very beautiful and vibrant colors ! That lunch also looked delicious 🙂

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Yes, the colors they create from the natural ingredients are so vibrant and strong! Thanks so much for your comment!

  4. Jenn and Ed Coleman
    | Reply

    That’s quite a yarn you’re spinning there. Sorry couldn’t resist. The colors are so vibrant it’s unbelievable. I remember from my Tucson days that it’s the little insects in the prickly pears that give the purple color but I forgot how purple that really is. This sounds like a beautiful tour from a company that made sure that they did it right. Thank you for sharing.

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Hahah! Great pun 🙂 Yes the cochinil insects make such a vibrant color, it’s almost unbelievable!

  5. Cat
    | Reply

    This is such an interesting way to your the city! I had no idea that textile tours even exists! I used to knit so it is really interesting to read how they dye the yarn!!

  6. Allison Wong
    | Reply

    That’s a very local experience. These handmade embroidery and woven goods are so pretty!

  7. Cassandra
    | Reply

    Wow, I’ve always been so intrigued with handmade products, especially since we mass produce almost everything in the United States! I never understood why handmade products were so much more expensive, and why it was important to invest in things like this until now that I’m a bit older. Seeing the amount of work that goes into making something like this is incredible, and the care that goes into it, it’s such a different piece of work when it’s NOT made by a machine! Love this post, and thanks for all the insight!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      So glad you liked the post! I agree – handmade goods that preserve cultural traditions are important to invest in! 🙂

  8. Oaxaca’s already cool enough in itself isn’t it? But you throw in some absurdly talented traditional weaving and you take it to the next level. Your little tour looked pretty amazing, and you had me at Mezcal. That was all this post really had to say for me anyway.

    But it’s cool that you get to see this part of Mexico in a different eye from your background in fashion. I know next to nothing about the traditional techniques, but the skill level is totally mad. I really love the colors they use on the dyes as well!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Haha! I also love mezcal, so that was a welcome addition to the fun tour. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  9. […] Travel Recs: How to See the Best Oaxacan Textiles. […]

  10. Lisa Houck
    | Reply

    Amazing post, great pictures, wonderful insights! Im in Oaxaca now and am 100% going to contact them for a tour like this, Thank you for sharing this!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      That’s so great! Enjoy – the textiles here are beyond amazing. 🙂

  11. cristina
    | Reply

    Hi Susan!
    thank you for your great blog! its being so useful when im now planning my trip to mexico!
    i have a question in relation to the weavers. Did you buy something there? how were the prices?



    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Hi Cristina,
      So glad to hear the posts have been useful!
      Yes I have and I think the prices are very reasonable. They may not be rock bottom prices, but that is because these are very talented master weavers who are doing intricate work. Most people would find their prices very fair. I also highly encourage people to buy directly from artisans when they can (rather than a shop) as that insures that the artisan receives fair compensation for their work.
      Have a great trip!

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