If you are visiting Central Mexico or specifically the Guadalajara area you need to make a day trip to the tiny, rustic town of Tequila. Unfortunately most tour companies that are found online want to charge a little too much for the average backpacker – Don’t worry Tequila can still be yours! And this post will share how to do a Tequila tour on a budget. (I have taken this same tour twice now over the years and it still is one of the best, the budget price is just a bonus.)
The town of Tequila is located about an hour northwest of Guadalajara. Nestled in the foothills of the dormant stratovolcano aptly named Tequila. Although the volcano is dormant this area is alive with activity, due to past volcanic eruptions the soil in this area is very rich, allowing for great conditions to grow the famous or infamous, depending on your hangover, blue agave.
No your not drunk, all tequila comes from the agave plant not a tequila plant. Along with that every tequila product comes from this area of Mexico, the Jalisco state, with a slight few exceptions. So as you pass through the agave fields on your way to Tequila know that the whole world’s supply of this intoxicating beverage is produced right here.
Most tequila tours that are found online want to charge you anywhere from $85 – $135 USD for a one day distillery tour! Unless riding in a specially designed Jose Cuervo themed train is your dream, this might be a little over your budget.
To visit the town of Tequila cheaply, you can take a local bus from the Central Vieja bus terminal in Guadalajara and if you are staying in the Centro Historico part of Guadalajara it is easy to get to this bus station. This is the cheapest way to get to town but it is not the cheapest way to visit the town and a distillery, but if you enjoy an adventure, once you get to town make your way to the central plaza, next to the church and the giant lettered Tequila sign and here you can find a tour. There are a few distilleries that you can tour on your own, some are free but most of the in town distillery tours run anywhere from $500-900 MX pesos.
For those who want a great atmosphere and to liberally enjoy free tequila while not having to worry about finding a bus you should book the Tequila tour through Hostel Hospedarte Centro. (which is also a great place to stay) If you are not staying around Central Guadalajara or don’t want to wander to the hostel the tour company is called Tequila Grand Tour and they do have a website. It is the Tequila Y Campo Agavero tour.
Booking the tour through the hostel costs $450 MX pesos, roughly $23 USD, which includes pickup, dropoff, visiting the Tres Mujeres fields, cellar and distillery, along with a Mariachi social, free flow tequila tasting and a trip to the town of Tequila. You do stop for lunch but that is not included in the price.
Like I mentioned at the beginning I have done this same tour twice now. Once in 2014 and again recently in 2018. The tour is great and actually the factory has expanded extensively since my first trip. The tour revolves mostly around the Tres Mujeres distillery which is now one of the world’s largest blue agave growers.
With this tour you will get a true Mexican experience, the first time I did this tour the tour guide was bilingual and this last time there was only 4 of us that were English speaking and unfortunately the tour guide was not, It now depends on the people and what guide is working that day, but for me this wasn’t that much of an issue and it was still a fun time, especially when everyone on the tour got a little liquored up!
Firstly you tour the fields where you learn how the agave plant is grown and how the special farmers, known as Jimadores, harvest it. The harvested plant is called a Pina and weighs on average 70kg or more.
From there you visit the distillery and learn how your worst or favorite hangover drink is changed from a plant to a spirit. After the distillery tour you visit the cellar and learn how the tequila is stored before continuing to the best part, the tasting!
Tres Mujeres now has a special, separate tasting area for tour groups. Here they set up a stand with different tequila items to taste – tequila candies, honey, syrup and of course liquor. This was definitely the highlight of the tour, we spent a good hour taking shots and tasting the various kinds of tequila that Tres Mujeres produces, all the while everyone was getting more lively and dancing to the live mariachi band.
From here with ceramic road drinks in tow, you bus past the town of Tequila to stop for lunch. The lunch is buffet style, which is not included in the price, and is slightly expensive at $190 MX pesos. The good thing is that you don’t have to get the buffet or even lunch at the restaurant because afterwards the tour will stop in town where you can get food or just bring some snacks for the bus ride.
Once you get to Tequila you now have an hour to explore around, drink more tequila, visit some shops or grab some souvenirs and food. After your hour is done it is time to hop back on the bus for a siesta on your way back to Guadalajara.
I hope your taste buds are now ready for some tequila! I know that after having the authentic, natural thing, tequila is back on my friend list. This tequila tour on a budget is a perfect addition to traveling around Jalisco and a great way to unwind while learning a bit about this important Mexican plant. For more information on exploring this area of Mexico visit my 2 Week Backpacking Guide or check out my Destination Mexico page.
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