Temazcal Ceremony Oaxaca

The differences between a temazcal ceremony in Tulum and one in Oaxaca.

June 22, 2023

Temazcal Ceremony Oaxaca
Alicia Butler

Alicia Butler is a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She started traveling full time back in 2018, before it was cool to do so. Her favorite cities in the world are NYC, Oaxaca, Lisbon, and Edinburgh.

She was an NYC tour guide for eight years, so she can tell you all the best places to eat pizza, bagels, and falafel — as well as what to pack and what to leave home.

Temazcal ceremonies have been used by Mayan cultures for centuries for religious, health, and pain management purposes.

Though a temazcal ceremony, Oaxaca, for tourists is as common as it is in the Yucatan, there is at least one company that offers such experiences. During my month-long stay in Oaxaca, I participated in a Temazcal experience and can’t recommend the facilitators enough.

Find out what such a temazcal ceremony entails, what such ceremonies are used for, and how to find the best temazcal ceremony in Oaxaca.

This post may contain affiliate links, so if you buy something after clicking on a link, I might (fingers crossed!) just get a little commission. Good news: I only recommend products that I love! Which means you can feel good about all of my recs.

What is a Temazcal ceremony?

Temazcal ceremonies have been used for centuries by Mexicans to detoxify the body, manage stress and depression, and ease the symptoms of childbirth.

Ceremonies are facilitated by women, who have passed down this practice for generations.

Throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, you’ll find plenty of temazcal experiences marketed to tourists. If you’re looking for a temazcal ceremony in Oaxaca, you’ll find fewer options, though because these ceremonies aren’t as big as a tourist draw here.

Many families perform their own such rituals, though it’s impossible (and wildly inappropriate) to participate as an outsider. 

Temazcal ceremonies take place in a small hut, usually made of stone or brick. Sometimes you’ll find such ceremonies in cloth huts that look a little like rounded tipis. 

The hut is heated with a fire (usually with a coal oven) and herbs are placed on the fire. Water is poured over the coals to create an herby steam release. 

Sometimes music, chanting, and breathwork is incorporated; similar to a Russian platza treatment, the facilitator might use herbs and branches to beat or brush away negative energy. 

Types of Temazcal Ceremonies

There are different types of temazcal ceremonies, and they’re performed for different purposes throughout Mexico. 

In Tulum, you’ll find ceremonies that are meant to ward off bad spirits and energies; temazcal ceremonies in Oaxaca are mostly performed for detoxification purposes. Yet, many Mexican also use these ceremonies for pain management.

As with the Playa Bacocho turtle release, it’s easy to assume these types of experiences were created “just for us tourists”. 

And yes, the ones you’ll do as a tourist in Mexico aren’t going to be “authentic” temazcal ceremonies. But this is a good thing. It would be wildly unethical and inappropriate to sit in on such a ritual for locals, so finding a Oaxaca temazcal ceremony geared toward travelers is key. 

Temazcal Ceremony Tulum

Spiritual Ceremony

If you book a Temazcal ceremony in Tulum, it will more likely be a spiritual experience, meant to ward off negative spirits and energy.

These ceremonies can go on for hours, so be prepared to be in a hot tent or hut for a significant amount of time. 

Though I haven’t done a spiritual ceremony myself, I’ve heard these can be an intense experience. People can moan, scream, cry, and flail — and it all happens within a few feet from other participants. 

If you’re planning on doing a spiritual ceremony, just be prepared for this (especially if you haven’t booked a private ceremony). 

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Detoxification Ritual

The type of temazcal ceremony I did in Oaxaca was a detoxification ritual. This is a ritual that is akin to a sweat lodge or platza treatment. 

You may not exorcize all of your demons, but you can sweat out about a liter of toxins in one of these treatments. 

The whole process was very gentle and relaxing. It was also a private session, so my friends and I were the only ones taking part in it. The owner did tell us that they’ve done rituals for people who have screamed and cried during the process, which is why they prefer doing private ceremonies. 

Pain Management During Childbirth 

Though you won’t see this type of temazcal ceremony for tourists, evidently these rituals have been used to manage pain during childbirth for generations. 

Does this type of ceremony actually help to ease labor pains? Heck if I’d know. But if Mexicans have been doing it for centuries, there is probably something to it? 

Either way, you’re probably a tourist if you’re reading this. And you won’t experience this in your travels. But if you’re planning on doing such an experience, it’s not a bad idea to understand the cultural significance of such treatments and remember that they weren’t “created” just for us travelers.

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Best Temazcal Ceremony in Oaxaca

Myself and two other women at my Mexican coliving space booked a temazcal ceremony in Oaxaca when I was there this summer. 

For about $70 USD, we took part in a 45-minute private temazcal ceremony, followed by a cold plunge and hour-long massage. We were picked up at our coliving space (the owner will pick you up at your Downtown Airbnb or hotel) and shuttle about 20 minutes into the country.

Before the experience, we were served some mezcal (which to be honest, seemed a little counterproductive, as we were getting a detox treatment, but whatever; when in Mexico, right?). 

The ceremony was performed by a woman who had trained with the owner’s grandmother to perform temazcal ceremonies. The whole experience was extremely relaxing, and I really cannot recommend it enough.

I will say that it probably matters who you do the ceremony with. The two women I shared the experience with were friends, who I trusted and felt safe with. All I felt in that hut were the best of vibes and a lot of sisterly love. 

The hut was very small, and I was a little worried I’d feel claustrophobic but luckily it wasn’t totally dark inside and the facilitator kept checking in on us to make sure we were okay.

Our cold plunge wasn’t very… cold. But that might have been because there were three warm bodies in the tub that had just been in a hot hut for 45 minutes. It may have been a more frigid tub had we gone in separately, but this was just as much a bonding experience as it was a health one, right?

And, the massage. Oh, the massage.

It was truly one of the most relaxing massages I’ve ever had in my entire life. 

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Temazcal Ceremony Oaxaca Tips

Here are a few tips so you’ll know what to expect during your Oaxaca temazcal ceremony.

Drink Lots of Water

I really struggle to drink enough water, and water is essential for this experience. I forget how much water the facilitator told us we sweated out, but I think she said it was about a liter or something.

You’re going to want to replace that fluid (before and after the temazcal ceremony). 

I made the mistake of going out that night and drinking a ton of mezcal with the other people staying at my coliving space. And I really regretted that the next day.

Don’t be like me. Don’t drink too much before or after a temazcal or sauna experience. 

Don’t Ingest Too Many Toxins

Yes, you may be served some mezcal before your temazcal ceremony. But the mezcal is supposed to help you relax and make the most of your experience. It’s also considered a more spiritual drink than most other alcoholic beverages (especially when sipped slowly).

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend ingesting too many toxins before or after your experience (trust me).

The facilitators recommended only enjoying a light lunch before the temazcal and avoiding heavy meats or oils the day of. Which, I’ll be honest, I didn’t do, as all three of us ate chicken dumplings, fried naan, wedge salad, and steak for dinner.

Mentally Prepare Yourself

I don’t think that Oaxaca temazcal experiences are as physically or emotionally strenuous as the ones you’ll find in other areas of Mexico. You really don’t need to mentally prepare yourself for the exorcism that many travelers describe in Tulum. 

That being said, you also don’t want to squander the opportunity, either.

Ask yourself what you want to get out of the experience, but don’t get too attached to that idea, either. A lot of stuff came up for me that I didn’t expect from the temazcal ceremony, but I was also glad that I had an idea of why I was doing it in the first place. 

Book a Cold Plunge and a Massage

When it comes to cold plunges, I’m all in. Any time, anywhere.

Though the plunge itself wasn’t super cold, it was a refreshing way to reset my body’s temperature after spending 45 minutes in a hot hut. 

It was also a great way to reconnect with the other women in my party between the ceremony and the massage. As dorky as it sounds, we were kinda giddy during the whole cold plunge part. 

Don’t Book the Cheapest Option

When it comes to just about any experience in Mexico, a good rule of thumb is to never book the cheapest option — for anything. 

You’ll want to take a look at the price ranges for temazcal ceremonies in Oaxaca and find that sweet spot. 

There are some options that cost a lot, and these are going to be super touristy (you may find these at high-end hotels and resorts); there are also going to be some that are extraordinarily cheap, but these may not offer small amenities and touches you may want during your service. 

You also want to consider your own health during such a service. If you’re forced to sit in a hot dark room with a bunch of strangers for an hour or more, safety is an important factor.

There are some temazcal experiences that cost a lot, and these are going to be super touristy (you may find these at high-end hotels and resorts); there are also going to be some that are extraordinarily cheap, but these may not offer small amenities and touches you may want during your service. 

Temazcal Ceremony Price Ranges

A temazcal ceremony, Oaxaca, ranges in price from about $30 or $40 USD to close to $400. My experience cost $70 and included an hour-long massage and cold plunge. 

Of course, I also added a $12 tip for the massage therapist, too.


Your other option is to stay at a hotel. 

In many Latin American cities, such as Mexico City, you’re going to pay way less for a room than you would in a city like New York or Los Angeles.

Depending on the hotel and its amenities, you’ll pay anywhere between $800 and $3,000 a month for a room.