How To Pronounce Oaxaca

How To Pronounce Oaxaca: An Easy Guide [2024]

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Want to know how to pronounce Oaxaca like a pro?

Of course you do! It’s a big downer if you find out after walking around a city all day that you’ve been saying its name all wrong and no one bothered to tell you!

The good news is that I speak Spanish and can teach you how to pronounce Oaxaca while sounding like a pro.

It’s super simple, so read on, and you’ll learn how to say Oaxaca correctly in no time at all!

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

How to Pronounce Oaxaca: Quick Answer

There are three syllables in the word “Oaxaca”. The accent is in the middle.

If we break them up, you get OAXACA.

The first part is pronounced “WA“. The second bit is pronounced “HA“. And the last part is just “KA“.

So, putting it together, Oaxaca is pronounced WAHAKA. It should sound like this:

Simple, right? Absolutely!

But let’s look into this in a little more detail.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

How to Pronounce Oaxaca: A Few Basics

Don’t worry! This isn’t going to be difficult, but it’s helpful to know a few basic things about the Mexican language.

The first is that there aren’t really any long sounds in Spanish. Everything is short and sweet. Think cha-cha-cha (and not char-char-char)!

The second is that the accent (or stress) ordinarily falls on the second-last syllable of a word. In a three-letter word like “Oaxaca”, that means it goes in the middle.

The last thing that you should know is that the “x” in Mexican Spanish doesn’t sound like the English “x”. In “Oaxaca”, it is like an “h“, and you say it with an aspirated “HA” sound.

Putting it all together again, we get WAHAKA. So Oaxaca = WAHAKA. Simple!

Now that you know the right Oaxaca pronunciation, let’s look at a few common mistakes, so that you know what to avoid!

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

How To Pronounce Oaxaca: Common Mistakes

“Oaxaca” is one of those words that is easy to get wrong.

If you’ve followed the discussion above, you’ll know how to say it correctly. But you’ll definitely hear other people pronouncing it wrongly from time to time.

I’ve set out below a few common mispronunciations, so you can spot the errors and avoid making them yourself.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Error #1: “Wah-xa-ca”

This mispronunciation often results from attempting to phonetically sound out the name using English letters.

You can avoid this error if you remember that the “x” in Oaxaca is not pronounced like the English “x.”

Instead, it carries a unique Spanish sound, similar to “h” in “hat.”

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Error #2: “Oh-ah-xa-ca”

This common mistake comes from adding an extra syllable at the beginning of Oaxaca by sounding out both the “o” and the “a”.

Instead, “Oaxaca” starts with a single “oa” sound pronounced as “WA“, not as two distinct syllables.

All you have to do it keep it short and sweet and say it in one smooth flow.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Error #3: “Oaks-a-ca”

This one comes from interpreting the “x” in Oaxaca as a hard “eks” sound.

Instead, as we know from earlier, the “x” Oaxaca sounds more like “HA,” creating a “WAHA” sound.

Now that you’ve seen a few of the common mistakes, it might be worth touching briefly on why it is worth learning how to pronounce Oaxaca the right way.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Why Is It Important To Say Oaxaca Correctly?

There are a many reasons to learn how to pronounce Oaxaca the right way.

I’ve set out just a few of these below.

Personal Growth

Personally, I always like to try to learn the basics about any city I visit.

I like seeing how people do things differently, and part of that is learning basic things about their culture.

And sometimes as I learn about them, I find things that I might like to incorporate into my own life.

Enhance Your Travel Experience

I also find that learning a few basic things about a new place enhances my travel experience.

It lets you drop into the culture that you’ve entered a little more deeply.

Cultural Respect

Learning to pronounce “Oaxaca” correctly also shows respect for the local culture and people.

It reflects your genuine interest in embracing and acknowledging their language and heritage.

Meaningful Connections

If you know how to pronounce Oaxaca accurately, locals will appreciate your efforts and may feel more inclined to engage in conversations with you.

It’s a doorway to meaningful connections and interactions.

Avoiding Miscommunication

Incorrect pronunciation might lead to confusion or misinterpretation, especially if the listener doesn’t recognize the mispronounced word.

Clear communication ensures your message is conveyed accurately.

The name “Oaxaca” has a long history and has changed over the years, so it is no wonder that it is often mispronounced.

I’ve briefly described it’s origins below.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Where Did The Name Oaxaca Come From?

The word “Oaxaca” has its roots in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.

The Aztecs occupied the Oaxaca valley area in the late 15th century and called the area “Huaxyacac”, which referred to a type of Tamarind tree growing in the region.

The Spanish colonists conquered the valley in the early 16th century, and began to refer to the area as “Oaxaca”, using the customary Spanish letters.

Initially, the “x” in Oaxaca was pronounced with more of a “sh” sound. However, over time, it took on its current “h” sound, and now sounds the way it does today.

That about does it for explaining the pronunciation of Oaxaca and the origins of the word. Now let’s look at what Oaxaca is known for!

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

What Is Oaxaca Known For?

Oaxaca is known for a huge number of things.

It is remarkable for having an enormous diversity of attractions as a result of its long history and deep culture and traditions.

For me, one of the most important things about any city is the food. Oaxaca definitely doesn’t disappoint in this regard!

You can try the seven different moles, tlayudas, quesadillas, memelas, and empanadas, just to name a few.

You can visit one (or several!) of the many festivals that Oaxaca holds each year.

The most famous are La Guelaguetza and the Day of the Dead festivals. La Guelaguetza is held each year in July and the Day of the Dead festival occurs annually in late October into early November.

Oaxaca is one of those places where it’s fun just to walk around and soak it in.

Neighborhoods like Jalatloco are beautiful and full of quirky shops and stunning wall-art. And there seems to always be something going on at the Zócalo.

Whatever takes your fancy, one thing is certain — you definitely won’t be bored in Oaxaca!

If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at our post on the amazing things that Oaxaca is known for.

But first things first — let’s think about how you’ll get to Oaxaca to begin with!

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

How Do You Get To Oaxaca?

Oaxaca is a state in the south of Mexico.

Oaxaca de Juárez (that is, Oaxaca City, also confusingly referred to as just Oaxaca) is a city in the middle of the state, about 160 miles north of the Pacific Ocean coastline.

Most of the time when someone refers to Oaxaca, they just mean the city. But sometimes you might need to check that the person doesn’t actually mean the Mexican state.

From most major cities outside of Mexico, you’ll most likely fly into Mexico City. You could also fly into Guadalajara, but that would be unusual.

With approximately 736,000 people, Oaxaca is a large regional city rather than a major Mexican hub. Because of that, you will need to change flights in Mexico City.

It’s not difficult, and Mexico City is a major city with a very modern international airport.

If you are not in a hurry, you could also spend some time in Mexico City first, and then travel to Oaxaca afterward. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even hire a car or take the bus to Oaxaca rather than fly!

Take a look at our guide on how to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca for some ideas about how to make the journey.

The next question you probably is have is when you should make that journey?

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

When Is The Best Time To Visit Oaxaca?

Personally, I think the best time to visit Oaxaca is in late October. The weather is a little cooler, and you can see the amazing Day of the Dead festivities.

But that’s just me — when you visit Oaxaca depends on what weather you want and what you want to see.

Your decision will be driven by the climate in Oaxaca and the high season for tourists.

Let’s look at each of those below.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Climate In Oaxaca

Oaxaca has a subtropical highland climate and is 1550 metres above sea level.

Because of this high altitude, its temperature fluctuates daily. You’ll get cold nights and hot days, with the extremes in the temperature depending on the season.

The hottest months are April and May, where the average high is 88 – 89°F (31 – 32°C).

The coldest months are December and January, where the average low is 47 – 48°F (8 – 9°C).

Oaxaca also has a dry season and a rainy season.

The dry season runs from October to the end of April, and the rainy season runs from May through to the end of September.

So, if you prefer it to be warm, October / November or February / March will probably be your best time to visit Oaxaca.

If you don’t mind the rain, you could also visit Oaxaca during July to September, although heavy rains sometimes drive humidity up to 80% or more.

So if you visit during the July to September rainy season, you’ll need to be willing to work up a sweat!

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Oaxaca Tourist Season

The high season for tourists in Oaxaca is from October through to mid-January.

It starts with the Day of the Dead festival in late October / early November and continues through Christmas and New Year.

December and January are also the coolest months in Oaxaca, which is another reason that the tourist numbers tend to be higher.

The low season for tourism is the rainy season. This is not only due to the rain, but also because of the humidity that often follows it.

The weather is generally more unpleasant than that of the dry season. That’s fine if you’re inside visiting a museum, but it can make visiting places like Hierve El Agua less magical if it is pouring with rain.

Having said that, it isn’t always pouring during the rainy season. If you’re lucky, you might get a dry week and benefit from cheaper prices and smaller crowds.

It’s therefore definitely something that you should consider if you are on a budget.

Once you’ve decided when to travel, you’ll need to decide where to stay in Oaxaca.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Where Is The Best Place To Stay In Oaxaca?

Oaxaca is full to the brim with amazing hotels for you to choose from.

You can choose from luxury hotels such as the Quinta Real (pictured) or amazing arty boutique hotels like NaNa Vida.

You can stay in haciendas like Hacienda Los Laureles Spa, or an eco-hotel like Hotel Con Corazón, that donates a large amount of its annual profit to local charities.

And if you are on a budget, there are also some great hostels to choose from.

Your list of options is long, and all of them fantastic.

Check out our top picks for the best hotels in Oaxaca if you need to find a place a stay.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

What Are The Best Things To Do In Oaxaca?

Once you’ve decided on your accommodation, the real fun starts, because Oaxaca is loaded with brilliant things to do!

If you love exploring ancient ruins, then you should definitely visit Monte Albán and Mitla. There are also genuine wonders of the world just a short drive away, including the stunning Hierve el Agua and the Tule Tree, which is the widest tree in the world.

If you are interested in Oaxaca arts and artisanal crafts, you can go and see how the local artisans make Barro Negro, Alebrijes and Mezcal.

You can also visit the fantastic local markets such as the Mercado Benito Juárez, Mercado de Artesanias or Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

If you like your mezcal, Oaxaca is 100% the place for you! There are amazing mezcalerías on almost every corner just waiting for you to try some of the best mezcal that you’ll ever taste!

There are beautiful churches such as the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán and Nuestra Señora de La Asunción.

I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic Oaxacan food that you can try at restaurants, mezcalerías, rooftop bars, and local markets. You can also get amazing street food at places like the Zócalo.

It’s a long list and you’ll be hard pressed to see, do and taste everything unless you are fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in Oaxaca.

Let’s touch briefly on safety so that you ensure you have an amazing trip without any issues.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Is Oaxaca Safe?

Is Oaxaca Safe?

The short answer is yes, Oaxaca is safe — provided that you exercise reasonable caution and behave sensibly.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that you should not do things that every sensible person knows will attract the wrong kind of attention.

Examples include walking around with cash or valuables in plain sight, walking home late at night intoxicated, breaking the law or acting antisocially.

It isn’t hard to take a few simple steps to keep yourself out of trouble.

Leave your valuables and passport in the hotel safe. If you have too much to drink, ask the restaurant or bar to call you a cab, and wait until it arrives before you leave.

It should be obvious that you should respect the laws of the country that you are visiting, even if for whatever reason you disagree with them. You are a guest, and your visa can be revoked if you commit a crime.

The chances that you behave sensibly in your home town. You just have to do the same thing in Oaxaca.

If you are a sole traveler, and particularly if you are a sole female traveler, then the list above still applies. You should just be a little more vigilant around groups of men or intoxicated men and ensure that you always keep your wits about you.

If you want more detail on this, we have an extensive safety guide that will tell you everything you might want to know.

How To Pronounce Oaxaca

Final Thoughts

So you now no doubt know how to pronounce Oaxaca like a pro! Well done!

That means that it’s time to visit Oaxaca and test it out!

In addition to explaining how to pronounce Oaxaca, we’ve also set out above just a smattering of what Oaxaca has to offer.

If you’re looking for more detail, you can take a look at the great articles below to get you started:

So lastly, and most important of all, have a terrific trip and when you get there — enjoy Oaxaca!

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