En Vía Oaxaca Tour Review: Is It Worth It?

by | May 7, 2024 | Mexico, Travel

Looking for a unique tour during your trip to Oaxaca?

Fundación En Vía Oaxaca is a microfinance tour that takes you to visit female businesses in the villages around Oaxaca City. At US$90, the tour is expensive. so, you may be wondering whether it’s worth it.

In this post, I’ll share my honest and unbiased review about the En Via Microfinance Tour and let you know if you should do the tour.

For more tour ideas and insider tips, check out my Oaxaca Travel Guide.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website’s Disclosure for more info.

about Fundación En Vía

Fundación En Vía is a non-profit organization that provides interest-free loans and education opportunities to female entrepreneurs in the Tlacolula Valley (just outside Oaxaca City).

Businesses they loan to include pottery, textiles, shops, and restaurants. During the pandemic, En Vía also began helping women set up chicken farms and vegetable gardens. Financing for the loans and business training comes from donations and tours.

They’re located at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, Avenida Juarez 909, in Oaxaca City. You can find them on Google Maps. If you’re planning on staying in Oaxaca long term, you can volunteer at En Via.

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting travel insurance. During my travels over the past 2 years, I’ve been using SafetyWing for my insurance. They’re very affordable for all ages, and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.

How to Book Your Tour

I found out about this microfinance tour through some American tourists I met while standing in line to eat at a restaurant in Oaxaca, I was intrigued, but I didn’t book until two weeks later.

Fundación En Vía has two tours per week:

  • Thursday (1:00 pm – 6:30 pm): This tour is shorter. It focuses less on the handicraft businesses and more on businesses like shops and tortilla makers
  • Sunday (9:15 am – 3:30 pm): This tour is longer and it focuses more on handicraft businesses on pottery and weavers.
two people working on a loom while another person looks at them

It cost me US$60 (March 2024). However, the next day, I had to leave Oaxaca a day before the tour. I contacted En Vía to see if I could change the date because I knew I would be back in Oaxaca a couple of weeks later. They were amazing, and they let me change the date!

When you book, you pay half the tour price (US$30) via PayPal. Two or three days before the tour, you’ll get an invoice via PayPal, and you pay the rest of the US$30. 

As of April 2024, the price is US$90, which is a huge price increase from US$60.

En Via Tour Itinerary

Each week, the En Vía tour visits different businesses. Therefore, you could do this tour multiple times and have multiple experiences. One person on my tour was going on her tenth En Vía tour!

We visited two towns:

  • San Marcos Tlapazole, known for its red clay pottery
  • Teotitlan de Valle, known for its textiles
a shelf of cups of red clay pottery
San Marcos Tlapazole is a town known for its red clay pottery.

In those two towns, we visited five female entrepreneurs: two red clay potters, one woman who ran a restaurant (where we had lunch), another who sold huaraches (sandals), and a textile weaver.

  • Angela and Francesa in San Marco Tlapazola – They have a red clay pottery business
  • Maria in San Marcos Tlapazola – She has a red clay pottery business
  • Lunch at Comedor Jaguar in Teotitlan de Valle
  • Amelia in Teotitlan de Valle – She has a huarache (sandals) business
  • Virginia in Teotitlan de Valle – She makes and sells textiles

Meeting Point of Tour

The tour meeting point was at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca on Avenida Juarez 909 at 8:55 am.

My tour had 10 people. All of the people on the tour were from the United States. We had one guide (Dora) and one interpreter from the United States (I don’t remember his name).

The tour started at 9:15 am. We had a shuttle van to take us to the villages.

Drive to Our First Stop

During the drive to our first stop, the tour guide, Dora, gave us a brilliant explanation of the purpose of En Via. I don’t want to repeat what she said here. If you go on the tour, you’ll learn all about it. It was incredibly fascinating, and we learned in great detail EXACTLY how En Via helps these women and what the women need to do to get the loan. If you’re interested in international development, you’ll already love this tour!

Dora also went over the rules of etiquette while on the tour. One of the most interesting rules was that we had to use the formal “Usted” when speaking to these women. Since they are businesswomen, we need to show our respect to them. Dora always used “usted” with them. I loved that! If you don’t know Spanish, “usted” is the formal “you” in Spanish that is usually used with older people and people of higher positions like your boss, teacher, or doctor.

My one complaint is that the shuttle driver drove like a mad man. He was passing cars in the middle of a two-lane highway as cars, buses, and trucks were coming toward us.

You might be interested in these Mexico travel guides:

Angela and Francesca in San Marcos Tlapazola

a woman sitting on the floor and holding out a piece of pottery on En Via tour Oaxaca

Our first stop was at the home and workshop of two sisters: Angela Martínez Aragón and her sister Francesca. These two amazing women make and sell red clay pottery (barro rojo). The village of is famous for its red clay pottery. There are 265 women in San Marcos Tlapazola who make and sell the red clay pottery.

When we entered their place, they were both working on small stools surrounded by pottery and their tools and materials. Angela and Francesca have their own kiln. I think there are only two kilns in the whole town. The interesting thing is that their biggest expense is the firewood for the kiln.

a woman sanding a piece of pottery

They showed us how they made the pottery. We visited their small showroom. They talked about how they used their loans and what they gained from being part of En Via.

It was fascinating to learn all about their business.

Maria in San Marcos Tlapazola

a woman standing and smiling

María Cruz Martínez  was our next stop on this En Via Microfinance Tour. She was very different from Angel and Francesca in that she was younger and much more business savvy.

a woman making red clay pottery on the En Via Tour in Oaxaca

She also sang the praises of En Via more than the first two women we visited. Maria talked a lot about how she learned so much about running her business and improving the quality of her pottery. She has her own Instagram and WhatsApp accounts.

Maria also showed us how she made the red clay pottery by hand.

At the end of the tour with Maria, we had a chance to buy her pottery. I bought a cup for MXN$120.

Drive to Teotitlan de Valle

A beautiful rug from Teotitlan de Valle.

We next traveled about 45 minutes to Teotitlan de Valle, one of the more prosperous villages in the Tlacolula Valley. I’d been to this village twice before for weaving demonstrations. The village is famous for its textiles, especially its woven rugs (tapetes) that are made on a loom.

You might be interested in these posts on Mexico:

Lunch at Jaguar Comedor in Teotitlan de Valle

a woman standing in Comedor Jaguar restaurant in Teotilan de Valle
Isabel Lazo Chavez is an amazing woman that I met on the En Via Tour in Oaxaca

Jaguar Comedor is a restaurant founded by Isabel Lazo Chavez, another En Via entrepreneur. She told us a fascinating story about how she started her restaurant.

For lunch, we had four choices:

  • Mole negro with chicken
  • Chili Relleno
  • Chicken Enchilada with Mole Roja
  • Cheese Enchilada with Mole Roja

We also had Jamaica as a drink, which was perfectly flavored – not too sweet.

a plate of mole enchiladas, rice, and carrots
Chicken enchilada with mole roja was a good choice at Comedor Jaguar

The food blew me away. I chose the chicken enchilada and had one of the best moles I’d had in Oaxaca. It was perfectly seasoned and perfectly flavored. I didn’t want to stop eating.

Amelia in Teotitlan de Valle

a woman standing in a room

Our fourth stop on this En Via Tour was with Amelia Montaño Bautista, the youngest entrepreneur we met. She didn’t make anything; instead, she acted as a middleman. She bought sandals (huaraches) from a local person who made them, and then she sold them in the market in Teotitlan de Valle. She also sold aprons and ran a chicken business.

Amelia designed her own sandals. We weren’t allowed to take photos of her new sandals, though, because she wanted to protect her design.

Virginia in Teotitlan de Valle

a woman holding 2 bundles of yarn in a courtyard and talking on the En Via Tour

The last entrepreneur that we visited was Virginia Rosalia López. Like a lot of people in Teotitlan de Valle, Virginia made and sold hand-woven textiles called tapetes. You’ll find the colorful rugs sold all over Oaxaca.

Virginia talked about her business and demonstrated how she turned the wool into yarn, dyed the fabric using natural ingredients, and wove it using a loom. A couple of people even got to try out the loom.

Even if you don’t do an En Via tour, you should try to make it to the textile workshops and showrooms in Teotitlan de Valle. Watching the women work the loom and dye the yarn is fascinating. The best way to get a demonstration is to go on a tour. I’ve done these first two tours:

  • Coyote Aventuras—They have many tours that mix hiking with culture, such as mezcal and the weavers of Teotitlan. I did a mezcal, hiking, and weaving tour with them, but I think they no longer have the exact same tour. Check Rates & Book Your Tour
  • Oaxaca By Locals – This is a good tour agency. I went on one of their tours to Hierve de Agua, Teotitlan de Valle, mezcal distillery, Mitla, and El Tule. Rating: 4.8/5 | Check Rates & Book Your Tour
  • Enjoy Oaxaca – This is a new tour focusing solely on arts and handicrafts of Oaxaca. It stops at Teotitlan de Valle for a weaving demonstration as well as to see alebrije and the black clay pottery. Rating: 4.8/5 | Check Rates & Book Your Tour

Final Thoughts on the En Via Tour Review

That concludes my honest review of the En Vía Tour in Oaxaca.

I hope you’re still not on the fence about taking the tour. It’s expensive but it’s definitely worth it. In fact, I think it’s one of the best things to do in Oaxaca. I learned so much about how microfinancing works and how some of the handicrafts of Oaxaca are made. I also learned a lot about Oaxaca in general.

Don’t book at the last minute! When I first wanted to do the tour, I tried booking the day before the tour, but it was completely full. Luckily, I was able to book for the following week.

Check out my Oaxaca travel guide for more attractions, tours, and activities. I also have a guide on how to get from the Oaxaca airport to your hotel.

Best Resources for Planning Your Trip to Mexico

Book Your Flight to Mexico

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Mexico. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

Book Your Accommodations for Mexico:

The best hotel booking sites for Japan are Booking.com. They have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

Book Your Tours for Mexico:

The three best tour booking sites for Mexico are Viator and Get Your Guide. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. They will help you if you have trouble with your tour, especially if the tour company cancels on you or doesn’t show up.

Stay Connected When in Mexico:

To have access to the internet and not spend a lot of money while you’re out and about in Mexico, get a physical SIM card or an eSIM. I used Airalo eSIM in Mexico. While setting up can seem overwhelming at first, the SIM card has worked well for me in Mexico.

Are you on Pinterest?

Hey! How about saving one of these pins to Pinterest to read for later?

And feel free to follow me on Pinterest, where you’ll find lots of travel articles for everywhere around the world.

Review of En Via Tour in Oaxaca
Review of En Via Tour in Oaxaca


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About the Bamboo Traveler

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

Get Your FREE Japan Itinerary Guide Here!

Subscribe to my newsletter to receive the latest travel tips for Asia and get a free 4-page PDF version of my 3-Week Japan Itinerary.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest