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Guatemala Country Overview


GUATEMALA.

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Guatemala Country Overview


GUATEMALA.

A Highlight of Independent Travel

MISS THIS ONE AT YOUR PERIL.

 

Only the most jaded travelers will fail to be impressed by Guatemala. Without a doubt, it is the best bargain north of Ecuador and although there is no shortage of visitors, it's easy to find yourself a bit of space in a country this size if you put in a little time and effort. 

It's hard to say there isn't something for everyone: major ruins (Tikal will take your breath away), colonial cities (Antigua is one of the world's most beautiful), two distinctly different coastlines, scenic volcanoes, dramatic mountains that keep the climate cool and hide real gems, stunning lakes (both Lago Atitlán and Lago Izabal never fail to impress) and wonderful people.

The continuation of ancient traditions and costumes makes for a truly 'back-in-time' spectacle - plus some crazy festivals...if you're into that sort of thing. Toss in easy spanish and unbeatable prices and you've found the destination for your next big adventure.


Already been to Guatemala? Share your tips here so we can share the wealth.

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Popularity & Rep


POPULARITY AND REPUTATION WITH TRAVELERS.

Popularity & Rep


POPULARITY AND REPUTATION WITH TRAVELERS.

a great DESTINATION FOR FIRST-TIME BACKPACKERS.

 

And we're not the only ones who think that. You'll find lots of Spanish schools in Antigua, and many  spend a few weeks brushing up on their Español before venturing further south into Central America.

Usually visited as part of a larger trip, you'll find tons of young visitors from around the world. Many of these travelers have come to the region to surf and rarely leave the coast as they bop through Costa Rica, Nicaragua & El Salvador -- but all that changes when the get to Guatemala.

Besides the sweeping landscapes, beautiful culture and wealth of history, a fast network of tourist-oriented transports makes getting around a breeze if you want to use it.

 The spectacular Tikál Ruins in Northern Guatemala -- learn how we spent the night.

The spectacular Tikál Ruins in Northern Guatemala -- learn how we spent the night.

 Traditional dress is still worn by most women and many men -- even in big cities, adding more than a little charm.

Traditional dress is still worn by most women and many men -- even in big cities, adding more than a little charm.

 Semuc Champay, The "Grand Canyon" of Guatemala. Stay at Zephyr Lodge.

Semuc Champay, The "Grand Canyon" of Guatemala. Stay at Zephyr Lodge.

How do we rate guatemala? 

We give this Central American superstar an 8/10.

Great transport, easy Spanish, intact culture/traditional dress, opportunities to get off the grid, amazing traditional markets and handicrafts, cheap everything, great food and a ton of different experiences packed into a relatively small geographical area. What's not to love?

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Where The F*ck Is Guatemala?


SITTING PRETTY IN CENTRAL AMERICA, DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM THE US & CONNECTIONS VIA MEXICO MAKE IT SUPER EASY, EVEN FOR A SHORT VISIT.

Where The F*ck Is Guatemala?


SITTING PRETTY IN CENTRAL AMERICA, DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM THE US & CONNECTIONS VIA MEXICO MAKE IT SUPER EASY, EVEN FOR A SHORT VISIT.

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Just south of Mexico and tucked up next to Belize and El Salvador, Guatemala is easily accessible from anywhere through frequent connections with Mexico and Panama. 

You'll fly into Guatemala City, but unless you have friends or contacts there, skip it and head straight from the airport to Antigua to get your first impression of Guatemala.

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The Rad & The Bad


IN OUR HONEST OPINION. A BULLSHIT FREE ZONE.

The Rad & The Bad


IN OUR HONEST OPINION. A BULLSHIT FREE ZONE.

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The Rad.

Antigua (especially Easter Week (Semana Santa)  and learning Spanish), Todos Santos Cuchumatan (crazy festivals, beautiful scenery), Tikal (inc. the town of Flores and wildlife seen in surrounding areas) , very touristy, but nevertheless fantastic are the weekly markets at Chichicastenango and the climb to the top of the active Volcán Pacaya. Rio Dulce is also worth a look for a completely different (Caribbean) side of Guatemala.

 Camping at Zephyr Lodge in Lanquín.

Camping at Zephyr Lodge in Lanquín.

A trip (even express) to visit Quetzaltenango is recommended as well -- though for some reason it's often overlooked by budget travelers. The country's 2nd biggest town and nearly as nice in colonial aspects as Antigua, Quetzeltenango is the "European Barocco Town" of the Americas.

You'll find traces of Italian, French, German culture, architecture and life everywhere mixed with the traditional way of life of the Queqchi- and Mam-Mayans still living in that region of the Altiplano. 'Xela' (short name of Quetzaltenango) has a high number of Indians involved in work and social life - there's no crime risk at all and you'll feel safer than anywhere else in Central America.

More off the beaten track: both El Estor and Lanquín are worthwhile stops, with Lanquin playing host to the fantastic Zephyr Lodge which shuttles visitors to the not-to-be-missed Semuc Champey and adventure caves. 

See our itineraries and suggested routes below.

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THE BAD.

Crime is an issue and can inhibit your freedom of movement in the countryside, such as when walking between villages with all your stuff, for fear of robbery. Such events happen frequently to unguided hikers around Lago Atitlán and volcanoes around Antigua. 

 is the country's major tourist destination (both domestic and national tourism) and as beautiful as the lake can be on a clear day, Panajachel is nothing more than a tack and trinket emporium. Smaller towns around the lake are nicer, but in the lake itself and surrounding paths/roads, much litter (trash) is notable and as mentioned there have been many cases of crime against tourists walking in the area.

Equally, the Caribbean coast which has a different and interesting flavor to the rest of the country holds a risk of crime especially from beach hut break-ins and better beaches can be found elsewhere in the region. Another low light is transport. In areas off the beaten track, chicken buses are slow and tiring as they wind up and down endless hills.

 

 

Highlights OF GUATEMALA.

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MARKETS.

If you're visiting Central America and want to do some shopping -- this is the place. The many markets that litter the country are incredible -- and the two main bazaars in Antigua are a great place to start.

 

MAYAN MYSTICISM.

Lake Atitlan plays host to all kinds of mystical activities -- some inherently Mayan (Cocoa Ceremonies) while others are of the imported variety (Yoga, Ayahuasca, etc.). That said, the lake is a great place to relax for awhile, especially if you're keen to meet up with other travelers -- it's a meeting spot of sorts in Central America.

 

VISIBLY UNCHANGED CULTURE.

Unlike it's neighbors (Honduras, Costa Rica) it's common to see both women and men going about their day to day business in traditional dress. There is also a hugely vibrant festival and holiday culture and events like Semana Santa (Easter) in Antigua are not to be missed.

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Vibe & Crowd Factor


PEOPLE VIBE & CROWD FACTOR. WHO & HOW MANY TO EXPECT.

Vibe & Crowd Factor


PEOPLE VIBE & CROWD FACTOR. WHO & HOW MANY TO EXPECT.

LOCALS.

Varied. People throughout Guatemala vary from English-speaking Caribbean descendants to many tribes with their own language.

On the whole Guatemalans are kind, friendly and good natured, even when much of their interaction with travelers takes place during transactions and bargaining. Their curiosity is easy to indulge as Guatemalan Spanish is much easier for those of us who aren't native speakers to understand.

 

OTHER TRAVELERS.

Many North Americans and as with a few other Latin American countries a massive amount of Israeli travelers.

Aside from Americans and Israelis you also have travelers from the world over with many Germans and British as elsewhere in the world. Guatemala has long attracted alternative culture followers from North America in the same way India attracts the same type of people from Europe.

 

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CROWD FACTOR. 8/10

 

Guatemala can seem touristy at first look, but it is easy if you have the time and inclination to leave that behind by heading off on long bus rides into the mountains. (Check out our Routes & Itineraries page for specifics if you're keen to get off the beaten path).

There are numerous foreign owned hotels and restaurants in Antigua and you'll run into western tourist groups of the "Habitat For Humanity" mission trip variety , but it is also common to see permanent 'hippy-esque' western backpackers selling jewelry on street stalls. 

 

IF YOU WANT TO GET A FEELING FOR THE GUATEMALA VIBE, JUST VISIT EARTH LODGE ON A SUNDAY.

Earth Lodge manages to capture everything we love about this country, when in the know groups gather at this avocado farm turned low-key hangout in the sky for live music, great drinks and an even better view. Started by a few expats, the lodge also offers some simply lodging, sky-high yoga sessions and a rotating calendar of activities. It's a bit tricky to find, so check their website or ask for the "gringos" once you get out of town or ask them to come pick you up in their truck. Either way, grab a hammock and enjoy your day... and your drink!

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Costs & Budget


GUATEMALA IS INCREDIBLY AFFORDABLE IF YOU HAVE A LITTLE DISCIPLINE.

Costs & Budget


GUATEMALA IS INCREDIBLY AFFORDABLE IF YOU HAVE A LITTLE DISCIPLINE.

Per Day. US$20

If you're staying on the beaten track and lack discipline, you can spend between US$40-$50/day with ease. However, with a little bit of moxy, Guatemala is great value and this can easily be cut in half if you avoid a few temptations and venture into the more rural, untrodden areas:

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TRANSPORT.

Since 'tourist mini-buses' (good quality small private vehicles) provide easy and efficient transport in many places (at a price) the temptation is to take them rather than public buses which are about 10 times cheaper.

EATING OUT.

Fantastic eating options (and bars) in both Antigua and Panajachel provide another temptation, but it's easy to stick to local haunts or do your daily shopping at the markets. Many hostels also have kitchens in Guatemala so travelers can prepare their own food, further reducing the cost of a visit.

SHOPPING.

Guatemala, along with Nepal, Bali and Zimbabwe is one of the best places on earth to buy cheap local crafts and textiles. The choice is staggering and the prices fair, even before bargaining. Make sure you have at least a little spare room in your bag.

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What To Pack For Guatemala. A Think Less. Travel More. Guide


 

READY, SET, GO.

We've got your packing strategy covered.

What To Pack For Guatemala. A Think Less. Travel More. Guide


 

READY, SET, GO.

We've got your packing strategy covered.

Make sure you have at least a little spare room in your bag! Guatemala is one of the best places on earth to shop your heart out for beautiful handicrafts at a good value
— Guatemala Editor

More PACKING RECOMMENDATIONS Coming soon.

In the meantime, visit our Packing Survival Guide here.

 

Guidebook Recommendation.

We haven't found a guidebook for Guatemala that is particularly brilliant. The Lonely Planet Guatemala guide is most popular, though the majority of travelers have the Central America guide as they're on longer trips through the region (which is pretty good). Footprint Central America guide and the Rough Guide Guatemala are other good options, although both were published in 2012.

For those who read German, the best guide is undoubtedly: 'Reise Know-How Guatemala'. Reise guides are normally no more than German translations of the LP, but here on comparison you'll notice much greater detail and accuracy. It's also nearly twice as fat as the Lonely Planet.  

Read our review of the top guidebooks here.

 

Recommended Reading/Watching To Get In The Mood.

BOOKS.

Coming Soon!

MOVIES.

Coming Soon!

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Routes & Itineraries


ROUTES & ITINERARIES.

 

 

 

Routes & Itineraries


ROUTES & ITINERARIES.

 

 

 

(Map Coming Soon!)

The Supér-Express Trip.

Antígua to Lago Atitlán with a day side trip to Chichicastenango. Many travelers will then head to either Copán (Honduras) or Tikál (or both). Many also make the trip to the Caribbean coast via the Rio Dulce.

 

See A lot, Move A little.

Part of what's great about Guatemala is that it's small size and excellent transport links make it easy to see a lot in limited time. Only have a week and willing to travel fast? Or have a month but what to take it slow? Consider this itinerary, kicking off your trip in Antígua:

  1. CHICHICASTENANGOHighland town renowned for its unique blend of Maya and Catholic religion and a huge twice-weekly market. If you’ve an eye for a souvenir, this market (Thurs & Sun) is bursting with colorful clothing, eye-dazzling textiles, ceramics and leather.
  2. IXIL: An isolated region of evergreen hills and forested mountains, bowl-shaped valleys and some of the most traditional Maya villages in the nation – it’s a huge draw for trekkers.

  3. TODOS SANTOS CUCHUMATÁN: Only reached at the end of a vertiginous journey from Huehuetenango, this Mam village is famous for its textiles, walking trails and breathtaking scenery.

  4. QUETZALTENANGO (AKA. XELA): Guatemala’s second city is coming into its own with an expanding cultural scene, a great base for forays to the region’s sights.
  5. FUENTES GEORGINASA high-altitude natural hot-spring spa, half-way up a volcano – the ideal place to soak away an afternoon.

  6. LAGUNA CHICABAL: A short ride from Xela, this near-circular volcanic lake makes a perfect day-trip.
  7. SOLOLÁOften overlooked, you won’t find many souvenirs at this huge Maya market, but its energy and color is authentic and mesmeric.

  8. LAGO DE ATITLÁN: Not only is the volcanic scenery out of this world, this lake is also the ideal place to kick back and paddle a kayak, learn some Spanish or just invest in some hammock time.

 

All Guat, All The TIme.

Got lots of time and want to see the best of Guatemala? Here's where you should start:

  1. ANTIGUA: Guatemala’s former capital – a mandatory stop – is a heady vision of cobbled streets, colonial mansions, Baroque churches and the nation’s best dining scene.

  2. CHICHICASTENANGO: Highland town renowned for its unique blend of Maya and Catholic religion and a huge twice-weekly market.

  3. LAGO DE ATITLÁN: Idyllic lake, surrounded by volcanoes and dotted with Maya villages, with all kinds of activities on offer – from scuba diving to studying Spanish.

  4. FLORES: Refined and very easy on the eye, Flores is a pocket-sized colonial gem that juts into the pretty blue of Lago de Petén Itzá.

  5. TIKAL: The Maya World’s number one archeological site, the ancient name for this pivotal Classic Maya city may have been the aptly named “Place Where Gods Speak”.

  6. SEMUC CHAMPEY: Gorgeous kingfisher-blue series of limestone pools in the tropical forests of Alta Verapaz; close by you’ll find some impressive cave systems and a forest-fringed river to tube. Make sure to check in (or at least check out the view) at Zephyr Lodge.

  7. RÍO DULCE: An astonishing sight, this magisterial gorge system is the highlight of Guatemala’s Caribbean region.

  8. GUATEMALA CITY: An untamed capital that gets a bad press, but contains the nation’s best museums and a lively cultural life.

 

GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH.

 

INTO THE MYSTIC... A MAYAN ADVENTURE

Guatemala’s most northern region, Petén, contains hundreds of beautiful Mayan sites but you don't have to limit yourself. Other ruins are scattered around the country, and you'll be astonished at how little traffic you'll run into compared to other ancient sites of this caliber (think Angkor Wat).

  1. LAGO DE PETEXBATÚN: Stunning jungle-fringed lake ringed with Maya ruins – Aguateca is the main attraction but Dos Pilas also has a fascinating history.

  2.  YAXHÁ-NAKÚM-NARANJO NATIONAL PARKThis protected reserve harbors the huge Maya site of Yaxhá in a breathtaking location on the banks of an emerald lake, and Nakúm, with well- restored ceremonial buildings.

  3. TIKAL: Lording it above the surrounding rainforest, Tikal’s giant temples, palaces, plazas and monuments make it a superstar Maya attraction

  4. EL MIRADOR: Two thousand years ago this city was approaching its peak, today it’s the most enigmatic, remote and ultimately rewarding of all Petén’s ruins.

  5. CANCUÉN: This affluent Maya trading town is little-visited but worthwhile, with a stupendous palace and a lovely location.

  6. QUIRGUÁ: A modest site in the south of the country, with a collection of giant, carved stelae out of all proportion to its size.

  7. COPÁN: Just over the border in Honduras, Copán boasts an astounding hieroglyphic stairway, some exquisite carving and, close by, the lovely town of Copan Ruinas.

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Logistics & Timing


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.

Logistics & Timing


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.

Logistics & Timing

 

WHEN NOT TO GO.

Both Antigua and Lago Atitlan plus other highland areas are pleasantly cool all year round. Lowland areas including Tikal are steamy and at certain times of the year are almost unbearably hot, so check for the week(s) you plan to be there.

Semana Santa (Easter) in Antigua is crazy -- but not to be missed. Just make sure you book accommodations ahead of time.

 

GETTING A VISA.

USA, Canada, Western European, Israel, Australia and New Zealand will all get 90 days visa free on the border. Extensions must be applied for in Guatemala City or you will be fined about a small amount for every day over stayed.

 

LANGUAGE.

Like elsewhere in the region, knowledge of Spanish is incredibly useful, but not essential. Guatemala represents the best opportunity in the region for you to learn with numerous good value schools, especially in Antigua & on Lago Atitlan.

 

INTERNET.

As Antigua is the hub of Central America, internet and international phone calls are both good value and good quality. Internet is available in most towns any traveler would set foot in.

 

ENTERTAINMENT.

Books: Good book shops in both Panajachel and Antigua: good fiction, guidebooks and international magazines available.

TV: Lots of cheap cinemas dot the country and in tourist centers and many restaurants you can see films during the day and night. Several hotels and restaurants also have lounge cinemas showing a huge number of screenings per day for a small charge. In Antigua where most of these cinemas are, there are several bars that show live sporting events. Tennis, English/Spanish football and NBA is regularly shown. If you're following English football, here and throughout the region you can watch a full program of highlights every Monday night.

 

CASH/ATMS.

The large majority of banks in Guatemala have ATMs, all will change USD cash to quetzals and most will change travelers cheques but we wouldn't bother with them.

If you have the choice, cash advances are much easier with Visa rather than MasterCard.


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Transportation


ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT GUATEMALA IS HOW EASY IT IS TO GET AROUND.

Transportation


ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT GUATEMALA IS HOW EASY IT IS TO GET AROUND.

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS.

A fast network of tourist-orientated transport (usually white vans) that makes getting around a breeze if you want to use it. If you're feeling more adventurous, have time to spare, or are running low on funds. Get yourself on a chicken bus and prepare for the ride of your life. 

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TOURIST VANS & MINI-BUSES.

Tourist geared transport is well out of reach, price wise, to most locals. That said, these white mini-buses are still an okay value and run several times per day along main tourist routes. They pick up at the main hostels in each town and will drop you off wherever you've booked once your arrive at your destination, making it possible to travel all around the country without interacting with locals.

The most popular routes are sold by the travel agents in Panajachel and Antigua with easy to arrange routes to Copan, Rio Dulce, Chichicastenango, Guatemala City and Monterrico. For example, to travel from Panajachel to Antigua expect to pay about US$15, compared to about US$1.5 in a chicken bus. However your journey will be much quicker and you'll be dropped at your hotel.

It is up to you if you use these buses, it will significantly increase your budget, but make things a little easier (and much more comfortable/faster). Prices to further destinations such as Copan are much higher. In all cases shop around in Panajachel and Antigua, since many companies under-cut each other and saving a few dollars here and there is easy.


CHICKEN BUS.

Chicken buses are as much as a national symbol in Guatemala as Tikal. They are a great experience to use and your only option in many cases. They are frequent, slow and always interesting throughout the country.


FLIGHTS.

The only place you'll be likely to visit via plane is Tikal, which is about a 70 minute hop from Guatemala City. This route is run by TACA/AVIANCA and flies several times a day with a standard price of about US$100-150 (one way), which is crazy expensive for Guatemala as the overnight bus only takes 5 1/2 hours and is a (very small) fraction of the price.


GETTING TO/FROM TIKAL (VIA FLORES).

By Plane. It is possible to visit Tikal in one day by flying if you're very short of time (see above), but this is not recommended as Flores (the nearest city) is worth seeing. That said, you don't necessarily need more than one day to get a good feeling for Tikal.

By Private Bus. There is a new overnight bus going to and from Flores where you'll get TV, food, cushions and a toilet onboard. The trip (via Rio Dulce) takes only 5 and half hrs. if you leave from Guatemala City. There are also first- and 'first first' class buses that run to the capital (Linea Dorada y Maya de Oro), which are from 90 - 125 Quetzales (Rio Dulce - Flores) and up to 250 for Gua - Flores.

By Chicken Bus. Of course there's still the Chicken Bus option, but this takes you a whole day or even two, depending on season and luck.

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Accomodations


IF YOU NEED A PLACE TO SLEEP...

Accomodations


IF YOU NEED A PLACE TO SLEEP...

PER NIGHT. <US$10

There are numerous guesthouses and hotels throughout the country to suit all budgets, with backpacker-style hostels opening up in Antigua (such as Red Cat & Jungle Party Hostel) and in Flores. Most include breakfast & wifi in the price, so ask ahead of time and factor that into the price.

Away from tourist hubs rooms become more basic and cheaper, with homestays making a great option.

Jungle Party Hostel In Antigua.

If you're planning to include Semuc Champey in your visit (and you should), do yourself a favor and check out the Zephyr Lodge in Lanquin. Perched on an idyllic mountain top and teaming with backpackers, it has some of the best views around and the open air showers are so magical that guests line up to soaping up at sunset.

This photo does not do justice to the feeling of showering at Zephyr Lodge.

Word on the street is that the Zephyr Lodge owners have made moves to make it a bit more upscale in the last year, so if you check it out shoot us a note and let us know what its like these days

TEMPERATURE.

Both Antigua and Lago Atitlan plus other highland areas are pleasantly cool. Lowland areas including Tikal are steamy and at certain times of the year are almost unbearably hot.

 

HOT WATER.

Only in colder regions and more expensive accommodations.

 

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Food & Drink


FOOD & DRINK.

Food & Drink


FOOD & DRINK.

FOOD.

Here's the typical (free) breakfast at Jungle Party Hostel in Antigua, which you'll need after a rowdy night there.

Food is excellent and very western in style within tourist centers as many restaurants are owned by foreign nationals. Quality does come at a price, and eating out can become a big expense if you're easily tempted with fantastic eating options (and bars) in both Antigua and Panajachel, but there are plenty of options for any budget.

Off the beaten track food is more basic, but always a bargain. Less flashy non-foreign owned restaurants in places such as Panajachel and Antigua are the best value even if they don't come with a flashy name, menu and decor.

However, even restaurant meals are still cheap compared to western standards and Guatemala is a great value for food if you have the discipline to shop in the markets and cook your own food or eat like a local (taking advantage of Menu del Días and market restaurant stalls.

Also, most hostels in Guatemala also include breakfast, so ask about this when you check in.

Basic rules to minimize the chance of getting sick from the food can be found in our Backpacker 101: Health and Safety page

Coming from Mexico, the food might seem like a disappointment — typical dishes don’t have the same flair and depth of flavor as Guatemala’s neighbor to the north, but that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious, especially if you eat at a market stall.
— One Hungry Editor.

VEGETARIANS.

Fine for veggies, but more difficult as you enter more rural areas. 

 

DRINK.

Don't drink the water, duh. This goes for ice, popsicles that may be mixed with water, watered down fruit juice, teeth-brushing -- the standard developing nation rules.

More on this on our Health and Safety page

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Dangers & Health


BE SAFE.

STAY HEALTHY.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Dangers & Health


BE SAFE.

STAY HEALTHY.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

HEALTH.

You'll be able to buy medicine over the counter, so you don't really have to worry about hauling in your own into the country. We recommend not drinking the water, and not eating anything that hasn't been cooked unless you can peel it (like a banana) or it's a packaged good.

There is a low risk of malaria on the Caribbean coast, although most travelers do not spend enough time here to warrant preventative medicine. 

More about how to protect yourself in our Malaria Survival Guide.

 

DANGERS.

Crime is an issue and can inhibit your freedom of movement in the countryside, such as when walking between villages with all your stuff. Such events happen frequently to unguided (even in groups) hikers around Lago Atitlán and volcanoes around Antigua, especially at night. 

A tour group emerging from the mist on top of Volcan Pacaya, near Antigua.

Petty theft in Guatemala City is fairly common, although most travelers skip it all together.

If you visit the Caribbean coast and Antigua take extra caution in the evening. The Caribbean coast is known for beach hut break-ins, but if you want to the beach you should be on the Pacific coast anyways. 

 

WOMEN TRAVELING ALONE.

Generally fine, but there have been some safety issues at Tikal, but authorities have now changed regulations in order to make the park safer. The same goes for the police escort now offered up Volcán Pacaya, although most people go with a group anyways.

 

More information on the topic in our Hassle & Annoyances Survival Guide.

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Hassle Factor


DESPITE INCREASING AMOUNTS OF TOURISM, GUATEMALA REMAINS REMARKABLY HASSLE-FREE FOR TRAVELERS.

Hassle Factor


DESPITE INCREASING AMOUNTS OF TOURISM, GUATEMALA REMAINS REMARKABLY HASSLE-FREE FOR TRAVELERS.

You might run into some over-charging on public buses, but easy to avoid by asking locals what the correct price is. Like everywhere else in the region, Spanish helps massively.

 

A NOTE ON WOMEN TRAVELING ALONE.

Generally fine, but there have been some safety issues at Tikal, but authorities have now changed regulations in order to make the park safer. The same goes for the police escort now offered up Volcán Pacaya.

 

More information on the topic on our Hassle & Annoyances Survival Guide.

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Drugs & Distractions


 

DRINKING

& OTHER DISTRACTIONS.

 

Drugs & Distractions


 

DRINKING

& OTHER DISTRACTIONS.

 

DRINKING.

In case you can't figure out how to get into the Mezcal Bar at Cafe No Sé, here's a hint.

IN ANTIGUA.

There are plenty of places in Antigua to drink the night away, but we particularly like Café No Se, the home of Illegál Mezcal. You'll find a healthy mix of expats, locals and transient travelers and they often have live music. Take one peek behind the secret door and you'll leave all your troubles behind. Say hi to Shaun for us, if he's still tending bar there.

 

A WORD ON WEED.

Marijuana is easily available on both coasts, especially in the areas most popular with backpackers.

 

OTHER DRUGS.

Harder drugs are also around, but you'll probably have to put in a bit of effort. That said, we've heard there are "cocaine bars" in Antigua, similar to what you'd find in Bolivia.

 

WHATEVER ELSE YOU'RE SEEKING, YOU'LL FIND IT AT THE LAKE.

The current hippy hangout centre is San Pedro La Laguna, a small village (now a backpacker hub) opposite Panajachel on the other side of the lake. Check out the Cacao ceremonies if you're feeling particularly adventurous.

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Guatemala: Traveler Rankings


DID WE MISS SOMETHING?

HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING?

WE WANT TO KNOW.

Guatemala: Traveler Rankings


DID WE MISS SOMETHING?

HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING?

WE WANT TO KNOW.

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guatemala budget travel guide backpackers