Guatemala Travel Tips

Church, Antigua - Guatemala

La Merced Church, Antigua – Guatemala

Why Guatemala?

Travellers to Central America normally have Guatemala high on their list of countries to visit. And fair enough, the country is great for exploring volcanoes, visiting old Spanish colonial towns, seeing historic Mayan ruins (and getting a taste of modern Mayan life), learning Spanish and of course, enjoying some great coffee. Did I mention it is cheap? Because it is that as well.

Places To Visit

Here is a map to show where some of the more common travel destinations in Guatemala are located. Antigua is located only 45-60 minutes away from Guatemala City, and Lake Atitlan another 2 hours approximately further on. Thinking of staying somewhere for awhile? Lake Atitlan and Antigua are both good choices for that.

The coasts on either side of Central America are quite different. The Caribbean has nicer beaches, the sand is whiter, this is the side where most of the SCUBA diving takes places and some of the remotest parts of Central America are located on this side. The opposite side has less attractive beaches but far better surfing opportunities. Guatemala is not particularly known for its beach destinations, most travellers head elsewhere, but this is worth keeping in mind if you are in the area of travelling to another Central American country as part of your travels.

If you are interested in the Top Things To Do In Guatemala, check out our post.

Map Of Guatemala Travel Destinations

Map Of Guatemala Travel Destinations

When To Visit Guatemala

You might also wish to take into account the dry vs wet season. The dry season runs from December to April. The rainy season lasts from July to September. With May, June and October considered transition months.

Many tourists that visit Guatemala during the North American vacation periods, so there are definite high and low seasons. The dry season is also a popular time to visit and during Semana Santa. The high season is from December to March and June to August. Accommodation is likely to be more expensive during the high season.

Safety Tips For Guatemala

  • Watch out for pickpockets, especially in Antigua and Guatemala City.
  • If you are approached by muggers – keep things in perspective – reportedly, some thieves in Guatemala do not take well to rejection and can turn violent.
  • Do not drink the tap water in Guatemala. It is reasonably common for Hotels and Hostels to provide purified water. Bottled water is readily available and cheap.

 Money Tips For Guatemala

  • Chicken buses are a cheap way to get around, at about $1 for each hour of travel.
  • It is worthwhile having a couple of avenues for sourcing money (i.e. a couple of different bank cards). It is reasonably common for the ATMs to only take particular bank cards, to have run out of money or have no power. Given this, you may also consider stashing away a small amount of emergency money, in case you have difficulty accessing a bank/ATM. The further off the tourist trail the harder it might be for you to source money.
  • The official language of Guatemala is Spanish. It is not too difficult to get around Guatemala with only limited Spanish (in our experience).
  • It is always handy to have small change and notes on you, as many shops and transport options may not have change for large denominations.
  • The official currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal (the national bird of Guatemala). The Quetzal converts at about 1 U.S Dollar to 7-8 Quetzal.
Chicken Bus, Guatemala

Chicken Buses – a great and cheap way to get around

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2 Responses

  1. December 2, 2014

    […] Guatemala Travel Tips […]

  2. January 15, 2015

    […] a place. We liked Antigua, maybe because we covered it fairly early on in our trip. Read more about travel tips or things to do in […]

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