Travel Advisory for Guatemala

Some Facts about the Country Guatemala in Central America

Travel Information Guatemala

Guatemala is located in Central America. It borders Mexico, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. It also has beaches on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Known as the Heart of the Mayan World with breathtaking landscapes, Guatemala is a fascinating destination for any traveler. You can find below the travel information you may need to plan your next Guatemala adventure.

Table of contents:

ℹ Practical Travel Information

🏕 Top Rated Activities in Guatemala

🧳 Packing list for your Trip to Guatemala

☑️ 5 Useful tips to traveling Guatemala

🚨 Tips for Personal Safety for Guatemala Travelers

⏹ Things you should not do in Guatemala

Practical Travel Information Guatemala

🏢 Capital City
💬 Language
🕐 Time zone
⚐ Flag
📄 Documents and Visa
✈️ Airports and Taxes
💶 Currency
🏦 Bank Facilities
🍴Local Cuisine
💉 Vaccinations
☤ Health
🔌 Voltage
☁︎ Weather
🚨 Travel Safety

Capital City

Its capital is Guatemala City, and it is the largest city in Central America. It is the hub of the country and home to the best museums and galleries.  Visit its principal attractions, such as the National Palace or the National Archaeological Museum, where you can see the collection of Mayan artifacts.  In addition, in its Main Plaza, you can explore its beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral and its colonial paintings and religious sculptures.

Language

The official language is Spanish. The indigenous people speak 21 Mayan Languages.

Time zone

GMT – 6

Flag

🇬🇹

Guatemala has a vertically striped blue and white national flag. When used for official purposes, it incorporates the national coat of arms in the center.

Travel Documents

Your passport should be valid for at least six months after departure from Guatemala. Please note that passport requirements can change in a short notice. Therefore we advise you to check the passport requirements with the embassy or consulate of your country.

Visa

When you enter Guatemala, you will receive a visa stamp in your passport saying you are able to stay in Guatemala for 90 days.
Please note that visa requirements can change in a short notice. Therefore we advise you to check the visa requirements with the embassy or consulate of your country.

Airport Tax

An airport tax of 30 dollars is required for visitors departing Guatemala. However, this tax is usually included in the price of the ticket.

International Airports of Guatemala

Airport – Location

  1. La Aurora Airport, (GUA) – Guatemala City
  2. Mundo Maya Airport, (FRS) – Santa Elena

Domestic Airports of Guatemala

Airport – Location

  1. Carmelita Airport, (CMM) – Carmelita
  2. Chiquimula Airport, (CIQ) – Chiquimula
  3. Coatepeque Airport, (CTF) – Coatepeque
  4. Coban Airport, (CBV) – Coban
  5. Melchor De Mencos Airport, (MCR) – Melchor De Mencos
  6. Paso Caballos Airport, (PCG) – Paso Caballos
  7. Playa Grande Airport, (PKJ) – Playa Grande
  8. Poptun Airport, (PON) – Poptun
  9. Puerto Barrios Airport, (PBR) – Puerto Barrios
  10. Quetzaltenango Airport, (AAZ) – Quetzaltenango
  11. Quiche Airport, (AQB) – Quiche
  12. Base Aerea Del Sur Airport, (RER) – Retalhuleu
  13. Rubelsanto Airport, (RUV) – Rubelsanto
  14. El Peten Airport, (TKM) – Tikal
  15. Uaxactun Airport, (UAX) – Uaxactun

Currency

Quetzal (GTQ)

Bank Facilities

Stickers on the ATM’s show exactly which cards you can use. Credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and restaurants. Credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and restaurants. Please keep in mind that not all banks change Travelers’ checks.

Local Cuisine

The Guatemalan cuisine is mainly about ‘tortillas’ and ‘frijoles’, mais pancakes and beans. Along the coast there are lots of fish and shrimp on the menu. Many great fruits grow in Guatemala. On the street, pieces of fruit such as mango, orange, watermelon and pineapple are sold in bags. For a smoothie you can choose your own type of fruit, blended with water, milk or yogurt.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccinations required to enter Guatemala. However, you are being advised to take precautions against hepatitis A and B, typhus, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Malaria occurs at the coast and in the jungle, therefore precautions against malaria are also advised. Furthermore, you are being advised to discuss your travel plans with a health-care provider to determine which vaccination you might need.

Health

While traveling in Guatemala, you are being advised to avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes. It is advisable to only drink bottled or boiled water. Also try to avoid street food and always wash your hands before eating.

 

Voltage

The electricity current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Guatemala generally accepts the following plugs:

➢ Flat blade plug

➢ Two parallel flat pins with ground pin

Weather

The climate in Guatemala is generally very pleasant. Guatemala has a dry and rain season. The rain season starts approximately in May until October. During the wet season the rain usually falls in the afternoon.
Generally, the days are warm and the nights are pleasantly cool.

Travel Safety

Many people visit and travel safely through Guatemala daily. All travelers should be aware of surroundings at all times. It is best to keep a limited amount of money and personal items on you, as robberies do occur in all parts of the world. Many people prefer to use crossbody purses or waist bags for more security. Traveling alone is safe throughout Guatemala. For extra peace of mind, consider using tour guides and traveling during the day.

Top Rated Activities in Guatemala

The Mayan culture is still very apparent and strong in Guatemala. There are many Mayan ruins, such as Tikal and El Mirador, that are fantastic to visit. Lake Atitlan provides a beautiful landscape surrounded by many Mayan pueblos. The rainforests, animals, volcanoes (including 3 active) await you in Guatemala. One of the most noteworthy attractions is the ability to roast marshmallows on a lava of an active volcano.

Discover the Mayan World
Antigua Guatemala Treasures
Lake Atitlan
Mayan Cuisine
For Nature Lovers
Volcano Hikes

Discover the Mayan World

This small Central American country is a paradise for anyone who’s into Mayan archeology and history.  With a wide variety of Mayan and pre-Mayan cities and archaeological artifacts waiting for you to explore,  the richness of the culture, history and tradition of this country will certainly amaze you.  

Known for being home to the iconic Mayan City of Tikal, Guatemala holds hundreds of other Mayan cities that are worth visiting.  With so many to choose from, find here a couple of examples of what you can choose for your next Mayan adventure:

Mayan Temples &  Island Ruins

Yaxhá is the third-largest Mayan site in Guatemala that offers some of the best and least-visited camping sites. Behold an unrivaled view of the Yaxhá lagoons and jungle and its important former ceremonial center that includes over 500 structures, many of them still covered by jungle foliage.  

Furthermore, you will embark on a half hour ride to explore the nearby island of Topoxte, a small archeological site with six temples placed on a little island.  Let yourself be immersed in the magic atmosphere and mystery of the Maya who occupied these sacred centers.

Jungle Trek to El Mirador

Known as The lost city of the Mayans, it is one of the oldest cities and home to the largest Mayan pyramid in the world, La Danta.  One of the most exciting ways to reach this ancient archaeological site is to embark yourself on an indescribable 5-day jungle trekking adventure.  

Walking surrounded by a deep jungle to finally reach and explore this hidden Mayan city will leave you with the feeling of a true explorer.  However, this is not an easy journey. You will need to hike an average of 30 kilometers of jungle in a day, but the prize will surely be worth the effort.  Above all, the feeling of standing on the top of La Danta Pyramid and surrounded by a tree-sea that does not seem to have an end is unspeakable.

Antigua Guatemala Treasures

Its brightly coloured colonial buildings lined up with the cobblestone streets, attracts visitors around the world.  The ‘postcard prettiness’ of Antigua Guatemala with its jacaranda-wreathed central plaza, its 16th-century ruins and volcanoes surrounding it is truly outstanding.   Travel Guatemala and discover Antigua’s treasure. 

This city is about much more than surface charm, as you can explore its ancient traditions and culture.  As a result, there is a wide number of interesting activities and workshops around. Here is the information of a couple of them:

Macadamia Farm Experience

Take this wonderful and unique experience visiting an organic macadamia nut farm committed to sustainable practices and located in the beautiful countryside, ten minute drive outside of Antigua.   

Learn everything about macadamia nuts from harvesting to processing. Furthermore, take a sample of some of the macadamia farm’s products, like different types of nut chocolates.  Hang out in the beautiful gardens surrounded by lush and gorgeous vegetation.

Coffee Farm Experience

One of the many reasons Antigua Guatemala is known worldwide is for the quality of its coffee. Therefore, an experience that cannot be missed on a Guatemala trip is to visit a coffee farm.  You can visit a coffee farm with more than 130 years of tradition where you will learn about the whole coffee process. 

From the nursery to the plantations, you will learn about the cultivation and process to finally the roasting and package area.  Furthermore, you will enjoy a taste of one of the best coffee in the world!

Lake Atitlan and the Secrets of its Little Villages

Considered to be the most beautiful lake in the world, its three volcanoes and hills make a really impressive landscape.  The little towns around the lake offer different environments to tourists, each one possesses its own culture and attractiveness.  Find below the information of a few activities that you must certainly do if you travel Lake Atitlan Guatemala.

Birdwatching at Lake Atitlan

The hills and volcanoes around the lake offer dense forests, which allows for the observation of a wide variety of birds from the timid little woodpeckers to the Resplendent Quetzal.  

Lake Atitlan area offers the ideal humid subtropical mountain forest that serves as home to about 300 species of birds.  Explore the routes and ‘hotspots’ while you enjoy the breathtaking landscapes.

A Journey Through Traditional Mayan Cuisine

The authentic Guatemalan cuisine and local dishes are part of its rich and Mayan ancient culture and tradition of this country.  If you want to visit the little towns around the lake and get a closer encounter with its particular way of living, a cooking class is the ideal way to do so.  

A local Mayan instructor/chef will guide you throughout the whole process from choosing the ingredients on the local market to the preparation of the final dish. Therefore, this is an opportunity to live an authentic experience and learn how to prepare the traditional Guatemalan food. In addition, there are lots of options for cooking, including for vegetarians and dessert lovers. In summary, this will not only be an instructional experience, but also a really fun one.

For Nature Lovers

Guatemala is Central America’s most diverse country with tons of natural wonders from lush rainforests to great volcanoes and lakes. With impressive natural parks, lush canyons and breathtaking landscapes, this is, without a doubt, a nature lover’s paradise.  

Travel Guatemala and discover the beauty of Semuc Champey or Rio Dulce. Go high into the Cuchumatanes mountains or below ground in the cave-riddled Verapaces.  Follows is the information of a couple of adventures you may do:

Natural Pools & Caving by Candlelight

If you fancy adventure, Lanquin Caves offer you the opportunity to stroll around in the dark, following a guide while holding a candle.  These caves are simply impressive with stalagmite towers of six or seven meters high, and stalactites in ripple formations that hang down.   An adventure that will require a certain physical level, it is certainly not for the claustrophobic or the faint of heart.  

In addition, the underground river will give the brave the chance to do a small cliff jump into a deep pool. The water is very cold and blue-green.  Besides the usual visit to the popular and beautiful natural pools of Semuc Champey to enjoy and refresh, taking the journey through this series of caves while holding a lit candle is a chance you have must take. 

Rio Dulce Best Spots

Located in the most wild and exotic regions of the country, ‘Sweet River’ (English for Rio Dulce) is the gateway to the Caribbean Sea.  Refuge for various native and migratory birds, its scenic beauty is unique for its vegetation and is home to a great diversity of fauna, such as manatees and crocodiles.  There are lots of fun things to do in Rio Dulce area, so we listed some for you below:

San Felipe Castle

Explore this historical fort and its war cannons built by the Spanish in the narrowest part of the river for the purpose of stopping the pirates. It is only a boat ride away.  

Livingston 

The Afro-Caribbean town where you can appreciate the Garifuna culture and enjoy its calm and relaxed life rhythm.  Have a taste of the local food and learn about the history of these unique people and their African origins.

El Boqueron Canyon

This is the perfect non-touristy natural park with a narrow limestone canyon whose 180 meter walls are covered in foliage heavy with hanging moss.  Enjoy the boat ride around or swim through the shallow waters. In summary, this is a mystical place where caves meet water creating an unforgettable experience.

Paradise Farm, Hot Waterfall

There are many hot waterfalls scattered around the Rio Dulce area. One of them is close enough for you to visit it and enjoy the soothing waters.  Just a little hike through the woods will take you to the small mountain spring-fed river where you can spend a wonderful time.

Volcano Hikes

Guatemala is the ideal country for volcano lovers by being in the ring of fire with 37 volcanoes spread along. Three of the volcanoes are active. It is also the home of the top two tallest peaks within all of Central America, both of which are volcanoes. 

In other words, travel Guatemala and choose from the active, dormant or extinct volcanoes for your next hiking adventure.  Find below the information of a couple of volcano hikes:

Unforgettable Sunset over Fuego Volcano

One of the adventures unforgettable experiences for those who love trekking volcanoes is camping in Acatenango, Guatemala’s third largest volcano.  Although you will certainly enjoy the ascent through the diverse ecosystem and exhilarating microclimates, Fuego is the real star of the show.  

Every few minutes you will behold the volcano next door billowing out smoke from the top and sometimes even lava.  It’s like being in the middle of clouds while witnessing an epic sunset over the ever-erupting neighbour Volcan de Fuego.

Full Moon Hike to Santa Maria Volcano

It takes about four hours to hike to the top of this volcano in Quetzaltenango; however it is well worth the effort.  The night hike under the light of the full moon with finally reaching the summit in time to see the spectacular sunrise is an indescribable experience. Be rewarded at the summit with breathtaking views of the smoking crater of the Santiaguito Volcano that erupts about every half hour or so.  

This is a challenging trek, but you will enjoy beautiful pine forests, spectacular views, and even volcanic eruptions along the way. Most of the activity now takes place in Santiaguito Volcano.  This little active volcano joined the Santa María and regularly erupts ash and lava, giving the travelers a good shot at seeing a close eruption.

Packing list for your trip to Guatemala

Packing list for your trip to Guatemala

To fully enjoy your next vacation in Guatemala, firstly, you must know what to bring and pack.

Undoubtedly you must take into account several factors such as the weather and the activities you will do.

Guatemala’s weather is constant and pleasant, moderate all year round.  Very predictably with periods of sunshine and clear skies and others of rain in the afternoon and evening.  You may look for the Guatemalan weather in AccuWeather website

In conclusion it’s very easy to pack to be prepared for a Guatemala trip.  Nevertheless, find below a detailed list of things to bring and pack. 

Must Have:
  1. Passport, Visas (if necessary), and your Return Flight
  2. Your usual medications
  3. Credit and Debit (ATM) Card
  4. Reservation confirmations
  5. Some cash
Important:
  1. Phone and camera
  2. Cords, Batteries and Chargers (Phone, Ipad, etc)
  3. Waterproof cases for electronic devices
  4. Universal Power Adapter
  5. Toiletries
  6. Comfortable clothing suitable for semi tropical-humid weather
  7. Swimsuit
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Comfortable closed toed shoes
  10. Shoes: Water shoes, Flip Flops and Sturdy walking/hiking shoes
  11. Cap or a hat
  12. Lightweight Rain Jacket
  13. Day pack/small backpack
  14. One sturdy water bottle
  15. Insect Repellent
  16. Travel-Size Sunscreen
  17. Travel Insurance
  18. Spanish phrasebook and or dictionary
A good idea to bring:
  1. Portable Charger
  2. Copy of your passport
  3. Personal sport equipment
  4. A flashlight
  5. Extra SD Cards

What you should not bring to your Guatemala trip:

  • Expensive Jewelry
  • Fancy and Bulky Electronics

5 Useful tips to traveling Guatemala

5 Useful tips to traveling Guatemala

Congrats, you have chosen a tour package to Guatemala, its mesmerizing beauty will surely not let you down.  For some this will be their first trip to Guatemala, while for many others it’s a back trip visiting this beautiful country.  Even so, in both cases, whenever you travel to a different country, it is important to inform yourself.

Knowing about its culture and history, as well as its politics and economy will give you the security of knowledge.  To help your research, you will find below the list of some important tips to take into account when traveling to Guatemala

 

1 – Learn some basic phrases in Spanish

Knowing some basic and colloquial phrases will be very helpful during your trip, easily communicating what you need and want.  From a courtesy greeting or a Thank you – ‘Gracias’ in spanish, some phrases in Spanish will certainly make many things easier for you.

Since ordering something in a restaurant or asking for a particular address, a few simple and short sentences will suffice.

Look for sources where you can learn online some basics online, such as Duolingo – Learn a language for free.

Also you can buy a small travel book to learn “Latin American” Spanish on Lonely Planet, you may look for in:  Lonely Planet Shop Online. 

2 – Buy travel insurance

One of the things we strongly recommend is to protect yourself by purchasing Travel Cancellation Protection Insurance.  In order to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future, anticipate them, and travel insurance is the right way to do it.  When choosing travel insurance, make sure it covers unforeseen events such as lost luggage or canceled flights and medical problems, etc.

For getting a quote, visit these insurance services here: Travelex Insurance Services or World Nomads

3 – Get the necessary vaccinations

Highly recommended is that you be up to date with your vaccination regimen such as tetanus and hepatitis A.  Some vaccines consist of two injections separated by 1 month and others must be administered 6 months before the trip. Because of this, you should consult your doctor well in advance before your Guatemala travel package.

Look for more information in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

4 – Call your credit and debit card company

First, it’s very important to confirm with your company that your card will be used internationally and at ATMs.  You can also consult about ways to reduce the foreign fee, such as paying in advance to use it as a debit card.  Additionally you should also find out about possible additional charges for international use.

Learn more in the Credit Card global website 

International health coverage

You certainly should consult your health insurance company about international coverage.

In case you don’t have it, we strongly recommend you to buy an additional clause or a separate limited-term policy.  Get more information or a quote with Cigna International Health Insurance.

 

“Knowledge is the basis of experience” When you know more, you enjoy more

Tips for Personal Safety for Guatemala Travelers

Tips for Personal Safety for Guatemala Travelers

Like many other developing countries, there are significant poverty problems in Guatemala. 

As a result the simple pick pocketing is common in many places. Therefore you will take advantage of one of the great advantages of hiring a local travel agency like Mayan Gateway.  

We know the places and the culture, thus we know the places that you should avoid in your Guatemala tour package to stay safe.  Below you will find general guidelines to avoid areas or activities that may be questionable.

  1. Avoid making public displays of large amounts of cash or jewelry, as well as expensive electronic devices, etc.
  2. You should save your money and credit cards and carry with you only what you will need during the day or period of time.
  3. When possible, walk in groups of two or more people. 
  4. Additionally in the night hours it is recommended to take a cab or Uber.
  5. You must be aware of the people around you, and strange behaviors that may indicate a pick-pocket plan
  6. Is best if you avoid taking your passport with you, instead have a  couple of notarized copies if possible.
  7. Don’t take pictures of children or locals without their permission.
  8. Keep your belongings in sight or close to you.
Tip to remember: 

Dress according to the weather but in a respectful, conservative way.

You can find many beautiful costumes for sale that you can take home with you.  But do not forget that it is considered culturally offensive to dress yourself or your children in the ‘Traditional Mayan Costume’.  A pair of pants or a skirt is fine, but not the entire suit, at least not during your Guatemala tour.  

Things you should not do in Guatemala

Things you should not do in Guatemala

Without a doubt, this beautiful Central American country is worth visiting.  Certainly one of the most unique and fascinating countries in the world, with an ancient Mayan history and culture.  Its warm inhabitants and unique local traditions make this an unforgettable trip.  

It’s very important to research and know some things before visiting a new country.  Below we detail a list of things to avoid during this tour package to Guatemala.

We do not recommend to do the following while in Guatemala

  1. Forget not everyone speaks Spanish. There are many local languages in Guatemala
  2. Take pictures of kids or locals without asking
  3. Assume there will be ATMs everywhere
  4. Wear sandals to visit the Mayan ruins
  5. Be afraid of the police
  6. Walk around at night alone
  7. Carry much money in your backpack
  8. Drive unless you have to