10 travel tips for visiting Guatemala
Now that you have decided to travel to Guatemala, you must have some things into consideration. We warn you already that you will probably fall in love with this place right from the moment you get here.
What do you have to know about Guatemala before traveling to the country? It is known as the eternal spring land, because of its flora and fauna, and also because it has a very nice weather all year long. Its name comes from the Toltec language and it means land of trees.
The country has 22 provinces and also 22 different ethnic groups that have a different language each, although Spanish is the main one. So get ready to enjoy the diversity of this small but beautiful place. If you follow this 10 travel tips for visiting Guatemala, we can promise you that you will have an unforgettable experience.
Traveling to Guatemala is the same as traveling to any country; the advantage is that you won’t need any visa to get here. So, just grab your passport, that doesn’t expire for at least 6 months before your flight and visit this amazing land.
The government doesn’t ask for any vaccination currently, but if you are planning to travel to certain areas maybe you should consider getting an anti- malarial medication. And if you are going to the jungle, you only need a good insect repellant.
How to dress
There is no dress code in Guatemala; you just have to be a little conservative with your clothing choices. This means you have to adapt your wardrobe to the weather and also to have a kind of business casual look, but comfortable clothes.
Have you ever heard of the Moctezuma’s revenge? This is the name that locals in Latin America give to intense diarrhea, if you are not careful with the food you eat, you might get it, and it’s not nice at all. Drink bottled water and definitely choose very well the places you will eat, use your intuition about how something feels. But always remember to try different typical foods like tamales, Pepián, Jocón, chiles rellenos, mole de platáno or Tortillas.
The name of the money in Guatemala is Quetzal (Q), and it is also the name of its national bird. Exchange rates usually are about 7.5 quetzals to 1 U.S dollar.
All purchases in the country are made with quetzals, in some places they accept credit and debit cards, but they have a 10% fee. Also when you eat at a restaurant it is not necessary that you leave a tip because it is included in the check.
Don’t believe everything you hear, actually, Guatemala is a safe place to visit, especially the big cities that are just like any other places in the world. Although the U.S State department has a very extreme safety advisory, come here and see it for yourself, you will be surprised.
In Guatemala there are many cultural differences from the USA and Europe, so here are some helpful hints for you:
- Always say thank you (gracias in Spanish).
- Don’t expect everyone to be on time, here we have a special time reference called hora chapina: 20-30 minutes later than the time agreed to meet.
- If you don’t understand the language just say: “no hablo español” and people will try to speak English to you.
- Don’t use the word love. In Spanish love means amor, and it has a very strong connotation as in a couples I love you, so say I like (me gusta) instead. For example: I like pizza, instead of I love pizza. And never say it to a stranger.
- People are very warm in Latin America, so they will salute you with one kiss on the cheek, this is completely normal in Guatemala, even if you are strangers.
Places you must visit
You have to try to see the whole country, but there are some destinations you MUST visit:
- Antigua Guatemala
- Guatemala City
- Caves and natural reserves in Cobán
- Volcanoes like Pacaya and Ipala.
As you read above, Guatemala has a nice weather the whole year; in this country there are no four seasons: summer, spring, winter and autumn, instead of that, there is a dry summer and a rainy winter. The perfect time to come here is from November to April, because from May to October it is raining 24/7.
There are several ways to move around Guatemala:
- In the city: you can use public transportation like Transmetro that costs Q1 and it is very safe, or a taxi.
- To travel around the country: you have several options like renting a car or riding a chicken bus, preferably Pullman type. If you want to go from the Capital City to Petén, you can use domestic flights.
Now you are ready to travel to Guatemala. Enjoy!