If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture and spend some time in low tourist areas; then Guatemala is for you! This beautiful country in Central America is full of old architecture, huge adventures, and very little English. Keep reading for everything you need to know about traveling to Guatemala.
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How to Get There
Guatemala is located in Central America, directly below Mexico and to the west of Belize. The most popular ways to travel into the country are by flying or taking a tourist bus. The majority of international flights will arrive at La Aurora International Airport outside of Guatemala City. If you are planning to travel into Guatemala from a neighboring country there are many tourist buses that can be booked through your hostel or local tour company.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to travel in Guatemala is during the dry season which dry runs from November through to April. The wet season is from May to October; during this time it rains for at least a couple of hours per day.
Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ) $10 GTQ = $1.13 USD, $1.80 CAD or €1.20 Euros
Average Daily Budget
Our average daily budget in Guatemala was $455 GTQ ($59 USD) per person per day. We traveled throughout Guatemala in small tourist vans and ate at local restaurants. We did splurge and stay at a few nicer hotels along the way!
Daily Budget Breakdown:
- Transportation: $ 86 GTQ ($ 11 USD) per person per day
- Food & Drinks: $ 130 GTQ ($17 USD) per person per day
- Accommodation: $ 160 GTQ ($ 21 USD) per person per day
- Tours & Activities: $ 79 GTQ ($ 10 USD) per person per day
The recommended vaccinations for traveling to Guatemala are hepatitis A & B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps & rubella), and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Always double-check with a local travel clinic before you leave to make sure all your shots are up to date. Passport Health is also a good resource to check out the required travel vaccinations.
Hostels are abundant in popular tourists spots through out Guatemala. If you tend to travel off the beatin’ path they may become hard to find. Isla de Flores has a limited amount of places so pre-booking is a good idea. Anitgua and Lake Atitlan have many hostels to choose from!
Budget: $60 GTQ ($8 USD) per person/night: Staying in a shared room in a hostel. This really only makes sense price-wise if you are traveling on your own.
Mid Range: $150-500 GTQ ($20-65 USD) for 2 people/night: A private room in a local hotel or B&B. These are typically quite simple but comfortable with an attached bathroom and shower.
Luxury: $500 GTQ + ($65 USD +) for 2 people/night: These hotels will be nicer, usually have hot showers and sometimes even a pool!
The food in Guatemala was diverse and delicious! Our budget for this trip was $30-76 GTQ ($4-10 USD) per meal per person
Some of our favorite local foods:
Chiles Rellenos: Chile peppers stuffed with rice, cheese, meat, and vegetables and served with tortillas and tomato sauce.
Chicken Pepian: The national dish of Guatemala; chicken pepian is cooked in a spicy pumpkin and sesame sauce.
Kak’ik: A delicious traditional Mayan turkey soup with spices and chili peppers.
Pupusas: Thick corn tortillas stuffed with a variety of fillings (usually refried beans, cheese, and pork) and then fried.
Chocolate: Chocolate production is huge in Guatemala and it is freaking fantastic! Don`t miss sampling the local chocolate at one of the many chocolate factories.
Local Bus: The cheapest transportation option in Guatemala is to hop on a local chicken bus. The buses are brightly colored and hard to miss! In the past; there have been issues with tourist robberies on these buses so keep that in mind when planning your route.
Tourist Bus: There are tourist buses running between most major tourist locations in Guatemala. They typically hold around 12-15 people and depending on the day can be jam-packed with people! Make sure to get there early for a decent seat and book through a good tour company.
Taxi: Local taxis offer cheaper and more basic transportation than private cars. Make sure to discuss the price beforehand especially if there is no meter.
- Stay in hostel or Airbnb that includes a kitchen.
- Book your accommodation well in advance (especially in high season) because once the vacancy rate goes down the prices go up.
- Eat from local restaurants or street carts once a day to significantly decrease your food budget.
- A tip of 10% is appreciated at restaurants; always check your bill as sometimes it is added on automatically.