Travel Advisory Guatemala

Central America’s greatest hidden treasure, Guatemala. Lose yourself in the birthplace of the Mayan kingdom, breathtaking scenery, indigenous villages, vivacious volcanoes, and beyond.

Practical Information

Guatemala

Top Rated Activities

World-class destinations

Packing List

For your Guatemala trip

Useful Tips

Before and during your trip

GUATEMALa practical FAQ

What things to see are there in Guatemala?

Guatemala has a diverse range of sights to see. Start your vacation with a volcano hike or a tour of the coffee plantations in Antigua Guatemala. Travel to Lake Atitlan for breathtaking views and a visit to numerous indigenous villages. 

Stop in Chichicastenango to see the largest market in Central America. Treat yourself to a cave tour or tubing adventure in Semuc Champey. Explore the massive and historic Mayan ruins of Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site hidden deep in the jungle.

What things to do are there in Guatemala?

Guatemala is a country of Mayan Ruins, active volcanoes, jungles, rain forests, natural wonders and beaches on the Pacific and Caribbean Ocean. There are many reasons to love and travel Guatemala. Along the way, you will see the very much living Mayan culture throughout this country.

Its people and its traditions, its colorful and representative regional costumes, its mayan languages and gastronomy and even the way of life of many communities are very resemblant to its Mayan ancestors.

When is the best time to visit Guatemala?

For the majority of the country, the best time of year to travel is during the peak of the dry season, Mid-November to April. April and May are the hottest months. July – September are usually the most rainy months.

What is the climate like in Guatemala?

The climate in Guatemala is generally very pleasant. Guatemala has a dry and rainy season. The rainy 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. Most of the country does have a delightful climate. Yet, there are exceptions. The altitude is the leading climatic consideration in the country. In the highlands, the daylight climate is commonly enjoyable between 64-82°F (18-28°C). Humidity is hardly an issue.

Temperatures to chill out at night, you will need to pack some layers of clothing. Along the coast and in the jungle lowlands the heat and humidity may be high. At any time of the year there are temperatures above 85°F (30°C).

There are two climate seasons in Guatemala. The wet season, from May to October, has a mix of sun and clouds and you can assume recurring brief tropical rainstorms in the late afternoons, clearing for the night.

The dry season, mid-November to April, experiences cooler conditions. As a result of the blue skies, the coolest nighttime conditions take place in December and January.

How safe is Guatemala?

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 travelers 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.

Even though we have not had any safety matters on our trips, crime can be a serious issue in Guatemala. Visitors should follow the advice of locals and tour guides as well as taking common sense cautions.

Hotels are able to store your valuables in a safe if you need to. Having said that, the majority of visitors travel to Guatemala without incidents. Read our Travel Safety page for more information.

Does Guatemala require a Covid test to enter?

Guatemala welcomes fully vaccinated travelers. For unvaccinated visitors. A negative COVID-19 Test is mandatory to enter Guatemala.  All arrival unvaccinated travelers must be holding a negative test, both types are accepted:

1. Antigen Covid: it must not be older than 72 hours upon entry. 
2. PCR: it must not be older than 96 hours upon entry. 

Important: travelers arriving by air who do not bring a negative test result, they can take a test at the international airport.

What is the Capital of Guatemala?

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.

What is the official language of Guatemala?

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

What time zone is Guatemala?

Guatemala is 6 hours behind GMT (same as CST). Daylight-savings time is not observed, so during these months (April-October), Guatemala is on MST.

What does the flag of Guatemala look like?

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.

Do I need a Visa to visit Guatemala?

You will need a passport valid for at least six months after you depart to Guatemala. The majority of visitors are not required to have a visa for Guatemala. Visas are not presently required for citizens of the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, and many others.

Entry prerequisites in Latin America may change with remarkable regularity. It is each visitor’s obligation to consult with the consulate for the most updated visa information.

How long can I stay in Guatemala without a 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.

Is there an airport tax in Guatemala?

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

What is the main international airport of Guatemala?

The main international airport is La Aurora Airport, (GUA) – Guatemala City. The other international airport is Mundo Maya Airport, (FRS) – Santa Elena.

What is the local currency of Guatemala?

Quetzal (GTQ)

Are ATMs available in Guatemala?

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.

What type of food is typical of Guatemala?

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.

What immunizations are recommended for visiting Guatemala?

Besides the Coronavirus vaccinations, no other immunizations are presently mandatory for visiting Guatemala excluding a yellow fever certification if you are arriving in Guatemala after traveling in an infected area, like the Amazon.

Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Medicine to prevent malaria are also endorsed if traveling through the lowlands, though some visitors decide not to take any.

Is the water safe to drink in Guatemala?

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.

Do I need a power converter for the electricity in Guatemala?

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

1. Flat blade plug
2. Two parallel flat pins with ground pin

How much should I budget for tips?

Tips are not mandatory on any of our trips. Nonetheless, it is traditional in Latin America to offer a small tip for notable service. Tips fluctuate widely, though approximately $3 – $10 per day for your guide and $2 – $3 per day for your driver is typical. Other visitors decide to bring small gifts from their country to give to service providers.

top rated activities

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

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:

1. Mayan Temples and ruins in islands
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.

2. 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

1. 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.

2. 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:

1. 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. 

2. 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 Volcano 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.

suggested packing list

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 on the 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. 

Travel Information Guatemala. Packing List:

Must Have:
-Passport, Visas (if necessary), and your Return Flight
-Your usual medications
-Credit and Debit (ATM) Card
-Reservation confirmations
-Some cash

Important:
-Phone and camera
-Cords, Batteries and Chargers (Phone, Ipad, etc)
-Waterproof cases for electronic devices
-Universal Power Adapter
-Toiletries
-Comfortable clothing suitable for semi tropical-humid weather
-Swimsuit
-Sunglasses
-Comfortable closed toed shoes
-Shoes: Water shoes, Flip Flops and Sturdy walking/hiking shoes
-Cap or a hat
-Lightweight Rain Jacket
-Day pack/small backpack
-One sturdy water bottle
-Insect Repellent
-Travel-Size Sunscreen
-Travel Insurance
-Spanish phrasebook and or dictionary

A good idea to bring:
-Portable Charger
-Copy of your passport
-Personal sport equipment
-A flashlight
-Extra SD Cards

What you should not bring to your Guatemala trip:
-Expensive Jewelry
-Fancy and Bulky Electronics

5 useful tips

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 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 it 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 on the Credit Card global website.  

5 – 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

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 to stay safe.  Below you will find general guidelines to avoid areas or activities that may be questionable.

Safety recommendations:
Avoid making public displays of large amounts of cash or jewelry, as well as expensive electronic devices, etc.
You should save your money and credit cards and carry with you only what you will need during the day or period of time.

1. When possible, walk in groups of two or more people. 
2. Additionally in the night hours it is recommended to take a cab or Uber.
3. You must be aware of the people around you, and strange behaviors that may indicate a pick-pocket plan
4. Is best if you avoid taking your passport with you, instead have a  couple of notarized copies if possible.
5. Don’t take pictures of children or locals without their permission.
6. 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

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