Guatemala Tips

 

Dear Guatemala Visitor:

On behalf of all us at EcoAmerica Tours, we wish you a most pleasant experience in Guatemala. Our goal is to have you enjoy a trouble-free journey in this exciting tropical destination. Here is some important information regarding your forthcoming adventure.

So please, before starting your trip, take a few minutes to review the following tips and information; it might be useful!


Travel Documents

Before living your city of origin, please take a few moments to review all your documents for accuracy.

US and Canada Citizens must present proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport. As of May 1998, visas are not required. Citizens of other countries, please contact the nearest consulate for information on travel documents (i.e. visa, tourist card, etc.) before departure. The normal processing time for a passport is four to six weeks (a longer period exists during certain times of the year), and a passport can be obtained quickly from your regional passport office. Please contact your regional passport office for details.

We will provide you a master voucher, which will be exchanged at your first point of contact, when applicable, for a series of individual service orders for each and every one of the different travel services contracted, booked, confirmed, and prepaid by our office and to be provided by different suppliers throughout your adventure.

After deplaning, you will need to go through Immigration and Customs before exiting the airport. Our associates are not allowed into the Immigration/Custom areas. If you are to receive an arrival transfer, please look for our representative with a sign with your name and our company name on it. At this point, you will exchange your master voucher for an individual voucher packet. The suppliers involved in the handling of your travel arrangements also aim to provide you with the finest possible service, and to make sure that your travel needs are to your satisfaction.


What to do after Deplaning

Upon arrival at the International Airport, you will need to clear immigration. Please make sure you have filled in your immigration entry form and customs declarations form (available at check-in at the airport, OR on board the plane) and have your passport on hand and ready for inspection. Then, proceed to the luggage claim area, retrieve your bags, and follow the customs officers instructions. Upon clearing customs you will exit the restricted area (our greeters and transportation personnel are not allowed here), and be faced with a great number of local families greeting arriving friends and relatives. Please lookout for your official greeter who will have a sign with your name on it.


Packing

Pack wise, pack light! Pack only what you know you will use and avoid unnecessary items, such as hair-dryer, basic toiletries (soap or body wash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), unless of course, you prefer a specific brand; the hotels we choose for your program will provide you those items and much more!


Clothing & Packing

Even though Guatemala City is an informal and casual city, we recommend men to wear pants (jeans are OK), and ladies should wear skirts, pants or Bermuda length shorts. For the evening meal, men should wear nice slacks, shirt and sweater (sport jacket is optional), and women will feel comfortable in nicer casual evening attire and a shawl. Formal attire is only used when conducting business.

The highland areas can be cold, and a sweater or light jacket is recommended.

For the jungle and archeological areas light, loose-fitting shirts and long pants are essential. If you plan to hike in the national parks make sure you bring two pair of boots or hiking shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous day use.

Sunglasses, and a hat or cap are essential.

DO NOT forget to bring plenty of film or memory. Flying within Guatemala may have luggage restrictions, just as the same as those for international flights.

If you are taking medication always carry it with you rather than putting it in your suitcase.


Water Quality

We recommend drinking bottled water.


Currency/Banking Info/Credit Cards / Money Exchange

The local currency is the Quetzal. Coins are in denominations of one, five, ten, twenty-five, fifty cents and one Quetzal. The bills in denominations of one, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred Quetzals. One quetzal is 100 centavos. You can change US Dollars at your hotel and in every bank in the city and larger towns. You will get a better exchange rate at the banks. There is a bank right at the airport. Credit Cards (American Express, Master Card, Visa and Dinners Club) are accepted in the city and larger towns. Bring cash for small towns and villages.

For your convenience, below you will find a currency converter. Please keep in mind that this is an external third-party tool and it is provided for illustrative purposes only.

Electricity

The electricity is 100 volts AC and 60 Hz. The most used power outlets are the two rectangular prong type. If your equipment has three or round prongs, an adapter must be used.


Tipping

Generally a 10% tip is appropriate for restaurants. Some establishments add the tip to the bill. If your restaurant server has provided excellent service, an additional tip of 5-10% is recommended.

Bellboys, porters, guides, and tour bus drivers generally receive a tip for their services. Suggested tipping: $1 to $2 for bell boys; $0.50 per bag for airport porters; $3 to $5 per person per day for guides, and $1.50 to $2 per person per day for tour van / bus drivers.


Time Zone

Guatemala is in the Central Standard Time zone and does not observe daylight-savings time.


Postal Service

Post offices around the country are open from 08:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


National Holidays & Festivals

The holidays in Guatemala are:

  • January 1st – New Year’s Day.
  • March or April – Holy-week.
  • May 1st – Labor Day.
  • June 30 – Army Day.
  • August 15 – The Feast of the Assumption (only in the capital city).
  • September 15 – Independence Day.
  • October 20 – Day of the Revolution.
  • November 1 – All Saint’s Day.
  • December 25 – Christmas Day.

On these days offices and shops are closed.

In addition to the national holidays, each one of the country’s 330 municipalities celebrates its Patron Saint’s Day and there are other celebrations dating from pre-Hispanic times. The people celebrate, normal activities are put on hold, the main square fills with revelers, and the richest expressions of traditional culture are proudly displayed.


Medical Services & Treatment

Modern, clean, sanitary and first-rate conditions and facilities can be found in Guatemala City. Some rural parts of the country have medical services available in small hospitals and clinics.


Legal Services

Legal Services are available. It is better to contact your embassy or consulate for any assistance.


Language

The official language is Spanish, but various indigenous communities speak more than 21 dialects. English is spoken in almost all tourist areas.


Weather Patterns

Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. The dry season is from October to early May and the wet season from late May to September. Temperatures are usually very mild and vary little during the year. The average high temperature is 77º F and the low 55º F. In the jungles of the Peten, and the Caribbean coast, temperatures are around 80º F to 90º F with cool breezy nights.


Insects and Insect Repellent

Vaccinations are not generally required for visiting Guatemala, as sanitary conditions in tourist areas are acceptable. Nevertheless, a malaria vaccination is recommended for trips into the deep jungles of the Peten. Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. The right kind of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free. When entering the jungle or forests wear lightweight cotton long sleeve shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk, as this is when many of the insects feed. Using these simple tips will make you rainforest experience great. Please remember that not every bug is out looking for you, but they are there (especially if you are visiting them in their home: the rainforest). Don’t let a bug ruin your trip.


Exit Requirements, Airport Tax And Tax Free Shopping

Valid passports with an entering stamp. The airport departure tax is US$30 for international flights and US$1 for local flights. Land and sea departures vary according to the area. The Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City features duty free stores.


Safety Tips

For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution (as you would in any part of the world) . Do not bring large amounts of cash (the city and the larger towns have ATMs) or expensive jewelry. The Guatemala Tourist Commission recommends:

  • Use only the authorized taxis from the hotel taxi stand, and those that are clearly identified.
  • Never leave your personal belongings unattended.
  • Always carry a photocopy of your passport, showing your photograph and the date you entered the country. Leave the original in the safety deposit box of the hotel.
  • Keep your airline ticket, important documents, cash and travelers checks in the hotel safety box.
  • Always change money at a bank or hotel. Never on the street.
  • Don’t wear valuable jewelry and carry only the amount of money you’ll need for each day.
  • Guard valuable items you are carrying, such as cameras and video cameras. Put your wallet in your front pocket and carry your purse crosswise, specially when visiting the markets.

Local Offices Hours/Social (Meal) Times

Government and private offices generally open at 08:00 a.m. The municipality opens at 09:00 a.m. Shops generally open between 09:30 and 10:00 a.m. Government offices close at 4:00 PM, the municipality at 5:00 PM and the private offices between 5:00 and 6:00 PM. Shops, depending on their location between 7:00 and 8:00 PM.
Meal times: breakfast from 06:00 to 08:00; lunch from Noon to 2:00 PM; dinner from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.


Communications

Direct dial service to the U.S. is available. Fax, cable, radio and television are easily accessible.


Important Notice:

Since the information provided above has been collected from several sources and even though we attempt to keep it updated, it tends to change, and we cannot guarantee its accuracy.