Guatemala

Guatemala is a small country located in Central America bordering Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. The country may be small, but travelers will find an endless list of activities, from volcanic peaks to ancient Mayan ruins to enchanting colonial cities and traditional indigenous towns. Guatemala, like other destinations with adventure activities, has some safety hazards that you can avoid by taking precautions and using common sense while traveling. Below, you’ll find more information on safety and can enjoy your trip.

SAFETY INDEX

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Is Guatemala a Safe or Dangerous Country?

If you have been doing research and listening to the news, you probably know that crime is on the rise in Guatemala, especially in the capital, Guatemala City. Most incidents are drug and gang related, and drug-related attacks tend to happen close to the border with Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. Theft is common, and criminals often work in groups. Tourists are generally targets of petty crime and robbery, carjacking, armed assault, and even sexual assault. Although the crime level increases during holidays, always keep a high level of personal security mindfulness.

However, most visitors have not had a problem during their vacations. We recommend that you use common sense and avoid isolated areas as well as walking alone at night. It is important to follow the news on television and radio closely. Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : HIGH

Standard safety precautions are recommended in Guatemala as crimes of opportunity, including petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching are common. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behavior as you would in any other country.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

Pickpocketing and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. Pickpocketing is common in markets, so never keep anything in your back pocket and take as little with you as possible.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

Kidnapping is common in Guatemala. One of the country’s main issues is children being kidnapped and sold for adoption on the black market. Volcan de Agua, trails around Lago de Atitlan, Volcan de Pacaya are known for robberies.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you like a tap on the shoulder, spitting or getting something spilled on you. We strongly encourage you not to use public ATMs. There have been scam reports involving attempts to obtain a victim’s ATM card and PI, as well as reports of extortion calls.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

We recommend avoiding buses at night in Guatemala City due to the frequency of armed robberies by gangs, so only use them to travel within the city during daylight hours. Radio-dispatched taxis (Taxi Amarillo) are safer and a reliable way to get around the city. If you are taking a “chicken bus,” beware of anyone that sits next to you.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Forest fires often happen from November to June, and they usually affect the Peten area. The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. You can find additional information on weather conditions on the National Hurricane Center website. The rainy season extends from mid-May to mid-November, which can provoke flash floods and mudslides. This causes temporary road closures. The country is located in an active seismic zone, so earthquake occur occasionally. The Fuego, Pacaya and Santiaguito volcanoes have a moderate activity, which is within normal parameters. We recommend hiking volcanoes with reputable tour companies that track volcanic activity. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There is no recent history of terrorism in Guatemala. However, they should not be ruled out, so remain vigilant for suspicious activity.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Women should be careful around men, even with hotel employees. Avoid isolated locations and traveling alone after dark. Remain extra vigilant at bus terminals and in taxis. Numerous female tourists have been victims of brutal sexual assaults in the beach community of Monterrico and the town of Panajachel.

Carte

Useful Information

Most visitors do not need a Visa to enter Costa Rica and can stay in the country for 90 days. Make sure your passport is valid for more than 30 days after your arrival. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The local currency is the Quetzal (GTQ). $1 USD is equivalent to about $7 GTQ. ATMs can be found only in major cities. If you are in need of cash, you can go to a bank such as Banrural, which is commonly found throughout the country. The exchange limit is 125 USD / day, and a passport is required.
The weather in the Central and Western Highlands is generally warm, but it can get cool at night. El Petén and the Pacific Coast have a tropical weather. The rainy season extends from May to October. The hottest months are March and April.
Guatemala’s main airport is La Aurora International Airport (GUA), which is located in Guatemala City. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page