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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.