As our newest destination offering, Guatemala offers unique opportunities for travelers. From the ruins of the ancient city of Tikal, filled with historical pre-Columbian Maya treasures, to the Pacific Coast where we discovered the “sailfish capital of the world,” to charming Antigua, surrounded by active volcanoes and bursting with historical ruins, a bustling marketplace, to Lake Atitlán, one of the most picturesque lakes in the world surrounded by quaint villages overflowing with culture, visitors will find Guatemala the ideal Central American Getaway. Are you ready? Let’s get you prepared for your visit with these fast facts for traveling to Guatemala.
In Guatemala, the nation’s currency is the Quetzal, so named in honor of the national bird. In ancient Mayan culture, the quetzal’s tail feathers served as currency and so the national currency also gives a nod to the nation’s proud history.
The Quetzal (plural is Quetzales), as of this writing is valued 1 U.S. Dollar = 7.34267 GTQ (Quetzal). It is wise when visiting to change currency, though you may find a few tourist spots and street vendors who will accept U.S. Dollars. Banks typically offer a fair exchange rate, while border currency merchants often present with a less attractive rate. When changing currency, you will likely be given Q100s which may prove difficult to use for small purchases, so always ask the vendor if he or she can change a large bill for a small purchase.
Merchandise is typically a bargain when compared to similar North American or European goods, with the exception of sunscreen, insect repellants and other imported toiletries. Hotels and meals are reasonably priced as well. Remember, bargaining for a better deal is acceptable, but visitors should always be respectful of the merchant and their wares.
Passports, Visa, and Immigration Requirements
Passports are required for travel to Guatemala for citizens of all ages, but a tourist Visa is only required for stays over 90 days. Should you choose to extend your stay indefinitely, you may extend your tourist Visa for 90 days with an application to Guatemala immigration. Those traveling from the U.S. should have a minimum of six months validity on their U.S. passports following the date of entry.
If your passport should become lost or stolen in Guatemala, you should request a new passport at your embassy as soon as possible. In each case, you should file a police report, which will be presented alongside your new passport to the Guatemalan Immigration Agency when obtaining permission to depart.
Immigration to Guatemala is less than one percent of the population with most immigrants coming from neighboring countries, though in recent years immigration has increased as a result of businesses and tourist attractions.
Though immunizations are not required for travel to Guatemala, several are recommended. It is important, should you choose to be vaccinated that you see your physician four to six weeks prior to your travel. All travelers should be up to day on routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and flu.
The following additional immunizations are recommended for Guatemala:
- Hepatitis A for all travelers over age one.
- Hepatitis B for all travelers not previously immunized.
- Rabies for travelers who plan to explore the beautiful Guatemalan outdoors.
- Yellow Fever *required for those over age one arriving from yellow-fever-infected country * but not recommended or required for others.
Now that you have the fast facts for your upcoming trip to Guatemala, contact us and let’s start planning!