Before You Go
It’s a good idea to read up on Guatemala prior to your trip there. Much has been written about its recent history, as well as its rich cultural history. Also, familiarize yourself with Guatemala’s unique geography before your trip.
U.S. citizens will need a passport with at least six months’ validity after your arrival for travel to Guatemala. Residents of other countries will also need ticket documents for onward or return travel.
No vaccinations are required for entry into Guatemala, though it’s a good idea to be up to date on rabies, typhoid, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), yellow fever, and tetanus shots. A hepatitis vaccine is now widely available and is probably also a good idea.
Most travelers going to Guatemala fly in to Guatemala City’s modern La Aurora International Airport, with several daily flights from numerous U.S. gateways. Mundo Maya International Airport serves the northern department of Petén and the ruins of Tikal.
The majority of inter- and intracity buses are recycled U.S. school buses known as “chicken buses” (cargo often consists of live animals); however, robberies and armed hijacking are increasingly common. Recommended are tourist shuttle buses. Though more expensive, they are increasingly popular for safety reasons.
Rental cars are plentiful and can be rented in Guatemala City, Panajachel, Antigua, Quetzaltenango, Cobán, and Flores. Unless you plan to stick to urban areas such as Guatemala City and Antigua or along the Pan-American Highway, it’s probably best to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Taxicabs are available in almost any town or city. When in smaller towns, the best way to find a taxi is in the central square, or parque central. Otherwise, it’s always best to call a cab rather than hail one from the street.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com