Guatemala is an ideal travel destination for backpackers in search of authenticity and varied and beautiful landscapes. But it is better to know in advance this is not a beach destination and not a destination for partying or even dancing on Latin music.
WHY GOING TO GUATEMALA ?
The country remained very authentic and its population is still 80% maya. Guatemalans are still all dressed with their traditional colorful clothes. There is no doubt that you will be totally disoriented.
VARIETY OF LANDSCAPES
You will be impressed by the variety of landscapes: Mayan ruins, jungle, waterfalls turquoise water lake surrounded by volcanoes, ancient colored colonial towns and even a few beaches on the Caribbean coast.
THE COST OF LIVING
Guatemala is much less touristic than Mexico and can be covered in two weeks. Moreover, this is a country where the cost of living is very cheap, with the exception of the entry of some tourist parks such as Tikal. A meal will cost about 6 in restaurants, drinks included, and 1 to 2 on the street stands.
YOUTH HOSTELS AND BACKPACKERS
It’s a destination for backpackers which offers many facilities including amazing youth hostels. There is some hostels in every city but they are high quality and very cheap (between 4-10 per night). Hostels organize group excursions, meals, happy hours and sometimes even pub crawls.
WHAT YOU WON’T LIKE ABOUT GUATEMALA ?
Be aware that Guatemala is not a country to party ! Contrary to what you might think, you’ll have few opportunities to dance on Latin music in the evening! There is a curfew at 1 am, which means that all bars must close. Therefore, if you want to party, start early! Because it would be a shame not to take advantage of the very reasonable price of local beer ( 1 happy hour, 2 otherwise): the Gallo, Victoria, and the Brava and Brava Extra and Sol, which looks and tastes like Desperados.
If you want to chill on the beach, go away. Guatemala is not a beach destination, there are very few beaches, some with black sand. If you want beaches, go to Cancun and Tulum or Caye Caulker island in Belize (where you can dive to see the coral reef).
We had no problems during our trip, but we have heard so many stories of robberies and saw so many soldiers or armed police on the streets that we quickly became paranoid. Unfortunately, this is something that can quickly limit your freedom because you must comply with all the safety requirements (see practical information).