Information & Facts
Business etiquette in Guatemala is similar to the rest of Latin
America, except for punctuality. Due to the warm, humid climate men
often wear lightweight suits and women should wear a dress or a
skirt. Always be punctual for meetings, as Guatemalan business
people are very punctual. Use professional titles such as such as
'Doctor', 'Professor', 'Ingeniero' (engineer) or 'Abogado'
(lawyer); otherwise address colleagues as Señor (Mr), Señora (Mrs)
and Señorita (Miss), followed by their last names. Business cards
may be exchanged although there is no ritual around it. Business
hours are generally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken
over lunch. Speaking softly is considered polite.
Guatemala's climate is lovely year round and is generally hot
throughout the county, making travel possible at any time. The
rainy season is generally from May to November. Climate variations
are due to altitude and the north has a hot, tropical climate with
maximum rainfall between May and September. The coastal regions and
north east are hot with a dry season running from November to April
and rainy season, which is slightly cooler with temperatures
averaging around 68°F (20°C) that runs from May to October. The
highlands, including Guatemala City and Antigua, have a pleasant
climate with less rainfall than the coast, and cold temperatures at
The international access code for Guatemala is +502. The
outgoing code depends on what network is used to dial out on (e.g.
13000 for Telefonica or 14700 for Telgua), which is followed by the
relevant country code (e.g. 1300044 for the United Kingdom). City
codes are not required. There are generally surcharges on calls
made from hotels and it is cheaper to use calling cards. Rates are
generally less expensive after 7pm. Mobile phones work in the major
towns and cities on a GSM network, but check that your network
operator has a roaming agreement covering Guatemala. Internet cafes
are available in the main tourist areas.
Guatemalans wave goodbye in a unique manner, which looks similar
to someone fanning themselves. The hand is raised, palm facing the
body and fingers are waved back and forth, together as if in a
mitten. Ask permission before taking photographs, particularly of
children, as local people are suspicious of foreigners approaching
children for pictures due to incidences of child kidnapping,
particularly in remote areas where tourists have been attacked. A
small tip might be required. Military clothing is illegal. Public
displays of affection between same sex couples should be avoided,
particularly outside of Guatemala City.
Travellers to Guatemala over 18 do not have to pay duty on 80
cigarettes or 99g of tobacco; 500ml of liquor or spirits
(equivalent 2 bottles); and perfume.
Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. A variety of
plugs are in use including the flat two-pin, flat three-pin and the
There are a number of health risks associated with travel to
Guatemala and travellers are advised to take the latest medical
advice at least three weeks prior to departure. Malaria is
prevalent in the low-lying areas outside Guatemala City and dengue
fever is endemic. Visitors should be careful what they eat and
stick to bottled water. Guatemalan hospitals are unlikely to give
medical treatment unless the patient has medical insurance or can
pay up front. Good travel insurance is therefore essential.
State-funded hospitals are best avoided. Travellers should only use
private clinics where possible. A yellow fever certificate is
required from travellers entering the country from infected
The official language is Spanish but English is
understood in hotels and tourist destinations. Many indigenous
languages are also spoken.
The official currency is the Quetzal (GTQ) divided into 100
centavos. In 2001 the US Dollar became the second official currency
alongside the Quetzal and both are accepted. Travellers cheques and
major credit cards are accepted, though some more than others. It
is recommended to take travellers cheques in US dollars. Cash
exchange is easier, but more risky. Visitors are not advised to
exchange money at the informal booths on the street. There are ATMs
in the towns and cities, which accept American Express and Visa.
MasterCard and Diners Club have a more limited acceptance.
It is strongly recommended that all foreign passengers to
Guatemala hold return or onward tickets, and the necessary travel
documentation for their next destination. Note that the period of
stay for visa-exempt nationals is 90 days; however, 90-day
extensions can be organised through the Immigration Office. For
nationals requiring a visa, the consulate issuing the visa will
advise visitors about the amount of deposit to be paid at the port
of entry in Guatemala, which will be refunded if the visitor leaves
Guatemala within one year. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your
passport has at least six months validity remaining after your
intended date of departure from your travel destination.
Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated
by travel agents and official sources.
The rate of violent crime in Guatemala is exceptionally high.
There has also been a relatively high rate of violent attacks on
tourists, especially in remote places and in the capital, Guatemala
City, especially after dark. Visitors need to be particularly
vigilant in the central Zone 1 of Guatemala City where most of the
cheap hotels and bus terminals are, and in all parts of the city at
night. There has been an increase in crime targeting tourists
arriving at Guatemala City airport and travelling to hotels in the
business district of Zones 9 and 10; visitors should be extremely
alert when leaving the airport. Pick-pocketing and petty theft are
common in tourist areas and market places. An increase of armed
robberies targeting tourists has also been reported in Antigua.
Many robberies take place on the cheaper buses when travelling on
the tourist routes from Guatemala City to Antigua, and from Antigua
to Panajachel; keep all belongings close at hand. There has been an
increase in reported incidents of attacks, including the rape of
female passengers on buses during the day on main routes. Hold-ups
by armed gangs occur frequently on city and long distance public
buses; visitors are advised not to use them if possible. Armed
robberies on minor roads around Lake Atitlan have taken place and
visitors are advised to use the boat services between towns on the
lakeshore. There have also been armed attacks on tourists at Tikal
and on the approach road from Flores to Tikal. Guatemala's rainy
season between April and November usually brings about heavy rain
and flooding, mudslides and hurricanes. Fuego volcano is very
active and climbing it is not advisable at present.
Generally a 10% tip is recommended for good service in
Guatemala. It is customary to tip waiters if a service charge
hasn't been added to the bill. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped.
Hotel staff and tour guides expect to be tipped for their