Welcome to Guatemala!!!
Guatemala is a small country in Central America, South of Mexico, and North of Honduras and El Salvador, with Belize on its East. The country has some of the best preserved Mayan ruins, awesome volcanoes (some of them active), wonderful lakes, and Pacific and Caribbean coastlines; but the main reason to visit Guatemala, is to see the small and picturesque towns, where the Mayan cultures and traditions are still alive (and kicking!)
When to Go/Climate: from November to April, the dry season or Summer, is when the weather is at its best. It is during this season when most tourists come. The top season is around Christmas. In July and August the country is also very busy. If you want to avoid the crowds, come from October to December, Winter or the wet season.
Get in: You can fly from abroad to Guatemala City Airport (GUA), or to Tikal (TKM). You can also go to Guatemala by land (public bus or car) from the south of Mexico (Chiapas and Yucatan), and from El Salvador, Honduras and Belize.
Get around: There is an excellent network of public buses that can take you almost anywhere in Guatemala. There is also the option of the tourist buses, which can take you to the most picturesque areas. For Tikal, I would recommend the plane.
Money and Costs: The local currency is the Quetzal. USD are widely accepted. The currency easier to exchange is the US dollar, but banks will also exchange Euros and Mexican Pesos. Prices in Guatemala are low.
Length of stay: You can visit the top tourist sites in one week, but if you want to visit "everything", you will need two or three weeks.
Languages/People: 12 million people live in Guatemala. Around 7 million have Spanish as their mother language, the rest have one of the Amerindian languages. English is not widely spoken. Learning some basic words in Spanish will make your travel easier.
Food: local cuisine is based on vegetables, mainly corn, and meat. The typical dishes are tortillas, frijoles (dark beans) and tamales (steam cooked corn meals).
Safety: Although things have improved a lot lately, there are some areas that are best to be avoided (Guatemala City). Female travelers should be particularly careful, especially by night.
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