Hola, welcome to Guatemala! Adventure awaits, prices are reasonable and the locals are happy to have you! This country grants you the opportunity to get lost in beautiful caves, jungles, temples, parties, beaches, and rivers. To explore it in its entirety, it’s suggested to discover the area over 4-6 weeks. Although traffic may be chaotic in some regions, it is well worth it to see natural wonders like the emerald pools of Semuc Champey, the manmade wonders of Tikal, and the beautiful colonial cities that dot the map of Guatemala.
You’ll find meals that foods offered here are brimming with rice, beans, tortillas, pasta, bread, corn tamales, and potatoes and plantains. Meals complete for carb lovers! A popular chicken preparation is pepian, which has a delicious pumpkin-seed (pepita) based sauce. For beverages, make sure to try a limonada con soda: fresh-squeezed lemonade made fizzy with soda water.
Important dates in Guatemala
New Year’s Day January 1st
Semana Santa from Holy Wednesday midday thru Easter (officially Thursday and Friday)
International Work Day May 1st
Armed Forces Day June 30th
Assumption Day August 15th (Guatemala City only)
Independece Day September 15th
Revolution Day October 20th
All Saint’s Day November 1st
Christmas Eve December 24th
Christmas December 25th
New Year’s Eve December 31st
- Blue denim originally originated in Guatemala
- The country is best known for it’s large volcanoes, vast rainforests and ancient Mayan ruins.
- The largest river in Guatemala, The Motague River, stretches over 250 miles along the country’s eastern region.
- Handmade table runners, scarves, and other items are a bargain considering the amount of time and effort that go into them.
Good to know
- Guatemalans LOVE their loud music and whether you are on a bus, the back of a pick-up or even a fruit market there seems to be pounding music at all times. Snag some earplugs if you’d prefer some quieter times on your journey.
- Best time to visit:
November- April (dry)
December – February (green & dry)
May – October (rainy)
Culture and Etiquette in Guatemala
Guatemala is a multicultural country and home to over 20 Mayan ethnic groups, each one with its own culture and language. The Caribbean coast is populated by the Garífuna people, descendants of African slaves. In the southeast region of the country the remaining Xinca population also adds diversity to the country. There are three distinct stages of history for this country: Mayan indigenous, Spanish colonial, and modern republican, which all have left their mark on the history of Guatemala. The culture of the people reflects all three periods, allowing for a very unique and beautiful display of traditions. Religion runs deep in Guatemala with catholicism being deeply important to Guatemalans, and even in the Mayan communities. If you can arrange your visit around Easter you will witness a beautiful display of celebrations.
Acquaintances shake hands in a gentle manner. To wave goodbye to someone, turn your palm towards you and begin to fan your face with your fingers.
Dress is relaxed and casual in the beach areas as well as the countryside.
There is a 12% tax on all goods and services, but none of this counts as a tip. In restaurants, a minimum tip of 10% is common and expected. Tip more if the service was exemplary. Taxi drivers do not expect, and are rarely given, a tip.