For U.S citizens and most Europeans, no tourist Visa is necessary, only a 3-month validity passport (beyond your intended stay). During your international flight, you’ll be given a tourist card and a customs form which you’ll have to fill in and then hand over after your arrival. They are routine formalities. At your entry in the airport an Immigration official will stamp your passport and collect the tourist card. Then you will pick up your luggage and will hand over the custom form to the custom agent. If you have nothing to declare customs is a breeze. Customs agents though use special trained dogs to detect for drugs. For travelers from other countries, the Visa requisits are based on the principle of reciprocity and depend on the country of origin. For more information contact the nearest Guatemalan Embassy or Consulate in your country.
Arrival at Guatemala City’s Airport
At your arrival at Guatemala City’s Airport “La Aurora” (GUA), an English-speaking member of our staff will be welcoming you just outside the exit hall. Please Email us your complete flight details and arrival time, so that we can co-ordinate your pick up at the airport, especially if your plane arrives late at night. Our driver will wait for you just outside the exit hall and hold a sign with your name on it. He will drop you off at your hotel in the capital and make sure everything is OK.
No vaccines are necessary if you are vacationing in Guatemala City, Antigua, or Lake Atitlan, which are all located at 1.500m (4,920 ft) above sea level. Even at Lake Amatitlan (located 1 hr. from the capital and at 800 m above sea level), there are no disease ridden mosquitoes. You will find enough pharmacies where you can buy any type of medicine you need, mostly without prescription. A full range of modern medical care is available both in the capital and in Antigua. If you would like to see the Maya Pyramids in the tropical jungle of TIKAL, bring along your medicines for intestinal problems or diarrhea, to prevent any eventualities and wear insect repellent (with DEET), as well as a good sun protection. To repel mosquitos, you can also apply natural essences (citronella), eat a lot of garlic (minimum 2 weeks before) and/or drink Quinine tea, all natural and inexpensive remedies. However, if you are rather prone to mosquito bites, and you decide to go to TIKAL, you may want to take pharmaceuticals like Malarone or Cloroquine tablets. Ask your Doctor about the posology and their side-effects.
We suggest you bring comfortable shoes and clothing.. You will need warmer clothes (sweater, socks and fleece jacket, etc.) for early mornings and cooler evenings. Waterproof shoes and a rain jacket are useful during the rainy season if you intend to spend your vacation outside of the capital. (From May until beginning of November) Specific items to add in your suitcase (the list is not exhaustive) : hat, sunglasses, camera, sun cream, swimwear, robe, flip-flops, copy of your medical records, a copy of your passport, a small rucksack, ipod; binoculars and hiking boots, if you want to climb Volcano Pacaya or are interested in bird-watching.
Guatemala is known as “The Land of the Eternal Spring”. You will find a pleasant Spring-like climate in the capital, in Antigua and at Lake Atitlan, fluctuating during the day on average from approximately 14 degrees Celsius in the morning to 28Celsuis at midday (from 56F to 81F). At the thermal spa and hot springs at Lake Amatitlan, the temperature is warmer (between 18 degrees Celsius) early morning to 30C around midday, (from 65F to 86F). Again, early mornings and late afternoons are always cooler. In TIKAL and on both Coasts (Pacific and Atlantic) the weather is very hot all year round. From May to end October is the rainy season: mornings are sunny and afternoons or evenings are punctuated with tropical rains, which can last from 1/2 hour to two hours. However, for the last several years, global climatic changes have affected Guatemala’s normal weather pattern, with less rain during part of the summer, and we’ve had occasional rain fall in the normally dry season. For a reliable temperature converter, click www.onlineconversion.com/temperature To look at on-line weather, www.weather.com which gives a Satellite view of North & Central America and www.intellicast.com, which gives a local weather forecast for Guatemala City and an infrared Satellite map for the Caribbean.
Time Zone = GMT minus 6 hours
Electrical Devices = 110Watts, 60Hz
110 Watts and American type plugs are the standard in the whole country. For visitors from Europe, bringing small electric appliances (hair dryer or electric razor) without built-in voltage adapter, it is useful to get a voltage converter from 220 to 110 Volts.
Cell Phones & Internet
There is wide cell phone coverage in Guatemala (with the exception in the jungle of TIKAL, in Guatemala´s northern region). As to Internet, there are plenty of Internet cafes available in Antigua at excellent rates ($ 0.35 per half-hour). High-speed Internet is also available at your hotel and in Guatemala City’s modern private hospitals. You can also buy a modem for $26, rechargeable every 2 weeks for $20
The currency exchange rate has been fairly stable over the last years. On average, the official exchange rate fixed by Guatemala’s Central Bank is 7.50 Quetzales per 1 U.S.$. The U.S. Dollar is only accepted in small denominations. Bring several smaller notes ready for your arrival, when giving tips for baggage handlers or hotel maids. We suggest tourists to bring their credit cards and/or U.S $ cash (max. $10,000.oo, any amount above has to be declared on your customs form) For medical services you can either pay in U.S $, in local currency, with your credit card or via wire transfer (on-line). No personal checks or foreign debit cards are accepted. With your credit card you can get Quetzales up to $500.00 per day inside the larger banks located in Antigua or in Guatemala’s residential districts (Zone 9, 10, 13, 14 and 15). You’ll need to bring your passport along when exchanging money at the bank. The maximum cash you can exchange at he bank into Quetzales is $3,000.oo per person per month per bank. The Euro or the Pound Sterling can only be exchanged in small amounts at the main branches of international banks in the capital.
VISA & American Express are well accepted (Mastercard and Diners Club less). When with credit card at shops, restaurants or other places, you may be charged a local bank transaction fee which varies from 5% to 7%. Inquire at each place before you use your credit card. In smaller shops, café’s and on the handicraft’s market, local currency (cash) is better accepted. Before your travel, tell your bank account manager that you will be using your credit card in Guatemala, otherwise by measure of precaution the bank might automatically block the use of your card, assuming that someone else took your card and went off with it.
When planning your trip, ask your bank and your credit card company what are their bank/credit card charges and their foreign currency commissions when you pay here with credit cards or when you get cash (Quetzales) either from ATMs or inside Guatemalan Bank agencies.
Credit card transaction fees or foreing exchange charges may differ from bank to bank, or from credit card company.
Citibank has opened a Guatemalan subsidiary in the capital and has many agencies all over the country. However U.S. Citibank account holders won’t be able to cash in their personal checks here, as the Guatemalan Citibank has not yet unified its operating systems with the US Citibank network. Their main address is on 15th Street -corner with 1st Avenue- Zone 10 (=”15 Calle, esquina con Primera Avenida, Zona 10). Tel: (502) 2250 2050. Opening hours from Monday to Friday: from 09:00 a.m. until 05:oo p.m. The Citibank agency in Centro Comercial Cemaco, on Blvd. Los Proceres,(Zone 10) is also open on Saturday morning, from 09:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Tel: (502) 2422 9999. Other major Guatemalan Banks that offer their services to tourists are: Banco Industrial, Banco G&T Continental, Banco Internacional (BI), Banco Reformador. At your arrival you will be given a list of banks where to go, with their opening hours. Banco Industrial and other banks are open on weekends at major shopping malls in Guatemala City. The day after your arrival, a staff member of Medical Tourism Guatemala can accompany you to the bank to facilitate your money exchange. Banks can also give VISA & MASTERCARD cash advances in local currency; you´ll need to bring your passport along. Before you travel, ask your US bank or your credit card company what their charges are. All major banks are represented in Antigua, near or on the Main Square. Their opening hours are from 09:00 a.m. until 06:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays, banks are open until 12 p.m.
We advise not to use ATM’s located on the streets. It is better to get cash from the ATM’s inside the banks or inside shopping malls. At the ATM machines in Guatemala you will only get the equivalent in Quetzales of $200.00 per day. ATM machines accept only credit cards and not foreign debit cards.
In hotels, bars, restaurants a 10% tip (propina) is recommended. They are usually not included in the price of meals. Do not forget tips for drivers and doormen. A $2.00 per person, per day for driver/assistant is suggested.
When you book your flight, we strongly advise you to get simultaneously a personal travel Insurance to protect yourself and your luggage/valuables. Trip cancellation insurance will cover your losses on non-refundable costs due to illness or other emergency. Click on the following options to see rates : www.insurancestoreonline.com, www.netquote.com, www.1worldinsurance.com
Travelers needing individual assistance must be accompanied by an able person and must notify us at the time of booking. Medical Tourism Guatemala does not guarantee wheelchair access outside of the capital.
Interesting gifts to buy in Guatemala
Jade, silver Jewelry with semi-precious stones, in traditional and contemporary designs, colorful handwoven or embroidered textiles, ceramic & leather goods, paintings, native fashion jewelry, decorative objects in hand carved wood or wrought iron, coffee, rum, chocolate, natural oil essences and natural cosmetics, scented candles.
The text and images contained in Medical Tourism Guatemala’s website are for informational purposes only. Its content is not intended to substitute the medical diagnosis or treatment from board certified MD Specialists. Always seek advice from your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Medical Tourism Guatemala does not warrant that the information provided is complete, accurate or up to date. Medical Tourism Guatemala‘s website does not provide medical advice.