Guatemala has good areas and bad areas. Overall, most areas of interest in Guatemala are safe to
a traveler who uses good sense and take appropriate safety measures. Antigua is a popular tourist
town, and where there are tourists there are always security problems. You can reduce the risk and
the hassle if you follow these suggestions:
- Don't walk alone after dark, or in deserted areas, even during daylight, and avoid empty, silent streets. You can find taxis on the east side of Parque Central and in front of the bus station, or call one at 7832-0479 or at 7832-2360 (after 23:00pm). If you find yourself out after 20:00pm, please ask reliable friends to walk you home.
- Don't carry around too much money, preferably only small bills (Q10 andQ20). Ask your host family (or hotel) for a safe place to store your money. Sometimes the families/hotels have maids who may be tempted by your loose change if it is sitting in plain view. If you think anything is missing, tell your señora/reception clerk immediately, and inform the MG Helpdesk. We'd like to emphasize that this is NOT a common occurrence, but you should always be careful.
- Make a copy of your passport and carry the copy (not original) with you at all times (except when cashing traveler's checks or traveling outside of Antigua). In Antigua you can present the copy as identification if asked to present documents by the police or military. When carrying the original, keep a copy in a separate location. It is best to use a money belt and put your money in several different places on your body.
- Carry the MG Helpdesk address and telephone number in case of emergency.
- Know your host family's/hotel's address and telephone number.
- Cerro de La Cruz and San Lázaro cemetery: Due to past incidents, we strongly recommend to sign up for the scheduled guided tours leaving from Tourist Police office (4a Avenida North, around the corner from Central Park), tours leave daily at 10:00am and 15:00pm.
- Go in a larger group AND with a local guide when walking/biking/running/hiking outside of Antigua. Due to past violence, rapes and robberies, we strongly discourage climbing alone or with just 2 people Cerro de la Cruz, Volcán de Pacaya or Volcán de Agua!!!
- The winding mountain roads coupled with the "machismo" attitude of many bus drivers can make bus travel a little nerve-racking (especially the road to Lake Atitlán). We suggest that those wishing to relax look for alternatives when possible. For example, shuttle busses travel to most tourist destinations almost daily.
- Strong currents, riptides, and undertow along Guatemala's Pacific Coast beaches pose a serious threat to even the strongest swimmers. Signs warning of treacherous surf are rare and confined mostly to private beaches owned by hotels. Lifeguards are rarely present on beaches.
- Plan your excursions through MG Helpdesk or check to make sure that the tour company/travel agency is reputable. You will find cheaper service but no other agency can match our tours when it comes to fair price and safety precautions. Rather than traveling alone, use a reputable tour organization! Stay in groups; travel in a caravan consisting of two or more vehicles; and, stay on the main roads. Ensure that someone not traveling with you is aware of your itinerary. Resist the temptation to stay in hotels that do not have adequate security. Travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is extremely dangerous. Stay in the main tourist destinations. Do not explore back roads or isolated paths near tourist sites. Pay close attention to your surroundings, especially when walking or when driving in Guatemala City.
- Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.
- Finally, if confronted by criminals, be aware that resistance may provoke a more violent response.
- When checking baggage at the airport make sure it is locked, and never leave it unattended. Do not accept any items from strangers, at the plane, at the airport or at any other location.
More information about tourist security is available from the Tourist Protection Office of INGUAT
(the Guatemalan Tourist Board) at 7a Avenida 1-17, Zona 4 Centro Cívico, Ciudad de Guatemala or on
the INGUAT webpage: www.visitguatemala.com. The direct telephone line for tourist assistance is (502)
2421-2810 or 2421-2800, extensions 1300, 1301, 1305 or 1306. The general INGUAT office telephone
number is (502) 2421-2879, and the fax is (502) 2421-2891. For e-mail contact please use INGUAT office.
For emergencies, INGUAT may be reached 24 hours, seven days a week at (502) 2421-2810 or (502) 5578-9836.
The INGUAT office may also be reached toll free from within Guatemala at 1-(801) 464-8281, or toll
free from the United States at 1-(888) 464-8281.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Guatemala is a geologically active country. Visitors should be aware of the
possibility of earthquakes at any time and the need for contingency plans. There are also four active
volcanoes. Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Guatemala are also vulnerable to hurricanes and
tropical storms from June through November causing mudslides and flooding.
Embassies in Guatemala City
- United States of America, Cancillería Av. La Reforma 7-01, Z-10, Tel. 2331-1541, Fax 2331-0564
- Canada, 13 C. 8-44 Z-10, Edif. Plaza Edyma Niv. 8, Tel. 2333-6102, Fax 2363-4348
- Germany, 20 C.6-20 Z-10 Edif. Plaza Marítima, Tel. 2333-6903 PBX
- United Kingdom & Northern Ireland, Av. Reforma 16-00, Edif. Internacional, Niv.11, Tel. 2367-5425 to 5429