While thousands of travelers come to Guatemala every year without incident, you should be aware that the country has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America
although much of this takes place within local gangs. Follow the advice of your vacation company or tour leader, avoid walking around at night and carrying valuables, and only take taxis pre-booked by your hotel or vacation company. Be especially careful if spending time in Guatemala City.
There is little you can do about the attacks and express kidnappings that happen to those traveling on the roads between cities and tourist attractions. If you do encounter trouble, the safest thing to do is to hand over any cash or valuables without protest
. Traveling as part of an organised tour will, however, minimise the risk of attack.
This may be a tropical country, but if you are hiking in the mountains, weather conditions can be extreme – and in some cases, when trekkers are unprepared, deadly. Do pack very warm layers and waterproof clothing if attempting to summit a volcano
(temperatures can drop below freezing at night), only trek with a qualified guide, wear suitable footwear and be prepared to turn back if conditions change suddenly.
Guatemala has three active volcanoes
: Pacaya, Fuego and Santa Maria. Keep an eye on updates if you are traveling near to any of these.
We always ask our travelers not to take photographs of local people without permission – and not to photograph children. This is a responsible tourism issue (and one of simple politeness!), but in Guatemala it is also a safety issue
– as a spate of child kidnappings has meant that photographers can be dealt with aggressively. Additionally, children and adults may ask for money if you photograph them – this is also not something we’d encourage. Some memories are best just c captured in your head, no matter how much you may want to immortalise them on camera.
There are regular protests and demonstrations in Guatemala. Although these do not specifically target tourists, they can become violent, so steer clear of any large gatherings that you come across. In addition, political activity by foreigners is against the law.
Take note of the emergency numbers: 120 (police), and 122/123 (fire brigade and ambulance)
Homesexuality is legal in Guatemala, but same sex couples are advised to act discretely – especially outside of the more tolerant Guatemala City. Being a conservative country, however, we do recommend keeping public displays of affection to a minimum for all travelers
– regardless of sexual orientation.
It is recommended to carry an authorised copy of your passport on you at all times.
Keep up to date with the latest travel advice from the FCO