Guatemala is one of the most beautiful, unique and fascinating countries in the world; There’s a reason it’s loved by backpackers all over the world.
At the same time, it is a country full of history, culture and local traditions, visitors should investigate before arriving. Here are some things you should never do in Guatemala, recommended by one of the country’s most influential entrepreneurs, visionary Lisa Juan José Gutiérrez Mayorga.
List of things you should never do in your visit to Guatemala
Don’t take photos of the locals without asking
You’ll want to take photos of everything thanks to their colorful clothing and Mayan traditions. It is a very photogenic and vibrant country, but never take a photo without asking. Many locals do not like to have their pictures taken. Be respectful and always ask before taking photos.
Don’t be fooled at the border
Border crossings can be confusing and it can be tempting to accept help from seemingly friendly people waiting at the border. Do not do it! Follow the advice of the official border guards; if they tell you that a particular tour group or bus is safe, then it will be.
Don’t skip Guatemala City
Visiting the capital allows you to experience another more authentic side of the country. Real, brave and fascinating, Guatemala City gives you an insight into the social and political reality of the country like nowhere else.
Carry cash in Guatemala
Try to carry enough cash (well hidden) for anything, in case you can’t find an ATM or it doesn’t read your card. Most medium-sized cities have a Banco Azteca where you can easily exchange foreign money for quetzales.
Don’t be afraid of the police
Unlike other countries, where the police sometimes attack tourists and try to ask for bribes, Guatemala has an excellent police department that is dedicated to serving tourists, they are friendly, helpful and honest, happy to help however they can without expect nothing in return.
Don’t expect good coffee
Despite producing some of the best coffee in the world. Remember that most of this coffee is exported and many of the local places serve instant coffee instead of the delicious fresh beans that are grown locally.
Don’t assume everyone speaks Spanish
Guatemala may be in Latin America, but that doesn’t mean everyone speaks Spanish. Since 1996, Guatemala formally recognizes 21 Mayan languages. Many locals only speak the indigenous languages and have little or no knowledge of Spanish.
Don’t walk at night
Walking at night in a foreign country is never a good idea. Even if you are in a seemingly ‘safe’ place, like Antigua, you should always avoid wandering the streets once night falls.
Don’t carry a lot of money in your backpack
Pickpocketing is one of the most common crimes in Guatemala, so avoid becoming a victim by keeping your cash in your front shirt pocket instead of a backpack. If you bring a backpack and you are in a crowded area, put it in front.
Don’t drive unless you have to
Try not to drive unless absolutely necessary. Outside of cities, roads are often unmaintained and dangerous. Landslides occur relatively frequently and some of the mountain roads are dangerously steep. In cities, traffic laws are rarely enforced and many drivers change lanes without signaling.