Travelling to Guatemala?
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Guatemala travel money
Embark on your journey to Guatemala well-prepared. Here are some valuable insights into currency and card payments in Guatemala.
Where can I buy a Guatemalan quetzal?
Guatemala quetzal is an exotic currency. That makes it tricky to find in the UK.
Banks and the Post office don’t often carry exotic currencies. You do have a couple of options, though:
Currency exchange bureaus. You can visit currency exchange bureaus or travel money shops at airports, city centres, or shopping areas. You’ll find our bureau de change is conveniently near Heathrow.
Online currency exchange services. Online currency exchange platforms (like ours!) allow you to order Guatemalan quetzales online and have them delivered directly to you.
Should I exchange money before going to Guatemala?
Yes, exchanging some GBP for Guatemalan quetzales is a good idea before your trip to Guatemala. This way, you’ll have local currency on hand for initial expenses like transportation and small purchases.
What currency is best for Guatemala?
The best currency to use in Guatemala is the Guatemalan quetzal. It’s the official currency in Guatemala, and using it will make your transactions smoother and avoid potential currency exchange fees.
While some places may accept US dollars, using the local currency, GTQ, is still better for the best value and acceptance.
Can I use my bank card in Guatemala?
Yes, you can use your bank card in Guatemala, but it’s essential to keep a few things in mind:
Vendors – Paying by card in Guatemala is dependent upon phone verifications by the vendor. It’s worth checking before paying by card if the vendor also adds card fees to the bill. These can be as high as 5% to 10% on top of the purchase price.
ATMs – You can use your bank card to withdraw Guatemalan quetzales (GTQ) from ATMs in Guatemala. Look for ATMs associated with well-known banks for reliability. Inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid card issues.
Credit and debit cards – Hotels, restaurants, and larger businesses in urban areas generally accept major credit and debit cards. However, cash may be the primary payment method in more remote or rural areas.
Card payments – In Guatemala, they are predominantly with ‘swipe and sign’ rather than ‘chip and pin’. You need to have ‘swipe and sign’ enabled on your card for your card payments to go through. Many British cards, including Revolut cards, don’t have swipe and sign payments enabled by default.
Currency conversion fees – Check with your bank about foreign transaction fees that may apply when using your card abroad. Some banks charge a fee for currency conversion.
Cash as backup – Carrying some cash as a backup is wise. Especially in rural areas or places where card acceptance may be less likely.
Security – Be cautious when using your card in public places to avoid card skimming or fraud. Use ATMs in well-lit and secure locations.
Overall, combining cash and cards for flexibility during your trip to Guatemala is a good idea.
It’s wise to get in touch with your bank before using your bank card for payments in Central America. This precaution helps prevent your bank from blocking your card.
Should I bring cash to Guatemala?
Yes. It’s advisable to bring cash when travelling to Guatemala. Especially if you plan to explore areas beyond the major cities or travel across the country.
Cash is the preferred payment method for most vendors in Guatemala. It serves as a reliable backup when card payments are unavailable or come with high fees.
Many vendors in Guatemala will accept US Dollar banknotes, but they should be in crisp and clean denominations of $50 and $100 USD. You can certainly bring US dollars with you for your trip to Guatemala.
Once you’re in Guatemala, it’s a good plan to exchange some of your USD into Guatemalan quetzales (GTQ), especially in smaller denominations. These smaller bills are convenient for tipping, paying for taxi rides, and using public transportation.
Is it better to use cash or credit card in Guatemala?
In Guatemala, it’s generally better to use a combination of cash and credit cards. Everywhere accepts cash, especially in smaller establishments and rural areas.
Credit card use is commonplace in larger cities and tourist areas. It’s a good idea to carry both for flexibility. Avoid using credit cards for small purchases to minimise fees.
How much cash should I take to Guatemala?
The amount of cash you should take to Guatemala depends on your travel plans, expenses, and preferences. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how much cash to bring:
Daily expenses: Estimate your daily expenses, including accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities. Consider whether you’ll be dining at upscale restaurants, staying in luxury hotels, or opting for budget options. Guatemala can be pretty affordable for travellers, but costs can vary widely.
Length of stay: Multiply your daily expenses by the days you plan to spend in Guatemala. This will give you a rough estimate of the total cash you’ll need for your trip.
Emergency funds: It’s a good idea to set aside some extra cash as an emergency fund. For unexpected expenses or situations where cards may not be accepted.
Payment preferences: Consider your payment preferences. While cash always works, you may also plan to use your credit or debit card for some expenses. Be aware of any card fees associated with international transactions.
ATM Access: Guatemala has a reasonable number of ATMs in major cities and tourist areas. You can rely on ATMs to withdraw cash as needed during your trip. This reduces the amount of money you need to carry.
Currency exchange: Bring some US dollars in crisp and clean $50 and $100 USD denominations. You can exchange them for Guatemalan quetzales (GTQ) as needed.
Tipping and small expenses: Remember to allocate funds for tipping, small purchases, and transport within cities. Smaller denomination bills and coins can be helpful for these expenses.
Safety: Be mindful of safety. Avoid carrying excessive amounts of cash, and consider using a money belt or hidden pouch to keep your money secure.
The amount of cash you take should align with your travel style and preferences.
It’s also a good practice to chat with your bank for advice on managing finances while abroad. You can also check for any travel advisories or updates related to currency usage in Guatemala.
How can I avoid ATM fees in Guatemala?
- Use ATMs at major banks. Stick to ATMs that have affiliations with major banks or well-known financial institutions. These ATMs typically have lower fees.
Your home bank may have partnerships or fee reimbursement agreements with international banks. This can reduce the cost of ATM withdrawals.
- Withdraw larger amounts. Instead of making frequent small withdrawals, plan to withdraw larger amounts of cash less frequently. This reduces the number of transactions and associated fees. However, be mindful of your safety when carrying larger sums of money.
- Notify your home bank. Before travelling to Guatemala, inform your home bank about your travel plans. Many banks offer travel services that can help you avoid international ATM fees. They may also provide guidance on using specific ATMs without incurring additional charges.
Is Guatemala expensive to visit?
No, Guatemala is generally not expensive to visit. It’s a budget-friendly destination with affordable accommodation, food, and activities.
Travelers can enjoy a cost-effective trip while exploring its beautiful landscapes and rich culture.
You can expect to pay around 15 quetzales (£1.50) for a coffee in a cafe in Guatemala City. A three-course meal will set you back around 170 quetzales per person – only £17.50.
How does tipping work in Guatemala?
Tipping in Guatemala is customary but not always mandatory. Here’s a simple guide to tipping in Guatemala:
It’s common to leave a tip of around 10% to 15% of the bill at restaurants if a service charge is not included. Tipping on the higher end of this range goes a long way in tourist areas. Check the bill to see if a service charge has already been factored in.
Consider tipping your guide between $5 and $10 per person for guided tours. Depending on the length and quality of the tour.
Hotel staff, such as bellhops and housekeepers, appreciate tips. You can give them a few quetzales (local currency) for their services.
Tipping taxi drivers is not common, but you can round up the fare if you’d like. For longer rides, like shuttle services, a small tip is always good.
Tipping isn’t necessary at street food stalls. But if you receive exceptional service, rounding up the bill is a nice gesture.
Remember that tipping practices can vary, and it’s always a good idea to gauge the situation. In tourist-heavy areas, service workers are more accustomed to receiving tips, while in remote regions, it may be less common.
Tipping is usually done in local currency (quetzales), but US dollars are ok, too, especially in tourist areas.
Remember that tipping is a way to show appreciation for good service. Feel free to adjust the amount based on your experience. The 1 quetzal coins and banknotes and 5 quetzales notes are great for tipping.
Banknotes in Guatemala
Banknotes in Guatemala, known as “quetzales” (GTQ), feature various denominations and showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage.
The banknotes in use in Guatemala are 1 GTQ, 5 GTQ, 10 GTQ, 20 GTQ, 50 GTQ, 100 GTQ and 200 GTQ.
The newest banknotes are polymer plastic and circulate alongside older series paper banknotes. Both types of quetzal banknotes are valid.
Banknotes display a mix of historical figures, natural landscapes, and cultural elements. Each denomination often features different illustrations. For example:
- The 1 GTQ note depicts the Quetzal bird, the national bird of Guatemala, and Tikal, an ancient Maya city.
- The 20 GTQ note features Miguel Ángel Asturias, a renowned Guatemalan writer and Nobel laureate, alongside a scene from his novel “El Señor Presidente.”
Qetzales are colour-coded for easy identification. For instance, the 20 GTQ note is predominantly blue, while the 100 GTQ note is primarily brown.
The Quetzal bird, the country’s currency’s namesake, often appears on Guatemalan banknotes as a symbol of national pride.
It’s advisable to carry a mix of denominations, especially smaller bills, for convenience when making purchases and tipping.
Familiarising yourself with the appearance of Guatemalan banknotes can also help you identify genuine currency. It’ll also help to avoid counterfeit bills during your visit.
Coins in Guatemala
Coins in Guatemala, known as “Centavos,” are used for smaller denominations. They make up a crucial part of the country’s currency system.
Guatemalan coins range from 5 centavos (0.05 GTQ) to 1 GTQ. The 1 quetzal exists as a coin and a banknote, and both types are in circulation alongside each other. The subunit of the quetzal is the centavo: There are 100 centavos in 1 quetzal.
Coins typically feature national symbols, historical figures, and cultural elements. The designs may vary over time, and each coin denomination often has a distinct appearance.
Coins are ideal for everyday transactions, such as purchasing snacks and small items or using public transport. They are convenient for tipping and making change.
When travelling in Guatemala, it’s helpful to have a variety of coin denominations on hand, as they are handy for small purchases and transactions. Additionally, coins can be useful for tips and ensuring you have the exact amount when needed.
Guatemala’s currency import and export regulations
When entering or leaving Guatemala, you can take up to $10,000 USD or its equivalent in other currencies without the need to declare it. You should make a declaration for amounts exceeding this limit.
Ordering Guatemalan quetzales online
Quickly obtain Guatemalan quetzales online. Enjoy swift and secure delivery to your home or workplace through Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®. Alternatively, you can collect them from our travel money shop near Heathrow. Click here to buy Guatemalan quetzales online.
Selling back Guatemalan quetzales
If you’ve got Guatemalan Quetzales to sell, simply click this link to exchange Guatemalan quetzales to Pounds. Select ‘GTQ Guatemalan quetzal’ under ‘sell currency,’ and we’ll offer competitive rates for your remaining Guatemalan quetzales.
You can buy some items and services for 1 quetzal, especially in local markets and smaller towns. Here are a few examples of what you can typically get for 1 quetzal in Guatemala:
- Local Snacks. You can purchase small local snacks or street food items, such as empanadas, tortillas with toppings, or bags of fresh fruit.
- Public Transportation. In some places, you can use 1 quetzal for short bus rides or shared transportation within a city.
- Local Crafts. You may find small handmade crafts, trinkets, or souvenirs sold for 1 quetzal at local markets.
- Phone Calls. Some public payphones allow you to make local calls for a small fee, which can be as low as 1 quetzal.
- Fresh Produce. In local markets, you can often buy a few pieces of fruits or vegetables for 1 quetzal.
- Bakery Items. You can get bakery items like bread rolls or small pastries for 1 quetzal.
- Candies and Sweets. You’ll find a variety of candies, sweets, and small treats available for this amount.
No. As a UK national, you do not need a visa for short tourist visits to Guatemala for up to 90 days. However, your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Guatemala.
Additionally, you should have proof of your return or onward travel arrangements.
Travel requirements can vary depending on your nationality and the purpose and duration of your visit. Here are some key travel requirements for Guatemala:
- Passport. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Guatemala.
- Visa. Many nationalities, including UK nationals, do not require a visa for short tourist visits to Guatemala (up to 90 days). You may need to provide proof of your return or onward travel arrangements.
- Yellow Fever Certificate. You may need to show proof of yellow fever vaccination if you arrive in Guatemala from a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission. Check the latest requirements with Guatemalan authorities.
- Travel Insurance. While not mandatory, it’s good to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen events during your stay.
Vaccinations. Consider consulting a doctor for recommended vaccinations, such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid, etc.
Yes. Guatemala offers a rich tapestry of culture, natural beauty, and history. Here are the top five things to do in Guatemala:
- Explore Antigua Guatemala. This is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed city. It is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture and a number of ruins of colonial churches. Stroll along its cobblestone streets, visit historic churches, and explore vibrant markets.
- Visit Tikal National Park. Located in the Petén region, Tikal is one of the world’s most iconic Mayan archaeological sites. Explore the ancient temples and pyramids rising above the jungle canopy. Plus, take in the breathtaking views from the top of Temple IV.
- Discover Lake Atitlán. It is often described as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Lake Atitlán is surrounded by picturesque villages, each with its unique charm. You can take boat tours, hike, or simply relax and enjoy the stunning lake views and volcanoes.
- Hike an Active Volcano. Guatemala is famous for its volcanoes, and you can hike many of them. Volcán Pacaya and Volcán Acatenango are popular choices for adventurous trekkers.
- Experience Mayan Culture. Guatemala is home to a vibrant indigenous culture. Visit Chichicastenango Market, one of Central America’s largest and most colourful markets. Here, you can shop for handmade crafts and textiles.
Additionally, attend a traditional Mayan ceremony or learn about indigenous customs and traditions by talking with local people.
These are just a few of the incredible experiences that Guatemala has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, culture, or adventure, Guatemala has something for every traveller to enjoy and explore.
The best time to visit Guatemala depends on your preferences for weather, outdoor activities, and cultural events. Guatemala has two primary seasons: the dry season (high season) and the wet season (low season).
Here’s a breakdown of the best times to explore Guatemala based on these seasons:
Dry Season (High Season)
November to April: This is generally the best time to visit Guatemala. The dry and pleasant weather makes it ideal for outdoor activities, exploring ancient ruins, and enjoying the country’s natural beauty.
It’s also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices, especially around Christmas and Easter.
Wet Season (Low Season)
May to October: This period marks the wet season in Guatemala, with heavier rainfall. While some regions may experience daily afternoon showers, others may have more consistent rain.
The advantages of travelling during the wet season include fewer tourists, lower accommodation prices, and lush, green landscapes. However, rain may affect outdoor activities like hiking.
- July and August. These months are the peak of the rainy season, with frequent and heavy rainfall in many areas. While the low-season benefits apply, you may want to avoid planning extensive outdoor activities during this time.
- Semana Santa (Holy Week). If you’re interested in experiencing Guatemalan culture, Semana Santa leading up to Easter is a unique time to visit. Antigua, in particular, hosts elaborate processions and celebrations.
- Altitude Variations. Guatemala’s altitude varies significantly, which can impact the climate. Highlands and mountainous regions are cooler, while lowland areas are warmer. Be prepared for varying weather conditions based on your specific destinations within the country.
- Local Festivals. Check the local festival calendar for specific events and celebrations in the region you plan to visit. These festivals can provide a rich cultural experience.
The best time to visit Guatemala depends on your interests and tolerance for varying weather conditions. The dry season is popular for its comfortable weather. In contrast, the wet season offers a more budget-friendly and less crowded experience. Consider your preferences for climate, budget, and activities when planning your trip to Guatemala.
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