Guatemala Travel Guide

Guatemala Introduction

As a country that was once conquered and ruled by different dictators, it has a diverse culture — which is why it is one of the top countries people would want to travel to! It is surrounded by the ocean, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. It is very attractive because of their rich culture, such as the Mayan culture. The scenery is spectacular, their art and architecture is built through cultural influences, and the country offers endless adventures. Guatemala is a great place for those seeking a highly diverse country that is influenced in culture by different ethnic groups.

Cuisine

Guatemala Cuisine-6 Guatemala Cuisine-5

Many of their traditional dishes are influenced by Mayan (and Spanish) cuisine which is why their key ingredients to some are corn, chilies, and black beans. There are certain foods that is eaten traditional and on special occasions. For example, on November 1 and 2, they will eat Fiambre. This is when they celebrate the Day of the Dead. On Thursday, they would eat paches, tamale made from a certain type of potato. The cuisine reflects the multicultural nature of Guatemala, and the taste will differ per region. Get ready to experience the different variety of flavors for the same type of dish.

  • Chiles rellenos — A stuffed chile filled with shredded pork and vegetables. Then, it will be covered with egg batter and fried. It is usually served with tomato sauce or inside a bread bun.
  • Subanik — A dish influenced by Mayan cuisine. It is a ceremonial stew-like dish that is made with different chili pepper and meat, paired with rice and tamales.
  • Chuletas fascinante — It translates to “Fascinating Chops.”  It is a breaded pan-fried pork chop. This is usually made overnight. It is first baked in lime juice, garlic, and different spices. After leaving it in the fridge overnight, you will then fry it until golden brown.
  • Carne guisada — Stewed beef that is made using a crockpot. It is seasoned with minced garlic, bay leaves, and other spices. It is usually served with rice and beans, and sometimes with tortilla and slices of avocado.

Famous Attractions

Guatemala is a beautiful country that is filled with endless adventures, Mayan culture, wildlife, and ancient ruins to discover. These are a few reasons as to why you should visit Guatemala! As previously mentioned, it is heavily influenced by Mayan culture. There are more than 1,500 different Maya ruin sites to see. A city in Guatemala called Antigua, is filled with different art forms. It shows colorful buildings and century-old buildings. In addition, the trees are vibrant and in full bloom when in season — absolutely gorgeous! Not only will you encounter different flavors of dishes, but this country truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience for those that want to learn more about their culture.

Here are a few of their top attractions:

  • Semuc Champey Lanquin Guatemala-6Tikal — One of the Mayan ruins. It is one of the largest archaeological sites that is within the rainforest. Previously, this site was the capital to one of the most powerful kingdoms in ancient Maya. Here, you will see the evidence that led them to their downfall, and who they were conquered by. It showcases the difference discoveries such as their monument, list of rulers, temples, and palaces.
  • Lake Atitlán — The deepest lake in Central America that is 1,120 ft in depth. It is one of the most beautiful lake in the world. The environment surrounding this lake has been influenced by Maya people — such as the culture of the towns and villages. It is a great place to visit for those that enjoy a serene and peaceful time.
  • Dulce River — A popular cruising sailboat destination that is located in Guatemala. It was once an important shipping point which is why the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara was built to keep pirates from entering the lake. It has a great view with lots of flora and fauna.
  • Semuc Champey — A protected national monument that is known for it jungle views, numerous caves, and swimming holes. It is a hidden gem that is worth the trek once arrived. You can tube down the river and even swim under the waterfalls.

Nightlife

Here in Guatemala, you can a good collection of bars and clubs. There are lots of dancing involved in this culture when you are at the club, but you do not need to be afraid if you don’t know how to. In addition, if you are lucky enough, you can see a freestyle hip-hop competition! There are plenty of other activities during the night time such as seeing historical sites, visiting the local shops, or being able to take a free tour at Gallo Brewery. It is suitable for those that want a new experience.

Currency

Guatemala Currency-2The main currency of Guatemala is quetzal (GTQ), which is named after a national bird of Guatemala. The reason is because in ancient Mayan culture the national bird’s tail feathers were used as currency. Banknotes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 100 quetzales. Their cultural history is displayed on the banknotes: using Mayan numerals for the value. The exchange rate is 7.47 GTQ = $1 USD, with fluctuating rates.

Customs & Language

The official language of Guatemala is Spanish. However, in rural areas, Mayan languages are mainly spoken. Other list of languages spoken here are K’iche’, Q’eqchi’, Kaqchikel, Mam, and many more. Their culture is strongly influenced by Mayans and the Spanish. Especially in food, their dishes vary by regions. For example, Antigua is known for their candy using local ingredients, traditional dishes are Mayan influence, and a variety of tamales. The first thing to not do when in Guatemala is take a picture of the locals without asking. Some of them believe that the camera can steal their souls. Second, bring motion sickness pill. Places here have steep hills, rocky roads, and high altitudes. Lastly, they are a conservative country. If you truly want to experience being a local, it is recommended to wear more conservative clothing.

Here are a few helpful words/phrases:

  • Hello — Hola
  • Please – Por favor
  • Thank you — Gracias
  • How much? — ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is the bathroom? — ¿Dónde está el baño?