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Travel Safety in Guatemala


While the vast majority of travelers to Guatemala have worry-free vacations, crime is indeed on the rise in Guatemala, especially in Guatemala City and Antigua. Theft is common on public transportation, especially between major cities. Armed robbery and rape are also on the rise.

Areas to Avoid:

Guatemala City’s Zone 1, where most bus terminals and discount hotels are located, is a particularly dangerous area of the capital. The Central Market is also target to more than its share of theft.

There have been reports of attacks on tourists on the Pacaya volcano in Antigua. If possible, accompany tour group or a tourist police escort. Attacks have also been reported on the trails between Lake Atitlan’s villages—once again, find a guided tour, or take a boat.

Safety and the Police:

In Guatemala, the police force is young and under-funded, and the judicial system is overcrowded and inefficient. Unfortunately, criminals are aware that they’re unlikely to be punished for their crimes.

Tips on Staying Safe:

  • In Guatemala City and Antigua, avoid traveling at night at all costs. Even if your destination is only a couple blocks away, take a cab or tuk-tuk.
  • Don’t flash any signs of wealth. Leave your jewelry at home.
  • Keep all important documents and large sums of money in an underclothes money belt, or your hotel safe.
  • Do not resist a mugging—that’s how most victims are injured or killed. If you are held up, cooperate fully.
  • Important contacts:

    Security escorts and emergency services are available through the Tourist Assistance Office of INGUAT; dial 1500.
    Hear current updates on Guatemala safety and security by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 elsewhere.
    To contact the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, dial (502) 2-326-4000 or (502) 2-331-2354 after hours.
    For more about safety in Guatemala, read the Guatemala Consular Information Sheet.
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