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Guatemala is a fascinating destination in Central America it is very affordable with many excellent restaurants and wonderful hotels, despite of all the virtues Guatemala has as destination it may be dangerous at times. Keeping in mind the peculiarities of the destination along with a normal doses of prudence a trip to Guatemala can be as enjoyable as any other trip.
It is good to keep in mind that there are several social conflicts in Guatemala that has created certain instability. The country was in a long civil war until the 1990s. Gangs and crime related with drugs is a real problem. Despite all this I always keep encouraging friends to visit this central American country, here is what I recommend them:
1- Don’t be flashy with money or electronics: I feel somehow frustrated when I see tourists with super expensive cameras and other electronics showing those openly in the middle of the street. I try not to do that in any country, in Guatemala it is as well a good idea to keep your expensive devices safe.
3- Know where you are going: do not jump to any cab in the street or to those who offer you a ride out of nothing, even more if you are in the airport try to prearrange transportation with your hotel or only use authorize means of transportation. I know that riding buses can be a lot of fun but it is better not to do so in Guatemala even more if one is not familiar with the local bus system.
4- Not all parts in the city or the country are equal: there are areas that are generally safer than others. Zona 15, Zona 14, Zona 10 and others are upscale neighborhoods where one can in most occasions even go out for a walk but once again always with prudence. It is better to ask recommendations and advice to the concierge of the hotel. Antigua and Izabal as well are beautiful destinations where one can feel safe. Just try to read beforehand when planning your trip and avoid walking out alone and even more avoid it late night.
5- Plan well your trip: any good visit to Guatemala should ideally include a visit to the capital, then spend some time in Antigua, from there go to Izabal, maybe Coban and of course do not miss Peten and Tikal. I am a self planner and do not like prearrarrange tours. For those with not a lot of experience a travel group can be a good option.
6- Finally, it is always a good idea to have someone you can contact in Guatemala, carry copies of your passport and the phone numbers of your embassy and emergency lines. Do not be tremendously afraid, once again just be prudent and enjoy your trip.