Guatemala Trip Budget: Costs & Tips
Guatemala was way more expensive than I expected. However, this was largely our own fault. We stuck to the expensive tourist trail, used a few shuttles to get around, and ate out way too much. With a bit of effort, we could have significantly lowered our overall costs. Here is our Guatemala trip budget, with some tips for keeping down your expenses.
The currency in Guatemala is the Quetzal, though US dollars are widely accepted. The exchange rate is roughly Q7.50 to US$1.
Antigua is a picturesque city, but pricey. Our hotel here cost us each US$13, far higher than in the neighbouring countries of El Salvador and Honduras. The accommodation in Flores was also pretty overpriced, at US$13 for a shared dorm.
Antigua and Flores were firmly on the tourist trail, however, and therefore far more expensive than elsewhere in the country. If we had had more time to explore the country, we would have lowered our overall costs, as dorms in other cities can be half the price of those in Antigua and Flores.
Guatemala Food & Drink
As I said, we splurged way too much in our brief time in Guatemala. Not once did we cook for ourselves, instead we ate out at places that cost anywhere from US$5 to US$12. Most surprising was the cost of drinks here. Elsewhere in Central America, we had only been paying US$1-2 for a local beer, in Antigua they were US$3-5 (so we wisely opted out of drinking here).
Transport took a massive chunk out of our Guatemala trip budget. While we had previously stuck to local chicken buses, here we decided that a shuttle was our best way to cover the massive distance from Antigua to Flores. Unfortunately this 12 hour journey cost a massive Q325 (US$45).
We took a local bus from the El Salvador border to Guatemala city, and even this was pretty pricey, at Q45 (US$6) for a four hour trip.
Our shuttle from Flores onwards to Belize, however, was completely worth it. It cost Q160 (US$21), however, as I outlined here, local buses would have taken far longer, and saved us almost nothing.
Activities & Entrance Fees
Our one big expense in terms of activities was exploring the ruins of Tikal. Entry here cost a hefty Q150 (US$20). On top of this was a Q100 (US$13) bus ticket to get to and from the ruins.
Guatemala Trip Budget Total
In our brief four days in Guatemala, we managed to spend a massive Q1445 (US$191). This works out at Q361 (US$47) per day, way over our planned US$30 daily budget.
I am glad we chose the destinations of Antigua and Flores/Tikal, even through they were expensive, but there were some ways we could have spent less. Here are some tips:
Guatemala Trip Budget Tips
Explore off the beaten track. In our short time here, we wanted to visit Antigua and Tikal. If we’d had more time, we would have gone off the tourist trail and ended up saving ourselves quite a bit.
Cook for yourself, or eat at street stalls. You don’t eat at restaurants every night at home, so why do it when travelling?
Use local buses, if they’re cheaper than shuttles. Even though the local buses are pricier than in other Central American countries, they may still be cheaper than a tourist shuttle. Shop around and decide for yourself if the shuttle is worth splurging on.
Try some cheaper activities. Though Tikal was worth the splurge, there are far cheaper activities to do in Guatemala. Of course, in our mere four days here, we barely had time to scratch the surface. (Guess I’ll have to plan a return trip!)