...Oh... and you better never read the El Diario newspaper with all it's photos and detailed crimes reports then ;o) !!
I have been there multiple times including twice in the last six months and have never had a problem. That doesn't mean crime doesn't exist there, because it does.
The safety rules for traveling in Guatemala are about the same as traveling anywhere else. Don't flash wads of money and jewelry, be aware of your surroundings, try to avoid secluded and/or dark areas, ask your hotel if there are areas to avoid, know where you are going and how to get back - these precautions should be taken when traveling to any unfamiliar country.
You don't need to be paranoid, but just take normal, common sense precautions, and after you get back, you will be glad you went.
I just got back from a 17-day excursion through Guatemala traveling alone by taxi, shuttle busses, chicken busses, tuk-tuks, pickup trucks, boats, horseback and on foot. I am a 58-year old woman who has been to Guatemala five times now. I love Guatemala. It has a charm and a history like no other country.
Sure, every country is beautiful in it's own way, but Guatemala is unique as it has many Mayan people who still use back strap looms and the ladies weave these spectacular vibrant, colorful fabrics and textiles and their intricate delicate embroidery is infused into these lavishly-woven materials which catch your eye and in a second you are hooked.
The history behind their striped weavings is remarkable in itself. Their Spanish conquerors insisted they wear stripes of certain colors to show which village they were from. The Mayan people took it one step further and in their defiance turned their stripes into blazes of beautiful glory and bright badges of honor instead of symbols of defeat.
The old colonial village of Antigua is impeccably cute and reeks of old-world charm with it's cobblestone streets and rustic, yet brightly-colored houses and eye-popping churches.
Then you have the over-the-top chrome-coated chicken busses bedecked in psychedelic shades of various hues roaming the streets while their touts hang out the door barking out their destinations.
You will hear a spectrum of Mayan dialects, probably more so than Spanish in the conversations of the people you pass.
The people are quiet and polite, quick with a smile, yet shy at first. You will have to make the first approach to get a conversation started, in most cases. In Nebaj and Acul, I found it to be vice-versa though, everyone greeted me with Buenos Dias and were quick to converse.
The food is very good, fresh tropical fruits and local grown veggies, with more and more foreign cuisine finding it's way into menus and onto table tops. Their coffee is fantastic!
As for the spectacular landscapes of towering volcanoes, lush green rolling mountains ridges cloaked in the early morning mists, blue-green lakes and baby-blue rivers, waterfalls and jungles with moss-covered Mayan ruins...I found Guatemala to be much more eye appealing than anything Costa Rica has to offer!
I hope I haven't forgotten anything! Haven't been to Guatemala's beaches, so I can't comment on them.
But, anyhow, can you tell I love Guatemala?
The only danger I knew of is using certain ATMs in Antigua, and you HAVE to watch where you are walking in Antigua. The cobblestone streets can be tricky and sidewalks which without warning can suddenly end and you have a two-foot drop off.
Only two hazards I have seen.
I haved to there several times. I have never felt unsafe. I think the biggest risk is the traffic. Just use common sense.
Please don't go then. I have been there 4 times, never an issue. If you are going to be a paranoid, ugly American, just stay home. It is better for everyone involved.
-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This post has been removed at the author's request. The author may post again if desired.
Posts on the TripAdvisor forums may be edited for a short period of time. Once the edit period has expired, authors may update their posts by removing and reposting them.
To read more about editing your posts, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/how_to_edit_your_posts
Sumacmexico: Prensa Libre and El Diario reported that the murders happened on the 14th, just two days before your post, so your timeline doesn't add up. For what it's worth, the press and police attribute the murders to gangs that are extorting the drivers and killing those who don't pay, just to set an example. The risk of violence among tourists in Guatemala is actually not that high and in no way comparable to what the FACs faced in their Cessnas in Vietnam in the 60s.
Fresno Bill, I thought that was a little harsh! As a woman who has traveled solo to 16 different countries, I am always very nervous on that first trip to a new country, because you have no idea what to expect! It is only natural. And then you go and fall in love.
kb, please come and see for yourself!
You can always hire private shuttles to whisk you around, if you aren't comfortable using shared shuttles. There are ways that you can get anywhere, you will have to pay a lot more, but when it comes to your peace of mind, I have always found it to be worth it!
In most cases, not necessary, but if it helps calm your nerves, then by all means give it a go!
I find that many times when people get into "trouble" it often could have been avoided.