Guatemala's South



Description : A rather small structure with planes landing & taking off

Comments : The basics are there but it is not a place to longer...

What to do ? On arrival : Queue at the immigration / Get a nice 90 days visa stamped on your passport / Wait for your luggage / Change moneys (a few places) / Get tips & info at the small but helpful tourist kiosk (6am-9pm) / Say 'no gracias' to taxi touts / Say your first few words of Spanish (English is still OK, though)

What you may not like ? The late arrival time of most flights / Queuing or waiting too long / The limited documents available at the tourist kiosk / The US$25 airport tax : you could spend 3 days in the country with that !

How long ? Half an hour or so. It is a fairly relaxed airport but there aren't much to do.

Where to stay ? If you arrive in the evening (and most flights unfortunately do), you should seriously consider staying in the area rather than heading for unsafe Guatemala City in search of an hotel. Dos Luna GH (21 C 10-92, Zona 13, Tel : 3345264, offers correct rooms for US$10, incl. pick-up from the airport. It is recommended to reserve in advance. 

Banks ? Several places to change money & TC at good rates. The Banco del Quetzal agency exchanges all European currencies, US and Canadian dollars and is open from 6am to 9pm. 

How to leave ? Most people nowadays do not bother with Guatemala City and head directly for Antigua. Three options from the airport. The first two should be ok in the evening but note that walking by night with your bags in Antigua is not recommended. 
1/ Taxi : US$20-25, with possibilities to share. The fastest way.
2/ Shuttle Bus : US$10p.p., leaving in theory with three people. But then, the taxi would be cheaper. Coming from Antigua, the shuttle cost US$7p.p. and was reported leaving with one person only. 
3/ Public Buses : US$0.13 to the city 'Zona 1' (No83, 20-30mn) + US$0.60 to Antigua (1 hour). This is not an option for the evening but, during the day, with a travel partner to feel safer, it enables you to have a look at the ugly capital while saving lost of bucks. See the 'adventure' below.

The trip to Guatemala City (Zona 1) : S / L&R / Q1 / 20mn
You should ask the tourism kiosk for the latest (incl. the safety issues) but, basically, it should work out like this : exit the airport, cross the street, say 'no gracias no taxi', get up the stairs, cross the little park and head for the bus stop on the left. Wait a bit for bus No83 to show up. Advise the bus driver that you wishes to go to Antigua and give him your quetzal (change given). You will probably have to stand up with your bag, at least for a while (a lot of people get off about 10mn later). Sitting will enable you a glance at those very unattractive parts of the city (do not make you feel like camping there). When reaching a place with lots of buses and animation (known as 'Finanzas', zona 1, calle 18 or so) the driver should wave at you : follow most of the few passengers and get off. I was told at the airport that there would be some walking so I was a bit surprised to find the bus less than 50m away on the left (West direction as the bus was going from South to North). 

Onward to Antigua