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Travel Budget for Guatemala

Guatemala Travel Budget: What Did Our Trip Cost?

Guatemala Money

Our Guatemala trip was not only tons of fun, it also ended up having a very reasonable price tag: our Guatemala travel budget reflects the lowest cost per day of anywhere we have been since starting to travel full-time!

Though we did do several things to keep prices low, we didn’t hold back on the experiences: swimming in Semuc Champey, hiking (and camping on) a volcano, riding horses to beautiful lookout points on Lake Atitlan, and studying Spanish with private tutors for a week were all part of our Guatemala experience!

Guatemala Trip Length: 29 full days

Guatemala Trip Cost: $1900.18, $65.52/day, $32.76 person/day

All prices are in USD.

Travel Budget for Guatemala

Lodging: $745.39

The best part about staying in Guatemala for 29 full days is that we can get a clear and easy look at “monthly” expenses. $745.39 in “rent”, including all utilities, wifi, and some toiletries isn’t bad!

Our most expensive lodging (and food, and mere existence) in Guatemala was in Flores, where we spent around $40/night for a mediocre room. Our most affordable was at Lake Atitlan, where we rented a stunning Airbnb for $20 night in the tiny village of San Pablo.

Where We Stayed in Guatemala

Flores: Hotel Villa Margarita — If we had to sum this hotel up in a word, it would be “bland”. It wasn’t good enough to rave about (and the shower mildly electrocuting me a couple of times definitely dampened any goodwill I felt for the place), but there was nothing terrible about it either. I would consider this a solid choice for a quick stay in Flores, but don’t expect to be wowed.

Lanquin: Vinas Hotel — Located less than a 10-minute walk from the center of town, the only issue we had here was with the lack of electricity for most of our stay–but there wasn’t anything the hotel could do about that. The room was clean, property well kept, and the restaurant had good food at low prices. We would not hesitate to stay here again if we returned to the area!

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Antigua: La Dolce Vita Guesthouse — Sadly, the hostel that we loved so much in Antigua (La Dolce Vita Guesthouse) has permanently closed.

Here are two similar properties we would consider staying at these days (highly rated, with private rooms, wifi, and an excellent location):

Casa Gitana (9.3 rating on Booking.com) — Just 400 meters from Antigua’s central plaza, you can’t find a better location in Antigua. A shared kitchen is also available.

Un hotel en la Antigua (9.0 rating on Booking.com) — Perfect for someone who’s looking for a quiet place to stay not far from the action, Un hotel en la Antigua is located a 7-minute walk from the main plaza, while still being located in the heart of downtown Antigua.

Lake Atitlan: Stuart’s Airbnb — We loved this bungalow on Lake Atitlan! The views were incredible, there was plenty of hot water, there was decent enough wifi considering the location, and the host was wonderful. This was an incredibly comfortable place to work and relax. The downside was that it’s in San Pablo, a tiny village on Lake Atitlan with no tourism infrastructure whatsoever. To experience the best of what Lake Atitlan has to offer to tourists, you’ll need to visit some of the other villages by tuk tuk or lancha.

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Travel Budget for Guatemala

Transportation: $117.34

Most of this cost on our Guatemala travel budget came from the use of shuttles: just under $15 per person took us from Flores to Lanquin and from Lanquin to Antigua in bearable comfort. Our shuttles from Antigua to Lake Atitlan and visa versa ran around $10 USD per person, each way.

The rest of our transportation expenses were made up of tuk-tuk rides, primarily in Lake Atitlan, where we commuted to San Marcos for Spanish classes for five days and visited the larger village of San Pedro a couple of times.

Restaurant Food: $362.95

There is an enormous problem with this number in our travel budget for Guatemala: not only is it extraordinarily high for where we were, it includes way too much American fast food. We’ll just chock that one up to personal failures and giving into temptation a few too many times.

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Groceries: $214.00

Groceries in Guatemala were reasonable, particularly in the markets and at food stalls where we were able to get fruits, vegetables, and eggs for reasonable prices.

As in most places in the developing world, there was a premium on boxed goods and familiar Western brands, though we didn’t find the markup to be nearly as dramatic as what we saw in Belize.

Our total food cost on our travel budget for Guatemala, including both restaurants and groceries, came to $19.89/day, or $9.95/person/day.

Travel Budget for Guatemala

Tours & Excursions: $377.60

About $220 worth of this number in our travel budget for Guatemala is accounted for by our week attending Spanish school in Guatemala (including the tips that we gave our teachers at the end of our classes).

The rest of it is a hodgepodge of costs, notably including our hike up Volcano Acatenango, Jeremy’s hike up Volcano Pacaya, and horseback riding at Lake Atitlan (at under $15/person for 3 hours of riding, including tip, this was a fantastic deal!).

There’s a fairly obvious attraction missing from our travel budget for Guatemala: Tikal National Park. We fully intended to visit (it’s why we went to Flores!), but by the time we got there, we had seen oodles of ruins in Mexico and were not remotely interested in paying around $30/person to drive two hours each way in a van and check out even more ruins–no matter how stunning they are supposed to be. Who knows, maybe we’ll come back to see them one day!

We also didn’t pay for a tour at Semuc Champey, opting to explore independently instead.

Two Weeks in Guatemala

Miscellaneous: $82.90

A little over half of the miscellaneous cost ($46.05, or $23.03/person) on our travel budget for Guatemala is from getting our teeth cleaned in Antigua–our first small foray into medical tourism!

The rest is made up of small odds and ends: laundry, hats and walking sticks for our hike up Acatenango, and replacing the HDMI cable we lost a while ago, for example.

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What to Know About Managing a Travel Budget in Guatemala:

Guatemala uses the Guatemalan quetzal, available at any ATM (our preferred method for getting cash abroad. Foreign debit cards are easy to use with ATM machines.

Guatemala is a very cash-based country, so don’t expect to use your credit cards for much of anything while on your trip.

Like in most developing countries, you can book tours and activities online in advance–but you will pay a steep markup. If you’re traveling Guatemala on a budget (or simply don’t like overpaying for things), negotiate all tours and activities in person once you arrive.

Guatemala Travel Budget: Semuc Champey

We are very satisfied with the cost of our Guatemala trip: this is the lowest per day cost we have recorded since we started tracking our full-time travels, beating out even Morocco and Bosnia.

The big reason for the low price tag? Slow movement. We spent a full 14 days of this time at an Airbnb in Lake Atitlan, where we not only snagged a discount for staying for two full weeks but also had access to a kitchen to lower our temptation to eat at restaurants. Because of this, we didn’t go to every place we were interested in while in Guatemala… but the tradeoff was absolutely worth it.

While I can virtually guarantee that our price tag in Honduras was higher than in Guatemala (hello, diving!), we would love to recapture numbers reminiscent of our travel budget for Guatemala again in several spots around the world!

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Travel Budget for Guatemala

12 Comments Write a comment

Kate has been traveling the world full-time for more than 3 years. She tries to keep a balance between going on new adventures and exploring favorite destinations (like Italy!) in depth, and is always on the lookout for the next beautiful overlook and delicious meal.

12 Comments

  • Clare March 24, 2017

    I loved Guatemala, it is a great country. Tikal was amazing but then I do love seeing ruins. Lake Atitlan I also loved and Antigua too and climbing volcanoes. A great part of the world 🙂

    • Kate Storm March 24, 2017

      It is a beautiful country! We had a lot of fun there–climbing Acatenango was quite a challenge, but the views were remarkable.

  • The Spirited Sloth March 24, 2017

    Wow. This is some amazingly good budgeting for a month-long trip! I’m super impressed. I’ve wanted to go to Guatemala since I saw the movie ‘The Bird Cage’ with Robin Williams when I was little, haha!

    • Kate Storm March 24, 2017

      You should definitely make your way to Guatemala! It’s a great country to explore. 🙂

  • Cat March 25, 2017

    $1900.18 for 29 days is pretty good!! I’m impressed given that you dined out and participated in tours as well! I’d love to do the horseback riding and hike up the volcano!!

    • Kate Storm March 25, 2017

      Thanks, Cat! I was pleasantly surprised when we added up the final numbers. Both of those tours are definitely worth the price (and the inevitable pain, in the case of climbing Acatenango!).

  • Promise Chika Maxwell March 25, 2017

    That’s a pretty smart budget to spend $1900 both of you in Guatemala for a month. To me it looks like the brilliant ideal budget to look up to anytime in Guatemala.

    • Kate Storm March 25, 2017

      Thanks, Promise!

  • Silvana King December 5, 2018

    I love your posts about Guatemala. We are headed there this Christmas eve. We will go for three weeks, and I am trying to get more info on Semuc Champey. I really want to go, but I keep on getting advice against it. Can you tell me more about how you got there? My biggest worry is the amount of traveling time. We must visit Tikal (I cannot get enough of the ruins). Besides Tikal we don’t have much of a plan.

    • Kate Storm December 6, 2018

      Aw, how fun!

      If you really want to go to Semuc Champey, I say absolutely go–especially with 3 weeks to work with. It is a bit of a journey (about 8 hours by shuttle from Flores and another 8 onto Antigua), but worth it.

      Your best bet, especially if you’re concerned about travel time, is definitely to book a shuttle. They’re affordable, easy to find in Guatemala (all the tourist agencies in the major tourism centers will be selling them), and are direct–aka, much faster and more comfortable than taking chicken buses/public transport. It’s still an uncomfortable journey, don’t get me wrong, but it’s worth it. We booked our shuttle in Flores (the town you’ll likely use as a base to visit Tikal) and bought our ticket onward from Semuc Champey to Antigua at the same time. It all went very smoothly, but I recommend a motion sickness pill if you’re susceptible to it!

  • Chelsi Rodrigues March 26, 2019

    Hello Jeremy and Kate,

    My boyfriend and I are traveling to Guatemala in two weeks! We currently have a car rented but I am wondering what shuttle services you used. Would you recommend using a shuttle to get from Flores to Antigua? Or would you say sticking to our car is a better idea? We are going from San Ignacio, Belize to Flores, staying a night in Flores, Antigua for 3 nights, then Lake Atilan for 5 nights (3 nights on the South end, 2 nights on West side) then back to Flores, to get back to Belize City. What do you recommend for our transportation?

    • Kate Storm March 27, 2019

      Hi Chelsi!

      Personally, we’d prefer to use a shuttle service for that trip (it’s actually very similar to the path that we took!). While you can drive, the roads are rough and directions can be iffy–plus some of those distances are quite long (Google maps tends to underestimate how long it takes to get to each spot in this region). If you’re experienced with driving in Latin America, you certainly CAN drive, but I’d consider it more trouble than it’s worth.

      We didn’t use any specific companies for our shuttles–essentially, each one of the destinations you mentioned is pretty solidly on the backpacker trail in Central America, so it’s incredibly easy to head down to the local tourist office and book a “shuttle” to the next place a day or two in advance. The shuttles aren’t incredibly comfortable, but they’re easy to use and come with drivers who know the way. They’re more expensive than buses or chapas, but more comfortable and cater to tourists instead of locals (so you get there much faster, as chapas and buses make many, many stops).

      I’m not sure how set your itinerary is, but you might want to consider pricing out the cost of a flight from Antigua or Guatemala City to Belize City, as it would save you a ton of time backtracking and buy you a bit more time to spend in Guatemala. Not sure if the cost would be worth it, but it might be worth checking on! 🙂

      Hope you guys have an amazing time! Guatemala is an incredible place.

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