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Guatemala is a country in Central America which, together with Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, forms a single customs territory. Among travelers it has the reputation of a country where can you get by with a really low budget. Hey, we were surely looking forward to that! Well, er – spoiler alert, we were kinda (negatively?) surprised that certain things were more expensive than in Mexico. Nevertheless, you won’t need to try too hard to keep your Guatemala travel budget within a backpacker’s limit.
Wanna know how much we spent or plan your travel budget? Ok, keep on reading then!
Nope, you won’t need to count every penny. How awesome is that?
OUR GUATEMALA TRAVEL BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Travel time: 20 days
Travel costs: $1285
Average costs per day: $64,2 or $32,1 /person
(All prices are in USD)
ACCOMMODATION: $545 (42,5%)
While in Guatemala, we spent an average of $27,3 per night on accommodation, which is practically the same as in Mexico (you can read more about our travel budget for Mexico here).
However, in comparison to Mexico, accommodation represented a higher % of our daily travel budget.
The most expensive accommodation ($35/night) was the one in Flores, but hey – we did have a rooftop room with a terrace for New Year’s Eve. 🙂
But our Airbnb apartment with a view over lake Atitlan was more than worth its price ($30/night)!
While planning your Guatemala travel budget, we’d recommend you anticipate somewhere between $8-12 for a dorm bed, around $30/night for a budget accommodation and between $40-60/night for a midrange accommodation.
⇨ Not on Airbnb yet? Book through this link and you’ll get up to $44 off your first trip!
TRANSPORTATION: $143 (11,1%)
During our trip to Guatemala, we traveled slowly and only moved three times, which significantly contributed to lowering transportation costs.
The biggest expense was the transfer from Flores to Guatemala City, and then with a taxi to Antigua (approx. $85 for 2 people). This is, er – because we left the bus at the wrong bus station in the middle of the night. 😀 We stopped at the outskirts of Guatemala City, woke up with a startle from a deep sleep and jumped from the bus….only to realize that wasn’t our stop. 🤦♀️ We somehow managed to find another lost traveler and we shared an overpriced taxi to Antigua. 🙂
Good to know: In Flores book a whole trip to Antigua and not just the bus in one of the travel agencies (the one at Green Monkeys Hostel is ok). Make sure to ask which bus company you’ll be traveling with – one of the best in Guatemala is Maya de Oro.
A shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan cost less than $12, which is super cheap for a 4-hour drive!
FOOD AND DRINKS: $440 (34,3%)
Out of this:
- GROCERIES: $83
- RESTAURANTS: $272
- ADDITIONAL BEER/COFFEE: $85
Hey, we did well in Guatemala! Only 7% of our travel budget went to coffee and alcohol which is kinda unbelievable! I think I’m gonna pat myself on the back for that one.
But in general, when we spent less money on food and drinks in Mexico than we thought we would, we spent more than we expected in Guatemala.
Obviously, street food is dirt cheap and you’ll be full and ready to get going for a couple of dollars. It just depends on how much you really love tacos and fried stuff.
I, for instance, am a pasta addict and therefore cannot just pass by an Italian restaurant and NOT go in there – no matter where am I. And since in Antigua there is an abundance of choices, we didn’t end up eating street food as many times as Bojan would have liked to. 🙂 But on the other hand, he knows the mantra “Feed her pasta and she is happy”, so he is smart enough to play along. Ah, and there’s another mantra called “Feed him steak and he is happy”, and, er – there was plenty of that in Antigua as well. Good news – you’ll get one for less than $10 in Guatemala! It’s not Argentinian, but hey, can’t complain either.
Anyway, since such a meal in an international restaurant costs from $15 up for two (I know, not exactly backpacker’s budget) we did keep our budget within limits by eating out just once per day and cooking our own food when we were at Atitlan lake.
AVERAGE PRICES OF FOOD & DRINK IN GUATEMALA:
Small watermelon: $1,3
Breakfast in a coffee shop: $5
Lunch/dinner in a cheaper restaurant: $7-10
Beer: national approx. $2,2, craft beer $6 😫
TOURS AND ENTRANCE FEES: $121 (9,5%)
It’s easy to save money on tours and entrance fees in Guatemala, especially since one of the best things to do in Guatemala is unwinding by the shores of Atitlan lake and wandering the cobblestone streets of Antigua. Both amazing, both for free!
The biggest expense in Guatemala was the visit of the Mayan archaeological site Tikal, which amounted to $27 / person (of which the entrance fee was around $20).
The hike to the Pacaya volcano (including the entrance fee) cost approx. $22 per person and soaking in hot tubs cost us $6,5/ person.
Want an excellent workout? Go kayaking in lake Atitlan! Not only is it a lot of fun, it’s also cheap – less than $2,5 per person/hour. Yep, Bojan did most of the work. Nope, he didn’t realize it, I’m great at pretending to paddle as hard as possible.
⇨ Wanna know what else to do in Guatemala? Here’s our 2-week Guatemala itinerary to help you plan your trip! If you’re tight on time, it can be shortened to 10 days as well, or you can add some of the places we suggested in Guatemala backpacking tips and spend more time in Guatemala. In the latter article, you’ll find practical tips about visiting Guatemala, so you’ll want to read it before you go there!
MISCELLANEOUS: approx. 33$ (2,6%)
I’m sooo proud of myself I didn’t spend money on all those amazing things at Guatemalan craft markets.
OK, let me rephrase that. WAS proud. Cos we had like 10 months of travel (a yearlong honeymoon, remember?) in front of us and wouldn’t be able to carry them around. Now, I regret I didn’t buy all the cushions, belts and blankets. They would fit so nicely in our apartment, I swear!
Anyhow, other costs include laundry, SIM card for Guatemalan number, a magnet and postcards. Humble, sí?
Um, actually, perhaps we should include an additional $33 to our Guatemala travel budget breakdown – since our Maestro debit cards weren’t working (never regretted not having a Visa card with me before!), so we had to withdraw cash with a credit card twice (MasterCard) and that was fu**ing expensive!
A FEW EXTRA TIPS
The Guatemalan currency is quetzal (Q) and the ratio is: $US 1 = approx. 7,6 Q (March 2020)
You can actually pay with dollars in many places, but as a backpacker, you’ll want to skip this, since you’ll end up paying more for that lunch than your Italian friend who paid in quetzals.
ATMs are available in major tourist resorts, buuuut …. they are out of order sometimes (this applies to Flores especially)! Or they work, but transactions can not be performed for some who-knows-what reason. Fun fact: if you’re persistent and try multiple times per day, maybe your third or fifth attempt will be successful. It’s like an ATM would feel sorry for you or get fed up with you lurking around it all the time.
In Flores, no ATMs accepted the Maestro card, and in addition, you can withdraw a very small amount of money. There was no problem whatsoever in Antigua and the Maestro debit card was working normally. Credit cards are usually accepted in some hostels and major restaurants. However, the terminal may not work from time to time.
Bottom line? Have enough cash with you. 🙂
SO… DID WE STICK TO OUR GUATEMALA TRAVEL BUDGET?
Despite the fact that prices in Guatemala (especially after arriving in Flores) were a somewhat, er – “unpleasant surprise”, the final average cost per day was even lower than expected! Yasss! 🙂
We know, that’s mainly due to the fact that we did not move around a lot and that we cooked our own meals for a whole week. But hey, there’s no such thing as homemade baked potato and guacamole. And avocados in Guatemala are s-u-p-e-r-b.
Guatemala is surely a great country for a backpacker’s budget and if you’re willing to stretch your budget a bit more (we couldn’t since we were on long-time travel 😬), you’ll get a lot for your money and have an amazing time there. I know for sure we’ll spend a bit more money there when we return. 😉
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If you already visited Guatemala, we’d love to hear what your travel budget was and if you felt you got a good value for your money. Let us know in the comments!
And don’t forget to pin this for the time you’ll be planning your travels!