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Is Guatemala Safe For Solo Female Travelers? Top 9 Things Women Need To Know

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Is Guatemala safe for solo female travelers?

This gorgeous Central American destination remains under the radar but is growing in popularity as more and more travelers discover how amazing it is. But you might be wondering if it's safe to travel there.

Short answer: Guatemala is generally safe for solo female travelers as long as you take normal Latin American precautions. There are the important tips all females should know as they plan their first solo trip to Guatemala.

Woman at Tikal

As a solo female traveler who has been to almost every country in Central and South America, Guatemala is one of my favorites. I spent multiple months there on two separate trips (I came back because I liked it so much!)

Despite the lingering “dangerous” reputation that Guatemala has, I'm here to tell you firsthand that it's perfectly safe, even for solo female travelers.

Of course, there are some important things to keep in mind before you go. Here's what you need to know about solo female travel safety in Guatemala.

Colorful Colonial Town Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, Central America

You Can Skip Guatemala City

Guatemala City is one of the sketchiest places in the whole country, and it's where almost every bad story I've heard (like someone getting robbed at knifepoint) has happened.

If you have limited time in Guatemala, definitely skip Guatemala City. The real beauty of Guatemala is in other destinations like Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Tikal, and so on. The capital city isn't all bad (it's divided into different zones and some are safer than others) but it's not a must-visit tourist destination either.

Main square in Guatemala City

Don't Walk Alone At Night

Most of the tourist destinations in Guatemala are perfectly safe. Antigua, for example, is a gorgeous colonial town with colorful buildings, cobblestoned streets, historic churches, and volcano views all around. It's the most popular destination in the country, and it's extremely safe.

However, I still wouldn't recommend walking around Antigua alone at night. Some of the streets can get pretty desolate and nighttime is when most crime happens.

Stick to walking with a group at night, or pay for an Uber to get home. (Uber is available in Antigua, and it's very cheap and safer than taking a taxi.)

Antigua at Night

Know Some Spanish

I have to admit that part of the reason that I felt so comfortable in Guatemala (and all of Latin America) is because I speak enough Spanish to get by in most situations.

If I didn't speak any Spanish, traveling alone in Guatemala would have been overwhelming! While most people who work in tourism speak at least some English, you may find yourself in situations where knowing Spanish will be extremely helpful.

Luckily, Guatemala is a popular destination for taking cheap one-on-one Spanish classes. Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Xela are great places to do this.

Mayan Woman in Guatemala Cultural Travel

Avoid Chicken Buses Solo

Chicken buses are the main form of local transportation in Guatemala. They're old American school buses, and yes, you might see passengers transporting chickens and other live animals onboard.

While chicken buses are extremely cheap, I don't recommend traveling on them solo, especially long distances, because there are sometimes issues with theft. It's better to pay more and take one of the many tourist shuttles that crisscross the country for a safer ride.

You should also avoid traveling on the roads in Guatemala at night and stick to daytime journeys only — more crime including robberies and carjackings happen at night.

Chicken Buses in Guatemala

Watch Out For Pickpockets

Pickpocketing isn't a huge concern in Guatemala (I'd say you need to worry about it more in a big European city like Barcelona or Paris!) but it is something that happens occasionally.

Some of the biggest targets for pickpockets are crowded places like markets, festivals, parades, and chicken buses. If you're in a crowd, be sure to stay vigilant and keep your belongings secured (don't leave your purse unzipped or keep your wallet in your back pocket — use common sense!)

Market in Antigua, Guatemala

You'll Meet Other Solo Travelers

One of the reasons I felt very comfortable as a solo traveler in Guatemala is because there are tons of other solo travelers and a huge backpacking scene.

It's really easy to meet other travelers so you're never truly alone. A common way of getting around Guatemala is tourist shuttles, so you're likely to meet other travelers heading to the same destination as you. And there are tons of nice, affordable hostels all over the country.

Lake Atitlan

Be Careful With Food And Water

This might not be the kind of safety you're thinking of when it comes to traveling in Guatemala, but don't overlook food and water safety!

Food in Guatemala is not always prepared with the same hygiene standards as travelers from the U.S. or other developed countries might be accustomed to. Because of this, many travelers get sick in Guatemala. Be careful what you eat (especially when it comes to meat or produce) and always have plenty of medicine like Pepto-Bismol on hand.

Similarly, you need to be careful of the water in Guatemala. You can't drink tap water anywhere in the country. Rather than buying bottled water all the time, I recommend buying a LifeStraw water bottle. This filters tap water and makes it drinkable (I've used mine with zero issues all over the world!)

It's also common to find filtered water stations where you can refill your water bottle in restaurants and hostels in Guatemala.

Food in Guatemala

Stay Up To Date With Travel Warnings

Before traveling to Guatemala, keep up to date with the latest travel warnings, but also take them with a grain of salt. For example, the current U.S. State Department advisory for Guatemala is “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” and has been for at least several years.

However, there's some good advice on that page (about which areas to avoid entirely, which are well off the main tourist path anyway, and useful information for specific destinations.)

Aerial View Of Semuc Champey, A Series Of Tiered Natural Pools In The Heart Of The Guatemalan Jungle, Guatemala, Central America

Trust Your Instincts

Finally, always trust your instincts. This goes for any destination you travel to solo, not just Guatemala. It's one of the top pieces of advice I give to new solo female travelers.

If a situation feels uncomfortable or wrong for any reason, listen to your intuition and get out of there as soon as possible. Don't worry about being rude, your safety comes first.

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