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Local transport

Local Transport

Bus

Public transportation within towns and cities outside of Guatemala City is chiefly provided by newish, crowded minibuses. They're useful to travelers mainly in the more spread-out cities such as Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango. Guatemala City has its own forms of bus services – the old red buses (not recommended for safety reasons) and the newer fleets of TransMetro and TransUrbano buses.

Tuk-tuk

If you've spent any time in Asia, you'll be very familiar with the tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled minitaxi nominally seating three passengers and a driver, but obviously capable of carrying twice that amount.

Named for the noise their little lawnmower engines make, tuk-tuks are best for short hops around town – expect to pay somewhere around Q5 to Q10 per person. Hail them the way you would a normal taxi.

Taxi

Taxis are fairly plentiful in most significant towns. A 10-minute ride can cost about Q60, which is relatively expensive – expect to hear plenty of woeful tales from taxi drivers about the price of gasoline. Except for some taxis in Guatemala City, they don't use meters: you must agree upon the fare before you set off – best before you get in, in fact. Uber is available in Guatemala City and Antigua.

If you feel reluctant to take on the Guatemalan roads, an interesting alternative to car hire can be to hire a taxi driver for an extended time. This often works out only slightly more expensive than renting and gives you all the freedom and comfort without the stress of having to drive.

Shuttle Minibus

Heavily advertised shuttle minibuses run by travel agencies provide comfortable and quick transport along all the main routes plied by tourists. They're much more expensive than buses but a lot more convenient – they usually offer a door-to-door service from your hotel, with scheduled meal and bathroom breaks. The most popular shuttle routes include Guatemala City airport–Antigua, Antigua–Panajachel, Panajachel–Chichicastenango and Lanquín–Antigua.

Note that you'll sometimes be asked to swap vehicles halfway through a journey so individual shuttles can quickly return to their city of origin. It's a way of keeping costs down, but a bit of a surprise the first time the driver leaves you at a gas station waiting for your onward connection.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking in the strict sense of the word is generally not practiced in Guatemala because it is not safe. However, where the bus service is sporadic or nonexistent, pickup trucks and other vehicles may serve as public transport. If you stand beside the road with your arm out, someone will stop. You are expected to pay the driver as if you were traveling on a bus and the fare will be similar. This is a reliable system used by locals and travelers, and the only inconvenience you're likely to encounter is full-to-overflowing vehicles – get used to it.

Any other form of hitching is never entirely safe, and we don’t recommend it. Travelers who hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk.