Guyana is a challenging destination for people with impaired mobility or who face other obstacles to getting around independently. While Georgetown is quite straightforward to navigate, trips to the interior are likely to be tough unless you are able to contact ranches, hotels or travel agencies in good time beforehand. Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Bargaining is not customary at shops in Guyana but may be undertaken at markets and street stalls.
Guyana has two distinct rainy seasons – May to mid-August and mid-November to mid-January – although downpours can occur even in the 'dry' seasons. August through October are the hottest months.
The best time to visit Guyana may be at the end of either rainy season, when the discharge of water over Kaieteur Falls is greatest.
Dangers & Annoyances
Although Guyana's interior is tranquil and safe, Georgetown is well known for crime. This reputation may be exaggerated, but a good dose of caution and common sense is warranted.
- In urban areas, avoid flashing expensive items and jewelry, and be aware of others on the street.
- Use only registered airport taxis and drivers with official IDs (attached to their shirt pockets). When traveling from the airport do not let yourself be separated from your luggage or backpack.
- Hitchhiking is highly discouraged – the threat of robbery and physical danger is very real.
Guyana uses American two-square-pronged plugs (also known as type A). Currents are 127V, 60Hz.
Embassies & Consulates
Most countries' embassies and consulates are in Georgetown. However, many countries do not have embassies in Guyana at all. These include Australia and Germany, whose consulates in Trinidad and Tobago cover Guyana; New Zealand, which covers Guyana from its high commission in Barbados; and France and the Netherlands, whose embassies in Suriname are accredited to Guyana.
Brazilian Embassy Visa processing takes three to seven days.
Surinamese Embassy Visa processing takes one to five days, tourist cards are issued on the same day.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Guyana's Country code||592|
|International access code||00|
|Ambulance & Fire||912|
Entry & Exit Formalities
All visitors to Guyana will have to fill out a customs declaration form on arrival before going through the red or green lane. In general checks are thorough and penalties for making a false declaration are stiff, so be entirely transparent.
There are no unusual rules about what can be brought into Guyana or taken out.
Travelers from the USA, Canada, EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK and most Caribbean countries do not need a visa; confirm with your nearest embassy or consulate. A 90-day stay is granted on arrival in Guyana with an onward ticket. If you do need a visa, file your application at least six weeks before you leave your home country. As well as a passport, carry an international yellow-fever vaccination certificate with you (although you probably won't be asked for this), and keep other immunizations up to date.
- Greetings Guyanese tend to greet each other with a chirpy 'good day' until dark, and then with 'good night' after that.
- Handshakes This is the standard when you meet someone for the first time on any given day, and this applies to all gender combinations. Guyanese do not generally kiss each other as a greeting.
- Personal space There can be quite a bit of physical contact between two people talking, even if they don't know each other well. This is quite normal and is nothing to worry about.
Guyana is the only country in South America where homosexuality is still illegal and penalties are severe, with life sentences still potentially possible. However, attitudes are slowly changing, despite opposition from fiercely conservative religious groups in the country, and President David Granger has publicly voiced his support for decriminalization. In 2018 Guyana held its first ever Gay Pride Parade, which was attended by hundreds of marchers and went off without arrests or violence. LGBTIQ+ visitors to Guyana should be careful and discreet, but not discouraged from visiting the country, though requesting a double room might be problematic in some hotels.
Wi-fi is widely available and is generally pretty reliable and free in Georgetown's hotels, restaurants and cafes. Outside Georgetown it's a different story, though nowadays most remote lodges and ranches have achingly slow wi-fi, even if you often need to pay for access.
Guyana's legal system is based on that of the UK and fairly straightforward. There is a presumption of innocence and courts are independent of the government. Corruption is a significant problem in the country, but foreigners are unlikely to be asked for a bribe unless they're doing business in Guyana.
- Stabroek News (www.stabroeknews.com) Georgetown's most liberal paper
- Kaieteur News (www.kaieteurnewsonline.com) Best for local gossip.
- Guyana Review An interesting monthly news magazine published in Georgetown.
Not all ATMs accept foreign cards; credit cards are rarely accepted outside the better hotels in Georgetown.
The Guyanese dollar (G$) is stable and pegged to the US dollar, which is widely accepted. You may also be able to spend your euros at Georgetown travel agencies. Credit cards are accepted at Georgetown's better hotels and restaurants (usually for a 5% service charge), although not at gas stations or, in general, anywhere else. Scotiabank is the easiest place to get cash advances, and its ATMs are the only ones that accept foreign cards.
Cash can be exchanged at banks, but cambios (foreign-exchange offices) offer better rates and less red tape. Sometimes hotels change cash for a small commission.
Using US Dollars
If you aren't planning on traveling far off the tourist trail, you can get by using US dollars at most hotels, rainforest lodges, restaurants and taxis to the airports. The going user rate is G$200 for US$1, which is close to the bank rate. However, do plan on having a small stash of Guyanese dollars for short taxi rides and snacks.
Tipping is widely practiced and expected in Guyana, where between 10 and 15% is the norm. While it's ok to tip in US dollars in Georgetown, it's important to use Guyanese dollars in the interior.
- Restaurants In some restaurants a service charge is automatically added to the bill, in which case there is no need to tip.
- Hotels Like in restaurants, some hotels automatically add a service charge to the bill, and no other tip is required.
Commerce awakens around 8:30am and tends to last until 4pm or so. Saturdays are half-days, if shops open at all, and Georgetown becomes a ghost town on Sundays. Hotels and cafes provide breakfast, and restaurants generally serve lunch from about 11:30am to 3pm and dinner from around 6:30pm to 10pm.
Republic Day celebrations in February are the most important national cultural events of the year, though Hindu and Muslim religious festivals are also significant.
New Year's Day January 1
Republic Day (marking the slave rebellion of 1763) February 23
Phagwah/Holi (Hindu New Year) March/April
Good Friday/Easter Monday March/April
Labor Day May 1
Emancipation Day August 1
Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights) October/November
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26
Eid ul-Fitr End of Ramadan; dates vary
In 2017 Guyana introduced a strict smoking ban that bans lighting up in any public area, including public parks, bus stops, within five meters of a doorway to a workplace or public space. This includes inside any restaurant, bar or hotel.
Taxes & Refunds
Travelers are not eligible to claim back taxes or any other refunds on items they have purchased in Guyana.
Hotels and restaurants generally allow free local phone calls. There are no area codes in Guyana. To dial nationally, simply dial the seven-digit number. To dial internationally, dial 00 then the access code of the country you want to call, plus the full number with area code, minus the initial zero.
SIM cards are available with local mobile companies Digicel and GT&T. Coverage is good in Georgetown and along the coast, but very unreliable outside bigger towns in the country's interior.
Time in Guyana is GMT/UTC minus four hours year-round.
- Toilets in Guyana are nearly always sit-down in style.
- There is generally poor provision of public toilets and those that exist are not likely to be ones you'd want to use.
- Stick to hotels and restaurants where possible.
Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana The government has no official tourism representative abroad, but this association works hard to attract visitors to Guyana and help them when they arrive.
Iwokrama Rainforest Conservation and Development Office Another useful organization to contact in Georgetown.
National Parks Commission Also based in Georgetown.
Travel with Children
Guyana is not a destination that springs to mind to attempt with children, as there is not a huge amount for them to see and do, travel is tough and journeys are long, facilities are basic, and creature comforts are lacking almost everywhere outside Georgetown. That said, adventurous kids will love the excitement of Kaieteur Falls, the Iwokrama Rainforest and river trips anywhere in the country.
Guyana is full of aid workers, doctors on medical missions, teachers and other NGO staff, but in most cases these are arranged by professional organizations as work placements or long-term volunteering posts. Try contacting Volunteer Youth Corps (www.vycguyana.net), the Guyana Foundation (www.guyanafoundation.com) and Fronteering (www.fronteering.com/destinations/south-america/guyana).
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures Guyana uses the metric system.
Guyana's not-so-safe reputation should put women travelers on particular alert. It's best to avoid going out alone at night in towns and cities, and if you do so, taking a taxi is always the safest option. It is less risky to stick to well-peopled areas if walking alone during the day in Georgetown. In the interior, traveling alone should pose few problems. Women should be aware that the Zika virus is present in Guyana and so if there is any chance you are pregnant, take very strict precautions against mosquito bites.
There are relatively few employment opportunities in Guyana, given the size of the country and the lack of businesses. That said, as an English-speaking country it's still easier for native English speakers to find work here than in many others places in South America. Anyone wanting to live and work in Guyana requires a work permit, which can be applied for online at www.minfor.gov.gy/work-permit-application-form.