Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Is Guatemala Safe For Solo Female Travellers – Complete Guide

Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers? In this article, I will answer all your burning questions regarding solo female travel in Guatemala. From a personal perspective of course, and based on my two months of travel around this incredible country.

Choosing Guatemala as my next travel destination was probably one of the most unexpected decisions I have ever made during that leg of my travels. And it wasn’t like me either. I normally research like crazy, choose a destination wisely and arrive extremely prepared. But this country just called my name and I followed without any hesitation.

I never even considered coming to Guatemala before I arrived in Colombia. I was dreaming of Peru, Argentina, Chile…

I didn’t know much about the country if anything in fact. I also didn’t know Guatemala had such a bad name when it comes to safety. Until I told my Colombian friends I wanted to go to Guate, they looked at me concerned, saying it was dangerous. Do you see the irony there? I actually gave them a look and they started laughing. This is what people say about Colombia after all.

Then why did I go?

Because it kept coming up in conversations as I travelled in Colombia. I kept hearing stories of how beautiful, fascinating and diverse this country is.

So one day I decided to go to Guatemala and bought the flight ticket the same day. And only then, I started doing research and drafting my trip. 

I spent an incredible 2 months in Guatemala, including one month of volunteering in a hostel as a solo female traveller.

Read on to find out how it went, how safe I felt and what advice I have for you now that I have returned.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

How Safe is Guatemala for Solo Female Travellers?

Let me answer your burning questions in a few words first.

Is Guatemala generally safe to visit? Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Guatemala is generally a safe travel destination and is pretty safe for solo female travellers if you follow basic safety tips and stick to the so-called travellers’ trail. It’s a country of breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders, kind people and rich culture. If you follow the safety guidelines and use common sense you will have a great time and leave with incredible memories.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper.

Is Guatemala Safe To Travel To?

The Official Facts

I actually wasn’t even planning on writing this post until I read a few articles geared towards solo female travellers and I didn’t completely agree with everything that was said there, so I wanted to add my share. Especially because Guate is portrayed as a pretty dangerous country to visit to.

So I will start with some official facts to see where this opinion stems from.

Crime and Violence

Guatemala has a dramatic, violent and very tragic past. For many decades, violence was the norm in Guatemala as the country was going through the bloodiest civil war in Latin America which ended in 1996.

The country has been rebuilding its economy and name as a tourist destination ever since, but many issues remain. By the end of the Civil War, 90% of the Guatemalan population lived below the official poverty line and over 10% of the population was displaced. 83% of those killed were indigenous Maya. When life is hard, crime grows.

The fact is that Guatemala is among the 10 most dangerous countries in Latin America.

Although the country’s economy is steadily improving, high poverty is still an issue and crime rates remain high. The greatest dangers are related to drug trafficking and gang violence throughout the country. But tourists are hardly ever targeted. And with Guatemala tourism on the rise, it has become relatively safe to travel in Guatemala The U.S. State Department rates the threat of violent crime in Guatemala as “critical.”

The country had a homicide rate of 17.2 per 100,000 citizens in 2022 which was a decline in comparison to previous years and was mostly related to gang violence and drug trafficking. Violence between gangs will occasionally break out but from the tourist standpoint, robberies and pickpocketing are dominant threats.

I am not stating those facts in order to scare you. But it wouldn’t be fair if I left these facts unmentioned and just painted Guatemala as a magical tourist destination without its problems and issues.

It is important to stay informed before you go to any country. You should do the same before visiting London, New York, Portugal, Vietnam or any other country or city.

Knowing the dramatic history of the country will not only highlight potential dangers but will also make you aware of what the people had to go through. It’s crucial to understand it as a traveller and a visitor in another country.

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Natural Disasters

Guatemala is a stunning country but natural disasters are also a thing. Very much so. Given its geographical and geological location both earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can happen and in fact, happen pretty often.

Volcán de Fuego is an active volcano, and it erupts every 15 to 20 minutes and can be observed if you take a hike to Acatenango. I have seen it every morning from the terrace of my hostel in Antigua, surreal! However, in 2018 it erupted on a larger scale and wiped down the whole village of San Miguel Los Lotes from the map.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

In early November 2020, Hurricane Eta ripped through Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Guatemala is also subject to frequent minor earth tremors and occasional earthquakes.

Be sure to know what steps to take if an earthquake strikes or a volcano erupts. Follow the advice of the local authorities and read the hotel earthquake instructions.

Are you terrified yet?



The danger is part of life. It helps us to evolve. We are the humans we are now because we had to learn to deal with danger. Staying at home and not going anywhere can also be dangerous. *winking

You need to be aware of possible dangers. Most likely nothing like this will happen while you are travelling in Guatemala. But you need to know that it can happen, so you know what to do when it does.

My Experience of Travelling To Guatemala

I was lucky to land a great volunteering opportunity via Workaway and I spent my first month working in the stunning Casa Rosada hostel in Livingston.

I still believe that it deeply enhanced my trip as I started by getting to know real Guatemaltecos and spending a month immersing myself in the local culture. As I went on to see the rest of the country after that I felt much more prepared, confident and excited.

But my arrival in Guatemala wasn’t all a bed of roses.

I was pretty much interrogated by the border officials and initially only offered a 2-week visa. I felt intimidated and treated like a petty criminal, but I was told later on that it was mainly because I was arriving from Colombia. I guess if I came straight from Europe looking like a wealthy tourist, the experience would be different. It was an eye-opener.

Through the tears, I managed to explain that I was just an innocent traveller and I was finally granted a 3 months visa. I grabbed the taxi (the only taxi I have ever taken in Guatemala) and went on to Guatemala City where I stayed just a couple of nights.

So to start with I went through some airport turmoil, and ended up in a town that felt scary and intimidating only to (2 days later) go on the 12-hour journey to the other side of the country I knew very little about. 

Yes, I felt slightly overwhelmed when I arrived in Guatemala City. This after all is the most dangerous city in the country. I stayed only two nights, so I had enough time to discover its old town, organize my sim card, and money and really put myself together emotionally.

But it is worth noting that Everyone I have encountered in Guatemala City was kind and helpful. From the owner of the little hotel, I stayed at to the guy patiently explaining different sim cards.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

I guess when you arrive in a country that intimidates you, your trust grows slowly as you become familiar with the environment, the people, the culture and the reality of that country.

That’s why I believe it’s important to allow yourself to land softly at first.

If you are a solo traveller visiting an exotic and very unfamiliar country, give yourself some time. Don’t push yourself into doing things you don’t feel like doing only because you might miss out.

In Guatemala, if you don’t have enough time to give yourself that soft landing, head straight to safe tourist locations like Antigua or Lake Atitlan where you can base yourself in a safe hotel and relax.

I instead, travelled to Livingston to work in an unfamiliar town using language I only knew somehow. It was the best decision. I am a firm believer that we grow only by going outside of our comfort zone.

From that point on everything went perfectly well.

Throughout my travels in Guatemala, I never felt unsafe. Mind you, I made sure I didn’t put myself in unsafe situations. I always used trusted means of public transport, never went to places I was discouraged to go to, and stayed aware of my surroundings. I have learned to trust my guts and it works pretty well.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Yes, I went out in Antigua and walked around town after dark. But never drunk. Yes, I got stranded on the beach where you can only arrive by boat and the storm was coming but I knew my ‘boss’ wouldn’t send me to an unsafe place and I was rescued by the boat eventually. Adventures!

I went out dining solo around Atitlan and I had a nice cold beer in a bar or two but only in places, I was very familiar with (I found an English bar in San Pedro that was serving Polish pierogi once a week!).

I didn’t go hiking solo around Atitlan even though I really wanted to. Atitlan is just not the place to do that. Yes, I took tuk-tuks and some crazy local colectivo taxis but on long distances, I stuck to trusted shuttles. Most of the backpackers take those too so it’s a great way to meet people as well!

I stayed in hostels most of the time through my travels, made awesome friends and fell in love with this magical country. People were always kind, no one ever treated me with disrespect. I had the best chocolate ever, I visited Maya ruins, swam in the paradise waters of Semuc, went on some crazy bus journeys and fell in love with the most beautiful lake you could imagine!

But enough of me! Let me give you some very practical tips and advice on how you can stay safe while travelling solo in Guatemala.

How to Stay Safe as a Solo Female Traveller in Guatemala

Follow Backpacker’s Trail / Safest Towns in Guatemala

The best way to stay safe while travelling solo in Guatemala is to stick to the so-called “Backpacker’s Trail”, i.e. Destinations that are well visited by travellers and backpackers, have good infrastructure and are well connected to public transport.

If you stick to that route, you will have no problem finding reliable and safe transport links that are always full of other travellers, great accommodations and varied dining options. Here are the safest cities and locations in Guatemala for solo female travellers and for any type of traveller:


I spent a month in Livingston as a volunteer in a hostel, and this town was an introduction to Guatemala for me. Not typical, but definitely interesting. I have heard many different opinions about Livingston and I am glad I had an opportunity to make up my own mind.

The travellers I met there also had very divided opinions. Some loved it, and some hated it and ran away the next day. This town is real and for real travellers. Unpolished, raw, rough around the edges, strangely magical. You have to be prepared for uncharted territories, enjoy discovering other cultures and not be afraid to come face to face with meet a very simple life.

You should visit Livingston if you are looking to experience a different face of Guatemala. It is the only place in Guatemala where you can experience the Garifuna culture and fascinating town dynamics between the Garifunas, Mayas and Ladinos.

Although some say otherwise, it is a very safe, close community town. There isn’t much around this town and people know each other around here. I walked solo across the town many times during the day and in the evening, I walked to all the beaches as well as 7 Altars Waterfalls and never felt unsafe.

Practical tips:

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce is one of the most beautiful rivers I have seen (after the Semuc, of course), and I was very surprised that travellers very often overlook this place.

Located not far from Livingston this part of Guatemala is a bit different from what most travellers associate the country with. For this reason, I think you won’t have a full picture of Guatemala if you don’t venture into Rio Dulce.

It is slightly out of the way, but it is also a great starting point to visit Livingston. You can carry on towards Flores and Tikal from there. In fact, I think taking a Rio Dulce – Flores – Semuc/Lanquin – Antigua route is the most straightforward so consider starting your Guatemala trip from here. Rio Dulce is also often a getaway to Honduras.

Rio Dulce is a town and a stunning river located in the Izabal Department of Guatemala that connects the Izabal Lake ( Guatemala’s largest lake) with the Caribbean Sea.

Practical tips:

  • You can combine Rio Dulce and Livingston into one trip. The best way to do that would be to stay in one of the dreamy jungle hostels on the river like Hotelito Perdido or Hotel Perico. They organize local trips along the river, to Livingston, Rio Dulce town or Canyon, Waterfall Lampara, Ak’Tenamit and many more!
  • The majority of hostels in this area have no communal kitchen so be prepared to spend money in the hostel restaurant or sneak in some dry/canned goods.
  • There are good shuttle services you can take from Rio Dulce to both Flores and even Atitlan or Antigua.
Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Flores and Tikal

Tikal National Park is a must-visit in Guatemala and one cannot visit it Tikal without stopping by Flores. Both locations are very safe for solo female travellers and I went to see the Tikal National Park independently, without an organized tour.

I also stayed in Flores for a total of five days where I chilled, had some fun, went hiking and swam on the gorgeous remote lake beach!

Flores is one of the safest destinations in Guatemala. Give Flores at least a couple of days. It’s a cute little island town located on the third biggest lake in Guatemala, Lake Peten Itza, just a little over one hour away from the famous Tikal Maya Ruins. There are many great restaurants and bars, one of the best hostels in Guatemala and great quite a few awesome things to do like taking a trip to El Chechenal beach or exploring the pueblo of San Miguel.

Reserve the whole day to visit Tikal National Park. It is one of the most important archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization and you can book an organized tour or visit independently.

Practical tips:

  • Stay in the legendary Los Amigos hostel called the secret garden of Flores. You will understand the name once you have arrived. Book your tours and onward shuttle journey from Los amigos as well.
  • It is hot and humid in this area of Guatemala and Tikal is located in the jungle. Pack a good mosquito repellant.
  • Give Flores/Tikal at least 3 days. It’s a long journey there and a long journey onwards. Make it worthwhile.
Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Lanquin and Semuc Champey

I dreamed of Semuc Champey from the moment I decided to go to Guatemala. That day, I saw pictures and videos of this magical place and I decided that whatever happened, I would make it to Semuc.

And I did. I wasn’t disappointed.

Not every traveller makes it to Semuc Champey. It’s hard to get there and it’s a gruelling journey. But I guess one doesn’t just arrive in paradise without working for it. I came across travellers who said it was not worth it. I think they are nuts. But on a serious note, everyone has a right to their own opinion.

Lanquin is a small remote village in the midst of rural Guatemala. But what all travellers come here for is the natural wonder of Semuc Champey.

Semuc Champey is a set of around 18 perfectly turquoise river pools and limestone bridges naturally formed over the Cahabón River. The river flows into the deep gorge of the jungle, and the best way to get a perfect view is to climb up to the famous Mirador. The water in the pools is of perfect temperature and dreamy colour.

Of all the mentioned locations, Semuc is the most remote and raw and requires additional attention. I would definitely suggest limiting your night entertainment to the hostel area. During the day however it was safe and I had no issues wandering around, taking a trip to the pools or dining alone.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

I would also recommend taking a trusted tour company if you decide to take a guided tour to the Semuc pools. The tour takes you first to the caves and then to the pools. I have heard very mixed reviews on various tours. I haven’t visited the caves, but I hear this can be a little dangerous. I was not up for a walk in the dark cave without a helmet, just with a candle in my hands, especially knowing how clumsy I could be. I have heard of people being left in the dark and left with bruises and cuts. But some loved it, so hey, it’s your decision. But do your research and choose wisely.

Instead, I went with my friends. We took a fun ride in a track taxi, took our time, climbed the viewpoint and then spent as much time as we wanted swimming in paradise. I don’t regret not doing the cave.

Practical tips:

  • You will have to make a decision if you want to stay in a hostel in the town or in the jungle. Utopia hostel in the jungle is magical but very remote. If you prefer to stay in town choose the Oasis, Greengo’s or El Retiro Hostel.
  • Take a trusted shuttle to get to and from Semuc Champey. The best way to get around it is by booking one with your hostel.
  • Stay at least 2 nights to have a rest and enough time to do some fun activities.
  • Do river tubing! It is so much fun and the views are incredible!
Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?
Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?


I don’t think you can say you have really been to Guatemala if you didn’t visit Antigua. There are a few staple stops on the Guatemala travel route that put together will paint a fuller picture of the country. And Antigua Guatemala is one of them.

Antigua is a destination in itself and many travellers who come to Guatemala visit only this beautiful city. Although I don’t think this former capital of Guatemala is a complete representation of the country, I think a visit without Antigua on your itinerary wouldn’t be complete.

Antigua is an incredible city, a Unesco World Heritage Site where the time has been preserved in its colonial walls and buildings full packed with great things to do, fascinating architecture and history, surrounded by spectacular nature and volcanoes. It is also a foodie paradise!

Antigua is also probably the safest destination in Guatemala for solo female travellers mostly due to its great infrastructure and how tourist-friendly it is.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?


Quetzaltenango (Xela) is Guatemala’s second largest city and is still slightly off the beaten path. Having said that, the town is safe to travel to if you are a solo female traveller or any type of solo traveller.

If you continue onward to Mexico over the land you can get a shuttle from Xela or like me you can travel from Panajachel directly to San Cristobal de las Casas. The population of the town consists mostly of indigenous Maya (around 95%) so Xela has a much more traditional feel. Not as touristy as Antigua, Xela is a great city to come to if you want to see the real Guatemala.

It’s also a great town to learn some Spanish as there are many excellent Spanish schools and the Spanish teaching industry has grown massively here. Add a low cost of living, great hiking opportunities, colonial architecture and vibrant Maya culture and you have a place where you can stay for much longer than just a few days.

Practical tips:

  • If you didn’t do a volcano hike in Antigua you can do it in Xela! The most popular are treks to Tajumulco and Chicabal.
  • The best area to stay for solo travellers in Xela is the historic centre. The best hostels in this area are Casa Seibel and Kasa Kiwi Hostel.
  • Xela sits at an elevation of 2,330 meters so it can get chilly and in the evenings you will often need a light jacket.
  • Visit Quetzaltenango cemetery. Or even better, take a walking tour that includes a visit to this mysterious and fascinating place.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is my favourite place in Guatemala. I loved it so much that if I didn’t have to go back to Europe, I would probably settle there for much longer.

Lake Atitlán is considered one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. This deepest lake in Central America, located at 1500 m above sea level, has a length of 18 kilometres and a depth of up to 341 meters. It is surrounded by many volcanoes and offers what, for me – is a perfect climate.

Lake Atitlan’s shore is dotted with numerous indigenous villages, with the Maya people of Tz’utujil and Kaqchikel making up over 90% of the local population. Each of the lake’s villages and towns is unique and known for something different like ceramics, textiles or holistic retreats.

It’s a truly magical place it stole my heart forever.

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

When it comes to safety, the best villages to stay in for solo travellers are San Pedro, Panajachel, San Marcos and San Juan la Laguna. In Santa Cruz, you will find some of the most legendary hostels like Free Cerveza and La Iguana Perdida.

There were a few robberies happening on some treks so be aware and don’t hike around lake Atitlan on your own. Only go with a trusted tour agency. I walked to a viewpoint in San Pedro alone and took a walk from Panajachel to Santa Catarina but I skipped the San Marcos trek as I was very clearly told it’s not a good idea to do it alone.

After the dark stick to touristy busy areas and if you want to take a water taxi between the villages do it before 6 pm.

In general, I felt very safe around Lake Atitlan and I also noticed people there were even kinder than in other parts of the country. You can read my complete guide to Lake Atitlan here.

Practical tips:

  • Base yourself in Panajachel or San Pedro la Laguna for the best transport links and great things to do. San Marcos is famous among ‘posh hippies’. It’s a cute town to stay in for no more than a couple of days.
  • Cheap water taxis operate up to about 6 pm (more or less). After that, the only option will be a private boat which will be much more expensive.
  • Give Lake Atitlan at least 4 full days.
  • San Juan la Laguna is the most colourful and artsy town on the lake and you can easily visit just for a day.
Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

El Paredon

If you are into surfing or just lazing in a hammock in a small beach town, El Paredon is a place for you.

Guatemala is not a country you go to for the beaches and turquoise sea. It’s a country of lush jungles, rivers and lakes, spectacular nature and impressive volcanos. But if you love the beach life don’t worry, El Paredon will quench your beach town thirst.

If you are looking for great and affordable surf lessons away from the crowds of Costa Rica, head to El Paredon. But if surfing isn’t your thing, you will also find some awesome hostels with pools, a charming little town, surprisingly great restaurants and a unique vibe in El Paredon. It’s a good party town as well. The barefoot on the beach kind of parties.

El Paredon is safe for solo travellers and truly the most dangerous part of the town is the sea. The waves are very intimidating so you need to be careful when swimming and surfing. But remember not to walk alone on the beach after dark. Stay in a group or at the hostel.

Practical tips:

  • It’s a black volcanic sand beach town with pretty decent waves. Not your typical beach bumming resort. The sand gets hot during the day but most hotels have swimming pools. 
  • Visit Tortuguero – the turtle hatchery where they collect turtle eggs and protect them until it’s time for hatching. Come early in the morning to see turtles hatch and run into the ocean! You can release your very own, freshly hatched sea turtle into the ocean. Ask for details at Driftwood hostel. Nesting is from June-November
  • Driftwood Surfer is your typical party hostel doing its thing for quite a few years. A new kid on the block and getting some awesome reviews is a Mellow Hostel.
  • Wifi is not reliable. El Paredon is not a working destination.

Make Research – Always

Before arriving at any destination always make prior research. Find out about areas that are safe and those that need to be avoided. Read about common scams and seek recommendations from other travellers that have already visited the location. Those tips and recommendations are invaluable.

Reading articles and blog posts is an important part of your research. But some of them can be outdated or sometimes the author only visited a place for a couple of days.

The most helpful advice, recommendations and safety tips I have ever received were those from other travellers I met in hostels, on the busses and in other random places. If you follow the backpacker’s trail, there will always be someone coming back from where you are heading.

Join FB groups, ask questions on Reddit, and join forums. More than one. Before I arrive in any country I always join a FB group dedicated to either ex-pats or backpackers in current location.

Know Where to Go and Where (definitely) Not to Go

As a result of the above research, you should learn about the areas that are safe for travellers in Guatemala and those that are not. Follow that advice. In this case, it’s also very important to ask locals. And at the hotel reception.

Speak to locals. Restaurant owners, waiters, receptionists or even volunteers in hostels. They will know things about the place that are insightful you will not find on the web or in YouTube videos. 

While I was in Antigua I really wanted to take a chicken bus to Chichicastenango. But I was told by two different people that this route is operated by two different chicken busses and both are often targeted by robbers. With a heavy heart, I decided to skip it. 

At the time I couldn’t afford an organised tour so I decided to prioritise my safety over the adventure. And it’s another reason to come back!

When I arrived in Guatemala City I asked my hotel owner where its safe to go for a meal and a general stroll. It was near the evening time when I arrived so I wanted to make sure I choose wisely. He gave me detailed instructions and I followed them. 

Things can change with time and as you familiarise yourself with the place. But never let your guard down and if an area is a no-go, just don’t go there. 

Complete guide to solo female travel in Guatemala. Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers?

Choose Transportation Wisely

Transport links between the most popular destinations are excellent in Guatemala. There are big comfortable busses running on longer distances but in the majority of cases, you will be travelling in shuttle buses – small transit vans owned by private companies. 

Again, you want to make some research here and follow the local advice. If in doubt, always book with your hostel. 

Chicken buses are another popular transportation in Guatemala, especially among the locals. Here you need to know which routes are safe and which aren’t. Most robberies are happening on those buses. 

The majority of backpackers and travellers I met were travelling by shuttles and so was I. Although I was very tempted on 2 occasions I opted for safety in the end. 

The most popular shuttle company in Guatemala are GuateGo and  Adrenalina Tours but every hostel in Guatemala will be able to book safe transportation for you. 

Stay in Hostels / Make Friends

I love staying in hostels when travelling. It is the best way to meet people and get some insights into the location. It’s of course a great way to save money as well.

Hostels in Guatemala are great and this is where all the travellers meet, often more than once.

If staying in a dorm room isn’t your thing, the majority of hostels also offer private rooms. You will still be able to enjoy the shared kitchen and meet other travellers in common areas while enjoying the privacy of your room.

If you are travelling solo in Guatemala but would like to make friends to accompany you on some of the adventures staying in a hostel is the best way to meet them!

Another great way to make friends is to join a Spanish school. Guatemala is famous for its Spanish schools and many travellers come to this country mostly to learn Spanish and then continue travelling. 

Only because you are a solo traveller doesn’t mean that you won’t meet people. It’s the opposite actually. I found that when I travel solo it is much easier to meet people and make friends. We are all in this together after all! But what you will also find is that other solo travellers will intuitively respect your space. You will be invited to join parties or adventures but no one will force you or impose anything on you. it’s just the solo travel culture that I love!

I have exciting news to share with you, my travel friends!

I have just launched my own Backpacking and Budget Solo Travellers FB Group and I would love you to join me there! Travellers of all budgets and ages are welcome! I would like to create a community where we share tips and experiences and where you could ask me all travel and budget backpacking related questions!

I hope to see you there! Pati


Volunteering is an amazing way not only to save money on accommodation but also a way to get to know the place and people on a deeper level.

Websites like Workaway or Worldpackers have large offers of volunteering opportunities from working in hostels to helping on farms or looking after the kids. You will get free accommodation, sometimes in a dorm sometimes in a private room, and often one to two free meals per day for only around 25 hours of work per week. 

In the meantime, you will have loads of free time to explore the area. By staying with locals you will gain invaluable experience, and knowledge that wouldn’t be available to you otherwise and ease yourself into the location. Worth considering!

My Quick Tips on Staying Safe in Guatemala as a Solo Female Traveller

  • Share your itinerary. Let your friends or family know where you are and what your next travel destination is.
  • Carry a small purse with the change for the day and if needed just one of your cards. Make sure you leave a spare card in your hostel locker.
  • Carry local cash – I’ve noticed that if I carry a small purse with local change I feel safer and I am more likely to be offered honest prices. If you come to the market with an expensive wallet stuck to the brim with credit cards and $$$ sticking out of it, you will get charged gringo tax, triple.
  • Have some spare cash in an easily exchangeable currency like USD or Euros. In case your cards or wallet gets stolen you dont want to stay with no funds until you figure it out. Also if you are stuck in a location with no ATMs and dont have local currency, it’s extremely easy to exchange USD for example.
  • Use ATMs inside banks, shops, and reputable places. Always during the day.
  • The majority of taxis in Guatemala are not metered so always agree to a price before the journey. The only time I have ever taken a taxi in Guate was when I arrived at the airport. That’s it. From that point, I only took busses, private shuttles and tuk-tuks. I never trusted Guatemala taxis. The best way to get a taxi is to ask your hotel or hostel to call one for you.
  • Learn some Spanish. It will not only allow you to communicate better but you are less likely to become a victim of a scam if you can stand your ground in the local language.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers, and dont get drunk in unfamiliar places. If out and about with people you dont trust or dont know very well, always order a beer at the bar that s open in front of you.
  • Don’t hike alone – I hiked many times alone in Colombia but I didnt in Guatemala. I was very clearly told not to by the locals. I sometimes thought they scare you on purpose so you choose the local guide instead but I wasn’t brave enough to test it. You can find stories of travellers being met on remote treks by robbers holding a machete. Only head out trekking in groups or with a guide – the risk of robbery is higher if you’re by yourself. And use a trusted company that has a website where you can read reviews and contact someone if anything happens.
  • Stay near walls when walking down the street while keeping your bag facing away from the street. It’s not uncommon for a motorcyclist to drive by and pull the bag from your shoulder. Leave your valuables in the hotel while going out and those that you carry around, keep them close to you. My safest bet was my bumbag which even fits my camera in.
  • Don’t flash big notes, expensive gear or jewellery. I was often walking around with my camera but it’s a small mirrorless Fuji and it’s been with me for a while. A good tip is to make the gear look old and not worth stealing. Put an ugly old cover on your phone and some tape on your camera.
  • In case of robbery, just give away your stuff. Nothing is more valuable than your life.
  • Follow your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. 

Final Thoughts

The answer to the question: ‘Is Guatemala safe for solo female travellers’ is not straightforward. On the one hand, Guatemala isn’t the safest country in the world and you need to be aware of possible dangers. On the other hand, I believe that if you follow safety tips and stay on the backpacker’s trail Guatemala is a perfectly safe place to visit.

Yes, things happen. And they can happen anywhere. Please don’t let those possibilities discourage you from experiencing this incredible country. I met many, many amazing female travelers in Guatemala of all ages and budgets and they all loved it there.

Guatemala is a special country. Full of natural awe-inspiring beauty, kind people, rich heritage and tons of incredible things to do. Go and find out for yourself! And stay safe!

Have more questions? Or maybe you think I have missed some important information? Let me know in the comments below!

Until then, happy travels and stay free!

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