Approximate exchange rate: $1 for 7.50 Quetzals (local tender).
The airport in Guatemala City
The airport in Guatemala City is not very large or complicated, and has been recently remodeled. In the customs area they will stamp your passport. Most entrance visas last 90 days (which can be renewed for the same amount of time at the Mexico boarder or at the Guatemalan Immigration Office (tel. 2411-2411) in Guatemala City). As in any airport your luggage can be checked. During business hours there are banks where you can exchange money or withdrawal cash from an ATM. We suggest you change or withdraw only the amount of money that will be necessary for your trip to Quetzaltenango; Quetzaltenango has many options for money exchange and withdrawal.
Outside of the airport there are always taxis waiting. Before taking a taxi you need to set a price with the driver because Guatemalan taxis do not generally have meters. The cost will be between 50 and 90 Quetzals, depending on the distance. We recommend that you have the exact name and address of your destination readily accessible.
There are different buses that travel to Quetzaltenango, but we recommended only 2 companies for their service: Alamo and Linea Dorada. We also recommend you use the bathroom before your journey as the majority of buses do not have one. The approximate cost is 60 to 80 Quetzals and the trip takes approximately 4 to 5 hours travel time from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango.
Alamo - Guatemala City Alamo - Quetzaltenango
12 Avenida A 0-65 14 Avenida 5-15
Zona 7 Zona 3
Tel. 2471-8626 Tel. 7767-4582
Linea Dorada - Guatemala City Linea Dorada - Quetzaltenango
16 Calle & 10 Avenida 12 Avenida & 5 Calle
Zona 1 Zona 3
Tel. 2220-7990 Tel. 7767-5198
Note: we recommended to you to travel during day, leaving Guatemala City no later than 3 in the afternoon. If you arrive in Guatemala City after this time we recommend you stay in a hotel and travel to Quetzaltenango the following day.
Arriving in Quetzaltenango (Xela)
Generally there are taxis waiting at the bus stations. If you are not able to find one, you can ask in the office. The approximate cost of a taxi within Quetzaltenango is between 25 and 40 Quetzals.
México to Quetzaltenango (Xela)
There are a few places to cross the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Here are a few suggestions. If you are traveling through Mexico you can go from San Cristóbal de Las Casas (in Chiapas) to Tapachula; next travel to the border town of Talisman, Mexico; and lastly cross the border to El Carmen in Guatemala. Your passport needs to be stamped in both Mexico and Guatemala. Near the immigration office in Guatemala there is tourist assistance (ASISTUR), where you can ask for help if you need it. There is a lot of movement and activity at the border, more than you expect, and there are always lots of people offering to change money for you. We recommended that you have the money ready that you will need to change (separate from the rest of your money), and only change what you need to. You also need to pay close attention to your luggage at the border.
A few steps across the border there will be mini-buses that go to Malacatan. In Malacatan you can catch a direct bus to Quetzaltenango. If you cannot find a direct bus, you can take a bus to San Marcos, and then transfer to a direct Quetzaltenango bus there. The last bus from San Marcos to Quetzaltenango leaves at 5:30 p.m. The total travel time from the border to Quetzaltenango is about 4 hours.
If you prefer to come directly to Quetzaltenango from San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mexico, there are travel agencies that offer shuttles (micro buses). We recommended this option if you would like a more relaxed travel option, rather than transferring from chicken bus to chicken bus.