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As a visitor to Guatemala, getting around can seem a bit daunting. With no knowledge of your transportation options and sometimes-confusing road systems, navigating the country can feel like a challenge. 

However, because many Guatemalans are unable to afford to own their own vehicles, there are many ways to get around. You can travel with the locals, or you can stick with transport aimed at tourists.

But if you’re used to using Uber at home, you might be wondering – is there Uber in Guatemala?

This rideshare service has become the go-to option for people in many parts of the world. It’s great for tourists who want to explore without the stress of navigating unfamiliar roads and public transportation systems.

To help you navigate Guatemala, we’ve put together a guide to the transportation options available to tourists, including Uber. When it comes to how to get around Guatemala like a local, or exploring the alternatives, we’ve got you covered.

And if you’re wondering if Guatemala is safe, especially for female travelers, we detail the level of safety for each transportation option. 

Is There Uber in Guatemala?

Yes, you can use Uber in Guatemala! It’s been available in the country for several years and is an easy and affordable way to get where you’re going. But it isn’t available all over yet. 

Is There Uber in Antigua Guatemala?

Yes! So far Uber is only available in the more touristed centers of Guatemala, and Antigua is one of them. This rideshare service is also in Guatemala City, Panajachel (aka. Pana), and Quetzaltenango (aka.Xela). 

And if you’re wondering if Uber is safe in Guatemala City and the other local cities it serves, you can rest easy. In fact, Uber has received great reviews for safety, as well as for driver friendliness and overall reliability.

It’s a great way to go if you’ll be spending time in one of these places. You can use the same app you use at home to book your ride. Just download it onto your Android or iPhone, then simply create an account.

This makes it easy to get a ride, especially if you don’t speak much Spanish. And if you’d like to get an idea of what a ride will cost before you book, you can check on Uber’s price-check page.

What if you take Uber Guatemala from a city mentioned above to one that isn’t, and will need to return? 

Say, for example, that you take an Uber from Guatemala City to Panajachel. Ask your driver if he can pick you up again in Pana at a pre-set time. If they’re unable to, keep reading for other options.

Does Uber Pick Up at the Guatemala City Airport?

Sign of Guatemala City on the interstate
Photo courtesy of Canva

Absolutely! When you arrive at the Guatemala airport Uber can be an excellent way to get to your accommodation. However, Uber may or may not be your best option. 

The cost of your ride will depend on the distance, traffic, and whether or not you will be sharing the cost of the ride. There might be more affordable options for you. 

Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to be able to use your phone to book your Uber. 

  • If your home phone plan doesn’t allow you to use your cell in Guatemala, you can buy a Claro SIM card at the airport. This is a good option if your phone is unlocked.

    Or, you can buy something in one of the little coffee shops at the airport. While you’re there you can take advantage of their WiFi to book your ride.

Remember, many hotels and hostels offer Guatemala airport shuttles that will pick you up. Be sure to look into this option first, when you book your stay. You can also book a private airport transfer to get you where you’re going.

Are There Other Transportation Apps Like Uber in Guatemala?

There is a lot of Guatemala to see outside of the areas serviced by Uber. If you happen to be exploring elsewhere in the country, there are other ways to get where you’re going.

There are a variety of transportation services across the world these days. Some countries have services like Lyft, Gett, or Flywheel. In Guatemala, you might hear about InDrive.

InDrive is an international app similar to Uber. However, instead of being told how much you’ll pay, you suggest the price you are willing to pay, and the driver negotiates.

This might sound like a good choice, but InDrive in Guatemala has a reputation for being dangerous. There have been reports of robberies and even kidnappings – InDrive is best avoided.

Are Taxis a Good Alternative to Uber in Guatemala?

Taxis are widely available in Guatemalan cities, and they can be a convenient and safe option. There are two different types of taxis in Guatemala. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from each of them:

  • White taxis can be flagged down wherever you see them. This is convenient, but white taxis aren’t metered. You need to agree on a price before you begin driving. This might be appealing if you enjoy negotiating.


However, it’s possible that you may end up paying more simply because you’re a tourist. There are also many “counterfeit” white taxis around Guatemala, making them a less safe choice.

Your best bet when it comes to white taxis is to get a recommendation for a driver. Ask at your accommodation or speak with a fellow traveler. If you do find a good driver, ask for his card so you can call him when you need to.

  • Yellow taxis must have a meter, which means you’ll pay the fare based on distance and time. They’re considered safe and may end up being cheaper for you.

    They will also ask for a precise address and usually a phone number, so be prepared with that information. The yellow Taxis Amarillo are your best option. Call 1766 to book a ride or email servicioalcliente@amarilloexpress.com.

    Metered taxis are easy to find in larger cities, but they’re few and far between in smaller places and around Lake Atitlan.

Is There Public Transportation in Guatemala?

Yes, there are several forms of public transportation for you to consider. Whether you’re going across town, or want to travel a long distance, there is an option for you. 

City Buses

These red buses are found all over Guatemalan cities. These are fairly inexpensive, and the cost depends on the time of day. At peak times the price is less than US $3.

They may not be a great choice if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. If the bus you’re waiting for fills up, you’ll need to wait for the next one.

They are also your least safe option. Robberies have been known to happen on the red city buses.

Transmetro

These hard-to-miss bright green buses are large, modern, and safe. The stations are located in the middle of the streets. The buses run along several lines to and from the historic center of Guatemala City only. 

They run on their own lanes, so they’re not affected by traffic, and they have set stops. Payment is through a Citizen Card. You can pick one up at stations on lines 12 and 13, or in convenience stores around town.

You can find a route map and schedules in English on the Moovit web page

Transurbano

This blue and white bus alternative operates in Guatemala City. You can also view its routes on a Moovit web page

Transurbano mainly uses an electronic payment system. You can purchase a prepaid card at SIGA Service Centers. You can usually pay cash, as well, to the guard at the entrance gate.

However, the fare depends on the route, and you will need the exact change in local currency (the quetzal).

Chicken Buses

If you’re looking for an authentic and affordable way to travel in Guatemala, look no further than the famous “chicken buses.” These brightly painted old US school buses are a staple of transportation for locals. 

Chicken buses run on set routes throughout the country, so they can be a convenient way to get from one place to another. They can be a lot of fun, too, with music, TVs, or even karaoke machines.

However, they can also be unpredictable, with frequent stops to pick up and drop off passengers. If you’re in a hurry, a chicken bus may not be the best option.

These were dubbed “chicken buses” by tourists due to the fact that they do occasionally transport chickens or other live animals. The buses are commonly used by locals and are generally a safe way to travel. And they go almost everywhere.

They are also a fun way to travel. You’ll get to know the locals and get a taste of life in Guatemala. You should definitely ride a chicken bus at least once while you’re in here. 

You might not want to make it your ride from the airport, though. You’ll have all of your things with you, and you want to be able to keep track of your belongings.

Large bags and backpacks might end up strapped to the roof of the bus. If you’d prefer to keep your stuff where you can see it, keep it to a smaller daypack on a chicken bus.

Make sure you have some small bills and coins to pay the fare. To find out where to go to catch one, ask around, or go to this website.

Pullman Buses

Also called first-class buses, coach buses, or express buses, pullmans are a more comfortable way to travel long distances. They can get you from one major center to another and are safe and reliable.

There are several coach bus companies in Guatemala, and you can book your ticket online. Two good options are Litegua and Transportes Alamo.

Not all express buses offer the same amenities. However, you can usually count on them having air-conditioning and restrooms, and often wifi, too. 

Tuk-tuks

Street filled with tuk tuks in Guatemala- an Uber alternative

The little 3-wheeled vehicles are common around the world. Depending on the country, they’re also known as rickshaws, mototaxis, bao-bao… The list of monikers is long.

In Guatemala, tuk-tuks are a great way to get around smaller towns. They’re fast and inexpensive and can be flagged down whenever you see one. Also, don’t be surprised if one pulls up beside you on the side of the road and asks if you need a ride.

The appearance of official tuk-tuks vary from town to town, though. It’s important to learn what they look like where you’re at, and only use the official tuk-tuks. Safety first. You’ll pay cash, around Q15.

What Are Tourist Shuttles Like in Guatemala?

Shuttles are a safe and reliable way to travel and a good way to meet fellow travelers. They tend to be pretty comfortable, too.

Another positive is that they will usually pick you up and drop you off at your requested location. You won’t have to hunt down a bus stop or flag down your ride.

There are a couple of downsides, though. For one, these shuttles are a barrier between you from the culture you’ve traveled to see.

It’s always fun to meet up with other travelers. You’ll be missing out on the local culture when you choose this option, though.

Tourist shuttles are also more expensive. You can expect to pay about twice what you would for a chicken bus to travel the same distance.

If you decide that you’d like to give a tourist shuttle a try, they’re pretty easy to book. You can either stop in at a travel agency or find one online. 

You could also visit a website like Viator to reserve your seat through them.  

Personally, I used Carlos (What’s App: +502 5650 2212), a taxi service provider recommended by another solo female traveler.  He was kind and coordinated everything for me. 

Going from the airport in Guatemala City to Lake Atitlan, I took a shared van as I was with a friend. For the remaining routes, including returning to Antigua and going to the airport, I took the private option. 

Should I Rent a Car in Guatemala?

View of driving in Guatemala- a Uber alternative

The ultimate freedom when traveling is to rent a car and set your own schedule. Car rental is easy in Guatemala. There are many companies that you could arrange a rental through, and most of the process can be done online.

✔️ Compare Rental Car Rates and Availability ✔️

However, there are a few things to consider when it comes to renting a car in Guatemala:

  • Traffic can be insane, especially in central areas, and traffic laws may not be what you’re used to at home. Speed limits are rarely enforced, and drivers often travel just as fast as they can.
  • Driving is done on the right side of the road, and speed limits are posted in kilometers.
  • Guatemalan roads during the rainy season, generally from May to October, can be hazardous. As well, visibility is drastically decreased in the rains.
  • Many roads throughout Guatemala aren’t paved, and the potholes can be monstrous.
  • It’s not unusual to have animals, or even people, walk out in front of you. Don’t take your eyes off the road!
  • You need to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in Guatemala. If you plan to drive on any highways, you must be at least 25.

Do I Need an International Driving Permit License in Guatemala?

The driver’s license you use at home will be fine unless it does not use the Roman alphabet. 

If your license uses the Thai alphabet, for example, you will need to get an international driver’s license. This needs to be done before you leave home.

An international driver’s license needs to be presented along with your home driver’s license to be valid. 

Tips for Driving in Guatemala

  • Keep your windows up if you’re stopped or driving slowly. It’s not unknown to have thieves reach in and take whatever they can. Careful at traffic lights!
  • A car horn is a safety feature in Guatemala. A quick beep lets other drivers know where you are. Keep it short, though, to avoid being annoying.
  • Keep your rental agreement handy, as well as your license, insurance documents, and passport. You’ll need them if you come across a checkpoint.
  • Don’t pump your own gas, wait for an attendant to do it. And do give them a small tip, just 5 or 10 quetzals.
  • Apps like Google Maps are invaluable when traveling, including in Guatemala. But download your map so you can use it offline if you lose your internet connection.
  • There are toll roads in Guatemala, so be sure to have some local cash with you. Tolls tend to be around Q15 or 16.
  • Before you drive away from the rental location, make sure your car has a jack and a good spare tire.
  • Take note of Guatemala’s emergency numbers: dial 110 or 120 for police. For medical assistance, dial 122 or 123.

     What is the cost of fuel in Guatemala?

The cost of a liter of gasoline varies across Guatemala, as it does in any country. It also fluctuates widely with time. However, in January of 2024, a liter of gasoline cost approximately US $1.05.

If you’d like to find the current price, look at the global petrol prices.

Service stations are easy to find in Guatemala, but remember to check your gas gauge often. Running out of gas in an unfamiliar place is never fun. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get Around Guatemala?

The price of getting around depends on how you choose to do it. If you love to do as the locals do, you can navigate the country pretty cheaply. The chicken bus and tuk-tuks will get you where you’re going without breaking the bank.

But if you prefer a few more creature comforts, you will have to part with a few more quetzals. Ultimately, the choice is yours!

Conclusion

As you can see, Guatemala has a variety of transportation options available for tourists. Although Uber is not widely available, there are other safe and affordable choices, such as taxis, shuttles, and public buses.

Like anywhere, it’s essential to take precautions when using these modes of transportation. Using licensed taxis and keeping an eye on your belongings, for example. This way you can enjoy all the beauty and culture that Guatemala has to offer. You’ll still get wherever you want to go.

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