What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala, are you wondering what to wear in Guatemala? Guatemala is a beautiful country with three distinct regions that vary in climate, elevation, and landscape. There is a dramatic contrast between hot, humid tropical lowlands and colder, drier highland peaks. This can pose a challenge when deciding what to pack.
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What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala | Guatemala Weather
Guatemala has two seasons rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season inland is from May to October with a break for approximately four to seven weeks in July and August that is called a canícula. Along the coasts, the rainy season extends to December. During the rainy season, it is often sunny in the mornings with late afternoon showers. These showers can be quite heavy. The dry season stretches from November through April with sparse to no precipitation, and days are typically sunny throughout.
Guatemala is a more traditional country when it comes to dressing. Casual and conservative clothing is practical and suitable. The packing list below can help you plan what to wear in Guatemala based on where you will be traveling within the country.
What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala | Highlands of Guatemala – Temperate Zone
The Highlands of Guatemala is an incredibly beautiful and popular tourist destination. The region consists of Guatemala City, Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Chichicastenango. Because of the proximity to the equator and the altitude, 3,300 feet above sea level to 6,600 feet above sea level, this area has a very temperate climate with year-round daytime temperatures ranging from 70-80 degrees F (21-27 C) and nighttime temperatures range from 55-65 degrees F (13-18 C).
What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala
Guatemala City is a beautiful city often overlooked by travelers visiting Guatemala and rushing off to visit Tikal, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan. Don’t miss the colonial architecture of its central plaza and the treasure of its archaeological museums. It is a city where you’ll see people on the street wearing all ranges of clothing from men in power suits to women in dresses and heels, to people wearing jeans and T-shirts. Like any major city in the world, there are upscale areas with hotels, restaurants, and bars. Pack some comfortable yet elegant basic clothes for going out in the evening.
Antigua has many bars and restaurants and the dress is generally casual. A large majority of the people in Antigua are passing through, so jeans and a shirt are suitable for men, and jeans and a blouse or a casual dress are suitable for women. The streets are cobblestone and uneven so wear comfortable shoes. High heels aren’t very practical in most places in Guatemala.
What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala, Lake Atitlan is a hiking and sightseeing paradise. Lightweight pants, jeans, and a short-sleeved shirt are perfect attire. Good sturdy shoes or hiking boots are recommended. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are a must when hiking as the sun is very strong during daytime hours. Pack a lightweight jacket for the evenings. If traveling during the rainy season you will want to pack rain gear. Most of the rain during the rainy season comes in the late afternoon. While showers don’t typically last more than a few hours they can be torrential at times.
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What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala, Chichicastenango is much like Quetzaltenango in what you will want to wear. If you are traveling to ChiChi you are probably going there to see the market. Focus on dressing comfortably. Lightweight pants and a short-sleeved shirt or blouse are the perfect attire for the daytime. During the rainy season make sure you have rain gear with you. When entering a church it is customary to remove your hat. Bring a warm jacket for the evenings as it tends to get cool.
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Quetzaltenango (Xela) – Cool Zone
Guatemala’s cool zone includes the rural area around Quetzaltenango. This mountainous region sits 7,500 feet (2300 m) and is higher above sea level. Daytime temperatures range in the 70’s°F (22-26°C) with nighttime temperatures falling below freezing.
Homes and public buildings in Xela are made of cement blocks and are not heated. When packing your bags you will want to pack warm clothes and bring clothing that will allow you to dress in layers. Bring a warm jacket, sweatshirt, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat for the evenings. Sturdy walking shoes or boots are a must. During the rainy season bring rain gear.
During the day Xela has comfortable temperatures. Light pants and short sleeve shirts are perfect. As previously mentioned, the key is to dress in layers as the mornings and evenings are quite cool.
What to Wear When Traveling in Guatemala | The Beaches – Tropical Zone
Stunning handmade dress from the Textile Weavers of Guatemala
Guatemala borders both the Pacific Ocean to the southwest and the Caribbean to the east. As with most coastal towns, the climate is distinctly tropical with hot and humid weather throughout the year. Daytime temperature ranges from 85-95 degrees F (29-35°C) with humidity in the 70-80 percent range and nighttime temperatures falling to the 70’s°F (22-26°C). The humidity and the heat combination can make daytime hours uncomfortable.
With this in mind consider packing multiple tops because the humidity of the tropics will mean that any clothing you hand wash might not always dry overnight. Bathing suits, shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops are appropriate attire for the beach.
Make sure you pack a brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF to protect yourself from sunburn.
During dusk and dawn, you should wear mosquito repellent as mosquitoes are most active during those times. Check and see if where you are staying provides mosquito netting covering the bed, if they don’t you will want to consider packing one.
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Other General Tips
- Show respect for the people and their culture.
- Dress conservatively while traveling in Guatemala. Indigenous Mayans are modest dressers. Wear pants or a long skirt if you’re visiting a religious attraction, like a church or ceremonial site, and make sure you take off your hat when entering.
- Learn a few Spanish words before traveling. Por favor (please), Gracias (thank you), Buenos días (Good morning), Hola (Hi), ¿Cómo está? (How are you), Mucho gusto (Nice to meet you), No hablo español (I don’t speak Spanish).
- Wear insect repellent when visiting Guatemalan beaches, especially at dusk.
- Bring a rain jacket or umbrella if traveling May through October.
- Expect to pay to use the bathroom and bring your own toilet paper.
- Pack earplugs.
- Carry large amounts of money or wear expensive jewelry.
- Abuse alcohol.
- Drink the tap water, and buy bottled water instead.
- Photograph people without their permission.
- Flush toilet paper, and throw it in the trash can provided.
- Avoid all unfamiliar food because you’re afraid of getting sick.