Although the capital of Guatemala is often derided as a crime-ridden, traffic-choked hellhole which any right-minded traveler would leave post-haste, there are some reasons for which you may stay. Whether you are simply making transport connections, or attempting to scratch below the surface of a much-maligned city, the following pointers will help you stay safe.
Transmetro by day, taxis by night
Locals will probably advise travelers to take taxis at any time of day, but the green Transmetro buses are a good way for budget travelers to save money. Do not be tempted to take the dilapidated red buses, which are known to be a hotbed of crime, and use taxis as soon as the sun goes down.
Time your movements wisely
If you do stay in the city, you will more than likely want to visit Zone 1, the historic center of town. The area is undergoing something of a renaissance, with art galleries and small bars leading the charge, but as soon as the crowds of office workers go home for the evening the area changes dramatically. The best advice for travelers is to take in some culture in the day time, and move up to the Zona Viva in Zone 10 at night.
Take normal precautions
While Guatemala City is not as dangerous as many people say, you should stick to your normal safety measures. Do not carry large amounts of cash, and if you are assaulted, always hand over your valuables without argument. If a stranger stops you in the street, be sure to keep moving, especially if your level of spoken Spanish means that you do not understand what they are saying.
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