Home > Central America > Guatemala > Guatemala Overview > Etiquette And Dress
Page Rating
Content Quality:

Page Importance:
Author Pick:
Close Map

Book a Hotel or Hostel

Hotels Hostels & Budget


Check in Date

Check out Date

Number of Rooms

Top Guatemala

Etiquette And Dress

When traveling, the importance of being polite, observant and respectful goes without saying. However, there are always a few local idiosyncrasies for any destination, and picking these up sooner rather than later will which can help you avoid unnecessary awkward or embarrassing situations or causing offense.

In Guatemala, it is customary to say ‘buenos dias’ or ‘buenos tardes’ to strangers as you pass them in the street and to shake hands with friends or cheek-kiss in more urban areas. Say ‘mucho gusto’ when you’re introduced so someone for the first time. Titles are important, especially to the older generation. Use Señor, Señora, or Señorita, or address a person using his or her professional title, such as Profesor(a) (teacher), Abogado/a (lawyer) or Doctor (physician). Speaking softly is proper and good topics for general conversation are Guatemalan food, geography and culture; do not initiate conversations about the civil war and its associated violence.

If you’re staying with a host family you could take a small gift from your home country as an offering. Do not give white flowers as these are only for funerals. Likewise, graciously accept food, drinks or gifts offered and don’t overuse alcohol.

Guatemalan’s are smart and for business or visiting government offices men should always wear a suit, women should wear a knee-length skirt and shirt. The main meal of the day is usually eaten at lunchtime so this is preferable for a business meal also.

Although you should not change who you are avoiding unwanted attention can be handy or even paramount for your own safety in some situations. Chauvinistic attitudes prevail in some communities. Women are fine to travel and eat out unaccompanied but should avoid going to bars alone or walking home alone at night. Same-sex relationships are not illegal in Guatemala but it is still frowned upon in some areas so avoiding public displays of affection is advisable.

Tipping 10% is expected in mid-range and high-end restaurants and bars but not at street stalls or basic comedores, although a tip will always gladly be accepted. You can also tip taxi or rickshaw drivers and tour guides. There is usually a charge for using public toilets but this is only a few quetzales.

And just remember to smile and be friendly, be patient and flexible and ready to share.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: Dealing With Officialdom And Business, Safety, Safety, When To Go, Seniors, Responsible Tourism, Tips For Luxury Travelers, Organized Before Entering, Safety and Safety.

By Joanne Sykes

Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Jo is currently working as a freelance travel writer in Latin America. With degrees in...

11 May 2010

Top Places to go in Latin America - as rated by V!VA Members
You must register as an owner for access to these listing tools and benefits.

Notification of new reviews: receive your latest reviews by e-mail

Customized request-a-review link: encourage guests to spread the word about your property

Our owners' newsletter: stay informed about our latest tools and benefits for you

User login

Enter your username and password here in order to log into the website:


Create a new V!VA account

Forgot Password