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Getting Around By Bus

By far the most common method of getting around Guatemala is by bus, whether it be by the so-called “chicken buses,” first-class bus or by shuttle bus. Traveling by bus is a great way to get to know the real Guatemala up close. Passengers are often packed in like sardines, but the journeys usually don't last much more than four hours. There are some inherent dangers with bus travel in Guatemala. Buses may be robbed, with everyone forced to hand over all of their valuables. Accidents are also relatively frequent. As with public transport in most of Latin America, petty theft is rife. You should not use buses after dark. One option is the “Pullman,” or first class bus. These buses often leave from the bus company offices, and they tend to only cover the main routes, such as along the Pan-American Highway. In some cases Pullmans have toilets and TVs, and in rare cases air conditioning. Often none of these services will be working. Tickets can be purchased in advance, but unless you're traveling during a public holiday, you usually don't have to buy your ticket ahead of time. Chicken buses are school buses that were decommissioned in the United States and are now widely used in Guatemala. The chicken buses are considered “second class” buses, and as a rough guide, you can expect to pay a fare of around a dollar an hour. They are usually very brightly colored and don’t normally leave from bus terminals, but more often depart from the outskirts of towns. Travelers have also started to use shuttle buses, mainly because they are safer than other options. The shuttles operate along the routes that tourists most frequently use, for example, between Guatemala City and Antigua, Antigua and Panajachel, Panajachel to Chichicastenango and Tikal-Flores. The cost of a shuttle ticket is significantly more than for a public bus. Shuttle buses companies include Atitrans, Turansa and Grayline Tours. You can also organize private transportation through these types of companies. Approximate times from Guatemala City are: To Antigua – 1-1.5 hr To Panajachel: 3-3.5 hrs To Quetzaltenango: 4-5 hrs To Flores: 7 to 10 hours To Lago Izabal: 4 hrs To Puerto barrios: 5-6 hrs To Monterrico: 3-3.5 hrs To Cobán: 4-5 hrs

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: Getting Around Nebaj, Getting Around By Plane, Getting Around Guatemala, Getting Around, Getting Around By Car, Getting Around, Getting Around, Getting around, Getting Around Santa Cruz del Quiché and Getting around.

By Paula Newton
I am V!VA's operations expert. With an MBA and a background in the Interactive Television industry in the U.K. I am the organizing force behind the...
23 Feb 2009

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