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Top Clinics - Guatemala

Guatemala - A Relaxing Vacation and Affordable Dental Treatments

Guatemala's Lake Atitlan


Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a competitor when it comes to affordable dental treatment destination. Its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems includes a large number of endemic species and contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The country is also known for its rich and distinct culture, which is characterized by a fusion of Spanish and Indigenous influences. The three regions of Guatemala (highlands, Pacific coast, and the Petén region) vary in climate, elevation, and landscape, providing dramatic contrasts between hot, humid tropical lowlands and colder, drier highland peaks.

Guatemala is heavily centralized: transportation, communications, business, politics, and the most relevant urban activity takes place in the capital of Guatemala City. Guatemala's sole official language is Spanish and English is spoken at most tourist hotels, restaurants, and attractions.

The GSM (Global Systems for Mobiles) standard prevails in Guatemala, and you can use any tri-band GSM foreign cell phone in Guatemala with a local SIM card, provided the device is unlocked. Several mobile service providers compete on the Guatemalan market, the major ones being: Claro  (a subsidiary of national telephone company Telgua), Movistar (backed by international firm Telefonica), Tigo (within Millicom Group). All three operators offer good quality service in urban areas. As for remote rural areas, coverage tends to vary, and one provider can offer significantly better signal at a given spot than others. Just test and learn!

The same players are also the key providers of fixed telephony and internet. The leading provider, Telgua followed by Tigo and Telefonica Moviles.

Things to know before visiting Guatemala...

  1. It’s Safe - There are stories about muggings and there are sometimes bandits on the roads. However, you get these issues everywhere! If you are worried about safety, then always be alert and careful. It wouldn’t also harm to read some safety tips. Follow some advice like: don’t walk alone around at night (even if it is a 5 minute walk), don’t carry your money on your backpack (use a fanny pack instead specially in busy areas).
  2. They love bombas - That’s fireworks to most of us. ! It’s pretty common to hear them going off during the day as well as the night during a religious festival and they were going off all night.
  3. Café is life - Guatemalans love coffee. So, if you are a big coffee lover get ready to taste some of the best coffee of your life. 
  4. Tortillas are also life - One thing you can guarantee is that you will be offered tortillas with every meal.
  5. It’s the best place in the world to learn Spanish - Yep, that’s right if you want to learn Spanish give Spain a miss and get yourself to Guatemala! There are so many reasons to choose to study here but the two main ones are:
    • It’s cheap
    • They speak slowly and have a very neutral accent in Guatemala making it much easier to learn.
  6. Everyone is REALLY friendly - If you like walking down the street without saying “Buenos Dias” to everyone you pass then give Guatemala a miss! Guatemalans are friendly and they will greet you as you pass on the street. This may take a little getting used to especially if you live in a business district where everyone ignores each other.
  7. Salsa is a pretty big deal here - No matter where you are in Guatemala you can guarantee there will be salsa classes somewhere close by. If you are in Antigua there is a school on every block! The best night for salsa dancing is on a Sunday night but you can get FREE introduction classes at most of the salsa schools on a Monday and Tuesday. Group classes are around 50Q and Private classes are around 100Q.
  8. Guatemala is like 4 different countries in one - Read any guide book and it will tell you the same! You have the coastline, the mountains, the jungle and the cities. The weather also varies depending on where you are. So make sure you keep this in mind when packing.
  9. You can Hike ACTIVE VOLCANOS - So if you are planning a trip to Guatemala make sure you include some good warm hiking clothes if you think this is something you want to do. If you go with a good tour operator like OX Expeditions they will lend you warm clothes, a bag and sleeping bags and tents are included anyway. My advice is that if you are thinking of camping up on one of the volcanoes to make sure you are fully prepared for the drop in temperatures. Don’t take the risk and book through a professional company; it’s worth the extra money.
  10. The sense of culture is still very strong - Walking around places like San Pedro you can’t escape the strong sense of Mayan Culture. Many people, Spanish are their second language, that’s if they speak Spanish at all. Guatemala often feels like a clash of cultures especially in Antigua where you might have a Mayan family sat outside Wendy’s selling traditional backstrap weaved cloth whilst dressed in full traditional clothes.
  11. It’s huge - With approximately 3.3 million residents, Guatemala City is the biggest city in Central America. The sheer size of the city means you could spend months exploring here and still not scratch the surface. However, many parts of the city remain off-limits for tourists, and you are strongly encouraged to visit the neighborhoods that are more tourists friendly.
  12. It’s split into zones - Guatemala’s capital is split into zones, and these zones are so different they may as well be separate towns. Zone 1 is the heart of the city, the most central district that is home to many notable old buildings. There are lots of cheap hotels, bars, shops and restaurants here, so it’s popular with backpackers on a budget. Then there’s Zone 4, which is packed with street art, trendy coffee shops, cool bars and communal working spaces for digital nomads.
  13. It has an exciting music scene - You may not be able to name any awesome Guatemalan musicians, but that doesn’t mean they’re not around! As the capital, Guatemala City is the hub of the country’s thriving music scene. From record-breaking Latin American pop icons to pioneering feminist rappers and flute-playing rock bands, check out some of the key musicians you should know before visiting this musical hotspot.
  14. It has an excellent market - If you want to purchase some souvenirs while you’re here, the Mercado Central is the best place to do it. The seemingly endless maze of underground passages may not be as pretty as the open-air markets in Antigua or Chichicastenango, but the handicrafts found here are often much cheaper. Browse stalls selling leather goods, wooden masks, and woolen blankets… but keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpockets lurk here.
  15. It has some fascinating museums - With a unique history that merges Mayan traditions with Spanish culture, Guatemala is one of the most interesting countries in the world. Guatemala City has excellent museums where you can learn about Mayan history, traditional textiles, archaeology and what it feels like to experience an earthquake.
  16. It has beautiful colonial architecture - It’s not known for being a beautiful city, but Guatemala City’s colonial buildings will definitely impress, and walking through parts of the capital will take you back to the days of the Spanish Empire. Picturesque and well preserved, Plaza Mayor is the beating heart of Guatemala City, and this square is home to some of the city’s most spectacular buildings, including the National Palace and the Catedral Metropolitana, the interior of the latter being a fine example of Neoclassical architecture.It’s pretty gritty - Much of Guatemala City’s appeal is its authenticity. The brutal civil war tore the country apart, poverty is still rampant and the wealth gap remains enormous – and Guatemala City allows you to see the bigger picture in Guatemala in ways the tourist towns simply can’t. If you want to experience the country’s social and political reality, you definitely won’t find it in touristy, almost-twee Antigua.
  17. It’s overrun with chicken buses - Guatemala City is famous for its chicken buses, and these photogenic vehicles are the primary means of transportation for most locals. Donated from the U.S., these old school buses are customized in three ways:
    • they’re shortened, so they can better navigate Guatemala’s winding hills and roads,
    • then a faster engine is put in, and
    • finally they’re painted in a variety of bright colors and patterns. Because of the relatively low literacy rate, the buses are color-coded in relation to their destinations.
  18. Che Guevara lived here - You may associate him with Cuba, but Che Guevara lived in Guatemala City in the ’50s, and the city hasn’t forgotten this. Whatever your own opinions, most Guatemalans love Che, and Guevara graffiti is commonplace throughout the city. Many tourists visit El Portal, a traditional bar located in the Pasaje Rubio that’s famous for being Guevara’s favorite watering hole when he lived here. Having a drink in this bar is like stepping back into a Hemingway novel; sit at the long wooden bar, listen to marimba music and sip a cervezas mixtas (tap beers mixed together in a glass).

Guatemalan Dental Industry

Another rapidly growing, but often overlooked dental destination is Guatemala. The dentists offices are state of the art, treatment in Guatemala is affordable and very efficient. This is a major factor that attracts medical tourist from all around the globe particularly in the field of dentistry. Guatemalan doctors and hospitals are globally known for their kindness and personal care towards their patients. Language problem poses no major hurdle as they speak and understand 'English'.

But, let’s talk about the bottom line. Looking at the root canal/crown scenario: A root canal is $225 and the crown is $375. That is only $600! Flights to Guatemala are similar in price to Costa Rica. However, hotel prices, food, and transportation are much cheaper. You could very easily have a week vacation in a beautiful country, get your tooth fixed, and still save money! And that is only talking into account one tooth. For someone needing a full mouth restoration, the price can go from almost $100,000 in North America, to less than $30,000 in Guatemala! That is enough savings to buy a new Porsche!

So if you have a tooth ache and your wallet is thin, look south. Mexico is probably the cheapest and easiest option, but doesn’t offer anything else to go with the experience. Costa Rica and Guatemala offer a beautiful vacation, world class service, and significant savings.

Getting There

Most people get to Guatemala by plane. Guatemalan land and sea entry-points are relatively hassled free unless you’re bringing your own transport, in which case you can expect plenty of red tape, dubious entry fees, and delays. Airfares always depend on the season, with the highest being from Christmas to February, around Easter and in July and August.

Most international flights land at La Aurora International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional La Aurora) (GUA). A few international and regional airlines fly directly into Mundo Maya International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Mundo Maya) (FRS), formerly Flores International Airport, near Tikal. If you're only interested in visiting the Maya ruins at Tikal and touring the Petén, this is a good option. However, most visitors will want to fly in and out of Guatemala City.

It takes between 3 and 8 hours to fly to Guatemala from most U.S. cities. American Airlines, Delta, Avianca El Salvador (formerly known Transportes Aereos del Continente Americano, simply known as TACA Airlines), Iberia, Aeroméxico, Spirit, and United all have regular flights from a variety of North American hub cities. Presently, there are no direct flights from Canada to Guatemala, so Canadians will have to take a connecting flight via the United States.

There are no direct flights to Guatemala from the U.K. & Europe, although Iberia does have a direct flight from Madrid. Otherwise, you will have to fly via a major U.S. hub city and connect with one of the airlines mentioned above.

To get to Guatemala from Australia or New Zealand, you'll first have to fly to Los Angeles or some other U.S. hub city, where you can connect with one of the airlines mentioned above.

You'll find various shuttle companies offering hotel transfers as you exit either the national or international terminal.  Many of the larger hotels also have regular complimentary airport shuttle buses. If you don't want to wait for the shuttle to fill or sit through various stops before arriving at your hotel, there are always taxis lined up at the airport terminal exits. Expect to pay the higher rate, maybe even a little more, after dark. Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, Tabarini, and Thrifty all have car-rental desks at the airport.

Guatemala is connected to Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras by regular bus service. If at all possible, it's worth the splurge for a deluxe or express bus. In terms of travel time and convenience, it's always better to get a direct bus rather than one that stops along the way - and you've got a better chance of getting a working restroom in a direct/express or deluxe bus. Some even have television sets showing video movies. There are several bus lines with regular daily departures connecting the major capital cities of Central America. Tica Bus Company has buses running from Mexico all the way down to Panama, while Pullmantur and Hedman Alas connects Guatemala with daily service to San Salvador, El Salvador, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, San Pedro Sula.

Getting to Guatemala by boat - Santo Thomas de Castilla, Puerto Quetzal, and Puerto Barrios are the main ports. There are regular water taxis services between Punta Gorda, Belize and Puerto Barrios and boats between Punta Gorda and Livingston. There is also a service from Omoa, Honduras to Livingston. From Palenque in Mexico, there are a number of routes to Flores involving a mixture of bus and riverboat travel.

Visitor Highlights

Tourism has become one of the main drivers of the economy, with tourism worth $1.8 billion to the economy in 2008. Guatemala received about two million tourists annually. In recent years an increased number of cruise ships have visited Guatemalan seaports, leading to more tourists visiting the country.

In its territory, there are fascinating Maya archaeological sites (Tikal in the Peten, Quiriguá in Izabal, Iximche in Tecpan Chimaltenango and Guatemala City). As natural beauty destinations are Lake Atitlan and Semuc Champey. As historical tourism goes, the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala is recognized by UNESCO Cultural Heritage.

There is a strong interest of the international community for archaeological sites like the city of Tikal was built and inhabited in a period where the culture had its greatest literary and artistic expression, was ruled by a dynasty of 16 kings, the Maya of Tikal built many temples, a ballpark, altars and stelae in high and low relief.

Guatemala is very popular for its archaeological sites, pre-Hispanic cities as well as tourist-religious centers like the Cathedral Basilica of Esquipulas in the city of Esquipulas and the beautiful beaches on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Guatemala. Other tourist destinations are the national parks and other protected areas such as the Maya Biosphere Reserve.


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