We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Safety in Central America

Sutton, United...
Level Contributor
59 posts
30 reviews
Save Topic
Safety in Central America

Hi, I'm looking at doing a 15 day trip with Tucan Travel, that takes in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Reading the official travel warnings for 3 out of the 4 countries (not CR) was pretty stark - murders, rapes, gun crime. I'm wondering whether it's as bad in reality?

The Tucan Travel trip uses only public transport, which is what seems to be the riskiest, but it is of course offset by travelling in a group with a local guide.

Has anyone either done the trip (called Scenic Grenada) or have any other advice to offer before I commit myself?

Level Contributor
278 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Safety in Central America

I think that it's very sad how much hype there is about the violence in Central America. I will talk to you about Guatemala mostly although I did go visit some ruins on a day trip in Honduras without any problems.

My father, a Canadian has been living there since 1998. I have been there 3 times, 2004,2005,2006 not only to visit him but to also tour the country. The first trip I went on we were two women traveling together and we never had any problems.

What you may find disconcerting is that there are many guards carrying guns. We are not used to seeing this in Canada or in the UK. There are armed guards at the chemist, film store, McDonalds, even the water delivery truck consists of a driver along with the guard. This is because most business and commercial transactions are done in cash.

Use common sense. Don't go out alone at night. Don't go into bars and pick fights. Actually I would stay away from them altogether. Carry your cash in small quantities in a money belt. Don't attract attention by flaunting electronic goods such as digital camcorders or cameras. Be discreet. I used public transport several times and felt quite safe. Actually in the past years it has been the tourist shuttle buses that were hijacked and robbed.

The ONLY TIME we had a violence problem was in a restaurant/bar where mostly Gringos went and were harassed by a drunken Irish guy who tried to pick a fight with my husband and then tried to follow us to our hotel room. Funny thing, we NEVER had any problems with the locals.

Guatemala city is a dangerous place after dark. To be Avoided!

Antigua is safe for tourists and you can go out in the evening, there is even the tourist police a special force created to make sure no one is bugging the tourist and to protect them.

Guatemala City...
Level Contributor
682 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Safety in Central America

Use Common sense...

there are parts of Chicago and New York or Boston i wouldnt go out after dark...

Central America is safe...the people are very humble and happy to have visitors come to visit.

I am a Us Citizen that has lived in Guatemala over 10 years and Honduras over 3 years... i have yet been in any situation that i felt unsafe.... i have crossed the borders in the evening...driving late nights on the atlantic highway..crossed into Belize..driving around Peten at night...

you should take the trip...enjoy and be safe!!!!

Port Richey, Florida
Level Contributor
2,546 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Safety in Central America

Hi there: In the past there have one or two isolated incidents were tourists were robbed. Also, to say that in fact tourists shuttle vans are the ones being robbed is not an accurate statement.The robberies happen on board public buses, quiet often. Maybe that's were the confusion comes from. I read the news from guatemla 7 days a week . Except for holidays when they don't publish the newspapers. So I'm telling you what I've read and what somebody told me of things happened. I also constantly monitor other travel forums and all you read is good reviews from backpackers to other type of travellers, and they all seemed to be very satisfied with the experience they had in guatemala. The guatemalan government knows that the economy depends to certain degree on the tourism industry, and thus they are constantly increasing the police presence along the highways and major tourist attraction areas. I live between Miami and West Palm Beach and if you were to watch the news here you would want to start packing your stuff and move to another country in the world were drug addiction was not a real problem as in this country. All you hear is of pedophiles, women being raped left and right, violent convenient stores attacks, bank robberies, and I could go on and on. Nobody is safe in this country now in days, specially when driving because, you don't know who is on drugs and who is not. Violent crimes are commited by people from all walks of life. Do you remember when the tourists driving rental cars were being targetted by criminals in the miami area. I saw on TV the other day, the reenactment of when a german tourist was shot and killed among the victims. Well, your chances of surviving a criminal attack in guatemala are higher than in the USA because of the stiff sentences. In the US, criminals learn early in their careers that leaving witnesses alive can get them a life sentence specially in rape cases. In guatemala prostitution is legal. So rape cases are not very common. Most of the crime in guatemala happens among gang members in isolated and run down neighborhoods. The kidnapping cases happen to business people by one of their own ex-employees who hates you or has done his homework and knows how much money you have. So as long as you use common sense you should be OK. Good luck.

4. Re: Safety in Central America

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 2:20 pm, August 22, 2009