Guatemala Travel Guide
Internet access is widely available to travelers in Guatemala. Many high-end hotels offer some kind of in-room access for laptop users (often Wi-Fi), but note that you are sometimes charged extra for using this. Many hostels and language schools are also well connected, and usually charge reasonable rates.
All big cities have a choice of cybercafés, and even remote locations usually have at least one. Rates range between Q5 to Q12 an hour. Many have Internet-phone services.
Cybercafes lists over 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. In some countries you can phone from call centers or even the post office. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. And then there are mobile phones, which are sometimes more prevalent—particularly in the developing world—than landlines; as expensive as mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.
The country code for Guatemala is 502. To call Guatemala from the United States, dial the international access code (011) followed by the country code (502), and the eight-digit phone number, in that order. Guatemala does not use area codes.
Calling Within Guatemala
Guatemala's phone system is usually reliable. You can make local and long-distance calls from your hotel—usually with a surcharge—and from any public phone box or call center (known as locutorios). All Guatemalan phone numbers have eight digits.
Local calls in Guatemala are cheap. Most pay phones operate with phone cards, so it's worth buying one if you plan to make many local calls. You can buy a phone card in most grocery stores, or at Telgua offices. Do not use the black, red, or blue wall-mounted phones with signs that read "free collect call." They charge a whopping $10-per minute to the number being called and have a 5-minute minimum.
Local Directory Assistance (in Spanish). 124.
Operator Assistance (in Spanish). 121.
Calling Outside Guatemala
To make international calls from Guatemala, dial 00, then the country code, area code, and number. Many public call centers (locutorios) use Internet telephone and so have very cheap rates, but communication quality can vary. Midrange and budget hotels sometimes have similarly competitive services. You can also make international calls from pay phones using a prepaid calling card. You can make collect calls to North America through the international operator.
The country code for the United States is 1.
You can use AT&T, Sprint, and MCI services from Guatemalan phones, though some pay phones require you to put coins in to make the call. Using a prepaid calling card is generally cheaper.
International Operator (for collect calls). 147–120.
AT&T. 138–126 from Guatemala City; 9999–190 from the rest of Guatemala.
Guatemala's public pay phones use prepaid calling cards, which you can purchase at small markets, pharmacies, and Telgua offices. Ask for a tarjeta telefónica. They come in denominations of Q20, Q30, and Q50; calls within Guatemala cost 50 centavos per minute.
Mobile phones are immensely popular in Guatemala—landlines are hard to get and expensive to maintain, so locals rely heavily on their cells for basic communication needs. Guatemalan mobile phones use the GSM network. If you have an unlocked triband phone, and intend to call local numbers, it makes sense to buy a prepaid Guatemalan SIM card on arrival—rates will be much better than using your U.S. network.
There are three main mobile companies in Guatemala. Movistar, owned by Telefónica, has the cheapest rates: Q0.50 to Q1 per minute for local calls and Q1 to the U.S. Claro, owned by Telgua, is more expensive (Q1 for local calls and Q4 for U.S. calls) but has better coverage. Tigo is a happy medium. Prepaid SIM cards from all three companies cost between Q150 and Q200; prepaid phone packages start at around Q225 to Q500. You can then top up your credit with cards sold at most small grocery stores. Occasionally there are so-called half-price-minute sales, where you are credited twice the face value of your top-up card. Shops and stands from all three companies abound in the big cities, with more opening all the time.
Many language schools rent mobile phones to their students, or have special deals for buying one.
Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $99) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.
Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.