Coban

Travel Guide Central America Guatemala Coban

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Introduction

Coban is a city in the Alta Verapaz department of the Central Highlands region of Guatemala.

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Sights and Activities

By walking on the street from the Parque Center to the terminal market you will feel the spirit of the Mayan. Workers from the village that surround Coban come to the city in the morning to work and leave afternoon.

The Main Cathedral at the town center. Semuc Champey about two hours from Coban - There are private tours you can hire to get there that contains also visiting the Caves in lanquin. On 1 Avenida there are several tours guide.

You don't have to book tours or walk around with your nose buried in your LP guidebook to figure all this out. If you want to go to Semuc Champey, hop on a colectivo across from Plaza Magdalena (a big yellow shopping mall - everyone knows it, just ask) and go to Lanquin; get off there, hit up the dudes at El Zapote immediately to your right when you get off for a free ride down to Las Marias hostel, and pay Q15 for a mattress and Q15 for a tour.

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Getting There

The most common way to get to Coban from Guatemala City is using the Monja Blanca bus service from the capital, approximately four hours. There are also competitors, and more expensive shuttles. A ticket to Coban on the Monja Blanca costs about Q65 per person.

The real magic is all the villages the spread all over, during the way all the mountains are covered with unbelivable village of the Mayan. If you look for ome time adventure just ask some local from Coban anout the villages, or in spanish Pueblo like Tactic, tomtem, yoho and you will discover a new world.

From the Western Highlands, regular microbuses run from Quiche to Sacapulas to Uspantin to Coban (you will probably have to change buses in each town). The road between Uspantin and Coban is only paved about half way, and has some rough stretches. Travel time, including time spent waiting for buses, is about 6 hours from Quiche to Coban and 2.5 hours from Uspantan to Coban.

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Getting Around

Coban is a relatively walkable city in terms of size (sidewalk conditions are horrible, however, and you should always assume that cars will take the right of way). For local destinations around Coban, there are buses that leave in front of Plaza Magdalena.

You can take a taxi almost anywhere around town for Q20 for something like 5 kilometres. Always get in the taxis that are marked with a taxi number on the door, the unmarked ones are not licensed to work as a taxi. Another option is to take a bus (collectivo) that start from coban and finish at the nearest villages like Tactic, and San Francisco.

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Eat

De La Abuela Hotel and restaurant serves traditional dishes and fresh seafood, but their specialty is the meatiest barbecue ribs in Guatemala. They have outdoor eating areas upstairs and downstairs surrounded by nature, the atmosphere and service are very friendly.

Al Carbon d'Fiora serves really good burgers as a local alternative to MacDonalds. It costs about Q25-Q30 for a burger and about Q60 for Churrasco (grilled steak). The food is really good and the place is hygienic although the atmosphere is nothing fancy. Fiora is on Calle Minerva a few blocks inward (toward downtown) from Plaza Magdalena.

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Drink

Cobán has many cantinas where locals go to drink and get drunk for cheap. They can be found all over town, are usually associated with trouble, and are not usually very nice or clean. Most restaurants serve wine and beer and a few locally known cocktails but for a slightly higher price than the cantinas. Visitors should still be wary of activities at the discos even if they look nicer than the cantinas. In 2010 some women were reportedly raped in one of the nightclubs and there are many reports of women leaving having been drugged. That said, there are some nicer places to go out for a drink in town.

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Sleep

Tourists tend to spend only a night or two in Coban. The most popular place to stay is Casa d'Acuna, which is a relatively inexpensive and reliable hostel. There are a number of other small hotels around the main plaza, though, most of which are comparable in price.

  • The newest hotel and restaurant De La Abuela sits on a hill on the main road as you enter Coban. Their bedrooms and bungalows can accommodate families and large groups.
  • La Paz Hotel is very pretty, relatively quiet, has a friendly staff and as much security as one could desire; single with private bath is Q45, a room for three with private bath cost Q110. Next to La Paz are the B&B Rooms, a dorm-type affair run by a Mexican-American; low prices, cool ambience. Stay away from the Hotel Familiar, which is filthy (Q25), and especially the Tourist Information Office, which is actually a hotel and restaurant which sells information you don't really need. There are other hotels away from the center but they're hardly worth hunting down for the prices.
  • Los Faroles Hotel. Is very beautiful. The service is personalized, welcoming and very friendly, as they strive to make people feel "en Su Casa";).
  • The Park Hotel. Is located 15 minutes south of Coban towards Guatemala City.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.

If you have a smartphone such as iPhone, Google Android, you just need a local SIM card (roughly Q25) and can start enjoying the prepaid access plans, which generally come in lots of an hour, a day, or a week.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Guatemala's emergency phone numbers include 110 (police), 120 (ambulance) and 123 (fire). Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits.

The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10-min call to North America, and slightly more to Europe. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling overseas through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefónica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.

Post

El Correo is the national postal company in Guatemala. It offers a wide range of services, including sending cards and packages both domestically as well as internationally. Most Guatemalan towns have a post office, although your best bet is to send mail from a large city. Service at El Correo is improving, thanks to consultation and assistance from Canada Post. Most post offices open from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Airmail letters to North America and Europe cost from Q6.50 and take a week or two to arrive. High-end hotels can usually send your mail for you, too. Expect packages you send through the Guatemalan mail system to take a very long time to arrive. They usually get there in the end, but it's worth paying extra for recorded delivery (correo registrado). Many stores can ship your purchases for you, for a cost. Valuable items are best sent with private express services. Couriers operating in Guatemala include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Delivery within two to three business days for a 1-kg package starts at about Q500.

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Coban Travel Helpers

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This is version 2. Last edited at 15:45 on Feb 1, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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