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Puerto Barrios

Travel Guide Central America Guatemala Puerto Barrios

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Introduction

Puerto Barrios is a small city along Guatemala's northern Caribbean coastline. Although nearby Livingston has a large Garifuna population, there are also a couple of thousand here. Garifuna people are descendants of a mix of African slaves and Carib Indians from the island of St. Vincent further east in the Caribbean.

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Sights and Activities

One of the most visited places is a local river called "Las Escobas". Its in the cerro San Gil, outside the urban area of Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomás de Castilla. The river is famous for its crystalline water and is very cold. It's in the middle of the jungle, but is very easy to reach it by a road or walking. Now "Las Escobas" has been reconstructed into a beautiful hiking and swimming area. If you're an adventurer and like to hike, there is a hiking trail, of course you have to be careful with the surrounding for there might be snakes and other amphibians.

The river has several natural pools, and they look like paradise.

But check the weather report before going there. If it has been raining in recent days, the water will be dirty. It's not polluted, but it isn't nice to take a bath in.

If you don't feel like traveling for a few hours then you can just stay inside the city. There you can walk to the two parks that the city has. One is located in the old part of Puerto Barrios, its name is Tecun Uman. This park is right in front of the "Hotel del Norte." Recent construction has been made to this park, and now cars and motocycles can go to a paves terrace overlooking the ocean called "El Malecon." The other park is located on the opposite site, this park is called "Reina Barrios" There is a large outside theatre shaped like a shell, known as "La Concha Acústica".

Now if you feel like cooling off from the hot sun, there is a mall called "La Pradera" located outside Puerto Barrios going to Santo Thomas. There you can find a foodcourt with McDonalds, Pollo Campero, Domino's Pizza, Saritas (ice cream parlor), and many more different stationeries. There are clothing stores such as Gap, Adidas, and other local stores. There is also a game place near the foodcourt where you can play arcade games, air hockey, and ride a small carousel.

Puerto Barrios is a very nice place to hang around, to meet locals, enjoy the small citylife, go dancing.

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Getting There

By Plane

In January 2017, Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos began operating flights five times a week between Puerto Barrios and Guatemala City.

By Bus

There are regular connections to Guatemala City, taking about 5-6 hours, and to Rio Dulce (1.5 hours). You can also travel regularly by minibus (every 20 minutes or so during the day) to the border with Honduras, taking about 1.5 to 2 hours. Onward transport goes to Omoa, Puerto Cortes, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba (for the ferry to Roatan). Whether you can reach Roatan in a day is a matter of luck, but try and get the first minibus from Puerto Barrios if possible.

By Boat

There are a couple of ferries a day to Livingston (taking 1.5 hours), but much more (and faster) fast boats which leave when full and only take 30 minutes. A daily fast boat leaves at 10:00am to Punta Gorda in Belize, taking about 1 hour to cross.

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Getting Around

You can take a bus or taxi. The bus costs Q3 and taxi costs Q5, but for tourists it may cost a little more.

There is only one route that goes from the Central Market, in Puerto Barrios; to San Agustín, in Santo Tomás de Castilla. The bus stops don't have signals most of the time, so you must have to know the place where you are coming down.

To travel more widely, taxis are best. But be careful. Taxis must have an identification number on both doors. Also, you can negotiate the payment with the driver. Most of the time, this isn't necessary; but like you don't know the city and you don't have your own car, you will have to do it sooner or later. Most of the time, a "carrera" will cost you between Q20 or Q50; depending on where you are going.

Assaults are very common in the country, but Puerto Barrios is a relatively safe city (at the moment) but be careful with taxis at night. Take them in well illuminated places and if you can, guide them to your destination and ask them not to pick up anyone else. This will cost you a bit more, but you won't get ruined.

English is not widely spoken, you will have to communicate with the rest of the people by using Spanish.

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Eat

Seafood is typical of the city. One of the best restaurants is restaurant Safari. It's located in the neighborhood "El Rastro". Safari is a nice, warm, cozy restaurant that is right beside the beach. There you can order traditional plates like tapado, camarones a la plancha, ceviche and many others. Another typical Garifuna-plate is rice and beans, which has rice, beans, coconut cream and meat.

Other restaurants are El Castillo, Fogón Porteño, Pepin Burger,Restaurante y Cafeterìa MAXIM and Doña María and some others that have special things like churrascos or tortillas de harina.

If you like Cuban food, you can go to La Habana Vieja. This restaurant is located on 8th avenue between 7th and 6th streets. You can eat the best pieces of meat in there.

If you want to try a typical of the entire country; you can go to Pollo Campero (Country Chicken) It's located in 8th street and 7th avenue, next to the Central Market. This is an international chain of restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but has the special Guatemalan flavour.

If what you are looking for is for 1st class cuisine, go to the Mar Brissa hotel or to Amatique Bay hotel. The finest restaurants in town. Both of them are a little far away form downtown, but is very easy to get to them.

For sure you should try the fresh fruits that are sold in the local market. Papaya, mango, melon, pineapple and many others like you've never eaten before. You should also taste the 'licuados', juices and milkshakes that refreshes very well in the tropical heat.

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Drink

One of the most famous places is a disco, called La Colombina Forever. There you can find the best nightlife in the entire city. But you have to get used to crowds, smoke, and beer. The "Colombina" has two dance floors, one is right by the entrance while the other one is on the other side. Both dance floors play different types of music, but the second dance floor plays mostly Reggaeton. This club also built a boardwalk into the ocean with chairs and small huts for privacy.

Right around the corner there is another club called La Meta, short for "Metamorphosis". This club offers only one dance floor but they play different types of music. It has a terrace, and in the back it accommodates by having chairs and tables right near the ocean for nice breeze.

The tradition in this city is that Saturday is Colombina Day, while Sunday is Meta Day. That way there isn't much competition between the two.

Since two years there is a new disco, called "Casa Madrid".

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Sleep

There are several hotels in the city. But you have to be careful with them. The city is famous for having a lot of prostitution and you can end in a hotel that is used for it.

It's safer to use hotels that are big. The may be a little more expensive than others, but you won't get ruined.

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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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This is version 3. Last edited at 15:36 on Feb 1, 18 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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