Are you looking for info on how to cross the land border from Belize to Guatemala? In this article, I’m going to share with you how I did it in 2022. This is the cheapest and easiest way to get to Guatemala from Belize by land.
I have also updated this post to reflect the most recent entry requirements for Guatemala as of October 1, 2022.
As of August 13, 2022, foreign visitors are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test to enter Guatemala. Please visit the Guatemala government website for the most up-to-date information.
From San Ignacio, Belize to Flores, Guatemala, it took me a total of around 3.5 hours to travel by taxi, foot, and colectivo. Transportation cost me US$8.69 and with the COVID test of US$60 (a test is NOT needed as of August 13, 2022) and the Belize Departure Tax of US$20, I paid a total of US$88.60. Read more to find out how I did it:
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For those wanting to go in the opposite direction, you can read my article on crossing the border from Guatemala to Belize.
Check out my 2022-2023 Guatemala Travel Guide for more tips, tricks, ideas, and inspiration for visiting the land of eternal spring. You’ll find over 15 travel articles to help you explore the history, culture, food, and natural beauty of Guatemala.
What COVID requirements do you need to enter Guatemala in 2022
As of August 13, 2022, to enter Guatemala you no longer need to show EITHER proof of vaccination OR a negative COVID test.
Here is info on entry requirements from the Guatemalan government.
Another great resource for finding out what the COVID entry requirements are for a country is a Swiss International Airlines website.
Where to cross the border
The only land border crossing between Belize and Guatemala is at Benque Viejo Del Carmen (Belize) and at Melchor de Mencos (Guatemala).
You can now cross by boat from Punto Gorda in Belize to Livingston or Puerto Barrios in Guatemala.
When is the border between Belize and Guatemala open?
I asked the immigration official in Belize about the border’s opening times as I’d gotten conflicting information. So, here is the official information:
From Belize to Guatemala, the border is open 24 hours 7 days a week. However, it closes at 6:00 pm for those with their own car. I failed to ask what time it opens again in the morning for vehicles.
From Guatemala to Belize, the border is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
How to cross the border from Belize to Guatemala?
There are two ways to cross the border from Belize to Guatemala:
1. Tourist shuttle
You can buy a shuttle ticket from Atlanta Travels, located at the San Pedro Express Water Taxi port in Belize City, for US$30.
The shuttle van leaves between 12:00 and 12:30 pm daily.
The shuttle will take you to the border and after you cross into Guatemala, another shuttle will pick you up and take you to Flores.
You can take this same shuttle just to San Ignacio.
If you’re in San Ignacio, the shuttle will pick you up at your hotel or hostel. It’ll cost US$27.
I crossed the border on my own and it was very easy and inexpensive.
I began the journey at 8:48 am and arrived in Flores at 12:15 pm.
I’ll explain how I did it below.
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How to cross the land border from Belize to Guatemala
Step 1: Take a taxi from San Ignacio to the Belize Border
I started in San Ignacio. If you are in Belize City, you can get a public bus from the Public Bus Station in Belize City for BZN$9-11 (US$4.50 – $5.50) to San Ignacio. Try to get an Express Bus.
It costs BZN$10 (US$5) for a taxi from the San Pedro Express Water Taxi port to the Bus Station.
In San Ignacio, take a shared taxi that is headed to Benque Viejo del Carmen.
Taxis have green license plates.
I was staying at Yellow Belly Backpacker Hostel (I highly recommend them) and I just needed to stand near the Cahal Pech roundabout (see the red X in the above map) and wait for a taxi (green license plates) to come by.
If you’re staying in another part of the city, you can get a taxi from a different location.
It cost me BZN$7 (US$3.50) for the trip to the border.
The taxis are shared with other passengers.
I’ve taken a taxi twice from this spot and I’ve never had to wait for more than 5 minutes.
I left San Ignacio at 8:48 am and arrived at the border at 9:08. My taxi dropped me off right at immigration.
Step 2: Change money at the border
When I got to immigration, a man came up to me asking if I wanted to change my Belizean dollars into Quetzales. I changed almost all of my money except for what I needed to pay the Belize Exit Fee.
If you don’t change money in front of the immigration building, don’t worry. I was approached by money changers three or four more times before exiting Guatemalan immigration.
Step 3: Pay the Belize Departure Fee
When I entered the immigration hall, the first desk was for paying the Belize exit fee. This was BZN$40 (US$20). You can pay in Belizean or US dollars.
The departure fee encompasses 3 fees: a border exit fee of BZN$30, a conservation fee of BZD$7.50, and a land border development fee of BZD$2.50.
Step 4: Get Your Belize Exit Stamp
Then I took my receipt and passport to the next immigration window to get stamped out of Belize.
I was asked one question and that was, “How long were you in Belize?”
The whole process took 12 minutes.
Step 5: Walk to Guatemala Immigration
After I exited immigration, I walked along a covered walkway.
Then I walked across a no-persons land for a few seconds to Guatemalan immigration.
Again no lines at immigration.
Step 6: Submit form and passport to immigration
After that, I needed to fill out an immigration form.
Finally, I went to another window and submitted my passport and immigration form.
All along the way, there was this guy who was telling me what to do for each step. I don’t remember who he was but I swear he was the same guy who tried to get me to take his taxi to the colectivo (public minivan).
Before you walk away from the immigration desk, check your passport to see how many days you were given. Make sure the number of days is clear.
Step 7: Change money again
Even before leaving the immigration building, I was asked one final time whether I wanted to change money. I had BZN$10 (US$5) left over from paying the Departure tax so I changed that for Q35 (US$5).
I exited immigration at 9:34 am.
Step 8: Walk to the Colectivo Station
After exiting immigration, I was approached by a taxi driver. He said that the colectivo station (Terminal de Autobuses Melchor del Mencos) was 2 kilometers away (he told someone else that it was 3 kilometers away) and that it would cost me Q35!
This is a HUGE LIE!
Don’t listen to any taxi drivers who tell you that the colectivo station is 2 or 3 kilometers away! Ignore them.
The colectivo station is less than 5 minutes by foot from immigration.
Once I crossed the bridge into the border town of Melchor de Mencos, I took a left at the first intersection.
Less than a block away and on the right-hand side of the street is the entrance to the colectivo station (Association de Transportistas Comunitarios ATC). You can’t miss it! It’s got a red fence and a few white, blue, and red vans in the parking lot.
There’s a white building in the parking lot. Go to the window to buy your ticket for Flores. I was charged Q40 (US$5.19)
It was 9:41 am when I got on the colectivo (public minivan).
We left at 9:53.
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Step 9: Take the Colectivo to Flores
However, the colectivo drove around the city and stopped at another place near a market to collect more passengers, so we didn’t actually leave Melchor de Mencos until 10:17 am.
By that time, the colectivo was full of people and almost no one was wearing a mask. One guy was sneezing and coughing and looked sick.
Step 10: Arrive in Flores/Santa Elena
When we arrived at the bus station in Santa Elena (Google Maps), it was 12:15 pm. The trip took 2 hours.
I took a tuk-tuk from the station to Flores island (Google Maps). Usually, it costs Q5 to go from Santa Elena to the island of Flores, but I was charged Q10 (US$1.20). Because I really needed to use the bathroom, I just accepted it. It took 5 minutes to get to Flores.
Check out this comprehensive article on 20 things to do in Flores. It includes tips on visiting Tikal and El Mirador.
Can you walk from the bus station in Santa Elena to Flores?
Yes, you can, but I don’t recommend it because there’s a lot of traffic and the road lacks sidewalks. all the way.
It’ll take you 20 minutes without a heavy bag. Plus you still have to then find your accommodations on the island.
Where to stay in Flores, Guatemala
Flores has a variety of cheap hotels and hostels, but you need to do your research.
I stayed at 4 different hotels and hostels in Flores. Check out my guide to the best areas to stay in around Flores and the best hotels and hostels for all budgets.
The best website for booking hotels, hostels, and private rentals for Guatemala is Booking.com. They have over 100 accommodations to choose from around Flores.
If you’re on a budget and you really want a private room, then your best bet in Flores is Hotel Petenchel. It’s clean and quiet, and it has air conditioning and hot water. I stayed at a few budget and mid-range hotels and hostels in Flores, and this was probably the best of the bunch. RATING: 8.1 Read reviews here
This is a SUPER popular hostel located very close to the lake in El Remate. It has both dorm rooms and private rooms. You can book a tour of Tikal through the hostel. RATING: 9.1 Read Reviews Here
This hotel is right next to Tikal National Park. If you want to see the sunrise at Tikal, this is THE place to stay. It’s the highest-rated hotel near Tikal. There are no dorm rooms. RATING: 8.6 Read Reviews Here
This beautiful hotel is located in a secluded area surrounded by nature. and right on the lake. Wooden cabins with beautiful views of the lake. Great food and service. RATING: 9.6 Read reviews here
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Where to stay in Belize
Hotels in Belize are very expensive. It’ll be hard to find a private room for less than US$50 a night.
Caye Caulker Accommodations
I was quite pleased with the only place I stayed in Caye Caulker.
Caye Caulker Beach Hotel
This hotel had the cheapest available private rooms on the island. They were centrally located, clean, comfortable, and quiet. After fighting for hot water in Guatemala, I was happy to have it here. The decent water pressure was an added bonus. WiFi was better than anything I experienced in Guatemala or Belize. There was a terrific rooftop terrace where you could watch the sunrise and sunset, work on your laptop, or just hang out.
San Pedro Accommodations
Prices for hotels in San Pedro are about the same as in Caye Caulker.
COST: US$15 for dorm | US$50 – $60 for a private room
One of the cheapest places to stay on the island is Sandbar Hostel. They have both dorms and private rooms. The hotel is located about 10 minutes by foot from the Water Taxi port and is located right on the beach. They have a restaurant that serves really good food and a small pool. It’s not a bad place. The dorm beds and bathrooms are just ok. WiFi is unreliable.
Drift Inn is right next to Sandbar Hostel. It has dorm rooms and private rooms. It’s one of the cheaper places to stay in San Pedro. It’s not bad. WiFi is spotty.
San Ignacio Accommodations
Check out my guide to San Ignacio, where I list the best places to stay for all budget levels.
Yellow Belly Backpacker Hostel
COST: US$32 – $35 for private room
I rather liked Yellow Belly despite its ridiculous name. They have decently priced private rooms as well as dorms. There’s a huge, very well-stocked kitchen and a nice social area that’s quiet and comfortable enough to work in. Bathrooms are shared. WiFi is spotty.
Is it safe to travel alone in Guatemala and Belize?
I traveled around Guatemala for almost 3 months and Belize for a month. In Guatemala I felt safe walking around in the tourist destinations alone during the daytime; however, I was told repeatedly not to hike alone, not to walk alone at night, and to only take trusted taxis or tuk-tuks. Therefore, I did find it more restrictive than other places that I’ve traveled to.
In Belize, I felt completely safe in tourist destinations during the day and in the evening.
The whole process was quick and painless. I highly recommend doing it on your own. You don’t need to book a shuttle. Overall, it cost me the following:
- US$60 – COVID test (I had to take one in January 2022, but you no longer need one)
- US$3.50 – taxi to the border
- US$20 – exit fee for Belize
- US$5.19 – colectivo (public minivan)
Transportation comes to US$8.69.
With the COVID test and exit fee, it’s US$88.69.
I also have a description of how to cross the land border from Guatemala to Belize.
If you’re looking for travel info on Flores and Tikal, check out this jam-packed list of things to do there.
Where to go in Guatemala & Belize?
- Top 32 Things to Do in Antigua
- Top 15 Things to Do in Rio Dulce & Livingston
- Top 20 Things to Do in Flores & Tikal
- Top 50 Things to Do at Lake Atitlan
- How to Visit the Chichicastenango Market
- How to Visit the Quirigua Ruins
- Top 25 Things to Do in San Ignacio
- Top 35 Places to Visit & Things to Do in Guatemala
PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting travel insurance. During my travels over the past 2 years, I’ve been using SafetyWing for my insurance. They’re very affordable for all ages, and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.
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Lookin’ for more info on traveling in Latin America?
- Get inspired and informed about visiting one of the best markets in Guatemala – Chichicastenango Market
- This guide on crossing the border from Guatemala to Belize can help lessen the stress of international travel.
- What’s the most underrated destination in Mexico? – Check out this guide to Campeche
- Wanna visit the BEST Mayan ruins and waterfalls in Mexico? – Read this travel guide to Palenque
- If you’re traveling to the Yucatan on your next destination, here’s a guide to the 15 best day trips from Merida.