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I recently created a printed handout to help visitors to Panajachel. I want to restrict that handout to one page but will update/add useful information here.

AtitlanLife.com welcomes you to Panajachel



While you can find a lot of information about Pana on the web site at http://atitlanlife.com, you need to know it exists and you need an Internet connection. Consider this a quick guide to help you get started.




In a word, nice. Seldom above 30C or below 15C, day or night, winter or summer.


  • Current weather and historical information is available on the AtitlanLife web site. The weather station is between Calle Santander and Calle Real.

  • Rainy season is April-November. Most days you will still have quite a bit of sunshine.




  • The local currency is the Quetzal.

  • Exchange rates vary between about 7.5 and 8.0 Quetzal to the US $. You will almost always get the best rates in the banks.

  • BAM (Santander and Real) is open 7 days/week. (They also exchange up to $200 of Traveler’s Checks.)
  • BancoRural has two locations, one open Saturday, the other open Sunday.

  • ATMs are called cajeros. 5B, Bi and BAM are the three networks. Lots of machines, many available 24/7.


Food, Drink, Lodging


  • Expect to pay around Q20 for a decent typical breakfast.

  • Fresh made tortillas are 4 or 5 per Quetzal.

  • Gallo is cheap but disgusting beer. Cabro and Moza (a dark beer) are good.

  • Vegetarians: “Sin Carne” doesn’t mean vegetarian. Think of it as like meat, poultry and fish where carne == meat. Vegetariano works. Good luck with Vegan.
  • Don’t be afraid to try local food. For example, tostadas are Q4 for vegetarian, Q6 for chicken from street carts.
  • While lunch tends to be the big meal for locals, tourist restaurants tend to have real dinners. Plates vary from Q30 to Q120.

  • Don’t drink the water; If you do, albendazol is your friend.

  • Gratefruit seed extract (available at Sandra’s) is a natural remedy if albendazol scares you.

  • Most low-end hotels charge by the person.

  • A clean but not exciting room with private bath can be found for Q50/person.




For many here, Spanish is their second language. Don’t be afraid to try yours.


  • Many street vendors speak multiple languages.

  • There are lots of cheap Spanish schools here.

  • People tend to be patient and helpful – lots more so than you see in the US.


Non-tourist tourism


Every tourist goes to Calle Santander and because of competition there are some good deals there. But, if you want to see something a bit more real you can:


  • Visit the public market.

  • Take a pickup to San Antonio (Q5)

  • Go to the beach in Jucanyá (across the river)




  • Google Earth data was just updated with good detail here.

  • Internet cafes cost around Q5/hour. Warning: Spanish keyboards.

  • Lots of places on Santander have free WiFi.