After traveling through Mexico and Guatemala first; I really had to adjust a couple of days to the different way of traveling, culture, people and costs in Belize. Here I will describe my experiences and hope you find this useful tips.
As a Dutch citizen we don’t need to request a Visa, we get one in our passport for 3 months when we arrive in the country. Please check your visa status when traveling to Belize.
Several websites show different recommendations for vaccinations. For Belize you are required to have these standard essential vaccinations: Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio vaccine and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. I got an extra shot of Measles because I was not sure I got it in the past and to make sure I was covered I took a shot. Beside these vaccinations I have the recommended vaccinations: Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Optional vaccinations are Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever and Rabies.
I got a 3 days emergency package of Malaria pills with me for my entire trip to Central America. Have you been feverish or flu-like in the tropics for more than 24 hours? Keep in mind that it may be Malaria. Go to a hospital to have your blood tested for Malaria. Preferably consult with your travel insurance company about a good hospital on the spot. Does research show that you have Malaria; use the emergency package of Malaria pills (Malarone) as treatment; no need to take the pills during the whole trip.
All I heard when I told people I went traveling to Central and South America: “Is it safe?” “A women all by herself!” And all I can say, you have to be cautious and be prepared. I wrote a separate blog on Safety during my travels; Travel Tips to keep Safe.
The local people in Belize are so great!! It is real mix of a lot of backgrounds; the Mayas, Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people and the English blend too. A real multi culture place; with the most beautiful people I have seen with bright eyes and dark skin. The men could be really persisting, more than I had experienced anywhere else. Very pushy, some almost stalking me to go out with me…. I haven’t felt unsafe in Belize; but I did not visit Belize City for a reason!
Tip: Stay strong, be direct yourself if you don’t like that persisting and pushy behavior.
I found it very hard to find and book nice accommodation for a reasonable price. Either all was already booked or I could not really find it via Booking.com. I understood from a local that in Belize they use Airbnb more than Booking.com; so open an Airbnb-account before travelling to Belize. Another option is to book the rooms on the spot: advantage is that you can have a good look and feel of the place; disadvantage is that you can’t go directly to your accommodation and wander around with your bags across town.
Not like in Guatemala, I could find real tour shuttles that could bring me from A to B. It is all public busses or private very expensive shuttles. Of course you can book tours, like the ATM or Raggamuffin, where all transport is included. I met people that booked organized tours that had a private driver bringing them from A to B, but I think you have to book that in advance via a tour operator. For traveling by yourself and last minute, local chicken busses are the best transport. They are cheap, a great experience with the reggae music coming loud out of the speakers and meet and talk to the local people in the bus.
Tip: Watch your bags in the bus, you could be an easy target for pick pocking!!
Compared to other Central American counties, I found Belize expensive. The prices doubled from Mexico to Guatemala, doubled again from Guatemala to Belize. In Belize US dollar bills are accepted; the Belize dollar is even fixed to the USD ( 2B$=1US$). You can get B$ out of the cash machines in Belize, but I bought sufficient US$ to cover all my expenses here and you can pay with all Credit Cards in the main hotels and restaurants (some with additional costs).
Tip: Bring some cash US$ with you in case of emergency.
You can buy a SIM card for your phone, but I only used the WIFI at the hotels and restaurants; it’s available everywhere, no need to buy extra data in my opinion.
Before I left to Central America and Belize I already downloaded the app; Maps.me. This is an off-line map provider. You download parts of a country in advance where you intent to go. This was very helpful by walking in the city streets where there was no reception and you still can find your way!
Have you already made a decision on your route yet? Check here for more inspirations.