Just across the Guatemalan border, a short car ride away, a small town in Honduras called Copan also has some impressive Mayan ruins and a small colonial town to offer. While Copan Ruinas is nowhere near as famous as its bigger brother Tikal, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and totally worth seeing! Less visitors, even hotter, less humid, colorful wildlife and a fun border experience are all the more reason to go visit!
We decided to turn Copan into a day-trip by taking our rental car across the border – and this whole experience couldn’t have gone any smoother! We only waited 5 mins at border patrol (which was actually our fault for waiting in the wrong queue), the whole migration process was done in 10 seconds, friendly locals showed us the way… and 7 minutes later we were in Honduras. At this point I’d actually like to say how wrong almost all travel guides and online forums are about road tripping Central America. Even the big ones and also the ones for younger travelers, like Lonely Planet and whatnot.
Sure, you gotta be street smart, you gotta be aware of your surroundings, take care of your belongings, etc. But that’s a given for anyone who decides to leave their neighborhood – whether that’s to any European major city or a more exotic destination such as Central America. Just basically don’t be an idiot.
Yet, there are so, so many online posts that stoke travelers’ fear and hysteria regarding road travel in places like Central America. And that’s not only a severe misrepresentation of reality but also a real shame for anyone trying to get the most out of their travels. Guatemala actually had the best roads we’ve ever experienced in any developing country across the Americas and Asia (better than huge parts of the US), with the most beautiful scenery along the way going from destination A to B (which you would totally miss out on just flying across the country), with fascinating Guatemalan country-life whizzing by, decent rental cars that are completely affordable and perfectly fine quality, and with offline Google Maps (with a backup paper map) you will get to wherever it is you wanna go 99% of the time! The remaining 1% of the time you just gotta ask a friendly local who will be more than happy to help.
I realize that this opinionated rant of mine here is completely useless since only my parents will read ’till the bottom of this post. But hey, if you happen to have stumbled across this page and are considering renting a car for your Guatemala trip – do it! Do it 1000%! I would even recommend it to my parents 🙂