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Guatemala Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Guatemala

For those in search of crafts and local products Guatemala has some of the best shopping in Central America. Markets are best for local products and are as much a sightseeing experience as a shopping one. The Central Market and Craft Market in Guatemala City, the market in Quetzaltenango, and the famous Chichicastenango market (twice weekly) are the best places to find traditional, authentic crafts and meet local artisans. The slightly bohemian, Mayan villages around Lake Atitlan are also a good place to find souvenirs and local handicrafts, as are the street vendors in Antigua and Panajachel.

Craft-making in Guatemala has a long heritage and different styles and designs are produced in different regions. Textiles tend to show these regional differences the most clearly and the ornately decorated, brightly colours weaves make for superb purchases.

There is so much to choose from that it is difficult to decide what to buy, but there are wonderful colourful textiles, Mayan jewellery, jade and wood carvings, leather goods, hammocks, blankets, ceramics and basketry. Ceramics can be purchased cheaply in many places including Villa de Chinautla, San Luis Jilotepeque and Rabinal. Cobán is the cheapest place to buy silverware.

Bargaining is necessary in the markets or anywhere where prices aren’t fixed, and this should be done in a light-hearted and respectful manner. Vendors expect to haggle, so start at half the asking price and work up to an agreed price from there.

Modern shopping malls can be found throughout the country, and many have international chain shops and restaurants. Guatemala City contains many modern shopping centres. Gran Centro Comercial Los Proceres, Galerias La Pradera, Plaza Cemaco and Geminis International Mall are all located in Zone 10. Other malls include Tikal Futura, Peri-Roosevelt Shopping Mall and the Century Shopping Centre.

Shopping hours

Mon-Sat 0930-1930. Malls are also open on Sunday.

Nightlife in Guatemala

In Guatemala City in particular, there are nightclubs with modern music and dance, featuring national and international artists. Guatemala is the home of marimba music, which can be heard at several venues. In the cities, the marimba is a huge, elaborate xylophone with large drum sticks played by four to nine players. There are regular concerts throughout the country. There are also theatres with numerous plays in English and other cultural performances. Films with English and Spanish subtitles are often shown in major towns. The “Zona Viva” in Zone 10 in Guatemala City is the main hub of entertainment where hotels, nightclubs, cafes, bars, dance clubs, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries cluster.

Outside of the capital the nightlife is more low-key and bars in places such as Antigua, Flores and the villages around Lake Atitlan such as Panajachel and San Pedro de la Laguna tend to be relaxed with a fun, lively atmosphere. Quetzaltenango (Xela) has a lively nightlife scene with plenty of bars and nightclubs, and in the Garifuna towns such as Livingstone local bands play traditional music combined with the ever-popular reggae. 

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