If you tell 10 people you are traveling to Belize, 5 probably won’t know anything about it. 2 will guess it’s in Europe. 1 will engage with you in conversation asking about your trip before asking where it is after about 5 minutes, and 1 will know that it was formerly known as British Honduras.
The point being, most people don’t know much about Belize, and quite frankly, neither did we before we decided to travel there. However, after traveling to Belize, it’s a country we highly recommend visiting for a number of reasons, many of which you will find in this post and on our Belize page with all our other Belize posts.
Seeing as though Belize is a wonderful place to travel to and still relatively unknown, here are 7 Things to Know Before You Travel to Belize:
1. They Speak English
English is the official language of Belize. In fact, Belize is the only country in Central and South America where English is the official language, not including the Caribbean island nations.
For travelers weary of needing to communicate in Spanish or other languages, have no fear because you will do just fine with English in Belize. Many Belizeans do, however, speak Spanish, so if you’re looking to practice your Spanish, you’ll be able to in Belize.
2. You Can Use USD
Surprisingly, you can use United States dollars (USD) in Belize. They have the Belize dollar in Belize, but there is no need to exchange money before traveling there.
In Belize, they accept USD everywhere. However, you might get Belize dollars in return. The exchange rate is 1 USD to 2 Belize dollars. Luckily, it is pretty easy to convert between the two currencies because of the simple math.
One thing to remember when finishing your travels in Belize is to use up all of your Belize dollars because you cannot exchange them outside of Belize. If you’re in Caye Caulker, you can toss your loose change into the donation box at the Caye Caulker Humane Society.
3. It’s Pretty Cheap
Traveling in Belize can be pretty cheap. San Ignacio and other inland areas of the country are really cheap to stay and eat. It’s easy to find a hearty meal for about $4 per person. There are obviously some restaurants that are going to be more expensive, but you can easily find less expensive options.
The islands, or cayes, are different from mainland Belize in that they are definitely more expensive. However, if you look hard enough and stay away from the heavy tourist areas, you can find great deals and delicious, cheap places to eat.
4. Don’t Take the Chicken Bus
The so-called Chicken Bus is a popular means of transportation in Belize. It essentially is an old yellow school bus that has been converted into a bus for nationwide public transit. As you can imagine, the buses are about as comfortable as yellow school buses were back in the day when you were taking them to school or on field trips. This gets even worse when the temperature is over 100°F and there’s no A/C.
The buses are slow, hot, and packed with people. However, they are the cheapest form of transportation in Belize. While you might decide to take the Belize chicken bus for budget or experience purposes, our advice would be to avoid it all together and opt for some type of arranged transit. Most Airbnbs or other accommodations will do this for you.
If you choose take the chicken bus, make sure to take the Express bus! It’s faster and definitely worth it. Here is the Belize chicken bus schedule.
5. Lots of Vegetarian Options
While it is not impossible by any means to travel as a vegetarian, it is definitely more difficult in some countries than others. Luckily, Belize has tons of vegetarian options. So whether you are a full-fledged vegetarian or just want a break from meat, you’ll be sure to find something to your liking in any restaurant in Belize.
6. Where You’re Staying Can Book Trips for You
After you book your flight to Belize, it can be pretty tempting to start booking all your day-trips immediately online. Our advice: wait.
Definitely start checking out what you want to do and making rough plans, so you are able to fit in everything you want to do. However, there is no need to reserve day trips to Mayan ruins, snorkeling, scuba diving, caving expeditions like the ATM Cave, or anything else online.
Once you have your accommodations booked, see if they can arrange things for you. Local accommodations often have connections with companies and can get you a discount on the booking. Plus, the prices online can sometimes be more expensive in general than booking via a local or doing it yourself in-person.
7. Visit More Than the Beach
The last thing you need to know before visiting Belize is to visit more than just the beach. Too many people visit Belize and stick to the cayes, or islands, in the Caribbean off of Belize. Go inland! Belize has a lot more to offer, especially in the area around San Ignacio closer to Guatemala.
You can adventure into the creepy, yet spectacular ATM Cave and see Mayan sacrificial sites and artifacts near San Igancio or take a daytrip into Guatemala and visit the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.
Places like Caye Caulker and San Pedro on Ambergris Caye are awesome places that have their own unique vibes, but make sure to check out other parts of Belize too. These places are wonderful for relaxing and a fantastic place to end your trip in Belize. However, they are much more touristy and expensive than mainland Belize.
Belize is a beautiful country that offers a unique mix of Caribbean and Central American cultures. Now that you know these 7 things before you travel to Belize, you are bound to have an outstanding time traveling in Belize.