10 things I wish I knew before going to Belize

Priyam Lahon07 November 20202787 views8 min. read
10 things I wish I knew before going to Belize
 Central America? No matter whether you want to visit or have a longer vacation plan in mind simply, there's no place better than this small piece of paradise, tucked in a small corner of the world. Located in the heart of the Caribbean Basin to the south of Mexico, Belize is a country that is not like any other that you will ever see - it is only when you travel to Belize, that you will see, why this nation is unlike any other; it's an exotic blend of cultures in a subtropical climate. Formerly a British Colony, Belize covers an area of almost 10, 000 square miles - their population is less than 500,000 people, thus, they have a lot of wide and open spaces to explore. By now, I am sure that you must be practically jumping on your legs to travel to Belize and have the time of your life. Well, I ain't going to blame you! But before that, there are a few things to know before going to Belize.

1. Travel documents

passport The good news is that most people are not going to need a visa to enter the nation of Belize. The only document that you are going to need is a passport and which must be valid for more than 6 months while planning to travel to Belize. That said, you must keep in mind the airport departure tax and/or border exit fees of Belize's airport.

2. Getting to Belize

belize beach Simply having your travel documents is not done - one important thing to know before going to Belize is 'how will you get to Belize?' It's easy - there are many planes trips around the world where their last destination is Belize. So, you can get to Belize from anywhere in the world! No matter where you are from, all of the international flights will land at Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) - it's located in Belize City.

3. Money

dollar If you are going to Belize, then, here's good news for you - they accept US Dollar. However, it's recommended to bring small denominations. As far as travellers' check goes, they are accepted only in a few areas, plus, there's a charge for cashing them. Card payments are generally accepted, but in the rural areas, they are worthless. Also, note that you should keep $15 US Dollars separate - you will need to pay it at the ticket counter at the airport before leaving the nation.

4. Establishing the budget

wallet Whether you are backpacking or want to travel to Belize on a budget, it's best to get your priorities straight before going to Belize. Belize is not that much, but compared to the other neighbouring nations in Central America, Belize is expensive. Plan to stay at an inland hotel - then, expect to chuck out $15 and $30, on the islands. If you avoid expensive restaurants, then a good plate of food will cost you $6 per meal. As for beers, expect to pay $3 at the bars and $2 at the store. Want to save money? Then, opting for rum is not a bad choice.

5. Safety concerns

caribbean sea This is one of the most important things to know before going to Belize. "Is it safe to travel to Belize?" That's a justifiable concern - after all, why visit a nation and risk your life? The question, is - what nation is perfect? No, there is a crime in Belize, but the bigger picture is that it's relatively safe to travel to Belize compared to the other cities in Central America and the Caribbean. Even when safe, it's best to be wary when walking through certain areas of Belize City - this city has the largest population in Belize, and due to this, the percentage of unemployment is at an all-time high, and this, sadly, leads one to commit a crime. That said, not all areas of Belize City are sketchy - in fact, some of the nation's wealthiest people live there, and there are safety measures in place, ensured by the tourism police, to make sure that it is safe to travel to Belize as tourists. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind for your own safety.
  • Don't carry cash, and even if you have to carry it, only carry small amounts.
  • Avoid flashing large dollar bills. This is a big no-no.
  • Always opt for recommended hotels. TripAdvisor can help you in this matter.
  • Don't leave your valuables unattended.
  • Dress modestly, and leave your jewellery at the hotel or better yet, at home.
  • Stay away from sketchy areas. Travel in groups and take a cab after it gets dark.
  • Be careful when crossing streets, as cars and buses don't yield for pedestrians.

6. Climate and weather

progresso When planning to travel to Belize, the following question comes to mind. "When is the best time to travel to Belize?" The thing is this question has no fixed answer - it's always the best time to travel to Belize. But still, if you want to know: From November to April, it's the peak season, with the best time to travel to Belize is between January to March. During these months, the weather there is great, with sun and clear blue skies. Avoid going to Belize between May to October, as then the nation is affected by the rainy season.

7. Tipping culture

tourists gather One of the interesting facts about Belize is that most Belizeans who offer the tourists' service expect a tip, and that includes the tour guides. Art and craft vendors, taxi drivers, and street-food sellers - they don't expect a tip, but it will put you in good books if you tip them. Even though tipping is not compulsory at Belize, but when tipped, it feels nice - after all, the extra money that Belizeans gets from tourists, they allow fathers to send their kids to school and allows teenagers to pay college and tuition fees. When tipping, opt for cash tips - it's okay even if you do so by a credit card. But the problem is when tipping with a credit card, the credit companies will charge a big fee, and gratuity money is taken. What's more - the restaurant and hotel owners can keep away some of the tips.

8. Packing the essentials

woman packing luggage One of the important things to know before going to Belize is that you should only pack in the essentials. Based on what season you plan to travel to Belize, you will need to pack only those essentials that are related to that season. If you are going to visit Belize during the summers, then, pack in a lot of sunscreens, and bug spray - after all, during the summers, Belize can be full of mosquitoes in the late evening and night. You need to dress casually, so, pack in casual and comfortable clothing, and avoid heavy and over-the-top dresses - it will only draw unneeded attention towards you. If it's the winter season, be sure to pack in a lot of layers - the winters at Belize can turn quite chilly.

9. Staying at Belize

radisson hotel Be it a solo trip, romantic gateway, or a family vacation, staying in Belize doesn't have to be hard. In fact, some of the most renowned spots in Belize would be the Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Easy access to major attractions is what made Ambergris Caye famous - Blue Hole, Barrier Reef, and Hol Chan Marine Reserve are some of the renowned attractions. If you are more of the outdoor-type tourist, then, Caye Caulker would be a great choice - it has many backpacker hotels to boutique ones with modern facilities. That said, if you enjoy seclusion, then, you can opt for South Water Caye, Glover's Reef Atoll, and Tobacco Caye.

10. Traveling in Belize

belize Land up in Belize and you are most likely going to be overwhelmed with its options. And the very first question that will come to your mind - "Where to travel in Belize?"

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

stingray What's Belize without mentioning snorkelling? At Hol Chan Marine Reserve, you are going to have the greatest snorkelling adventure that you will ever experience. Right from stingrays to colourful fishes to sea turtles to the vivid coral reefs, there's a lot for your eyes to feast on, and that too, regularly!

Belize's Caves

cave Also known as ATM, Belize's Caves or Actun Tunichil Muknal (as known to the masses) will provide you with a lifetime of experience. It will take you on a guided tour that consists of trekking through the rivers and jungles. You can also witness the formation of the caves and spot out ancient Maya relics and sacrificial remains.

Blue Hole

aerial view of blue house A trip to Belize is incomplete without paying a visit (at least once!) to the Great Blue Hole. If you are a diver, then, this spot is a must on your list. However, if you are more of the type that prefers vivid marine life and colourful coral reefs, then, Long Caye Aquarium and Half Moon Caye Wall should be your preferred choice.

Maya Temples

maya temples An interesting fact about Belize is that it has the highest percentage of Mayan temples in all of Central America - that's because Belize was once the epicentre of Maya Civilization. You can visit Altun Ha for a tour of the Mayan temples. There's Xunantunich if you prefer to go horseback riding, and Lamanai, if you want to go on an adventure.

Crooked Tree Village

tulip tree Another one of the interesting facts about Belize is that the nation is home to more than 500 species of birds. What's great about them is that you can view them, without having to venture deep into the jungle. Head off to Crooked Tree Village - it is one of the best and premier spots to travel in Belize for birdwatching - it is home to the elegant and beautiful Jabiru Stork. Also, the national bird of Belize, the Keel-billed Toucan can be found in this spot.

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