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Your favorite destination in Central America?

Your favorite destination in Central America?

Old Jul 19, 14, 12:10 pm
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Your favorite destination in Central America?

Through some unusual luck, I've been given an opportunity to visit anywhere in Central America for 1 week, all expenses paid by a happy client. I've never researched this region and have no idea which city to pick! Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Columbia, Guatemala, are all options. Can anyone share their favorite and help me narrow down my options please?

Last edited by mktgmgr; Jul 19, 14 at 12:16 pm
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Old Jul 19, 14, 12:45 pm
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Your favorite destination in Central America?

Belize
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Old Jul 19, 14, 1:42 pm
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Your favorite destination in Central America?

Guatemala. I posted a trip report.
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Old Jul 19, 14, 2:05 pm
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Since we have a Central America forum, we'll move this thread over for further discussion. /JY1024, TravelBuzz co-moderator
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Old Jul 19, 14, 4:44 pm
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A little info would help a lot

What do you like to do and see .....

Currently working in Texas I love to fly somewhere cooler during the hot summer, so would choose Costa Rica or Colombia (not Columbia).

Also, Costa Rica has a lot of tourists, so if you don't speak Spanish would be easier. May also be good if you haven't visited Latin America before.

Another thing I like is that it's a compact country that has both mountains and beaches. I am a big fan of Manuel Antonio.
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Old Jul 20, 14, 4:40 am
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My vote goes to Panama for city pulse, proximity to rain forest experiences. Belize is a good runner-up
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Old Jul 20, 14, 11:57 am
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As others have said, it all depends on what you are after, the level of adventure sought, and your ability to speak Spanish.

In short, I would choose Guatemala. Amazing country! Beaches, cities, volcanoes, inland lakes, Mayan ruins, colonial towns. It truly has everything one could want from a Central American excursion. The downside is that it is relatively inefficient compared to Panama or Costa Rica and the tourist infrastructure - while it is there in select places - is not as developed as some may want.

If you want a 5* urban experience, visit Panama. It's interesting to see, kind of like Dubai in Central America, but apart from the skyline and the canal it is somewhat dull.

If you want an upmarket nature/beach visit, that's Costa Rica. Jungles, beaches and adventure-minded excursions are the name of the game in most of the country, save the capital. It's a relatively easy place to get around with only English and safety is pretty good, especially in the tourist zones.

If you want beaches and colonial towns with a more 'Central American' edge, go to Nicaragua. I really like Nicaragua, but keep in mind it is quite poor (second-poorest country in the western hemisphere). Despite this stat it is very safe, though infrastructure is, unsurprisingly, lacking. Unless on a package tour/with a guide, having some working knowledge of Spanish will help make Nicaragua enjoyable.

El Salvador and Honduras have pockets of interesting sights, but I can't recommend either country for a vacation. Just not enough to do and security in Honduras is abysmal (outside of Roatan).

In my mind, Belize is not in Central America so I will not comment.
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Old Jul 20, 14, 2:28 pm
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My vote is for Guatemala too. With a week, you could divide your time between the colonial city of Antigua and Panajachel or one of the other towns around Lake Atitlan. From either place, you could work in the market day (Thursday or Sunday) in Chichicastenango, one hour from the lake or two hours from Antigua. This would keep you in a reasonably small area for one week, but would give you a nice variety of things to see and do.

Guatemala has a great system of private minivan shuttles that go between places of tourist interest. They seat about 15 people and transport you and other visitors who are going to the same destination.
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Old Jul 20, 14, 8:47 pm
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Originally Posted by cmhua777 View Post
If you want beaches and colonial towns with a more 'Central American' edge, go to Nicaragua. I really like Nicaragua, but keep in mind it is quite poor (second-poorest country in the western hemisphere). Despite this stat it is very safe, though infrastructure is, unsurprisingly, lacking. Unless on a package tour/with a guide, having some working knowledge of Spanish will help make Nicaragua enjoyable.
I went to Nicaragua last year and loved it. It is poor, but not oppressively when visiting so. I saw:

- Managua: A good place to base yourself as they have a Hilton and an Intercontinental as well as lots of good restaurants but not much else to make it notable otherwise.
- Granada: Gorgeous little town on Lake Nicaragua with a lot to recommend. Old churches, a huge outdoor market, good restaurants and an easy drive from Managua
- Masaya: Not much in the town (though they have a nice market too) but the volcano national park is stunning. Great hiking too an you can get right up to the volcano.

The country is drivable though you need to have your wits about you. Street signs are limited and there are pedestrians, donkeys, tuk tuks, buses, scooters, motorcycles and more all over the roads. Here's a link to my Trip Report:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...nicaragua.html

I'd love to go back. That's where I'd go if I was you.
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Old Jul 21, 14, 7:46 pm
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Second a lot of the thoughts above. If you want it (mostly) in English, Belize is your place. If you're looking to slow down, and just let life be calm, Belize again.

Guatemala is a great mix of so many things, it's one of my favorite countries in the whole world.

I enjoyed Nicaragua and would also agree if the urban experience is what you crave, Panama is not only easy to get to and earn United miles in the process, it's a pretty fascinating urban space!
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Old Jul 21, 14, 7:49 pm
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As an addendum to my post above, I speak about six words of Spanish and I had no trouble in Nicaragua. People were patient with me and I made do, it didn't feel difficult to travel even in the smaller cities with my limited knowledge.
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Old Jul 29, 14, 5:56 am
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Nicaragua has a good array of activities, everything from northern coffee mountains in Jinotega, rum factory tours, volcano surfing/hiking, old colonial cities, deep sea fishing, and some great beach/surf spots, Guacalito, Rancho Santana, Granada, Leon, San Juan Del Sur, etc.

I'm there monthly for work, speak no Spanish, always do my own rental truck and my own driving, have never had any problems in the last five years.
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Old Jul 30, 14, 1:45 am
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Originally Posted by cmhua777 View Post

<snip>

In my mind, Belize is not in Central America so I will not comment.
There are, unsurprisingly, other opinions on that topic:

http://geology.com/world/central-ame...te-image.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_america

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Old Aug 2, 14, 4:02 am
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I have been to every country in Central America. For me, Guatemala wins by a landslide.
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Old Aug 7, 14, 11:27 am
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I really like Guatemala City
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