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I will be in Guatemala this July to study Spanish (tenatively Antigua and Xela, although I am still in the planning stages) and I was just wondering what type of clothing is appropriate. In Beliza or Costa Rica, most tourists seem to wear regular summer attire (shorts, tank-tops) but since Guatemala is a more traditional country I was wondering if the clothing was more modest as well. Would shorts, skirts, tanks, etc be appropriate, or should I cover up? I have travelled in South Asia and North Africa and I am wondering if it is about on par with that sort of recommended dress code. Thank you in advance.

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Port Richey, Florida
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1. Re: Attire?

Hi there, if you can try to post your question on the lonely plaanet forum also. You´ll be surprised at the amount of feedback you´ll get there. Good luck.

Bethesda, MD
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2. Re: Attire?

I try to have some respect for the culture, and not dress like a typical tourist. Unless I'm in the tropics, I don't wear shorts. Women should avoid tops with straps. I remember that someone at Thorntree recommends capris.

New York City, New...
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for Yucatan Peninsula
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3. Re: Attire?

shorts are OK at Tikal in 90 degree heat. There will be some locals there, but its not like walking around in downtown Antigua in shorts.... In fact, I remember the one woman I met at Tikal who was completely inappropriately dressed in what we call pun pun shorts here (so short you can see butt cheeks and so tight you can see all the anatomy) was from Colombia!

otherwise, I wear knee length skirts or pants - just like I would dress in SE Asia. Capri pants will never touch this body - I think they're hideous and unflattering.

friends of mine who spend months at a time on Lake Atitlan wear shorts, but long shorts.

the way I think of it, if we women get into trouble, we go to women to help us out - and women are less likely to help a woman they consider dressed inappropriately. But, I cant imagine a Paris-based woman dressed that innapropriately.

Cape Cod, MA
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4. Re: Attire?

Regardless, of what the opinion of capri length pants might look like, they are perfectly appropriate here at the lake and Antigua.

(This is hardly the fashion capital of the world, so comfort is where you should focus, and not so much on 'style'.) They are cool and comfortable and if you happen to get caught in a rainstorm, which you likely will on more than a few occassions in July, the bottom of your pants won't get soaked. I prefer lightweight pants that I can roll up casually if I so choose. I see some young girls dressed in shorts and bathingsuit tops and tank tops, and it is very out of place here, and very disrespectful.

But it is casual, very casual and very comfortable.

Bring a lightweight jacket and a rain slicker and boots if you can manage it in your suitcase.

It is a magnificent time here right now...everything has turned so lush and green and all the flowers are blooming. It is the prettiest time I think and I adore the rainstorms. They are so powerful and exciting and seeing them roll across the lake is so exhilerating! Come ... Enjoy!

Lake Atitlan
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for Lake Atitlan
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5. Re: Attire?

Congradulations on your choice of Guatemala for your travel and studies. You will find the culture much more rich and alive than in Belize or Costa Rica. This will make your studies more interesting and rewarding. As you are studying the language, you will have the opportunity to learn about the people of this country, along with their customs and traditions.

You are on the right page being considerate and respectful of their modesty. This is one of the few places in the world I have traveled where the locals have little to no interest in being more "westernized". They will be quite open and happy to share their stories with you and welcome you in their country.

As to the difference in Xela and Antigua. You will find a more authentic experience in Xela. Less travelers and NO tourist (you know the difference). You will have to speak spanish in your interactions because almost no one speaks english. Antigua on the other hand is full of english speakers and you can go a week without speaking any spanish if you are not careful. Antigua is a lovely town, Xela has its charm, but it is a real working university city. Your instructors will most likely be university students, which I have found to be interesting.

Good luck with your planning. If you have a chance to visit Lake Atitlan you will enjoy this area as well. You may think about splitting your time between a couple of areas, and there are some good language schools on the lake as well.

Cocoa, Florida
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6. Re: Attire?

Was in Antigua last month for 2 days, and drove thru Xela. Previous poster correct, Xela is a real Guate city, Antigua is like Disney comparatively from what we saw. Unless you are at the beach, I feel it is more appropriate to cover up in Guatemala, plus both places aren't really hot hot, at least when i was there. No tiny tank tops, but regular sleeveless tops will be fine if they cover well, capris were great for me, long shorts are probably fine in Antigua also...Antigua is very 'modern' compared to most of the country.

Have fun, it is a great and beautiful country

7. Re: Attire?

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