Guatemala to Belize Border Crossing: The Complete Guide (2024)

Have you explored the Tikal Ruins, and now you need to get from Guatemala to Belize? I’ve got good news for you. The Guatemala Belize border crossing was the easiest and quickest border crossing I’ve done anywhere in Latin America!

There is only one land border crossing between Guatemala and Belize. It’s called Melchor de Mencos, and it’s easy to do this border crossing by either shuttle or public transport. I used public transport, despite not finding any information about this route online ahead of time.

I’m writing this article so you can learn how to get from Guatemala to Belize by public transport like we did, or opt for a tourist shuttle instead. The point is, by the end of this article you’ll have all the information you need to make the right decision for you!

NOTE | I will do my best to keep this article updated. If you find this guide helpful, please comment below with any changes or updates! Together, we can help future travelers navigate the Guatemala Belize border safely.

Sarah standing under a sign that says "feliz viaje have a nice trip" at the guatemala belize border.
At the Guatemala Belize border – ready to enter my final country in Central America!

Guatemala Belize Border Crossing Locations

Guatemala’s eastern border shares Belize’s western border. There is only one land border crossing location between the two countries. However, it’s also possible to travel by boat, although this is less common.

The main Guatemala to Belize border crossing locations are:

  • Melchor de Mencos: This is the only land border crossing between Guatemala and Belize, and it can be traveled by shuttle or public transport. Melchor de Mencos is the name of the closest town on the Guatemalan side. Many people travel the route from Flores, Guatemala to San Ignacio, Belize. It’s usually paired with popular tourism activities of Tikal Ruins (in Guatemala) and the ATM Caves (in Belize).
  • Boat: It is possible to take a boat from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala to Punta Gorda, in southern Belize.

Keep reading for more details on both of those options.

Selfie of Sarah and Dan smiling in front of Tikal Ruins in Guatemala.
Tikal Ruins are a must-do in Guatemala. We visited the day before we crossed the Guatemala Belize border.

Travel Requirements at the Guatemala Belize Border

Before you complete this border crossing, you should also be prepared with some important items or details.

These travel requirements include:

  • Pre-booked accommodation in Belize: When entering Belize, you are required to report where your first night of accommodation is, so be sure to pre-book that. I highly recommend Yellow Belly Backpackers in San Ignacio… it’s the best hostel we stayed in throughout Central America! They have both private and dorm rooms with AC (a must in San Ignacio!).
  • Six-months passport validity: It’s best to have minimum six months passport validity and at least two empty pages in your passport, before you cross any border. Some countries will deny you entry without this.
  • Check entry requirements: It’s different for every nationality, so check on your government website.
  • Check health requirements: As you probably know, things are constantly changing regarding COVID-19 travel rules. When we crossed this border, there were no health checks at all. You should check your country’s embassy page for the most reliable information.

Below, I explain all of these steps in detail, as well as our personal experience crossing the Guatemala Belize border at Melchor de Mencos by public transport! However, your journey starts before that…

The outside of Yellow Belly Backpackers hostel in San Ignacio, Belize.
Yellow Belly Backpackers, where we stayed in San Ignacio.
Sarah stands looking away from the camera and toward the ruins at Cahal Pech. Her hair is in a bun and she wears sunglasses, a black tank top, and dark pink shorts.
The Cahal Pech Ruins are only a 5 minute walk from Yellow Belly Backpackers.

Where to Begin Your Journey in Guatemala

Your very first step when planning your border crossing is to decide where to spend the night before your border crossing!

By Boat – Livingston or Rio Dulce

If you plan to travel the boat route, then you’ll need to stay in either Livingston or Rio Dulce in southeast Guatemala (I loved Rio Dulce, we stayed at Boatique Hotel and Marina). However, this border crossing is a lot less common so I won’t focus on it too much here.

Melchor de Mencos – Flores or Tikal

It’s more likely that you’re planning to cross the Melchor de Mencos border and travel onward to either San Ignacio or Belize City. If that’s your plan, the best place to stay the night before is Flores, a cool town on Lake Peten with an island you can stay on!

Flores is an ideal jumping off point for visiting Tikal, or booking a shuttle to Belize. There is also a public bus that leaves from Flores directly to the border (more instructions further down this post!).

We stayed in this Airbnb in Flores, but if that’s booked up, then Los Amigos is undoubtedly the best hostel on the island (we visited Tikal with them).

Of course, you probably want to visit Tikal Ruins while in this part of Guatemala. Some people decide to stay the night in Tikal. Even though it’s closer to the border than Flores, I actually wouldn’t advise this, if you plan to go by public transport at least. Tikal is remote and it’s hard to get a public bus – your only option will be a shuttle.

We stayed in Flores and I’ll give you detailed directions further down this post. If you do this border crossing from Tikal, leave me a comment below with any tips of your own!

Sarah looking out toward Tikal Ruins.
Tikal Ruins in Guatemala.
Sarah looking out toward Tikal Ruins.
Tikal Ruins in Guatemala.

Guatemala to Belize Border Crossing: The Complete Guide

For the vast majority travelers, you will be crossing at Melchor de Mencos. This border crossing is well trodden by “gringo” travelers and connects two quite popular destinations.

Some more adventurous travelers may be attempting the boat border crossing from Livingston/Puerto Barrios, so I’ll also include some brief information on that, too.

How the Boat Border Crossing Works (Less Common)

Like I mentioned, this border crossing between Guatemala and Belize is rather unique as you need to take a boat from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala to Punta Gorda, Belize.

From my research, it looks like the company Requena’s Charter Service and Water Taxi runs this route, departing Puerto Barrios at 2pm on week days from the Shell Gas Station next to the Municipal Pier.

UPDATE 2024 | Good news! It seems that Requena’s has increased to daily runs! Contact them to confirm.

The boat is a panga that fits about 35 people, and apparently it can be a quite bumpy 1-hour ride. You may want to wrap your valuables in plastic bags for water protection.

The ticket price is the kicker here, coming in at a whopping $50 USD with a possible $10 USD unofficial “exit fee” (AKA scam). I got those prices from other backpackers.

Saying all that, I did not do this route myself so you may be best to ask around once you’re in Livingston, or give Requena’s a message on their Facebook or by email ([email protected]). If you do this journey, leave me a comment below with what you discover!

How the Melchor de Mencos Border Crossing Works (Most Common)

If you’re like me, you’re trying to get from Flores to San Ignacio. There are lots of shuttles that run this route, but I actually think it’s more convenient to go by public bus. Below are directions for each option.

By Shuttle

Shuttle is the more expensive option, but a lot of people prefer it for the perceived convenience. However, be aware that “shuttle” does not equal “comfortable” in Central America. These buses can be cramped with no AC, and not necessarily any nicer than public buses.

In addition, if you travel by shuttle, you will have to spend time waiting for every member of your party to pass through immigration before you move on, which can take a while.

Finally, the shuttle from Flores to Belize usually departs around 6:30am. Why, you ask? Well, it is actually not a long journey at all. The real reason the shuttle leaves so early is because they are also transporting passengers to Chetumal, Mexico, and they just lump everyone in together.

I don’t know about you, but I value my sleep and after the 2am wakeup call for sunrise at Tikal the day prior, I preferred to sleep in and go by public bus, instead!

Some of the Flores-Belize shuttle companies include:

  • Crasborn Travel Agency: This is a well-rated travel agency with a physical storefront on Flores island, and personally the only place I’d book a shuttle through. Flores is known for its scams, and this is the one legit place according to reviews and staff at the well-regarded Los Amigos Hostel. To book a shuttle, send them a message on their Facebook or visit their office in person. It shouldn’t cost more than $25 USD per person.
  • Adrenalina Tours: Shuttle Flores to San Ignacio. Departs 7am daily, $25 USD per person.
  • Adrenalina Tours: Shuttle Flores to Belize City. Departs 7am daily, $30 USD per person.
  • Gekko Trails Explorer: Shuttle Flores to San Ignacio. Departs 6am daily, $26.99 USD per person.
  • Gekko Trails Explorer: Shuttle Flores to Belize City. Departs 6am daily, $26.99 USD per person.

One company I’d personally go out of my way to avoid is Getaway Travels. They are known all across Flores for their scams. When we went to their office in person the vibe was very strange and uncomfortable. Later, I heard many warnings to avoid them, and saw some awful reviews online.

By Public Transport

Getting from Guatemala to Belize by public transport is so easy. I recommend this option to anyone.

In order to complete the Guatemala to Belize border crossing by public transport, you’ll need to follow this route:

  1. Tuktuk to Fuente Del Norte bus station
  2. Collectivo bus to Melchor de Mencos
  3. Exchange money (optional)
  4. Exit Guatemala
  5. Enter Belize
  6. Taxi to San Ignacio (alternatively: taxi to Benque, then bus to San Ignacio – but this isn’t actually cheaper)

Below, I’m sharing a step-by-step guide to navigating this border by public transport, based on my experience!

A black van in the foreground of a large parking lot with many other vans.
The Fuente Del Norte bus station in Flores – this is where your journey starts if you choose to cross from Guatemala to Belize by public transport!

How to Get From Guatemala to Belize by Public Transport

This is the very first travel guide detailing how to get from Guatemala to Belize by public transport. I’m surprised nobody has written about this before, because I found this journey relatively easy! In fact, I’ll say it: this is the easiest border crossing anywhere in Latin America!

I actually think the Guatemala Belize border crossing is easier (not to mention way cheaper) to do by public transport than by shuttle. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “backpacker,” I’d encourage you to try this border crossing by public transport because I think you’ll actually find it more convenient than the tourist shuttle. I’ll explain myself below.

1. Tuktuk to Fuentes Del Norte Bus Station

I’m not going to lie. We had a lazy start to our day which involved sleeping in, coffee and a big breakfast at our Airbnb in Flores, and finally packing up our bags. By the time we finally left our Airbnb to begin the journey to Belize, it was 11am!

At 11am, we walked toward the bridge on Flores, and got a tuktuk to the Fuente Del Norte bus station (location pin linked). It cost us 10 GTQ per person, and the drive only took about 5 minutes.

Cost: 10 GTQ / $1.28 USD per person

Time: 5 minutes

The back of a tuktuk driver as it drives in Flores, Guatemala.
Our short tuktuk journey to Fuente del Norte bus station! You shouldn’t have a problem catching a tuktuk by the bridge.

2. Buy Tickets to Melchor de Mencos

The Fuente Del Norte bus station is not as big as I was expecting, and I got a little worried that we’d have trouble finding a bus to Melchor de Mencos. Not to worry! Once you walk through and into the big parking lot, you’ll see tons of collectivo vans.

On our way through the station, however, we met a tout who quoted us 60 GTQ per person for the collectivo to Melchor de Mencos. I’d seen the price of 50 GTQ in the Backpacking Central America Facebook group, so I asked for that price instead and he said “okay, but don’t tell anyone else on the bus…” like it was some great deal we were getting (yeah, right).

He walked us out to the collectivo, which we easily could’ve just walked to ourselves, where we paid the 100 GTQ (for the both of us) directly to the driver, who then gave the tout a cut.

Seeing as the tout got a cut, I bet we could’ve saved even more by just saying “no, gracias” to him originally and walking straight to the driver. But, he did walk us to the correct collectivo and a few bucks for us is his livelihood so personally I didn’t really care.

Cost: 50 GTQ / $6.41 USD per person

Time: 10 minutes

A row of vans at the Fuente del Norte bus station in Flores Guatemala.
This is what the Fuente Del Norte bus station parking lot looks like.
A white van with the side door half open.
This is the collectivo we took to Melchor de Mencos. It was parked right next to the main building.

3. Drive to Melchor de Mencos

At 11:15am, within about five minutes of stuffing our big backpacks into the back of the collectivo van, we were off to Melchor de Mencos. The van was quite empty apart from Dan and I, a German backpacker couple (who we kept running into throughout our time in Belize!), and two Belizean ladies who were on their way home.

On our way out of Flores, we did stop at the central market for about 20 minutes where it was stifling hot, and we got bombarded with people selling fruits, plastic-bagged juices, and various greasy snacks through the windows.

Soon enough, though, we were driving toward Melchor de Mencos. Overall the drive was quite hot, but thankfully it never got too crowded and by 1:25pm we’d arrived near the Guatemala Belize border.

Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

The inside view of a van with three men sitting in the back.
My view for our 2 hour drive to the Guatemala Belize border. It wasn’t bad at all, and we met this German couple we kept running into throughout our time in Belize!

4. Change GTQ to BZD

Once at Melchor de Mencos, we were immediately met with some money changer men, and we decided to just get this part over with.

You can also exchange money once you pass through to the Belize side, but they give a similar rate so my advice is just do it whenever is convenient. You definitely do want to exchange money here as you’ll need it for onward travel in Belize – they won’t accept GTQ there.

We got a rate of about 100Q to 25 BZD. That’s a rate of 4 whereas the market rate at the time was about 3.87. So, good enough for us.

Time: 5 minutes

A sunny street with a bridge in the distance. Dan is walking away from the camera, wearing a large black backpack and carrying a green bag.
This is where the collectivo dropped us off near the Melchor de Mencos border. We changed money here, before walking across that bridge you see in front.

5. Exit Guatemala

Next, we walked toward the border, which is past some shops and just a few minutes from where the collectivo dropped us off. There is a double bridge and we crossed on the left one, which was more pedestrian-friendly.

A sunny street with two bridges in the distance.
The border isn’t super well signposted. You want to walk in the direction of these two bridges you can see in the distance in this photo.
An asphalt bridge over a river, with another bridge visible above and to the right.
We walked across the left bridge pictured here, because it was more pedestrian-friendly.

Once at the border it was similar to the dozen-or-so other Latin American borders we’ve encountered: a strange mix of dusty road, stray dogs, shack-type restaurants, and people milling about selling ice creams and other cold treats.

A blue sign that says "feliz viaje have a nice trip" at the Guatemala Belize border.
Once you see this sign, you’re at the border! There are some restaurants by this sign, but for immigration walk to the right side.

The Guatemala immigration building is on the right-hand side. It’s quite small and looks like it’s falling apart. It was 1:40pm by the time we entered the building, and 1:52pm by the time we’d officially exited Guatemala.

The whole process was simple. We got our passports stamped at one desk, then went to another desk where some military guys (toting massive rifles) wrote down our passport numbers and searched our bags. Actually, they wrote down the wrong number for Dan’s passport (they were looking at his old ESTA visa, not his actual passport page).

We explained the mistake to them and honestly, they didn’t give a crap and so we just left… that’s Guatemala for you in a nutshell. Adios!

Cost: $0. No border fees or taxes.

Time: 22 minutes

Guatemala immigration building. Two men in camo holding rifles with Guatemalan flags on their upper arms look at the camera.
Guatemala immigration building. We had our bags searched by the men in camo.

6. Enter Belize

After exiting Guatemala, we walked a few minutes across “no man’s land” toward a separate building where we would enter Belize. Things already looked a bit cleaner and more organized.

A shaded walkway with a railing to the right-hand side, with a blue and yellow building in the distance. Dan walks with his back to the camera, wearing a big black backpack.
Dan walking toward Belize immigration.

Inside Belize immigration, we were given a form to fill out with our personal information and travel plans. They do require the name and address of where you’re staying your first night in Belize.

I recommend Yellow Belly Backpackers in San Ignacio – this is where Dan and I stayed for three nights and it was truly my favorite hostel anywhere in Central America. I highly recommend it (and splurge $2 for the AC rooms, if you can!).

A white paper form that says "welcome to belize arrival record".
The form we both had to fill out at Belize immigration.

After that, we showed our passports to the immigration agent, who stamped them without asking any questions. And like that, at 2:05pm, we were officially in Belize… our final country in Central America!

Cost: $0. No border fees or taxes.

Time: 13 minutes

Belize immigration building at the Guatemala to Belize border crossing.
Belize immigration, as we waited in line to have our passports stamped and arrival record checked.

7. Onward Travel to San Ignacio (Taxi vs. Collectivo)

The final step is onward travel within Belize. For us, and for most people, the first stop was San Ignacio. This is the “adventure town” of Belize and I highly recommend spending a few days here! It’s most known for the epic ATM Caves, but there are so many other things to do in San Ignacio, too.

You have two options for onward travel to San Ignacio:

Option 1: Taxi to Benque (5 BZD per person), then catch a collectivo bus to San Ignacio (7 BZD per person).

Option 2 (recommended): Taxi directly to San Ignacio (10 BZD per person).

As you can see, it’s actually more expensive to take the public transport option. This is the rare case where a taxi is both cheaper and more convenient!

A yellow painted shack with green tin roof and sign next to it that says "taxi boarding".
Once you exit the Belize immigration building, walk over to this yellow shack, which is where taxi drivers will meet you.

There are some things to know about taxis in Belize and, specifically, at the Guatemala Belize border:

  1. All registered taxis in Belize have a GREEN license plate. If the license plate is not green, don’t get in.
  2. Taxis at the border are all part of an association. This means, they shouldn’t be competing with each other nor scamming you. You should get the same price no matter who you ask (what a nice change from the rest of Latin America, right?).
  3. These are “collective” taxis and they charge per person. You may have to wait for them to pick up additional passengers, but you shouldn’t have to wait long as people are always trickling through the border who want to go to San Ignacio.

The drive to San Ignacio from the border is easy and fast. We left the border at 2:15pm and got dropped off at Yellow Belly Backpackers at 2:35pm!

Cost: 10 BZD / $5 USD per person

Time: 30 minutes

The outside of Yellow Belly Backpackers hostel in San Ignacio, Belize.
Yellow Belly Backpackers, my recommended place to stay in San Ignacio.
A spacious room with tables.
One of the common areas at Yellow Belly Backpackers.

Onward Travel in Belize

Congrats! At this point you’ve officially made it into Belize. Maybe your Belize itinerary’s already planned out, or maybe you’re looking for some inspiration. Below are a few of the top destinations in Belize and how to get around.

San Ignacio

As I mentioned, we spent a few days exploring San Ignacio directly after our border crossing from Guatemala. This is what most people do, and I recommend you do, too!

Stay at Yellow Belly Backpackers (or San Ignacio Resort Hotel where the famous green iguana project is, if you’ve got a higher budget!). While you’re here, crawl through ATM Caves, explore waterfalls and cliff jumping at Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, go cave tubing, visit the Green Iguana Conservation Project, and grab (at least one) incredible coffee from Cafe de Los Mayos.

Caye Caulker and San Pedro (via Belize City)

If you want to go straight to the world-class snorkeling and island vibes of Caye Caulker or San Pedro islands, then you’ll need to first get to Belize City and then catch a ferry to the islands.

Buses to Belize City regularly leave from San Ignacio. The public “chicken bus” leaves every half hour during the week or every hour on Sundays. As we discovered, sometimes it only leaves every hour in the middle of the day, too.

Wait at the main Cayo Welcome Center bus stop in San Ignacio, or alternatively wait a bit further up the road at this bus stop nearby Yellow Belly Backpackers.

The bus should cost 11 BZD per person and take about 2.5 hours. Once there, you can either walk 15 minutes or take a taxi to the water taxi terminals (this is what Dan and I did after our days in San Ignacio).

More Belize Destinations

Of course, there’s even more to see in Belize!

Other destinations in Belize to add to your itinerary include:

  • Hummingbird Highway: If you have time, it’s worth it to rent a car and spend 2-3 days driving this scenic highway.
  • Caye Caulker: The smaller yet still tourist-centric of Belize’s two most famous Caribbean islands. We spent 5 days here, loving life! The snorkeling, crystal blue waters, and overall vibes are incredible.
  • San Pedro: The larger and more developed of the Caribbean islands. You can get more tourist amenities, higher end hotels, and fancier restaurants. Lots of people visit both islands.
  • Tobacco Caye: A tiny island off the coast of southern Belize. I didn’t get a chance to go here but it’s on my bucket list to stay at this overwater bungalow!
  • Palencia: A beachy destination in southern Belize.
  • Hopkins: Another beachy destination south of Belize City. If you want the possibility of seeing a jaguar, this is where tours depart from.
Rio Frio caves entrance. Sarah stands in silhouette with her arms held up and above.
Rio Frio Cave, near San Ignacio Belize!
Sarah jumps off a cliff into a natural pool with Big Rock waterfall in the background.
We spent an afternoon cliff jumping (and drinking rum punch) at Big Rock Falls in Belize.

Guatemala Belize Border Crossing Overview

Everyone’s border crossing experience is going to be different. My experience is based on using public transport to travel from Flores, Guatemala to San Ignacio, Belize. I found this route to be super easy, quick, and straight-forward.

Total time: 3 hours 35 minutes

Total cost: $12.69 USD per person

Sarah standing under a sign that says "feliz viaje have a nice trip" at the guatemala belize border.
Ready to enter Belize after a month in Guatemala!
Sarah and Dan smiling and swimming in a natural pool in front of a large waterfall.
Dan and I during the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve tour we did from Yellow Belly Backpackers! One of my very favorite activities in Belize.

Final Thoughts on the Guatemala to Belize Border Crossing

I really hope this guide was helpful to any fellow travelers attempting the Guatemala to Belize border crossing either at Melchor de Mencos or by boat!

To my knowledge, this is the very first article explaining how to do the Guatemala to Belize border crossing by public transport.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all Central America border crossings were this easy?!

If you find this guide helpful for your own border crossing journey, please consider leaving me comment below. Keep me posted on any updates or changes in buses and pricing. As with all my border crossing blog posts, I’ll keep this as updated as possible, so it remains useful for everyone!

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This Guatemala to Belize border crossing guide includes detailed instructions for how to travel by shuttle or public transport.
This Guatemala to Belize border crossing guide includes detailed instructions for how to travel by shuttle or public transport.

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  1. Your posts and guides are simply amazing. It is insane the amount of details you provide. In the name of every traveler, thank you so much for this high quality content.

  2. Lovely blog, really descriptive and everything laid out so nicely to follow. As a backpacker myself who has been travelling for the last year through South America and Central America, And has crossed every land border by foot and using public transportation. If you are crossing from Flores to Belize, I would HIGHLY recommend to use the shuttle service as it will drop you to Belize city. It is cheaper and way more convenient. Guatemala is the most strangest country in Central America when it comes to using public transport, one would think they would be cheaper but they actually are very expensive. For example we took a public bus from chiquimula to Flores for 200 quetzal per person and it took more than 10 hours. After generally enquiring from the locals the shuttle van is same price and way more quicker.

    Just putting it out there for any other travellers.

    Lastly be extra cautious and careful of this lady who will jump on your mini van as you get close to Flores, she has scammed so many people by selling them tours for twice the price only because she speaks half decent English and people have fallen for it as she is very persuasive and aggressive in her approach.

    Enjoy travelling, it’s beautiful.

    1. Agree, the shuttle could be easier for going all the way to Belize City! But, I think this route in my post is better for people going to San Ignacio, since it’s just across the border and it would be hours of backtracking to go all the way to BC then back to San Ignacio. And, we found the public transport super super easy! Although I agree, elsewhere in Guatemala public transport is a nightmare!

      And good warning about the lady on the bus if you’re going to Flores. We were taking a shuttle from Semuc Champey to Flores and had the same thing, luckily we didn’t book anything with her as just seemed like lots of red flags, but other people on our shuttle definitely got scammed!

  3. What a thorough and detailed write up. I agree I did not find any others that described how to go from Flores to Belize as you did. We are yet to travel, but I’m surely going to use your write up as the bible when we make it across the border 🙂

    One question for you: How much of a walk was it at the border (on both sides)? It’s very likely we will have a checkin suitcase to lug around and I wanted to know how painful it would be.

    1. It wasn’t far at all, probably the shortest walk of any of the borders we crossed in Central America. You should be fine with luggage I think.

  4. Good article. Wil. Be going from Belize to Tika and back in a couple of weeks. Will update on anything new.
    ??Question though.. when are the boarders open/closed?
    Weekends, holidays, nights? Hours daily?
    Thanks, Steve

    1. I’m sorry I don’t know that info but I would avoid crossing at night for safety in general. I definitely crossed some borders on weekends so that should be fine.

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