Belize travel Questions

At the point of writing this sentence we have lived in Belize for 9 months.  We had a lot of questions about traveling to Belize when we started.  We decided to ask the questions, research them, and answer them below.  Then as we lived here we have learned more and talked to people and we will comment on what we know here.

  1. What about currency? 
    1. Belize currency is fixed to the dollar so that 1 American equals 2 Belize Dollars.  Both currencies are widely accepted.  It is recommended to use Belizian currency because the merchants sometimes get confused and short you in the conversion on the change. 
  2. What is the drinking age in Belize?
    1. The drinking age is 18
  3. What about any shots you need?  
    1. According to the state department website...they say. "Be up to date on common shots(MMR, Chickenpox, Polio, Flu, Diptheria-Tetanus-Pertussis)  Also, Definitely: Hepatitis A, Typhoid.  Possibly: Hepatitis B, Malaria, Rabies.
    2. The conventional wisdom from the Ex Pats in Belize is that you don't need any additional shots unless you plan on living in the Jungle and drinking the creek water.
  4. What about cell phone coverage?  
    1. Belize has 2 cell phone companies.  Smart and Digicel
      1. The Cell Phone company in Belize is govt owned.  Belize Telemedia Ltd. offers its cellular service under the “DigiCell,” brand, a digital service on the GSM dual band 850/1900 MHz technology.
      2.  Smart is the alternative. and also operates on the same bands.
    2. My American phone is incompatible with these frequencies because I am with Verizon.  If you were with T-Mobile or AT&T your phone would work here, but would be in roaming and would cost a lot.  
    3. Recommended course of action!
      1. Put your smartphone in Airplane mode and enable Wi-Fi. 
      2. Get a prepaid phone when you come to Belize.  It will be a flip phone.  Then wait for double up/triple up days to charge it up.  You can call home on it in the evening if you need to on this phone or you can use VOIP phones.
      3. Connect to wifi then use skype, facetime, or google voice to call home for free when you are on wifi.
  5. What about car insurance?  
    1. You need to have local insurance and your rental will include this.
  6. What about health insurance?  
    1. health care is free in Belize from all I have heard and seen you just go in there and tell them your name and they treat you for free.  
  7. What about the quality of healthcare? I cannot speak to this directly.
    1. Our direct experience is with Hopkins Belize.  Here you have the following options.
      1. there is a free clinic in Hopkins that is sort of like a medcheck in the US that can handle minor things.  This is available for regular business hours.
      2. there is a for profit clinic that is open for longer hours in Hopkins.
      3. There is a pharmacy in Hopkins where you can get just about any prescription.
      4. 30 minutes away is Dangriga where there is a hospital open 24/7 and a good private doctor that is open during regular business hours.
      5. 2.5 hours away is Belize City where you have a free hospital and a world class for profit hospital.
  8. What about a drivers license?
    1. Technically they say that If you are staying in the country for a short while and are over 18 years old, then an International Drivers Permit (IDP) and your country drivers license will be enough.  An IPD must be obtained through your country of origin.
      1. Here is some info on obtaining a International Drivers Permit in the USA
    2. If you are planning on staying longer then you must get a Belizean drivers license:
      1. Here is some information on obtaining a Belize drivers license
      2. Here is the application for a Belize drivers license
      3. Here is some information for the written test
    3. However I have been stopped many times at checkpoints and shown them my US license and they smile and say "thanks have a good day"
  9. What about banking and the ability to draw out cash?  
    1. Many places in Hopkins don't take credit cards.  There is an ATM in Hopkins and other larger towns.  Some small vendors need small bills and don't have enough money to change large bills.
  10. Do I need a car in Belize? 
    1. There is a decent bus system and there are tons of Cabs.  People commonly pick up hitchhikers.  Most of the local people do not have a car so they get along fine without.
    2. If you want to buy a car then you can expect to spend about 7,000 USD for a decent SUV.  A car will not last long on the roads.
  11. Can you rent a car there and how much might that be?  
    1. Renting a car will cost about $80 per day.  Renting a golf cart or motorcycle will cost about $50 per day.
  12. What is the temperature and rainfall profile?  
    1. Not much rain between December or January to June.  Temps range from 65 to 85 degrees.
  13. Is there a worry about crime?  
    1. Not in Hopkins, according to the experiences of the locals.  There is some petty theft so secure your electronics and do not leave your purse lying around.  In general you have to make sure your stuff is not unattended.  There are some people that say that Belize City may be a bit rougher.

Luckily I found some decent online  resources.  I will try to create a link list and indicate what I think of the site's usefulness..

  1. guide type websites
    1. Great Resource -  This is a site that is not complete, but is coming along.  It is a list of all the businesses in Hopkins.
    2. Great Resource -  This is the landing page for Belize tourism on Tripadvisor.  From here you can zoom down to one of 12 areas you may want to visit.  Once you click on an area you will have a landing page for that area where you will get ratings for all the restaurants and hotels and things to do.  It also links to a bunch of travel logs from people.
    3. Great resource - - this is a site brewed up from somebody that seems like a local belizian.
    4. Great resource for history, cities, etc.  Use this link to familiarize yourself with Belize. - this is a very thorough index and starting point for some content.
    5. Not very useful old school search engine – a search engine for belize.
    6. Not useful - this is the belize tourism industry association website - they are private and not government
    7. Decent resource - - this is the official travel site for Belize
    8. Decent Resource - - lots of content here
    9. Good Resource - tons of content here
    10. - this comes directly from the people of Hopkins.  The Basic Information page has helpful info about weather, money, police, and travel to/from Hopkins.
    11. - this site helps you with guided trip planning.  They are out of Placencia.  The site is very thorough.  She wants to help you plan a trip.
Blogging type websites where people just tell you what they did

  1.  This is a long, but interesting trip report from a guy that is a writer.
  2. - this traveler advises not to go to Belize City without a guide
Other type of links
  1.  -  All kinds of baggage info from United Airlines
  2.  -  Health info on travel to Belize, including vaccinations and medications needed

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