Miraflor: Modern Shopping Mall
At the Avenida Diagonal 12 (the mainroad from the city centre towards Antigua) you will find one of the newest and most modern shopping centres of the city. You will feel completely somewhere else then the quite poor and old city that Guatemala really is. Here all you see are big brands, blinking cars on the parkinglot and one huge building: Miraflor Shopping Centre.
Inside you'll see lots of luxury: expensive clothes, even more cars, luxurious chocolates and enormous flatscreen TV's. Why should you actually go here? Well, first of all to see the enormous difference in the cities in Central America. Although every big city has enormous poverty-problems, you will always see the biggest malls in the modern centres. And (a damn bad reason) because these places are the places where you will surely find a BigMac...
What to buy: The most special thing I saw in this shopping mall, was a shop where young girls could celebrate their birthdays in a very posh-way. They were turned into little princesses and were interviewed after their beauty treatment. A clear sign of the difference between the rich and the poorer part of the people: a little bit different then a "Piñata".
What to pay: American/European prices
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Mercado Centro Zona 1: Super cheap and crazy fun
This is the largest city market I have ever been to. I really do not like the market in Chichicastenango, way too many tourists, and being that I live in Guatemala I like to run down to Mercado Centro whenever I need traditional Guatemalan gifts for anyone. This market has two levels, both have tons of all the Guatemalan goodies but the bottom level also has stalls with food items, flowers, and plenty of comedors for the hungry (pepian...yummy). Of course the only annoying thing would be the endless amount of people saying "Pase adelante", "Busca para algo especial" as you walk by, but generally just ignore them until you see something that catches your eye.
What to buy: Anything that is typical of Guatemala
What to pay: Much less than anywhere else in the country. This market is more for locals and not so much for tourists so the shopowners don't jack up the prices.
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Gran Centro Los Próceres: Modern mall
This is a huge and modern shopping mall that makes you feel like you are in California instead of Guatemala! They have everything you need here from fancy shoes to home furnishings. I bought a Guatemala national team jersey here on sale for about $15.
Mercado de artesanías: Market for handicrafts
Get all the tradition and handicraft of Guatemala; daily 9.30 to 6 p.m.
What to buy: handicrafts from all párts of Guatemala pués ... at very touristy prices though ... aware: MANY gringos!
What to pay: The more tourists the higher the prices ...
Plaza Cemaco: Shopping Mall
This is a modern-style shopping mall, built on two floors. Its` largest store is of course Cemaco, where you can buy about everything.
What to buy: Everything there is, they`ve got a music store as well as many shoes to buy.
What to pay: As much as you want
larger stores and shopping malls: In store security
It became obvious to my friends and I that all the security staff were armed. In itself this is not unusual, however they were not only wearing sidearms, but also carrying serious looking machine guns and rifles.
We were taken to a gated shopping complex which in fact had armed guards on watch towers.
All in all, we felt incredibly safe.
About the only neat cafe I discovered so far throughout the city, located directly in Sophos Bookstore.
What to buy: Books in Spanish, English, German & French ... as well as cakes. You can also have a cup of tea or coffee there.
What to pay: 15 Q for a delicious brownie, 18 Q for carrot cake, 12 Q three cups of mint tea
- Arts and Culture
Duty Free at the airport: Surprising
To my great surprise the duty free stores at the airport had a great selection on electronics, perfumes, and liquor. Better than the stores in the US...I was surprised also that even for a 6:00 a.m. flight all the shops were open !!!! If you must spend top $$$ for some impromtu shopping then this is the place to do it !!!!
What to buy: Bought a Johnny Walker Blue Label bottle for $100 US and also Chivas Regal Royal Salute for $125 US a steal I would say.....The Blue Label goes for about $175 in the US and the Royal Salute runs about $200 in the US....also take the chance to buy Cuban Rum (which you can't buy in the US because of the US embargo on Cuban products)......which I found really cheap at the duty free stores....$6 US for Havana Club 5 yrs old.....excellent price and$50 US for Cohiba's cigars !!!!
What to pay: Liquor, Cuban products for the US traveler.....
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Mercado Central: Local handicraft market
Guatemala City's main market is located just off Parque Central behind the Cathedral. It spills over from its building into the surrounding streets
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