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Central America on a Shoestring
(Lonely Planet) ISBN 978-1741045963

Lonely Planet Central America on a Shoestring is a detailed guide to exploring and experiencing Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Yucatan and Chiapas, Mexico, on a small budget.

Each country is divided into regions, be it provinces or cities. Fast Facts for each country detail costs, such as $10 for a budget hotel and $1.50 for a bottle of beer in El Salvador.

Spanish language courses

The travel guide provides details on how to get there, where to stay, how to get around, eating (restaurants), bars (drinking), nightlife, sights to see and things to do, from water sports, diving and hiking to Spanish language courses.

For example, a sidebar on Guatemala's Major Parks and Reserves lists the protected area (e.g., Parque Nacional Mirador-Rio Azul), its features, activities (e.g., jungle treks to El Mirador archeological site), and the best time to visit (November to May is drier).

Central America maps

Throughout the Lonely Planet book, 120 black-and-white Central America maps identify regions and show city streets with tourist attractions, places to eat, stay, shop and have fun. Other than a composite image on the cover, there are no pictures.

The guidebook provides a chronological history of the Maya, Mayan beliefs and rituals, and the current population of Mayans. The Maya timeline starts in 3114 BC, with the beginning of the current era, according to Mayan astronomers. More recent dates of interest include 1977, when George Lucas used Tikal as the Star Wars rebel base and 2007 when Mel Gibson directed Apocalypto, the first Maya language film.

Volunteer vacations

Sidebars in the 788-page book add information such as volunteering in Guatemala, prices for Panama hats and departure taxes for each country in Central America.

The Glossary defines Latin American words like gallo pinto (rice and beans), malecon (waterfront promenade) and sorbeteria (ice cream parlor).

Honduras attractions

The Honduras chapter of Central America on a Shoestring begins with a list of highlights such as the Bay Islands, Copan ruins, bird-watching at Lago Yojoa, a highland driving trip along La Ruta Lenca and the World Heritage Site, Reserva de la Biosfera del Rio Platano.

The transportation section provides information on buses from the capital, Tegucigalpa, to Guatemala City, Managua, San Salvador and Tapachula, Mexico. Readers learn how to get into Tegucigalpa from Toncontin International Airport.

What to do at Copan

For Copan Ruinas, a town near the Mayan site of Copan, the travel guide suggests places to visit such as the Mayan Archeological Museum, Enchanted Wings Butterfly House, Casa K'inich and Mirador El Cuartel lookout. It lists Central America tour companies for nature hikes, horseback riding, tubing, cave excursions and bird watching.

Copan travelers find places to stay and restaurants where they can eat near the Copan archeological site. For each city and region, the guidebook suggests how to avoid dangers and annoyances, such as malaria, drug smuggling, sand flies and pickpockets.

Sidebars in Central America on a Shoestring feature information on garifuna dancing, the alcoholic drink, guifiti, and SCUBA diving in the Bay Islands.

Lonely Planet Central America on a Shoestring


  • Responsible Travel
  • The Authors
  • Destination Central America
  • Getting Started
  • Snapshots
  • Mexico's Yucatan and Chiapas
  • Guatemala
    • Transportation
    • Guatemala City
    • The Highlands - Lago de Atitlan
    • The Highlands - Quiche
    • Western Highlands
    • The Pacific Slope
    • Coban and Central Guatemala
    • Zacapa and Chiquimula
    • Izabal
    • El Peten
    • Guatemala Directory
  • Belize
    • Transportation
    • Belize City
    • The Northern Cayes
    • Northern Belize
    • Western Belize
    • Southern Belize
  • El Salvador
    • Transportation
    • San Salvador
    • Around San Salvador
    • Western El Salvador
    • Eastern El Salvador
    • Northern El Salvador
  • Honduras
    • Transportation
    • Tegucigalpa
    • Around Tegucigalpa
    • Western Honduras
    • Northern Honduras
    • Bay Islands
    • The Moskitia and Eastern Honduras
    • Southern Honduras
  • Nicaragua
    • Transportation
    • Managua
    • Around Managua
    • Northern Nicaragua
    • Leon and Northwestern Nicaragua
    • Granada and the Masaya region
    • Southwestern Nicaragua
    • Isla de Ometepe
    • San Carlos and Around
    • Caribbean Coast
  • Costa Rica
    • Transportation
    • San José
    • Central Valley and Highlands
    • Southern Caribbean Coast
    • Northern Caribbean Coast
    • North Central Costa Rica
    • Guanacaste
    • Peninsula de Nicoya
    • Central Pacific Coast
    • Southern Costa Rica and Peninsula de Osa
  • Panama
    • Transportation
    • Panama City
    • Around Panama City
    • Chiriqui Province
    • Bocas del Toro
    • The Interior
    • Colon Province
    • Comarca de Kuna Yala
    • Darien Province
  • Central America Directory
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Language
  • Glossary
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Index
  • World Time Zones


Jolyon Attwooll, Matthew D. Firestone, Carolyn McCarthy, Andy Symington, Lucas Vidgen. (Robert Reid, the coordinating author, has written a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet.)

More things to see and do in Central America and Mexico:

Costa Rica Trips for Nature Lovers

Cozumel Mexico Vacation

Mexican Candy Shops, Markets and Dulcerias

Los Cabos and the Baja Peninsula

Masaya Volcano - Nicaragua National Park

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