Backpacking in Belize
Although Belize is rapidly becoming a top vacation destination for A-list Hollywood celebrities and political bigshots, the country’s rural nature and laid-back Caribbean lifestyle make it also an attractive place to visit for backpackers on a budget. Backpackers won’t be staying as guests at privately-owned islands, but it’s really easy to enjoy a fabulous vacation in Belize when you’re on a budget.
Technically, Belize is part of Central America, located just south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, but the country often feels like a Caribbean island in look and feel. English is the official language, making it really easy to talk to locals. And there are also real offshore islands like Caye Caulker that you can visit without breaking the bank, giving backpackers a chance to get a full mix of both mainland jungle adventure and exotic offshore tropical islands.
Belize Entry Requirements
If you have a valid passport from the United States, Canada, the European Union, or a dozen other countries, you don’t need a visa to enter Belize. Just be sure that you have at least six months left before your passport expires.
Backpackers who stay more than 24 hours in the country are required to pay an exit fee, currently $56 that must be paid in cash in American currency. You can stay up to 30 days in Belize without a visa, but you can usually get an automatic renewal for an additional 30 days by visiting the immigration office and paying a modest fee (around $25 USD).
Best Time to Go Backpacking in Belize
Due to its geographic location, Belize doesn’t have four seasons like in North America. Instead, the year is divided into the “low” season (for tourists) and the “high” season. The low season runs from June to around early November, and you can usually get steep discounts on lodging and organized tours during this period.
Keep in mind that the low season is also when it rains a bit more, so be sure to check the weather forecast and bring wet weather gear.
See also: Tips for Saving Money in Belize
Belize is is a fairly small country, so most destinations on the mainland can be reached in about 3-4 hours or less thanks to a nationwide network of highways. Domestic flights and ground shuttles are usually expensive, so the best way for budget travelers to get around is via inter-city buses.
Often called “chicken buses,” these are how the majority of locals get around, so riding the bus is a great way to meet people. Buses often make frequent stops at posted stations, but you can ask the driver to drop you off somewhere specific if needed. The fare for riding the bus ranges from $1-10 USD depending on how far you’ll be traveling.
Although hitchhiking isn’t recommended, it is quite common in Belize.
Happy Hour in Belize
Alcohol is part and parcel of many people’s vacation experiences in Belize, but prices can be a bit steep. The best way to save money on adult drinks is by taking advantage of bars’ Happy Hour events.