Georgetown is the largest city in and capital of Guyana.
Cheddi Jagan Temeri International Airport (IATA: GEO) is the main airport serving Georgetown. It is mainly served by Caribbean Airlines from the Caribbean islands and from Miami and New York through Port of Spain as well as by LIAT, which provides good connections from Port of Spain and Bridgetown, Barbados from islands such as Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, and Grenada. Delta Airlines flies twice-weekly from New York. Make sure you have some currency when you arrive because there is no ATM in the airport. Also, in town the only bank that your card will work at is Scotia Bank. US Dollars can be used for almost any transaction and you can easily stay in Georgetown without using the local currency. Immigration processing is appallingly slow. Arriving tired on one of the late-night flights is an exercise in considerable patience.
Once out of the airport, a taxi is about $25 or G$5000 and takes 45-60 minutes to get to Georgetown, depending on traffic. The cheaper, slightly slower option is to take minibus #42 to Timeri bus park which is behind the parliament building near Stabroek Market. The minibus costs G$260. The minibuses run at all hours of night and day, however taxi drivers will try to get you as a fare as soon as you come out of departures. They will say it's not safe to walk around in Georgetown at night, which is true. However, a taxi from the minibus station to your hotel will be about G$400.
Ogle Airport (IATA: OGL) is small located slightly closer to Georgetown (~6 mi) which is for a few private charter companies, primarily used for domestic/local flights. The following companies have a few daily flights from/to Zorg-en-Hoop Airfield in Paramaribo, Suriname:
- Gum Air, Doekhieweg 03, Zorg-en-Hoop Airport, Paramaribo, Suriname, ☎ +597 433830, fax: +597 491740, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa. (website is broken as of january 2016 but wikipedia also lists it as operational - so call them for information/booking)
- Trans Guyana Airways (TGA), Ogle Aerodome, Ogle, East Coast Demerara, Guyana, ☎ +592 222-2525, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa.
- Roraima Airways, ☎ +592 225-9648, fax: +592 225-9646. Recently started offering flights to Paramaribo. Call for details
From Suriname, there are minibuses from Paramaribo to South Drain in western Suriname, just across the river from Guyana. The trip takes at least 3 hrs and costs ~US$15. From there, you will go through customs on the Suriname side. Then take the 11:00 daily ferry across the river to South Drain. The ferry journey takes about 30 minutes, but you'll need more time for going through customs on the Guyanese side. On the Guyanese side, you will be in Molson Creek and can take minibus #63a to the minibus station near Stabroek Market in Georgetown. The trip takes at least 3 hrs and costs ~US$10. From there you can get a minibus for G$60/pp to where you are staying in Georgetown or a taxi for G$400.
When people in Guyana refer to buses, they mean minibuses. Minibuses (known as route taxis elsewhere) are the most common way to get around town. Minibus fares range from G$60-G$1000 depending on the length of the journey. Within the city, minibuses cost G$60 per person. Travel in this mode at night could be risky, however if the minibus does not get you to your exact location, the taxis are very cheap to complete the last leg of your trip.
There are numerous taxi services which are listed in the telephone directory and are not expensive. Fares should never be more than G$500 for travel within the city and most fares should be around G$400, regardless of the number of people. All taxis licence plates begin with 'H.' There are set prices for taxis for different destinations, e.g. from the airport to town costs GD$5000, from the airport to Molson Creek is GD$24000, etc. It is wise to ask at your hotel to recommend a driver. The "Yellow" taxis have the best reputation. Once you have found a driver that you trust, ask for his or her mobile phone number. A small tip will ensure that you get prompt service.
Georgetown is primarily the business and governmental seat of the country but its fascinating wooden colonial buildings also provide a different experience for tourists. Most tourists visit Georgetown as a launching point to the rainforests of the interior.
If you have a day or two to spend in Georgetown, check out the markets listed below, take a walk down Regent Street, or through one of the markets and have a look at the Umana Yama Church (Amerindian cultural center) or some of the older colonial buildings around town, especially on Main Street.
The local seawall may be unimpressive, but it protects a city that lies 1 metre below high-tide level. The sea wall, which helps prevent flooding and drainage is aided by canals protected by sluices, was built by the Dutch and later the British.
Georgetown has an abundance of tree-lined streets and avenues and contains many wooden colonial buildings and markets. Most of the main buildings are found around the western region of the town near Independence Square and Promenade Gardens. Interesting buildings include the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, the National Library, the Bank of Guyana, the National Museum of Guyana, State House and St. George's Anglican Cathedral.
- National Museum of Guyana, On North Rd & Hinks St, ☎ +592 225-7191. M-F 9AM-4:30PM, Sa 9-Noon. Two separate areas give a brief glance in the history of Guyana as well as the entire Guianas area. free.
- Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, Main St (between Middle St & New Market St). A free museum with two floors showing the Amerindian heritage of Guyana. free.
- Independence Square.
- St George's Cathedral. One of the world's tallest wooden structures, this cathedral is as attractive inside as out.
- Stabroek Market. Dating back to 1881, the interesting design of this iron structure and clock tower certainly make it the most recognisable of buildings.
- Parliament Building. Dates back to 1829.
- Botanical Gardens. Open during daylight hours.. A large free garden where families and people hangout. The Guyana zoo is located within the grounds of the gardens and south of the zoo there are Victoria Lilies - Guyana's national flower, they are huge lilies. Free..
- Guyana Zoo (inside the Botanical Gardens). A very small zoo with DIY cages for the animals. A lot of the cages are too small for the animal(s) they house. However, the zoo is a cheap way to spend an hour or two while in Georgetown. G$200/adults, G$100/children.
- American actor Pauly Shore has a party mansion called the Class Act after his 1992 movie of the same name. The mansion is situated on the outskirts of town in a former mangrove that was drained in order to build the property. During January and February when Shore is in residence, there are many "invite only" parties to attend with B-list semi-celebrities such as Matt Dillon, Carrot Top and Seth Green. However, there are also some open parties for the locals to attend if you can get a ticket. These tickets are even more sought after than one-day-international cricket tickets.
- Victoria. This was the first village bought by slaves. Its a place that you will never forget. The Holy Communion Lutheran Church was the first church in the country.
- Demerara Rum Distillery (15min minibus ride). Tours are offered. G$30.
- Rum. Guyana is famous for its rum (see Drink). El Dorado has a good store in Departures at the airport but bear in mind that you cannot take a connecting flight carrying liquids unless they are in your suitcase. There are several places in town where you can buy the best brands.
- The best place for buying souvenirs is The Hibiscus Plaza located outside the General Post office.
- Buy wood carvings from the artists outside the Hotel Tower.
- Stabroek Market. A major market in the city centre. Keep an eye on your wallet.
The City Mall on Regent Street is the most modern of its kind in Georgetown and many tourist stores are located here. The central shopping area is bounded by Hadfield Street on the South of the city, Water Street to the West, Albert Street to the East and Middle Street to the North. Most of the city's stores, supermarkets, boutiques and restaurants can be found within this zone.
There are several well known places where you can get high quality handcrafted gold pieces, some of them being Royal Jewel House on Regent Street, TOPAZ Jewellers on Crown and Oronoque Streets in Queenstown; Gaskin & Jackson jewellers on Camp Sreet; Kings Jewellery World on Quamina Street with a branch on Middle Street; and Fine Jewellery by Niko's", located on Church Street.
Ask around too about designs by local and internationally acclaimed fashion designers, Michelle Cole, Pat Coates and Roger Gary.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Georgetown City, Guyana is very high. For example approximate prices (as of Jan 2010) of petrol US$5 per litre, electricity is US$0.33/unit, a domestic gas cylinder is slightly over US$20. Rent for average family accommodation may exceed 750 US$ per month in central (safe) locations and personal income tax, which is 33.33% of total taxable income makes the living further difficult. Employee's salaries are normally paid in Guyanese dollars and the income tax is deducted at source by employer.
- Demico House - pastries, cakes etc.
- JR Burgers (A Unique Guyanese Experience), Sandy Babb Street, Kitty, ☎ +592 226-6614. 09:00 - 23:00. Flame-grilled beef burgers, rotisserie chicken, Jamaican patties, ice coffees, milk shakes, smoothies, doughnuts in the morning. Other locations at City Mall (Camp & Regent Streets) and Robb Street.
- KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) - There are several branches located in the Georgetown area.
- Popeyes and Pizza Hut, Vlissingen Road.
- Salt and Pepper - good 'Creole' food.
- Stabroek Market cookshops. The best for local foods, day time only.
- Barrow Restaurant and Lounge, Linden (Mackenzie). Upscale restaurant - very nice cocktails and local food
- Brazilian restaurant, Alexander Street. A Churrascaria that offers good food and service, and excellent caipirinhas.
- New Thriving, Camp St (and other branches). Chinese restaurant. Also has a buffet menu.
- Night Cap, 8 Pere Street Kitty, ☎ +592 231 8846. 5pm - 12am. Excellent Guyanese and world comfort food in a trendy casual setting with indoor and outdoor seating. Coffee, teas and speciality alcoholic beverages.
- Oasis Cafe, 125 Carmichael St. And in Cheddi Jagan airport departure lounge. A nice range of cakes and pastries, together with coffee, cappuccino and the rest. Free wireless.
- Shanta's Restaurant, Camp & New Market street. Good local food such as curries for vegetarian and non-vegetarian, as well as roti, dhalpuri and other Indian food.
- Sunflower, Cummings St. Wonderful Brazilian food.
- Peppers, Regent Street. Good Brazillain food - though they weigh their portions.
- Starbuds. Albert Street. A good selection of pasta, salads, sandwiches etc.
- Windjammers. Kitty. Food reputed to be good.
- Celina's On seawall, wonderful scenery and view. Food not always predictable in terms of availability and lighting at night so bad that you cannot see what you are eating, although it is usually good.
- Coal Pot Carmichael Street. An established tradition of good Guyanese food.
- El Dorado, Le Meridien Pegasus.
- Tic Tac, Middle Street. Excellent Brazilian Restaurant
- Dutch Bottle. South Road. Lovely colonial ambiance. Good Creole and Continental food - vegetarian and omnivore options. Try the callaloo soup.
- Bottle Restaurant, Cara Lodge Hotel in Quamina Street. Excellent food.
The most popular national drink is Caribbean-style dark rum. The two national favorites are El Dorado and X-tra Mature which both offer 5, 10, 12 and 25 year varieties. El Dorado also offers a 15 year old variety which has won the "Best Rum in the World" award since 1999. Mix the cheaper ones with Coke or coconut water if you please. All are quality enough to drink neat or by themselves with the 25 year-olds comparing with high-quality scotch whisky.
Banks is the national beer. It comes in a lager and a stout (Milk Stout). Also available are the lighter Carib (Trinidad and Tobago) and darker Mackisson's. Guinness is brewed locally under licence and is a bit sweeter than its Irish counterpart, but just as good. Polar (Venezuelan) and Skol (Brazilian) can be found randomly throughout the country. You can also find Heineken and Corona at posher bars in Georgetown.
Non-alcohol: Malta is a popular sweet soda that is worth a try. Drink only bottled water.
There are small rum shops and bars throughout the city, those of note are:
- Buddy's NightClub, Sheriff Street. The nightclub downstairs offers popular Caribbean Music (Dancehall, Soca, Reggae, Dub, etc.) with a dance floor open late into the night. The upstairs pool hall is a good place to start the evening, sit on the front porch to checkout the incoming clientèle.
- Latino Club, Hatfield St. Despite the name, the club offers more Caribbean-style Music (Dancehall, Soca, Reggae, Dub, etc.) than Latin. A nice little patio outside serves good drinks and has ceiling fans to take cool-down breaks from the hot dance floor inside. Take cabs to and from this location at night as the surrounding areas can be a little dodgy.
- Windies Bar. A nice little "sports" themed bar that pays homage to Guyana's national sport - Cricket.
- Palm Court. Nice outside dancing and sometimes features live Brazilian Music.
- Le Grande Penthouse. located in central Georgetown,this bar and lounge is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, and the bar's vibe is still laid back like it was almost 40 years ago.
- Jerries. A 24 hour drinking spot that plays a mixture of music (dancehall, soca, reggae) from nightfall until morning, and then begins serving breakfast. A nice little bar with a large outside seating area that is busy most nights of the week. Regular DJs also play music but fairly centrally located as well in the Lamaha Newmarket block.
- Local Rum Shops, Anywhere. 06:00. Located anywhere that you would not find a bar or club. It is mostly found in rural areas. 100.
Since tourism in Guyana is not much developed there are not many online resources. But asking taxi drivers, barkeepers and random locals you meet on the street will yield many contacts to private accommodations that are much more affordable than the ones listed online. Thus, when planning to stay for more than just a few days, it is advisable to only book a hotel for one or two nights upfront and then go hunting when there.
- Tropicana Hotel. Check-out: Noon. Cheapest place to stay in Georgetown. It's just above a bar, so there's loud music till late at night. There's also no attempt to limit mosquitoes or other insects. No air-conditioning, fan only. G$4000-G$5000/double.
- El Dorado Inn, 295 Thomas & Quamina Streets, ☎ +592 225-3966, e-mail: email@example.com. Attractive eight-roomed inn in the middle of the old colonial area. US$95.
- Hotel Tower, 74 Main St, ☎ +592 227 2011-14, fax: 225 6021. Good value hotel in a central location from $55, plus 16% tax,.
- Ocean Spray International Hotel, 46 Stanley Place, Kitty (at the intersection of Vlissengen & Public Rd), ☎ +592 592-223-7929, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: Noon. Rooms are air conditioned and include a simple breakfast, wifi and refrigerators in the room. US$52/standard double room.
- Sunset View International Hotel, 1 David St, Kitty, ☎ +592 223-6416, e-mail: email@example.com. G$6000/double with air-con.
- CA Apartments, 56 Fifth Street, Albertown, ☎ +592 671-2192, e-mail: Carl.firstname.lastname@example.org. Apartments/Studios with well-equipped kitchen, air condition and WiFi. Pretty central location with bars, supermarket and local markets within easy walking distance. USD40 for an apartment with AC.
- Cara Lodge, 294 Quamina St, ☎ +592 225 5301, fax: +592 225 5310, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 12.00. An attractive wooden building with a newer part built in the same style as the earlier part that faces the street and goes back to the 1840s. Guests have included Jimmy Carter and Mick Jagger. Suffers a few of the problems of older buildings but a pleasant place to stay with a good restaurant. from US$125.
- Pegasus, Seawall Rd, ☎ +592 225 2856, fax: +592 223 7251, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For many years this was Georgetown's main hotel. Now looking a bit shabby in places but still the first choice for most business visitors. from $150.
- Le Grand Penthouse, ☎ +592 227-3494, fax: +592 2273499, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Grand Coastal Suites, Le Ressouvenir (10 minutes out of town on the East Coast road.). Newish hotel built in a colonial style. Convenient for visitors to the headquarters of CARICOM. from $80 plus 16%.
Georgetown is notorious for petty street crime. Do not walk alone at night, or even in the day, unless you know the area well. Areas such as the Tiger Bay area east of Main Street and the entire southeastern part of the city including, in particular, Albouystown and Ruimveldt are traditionally known as high crime areas but one can be relatively safe if going through these areas in groups and with native escorts. Venturing into the covered area of the Stabroek Market can pose some dangers but if you need to visit it then do so with a group or with Guyanese whom you know well and with whom you feel comfortable. Police are unlikely to help you unless they see the crime in action. Be sensible about wearing jewellery. Even cosmetic jewellery which is gaudy is likely to attract the wrong attention.
It is advised to exercise common sense.
You might have heard of or read about the village Buxton. It is a hotbed of Afro-Guyanese violence, comparable to the American neighbourhood Compton. Visits to Buxton ought to be brokered carefully with someone who knows the area well and who is well accepted in the village. If your visit to this village is perceived to be anything other than casual then there could be unwarranted problems. There are a lot of gangs and drug dealers there. Many Indo-Guyanese villages such as Cane Grove, Annadale, and lusignan, are notorious for violence, petty crimes, racism and kidnappings. It is advisable for tourists or people who are not of Indo-Guyanese origin travelling through these areas should also be accompanied by someone known in these areas.
The police response varies depending on the location and time of the crime. Some tourists have reported positive responses.
Discussions of the current affairs of ethnic relations between the two major races, politics and the socio-economic issues in the country ought to be undertaken with much tact and much patience. Be aware that these types of discourses can sometimes lead to very heated and intense debate, and possibly something much worse. Guyanese are generally very open to discussing most issues, but as an outsider, you could be seen as a part of the problem - as absurd as that sounds - so guard your tongue.
Crime is rarely directed at tourists, so don't feel intimidated. Just be sensible about the company you keep, where you go and how you behave.
Safety for gay visitors
Homosexuality is illegal in Guyana and carries a sentence of life in prison. However, no one has been charged under the laws. One organisation SASOD organises some events to promote anti-homophobic work. There is no local gay "scene" as most homosexuals remain rather closeted. Private gatherings are known to occur to which one must be invited. Homosexuals who are openly gay are generally left alone providing they are circumspect about their behaviour. Public displays of affection among gay people are frowned upon and can make you the target of overt discrimination, attacks and taunts. There are no hotels, resorts or bars anywhere in the country which cater exclusively to gays and lesbian visitors or locals for that matter. Homophobia is sustained primarily through the influx of music which contains homophobic messages in their lyrics. The gay visitor is wise to be very cautious and conservative in his/her behaviour.
Embassies and High Commissions
- China, Lot 2, Mandela Ave, Botanic Gardens, ☎ +592 227-1651, fax: +592 231-6602, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Suriname, 54 New Garden & Anira Street, ☎ +592 226-7844, fax: +592 223-7321.
- United States, 100 Young and Duke Sts, Kingston, ☎ +592 225-4900, fax: +592 225-8497, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Kaieteur Falls. The falls is located on the Potaro river in Kaieteur National Park and is in the center of Guyana's rainforest. Its combination of great height and high water volume make it one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. There are frequent flights between Ogle Airport and Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Georgetown and the falls' airstrip. However, the few organised tours (US$250 per person) available leave mostly on Sundays only. Book ahead to guarantee you don't miss out.
- Brazil There is bus service to Lethem where you can reach the border with Brazil. It is 14-18 hour journey primarily on a dirt road so be prepared. Pack water and snacks as breakdowns are notorious and you don't how long you might get stuck. From there you can catch a boat for about US$1.50, or you can walk across the bridge to enter Brazil. It is your responsibility to stamp out of Guyana and into Brazil (make sure you tell the taxi driver to stop at immigration) because it is not required for those who are not travelling inland and only go as far as the border town on the other side.
- Suriname: Mini-buses leave at 4am. Flights leave from Cheddi Jagan International airport later in the evening; from Ogle airport there at least two daily flights leaving, one early in the morning, the other at 1:30pm. Beware that one needs to obtain a tourist card from the embassy upfront.