Georgetown (Guyana)

Georgetown is the largest city in and capital of Guyana.

The iconic Stabroek Market

Get in

By plane

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:

Typical Street

By minibus

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.

From Brazil travel to Bonfim on the border and walk across the border. Find a minibus or taxi to take you to Lethem city center and inquire about minibuses traveling to Georgetown.

Get around

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.

Understand

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.

See

St. George's: one of the world's largest wooden buildings

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.

St George's interior

Do

Buy

Parliament Building in Georgetown

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.

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

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:

Sleep

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.

Budget

Midrange

Splurge

Stay Safe

In General

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.

Cope

Embassies and High Commissions

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.