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View of the city

Cobán is a city of 212,000 people (2018) in the Alta Verapaz department of the Central Highlands region of Guatemala.


Cobán Central Park

Cobán is located at an altitude of 1,320 m on the Caavon River coast in the Sierra de Caasanmac. It was built in 1543 by Dominic religious priests near the Mayan site, and its name comes from the name of Indian Chief Kobau.

The city has developed as a central city of northern Guatemala and is the center of the production of verapas coffee and cardamom (tropical crop with ginger). Other major products include coffee, bananas, cacao, vanilla, spices, grains, livestock, and economic goods (硬材). It is connected by rail and highway to Guatemala City, about 210 km south.

Built in the early 17th century, there is the Ercalvario Cathedral, and nearby Mayan sites have pyramids and friezes. There is a 60-meter-long natural bridge that runs through the Langkin River, a huge underground cave network (網) with stalagmites and stalactites, and crosses the Caavon Gorge, penetrating the Langkin River, where blind white fish live nearby.

As more than 650 types of orchids, flowers, cloud forests, lakes, caves, and waterfalls are preserved intact, the Koban region is a popular destination for researchers and tourists around the world. Every August, a festival is held in Cobán.

Get in[edit]

The most common way to get to Coban from Guatemala City, near Plaza Barrios, is using the Monja Blanca bus service from the capital, approximately four hours. There are also competitors, and more expensive shuttles. A ticket to Coban on the Monja Blanca costs about Q75 per person (Feb 2023).

The real magic is all the villages the spread all over, during the way all the mountains are covered with unbelievable village of the Mayan.

From the Western Highlands, regular microbuses run from Quiche to Sacapulas to Uspantin to Coban (you will probably have to change buses in each town). The road between Uspantin and Coban is only paved about half way, and has some rough stretches. Travel time (in 2010), including time spent waiting for buses, is about 6 hours from Quiche to Coban and 2.5 hours from Uspantan to Coban.

  • 1 Transportes Monja Blanca, 2a Calle 3-77, +502 7961 8484. Bus station for major bus line providing service to/from Guatemala City.

Get around[edit]

Coban is a relatively walkable city in terms of size (sidewalk conditions are horrible, however, and you should always assume that cars will take the right of way). For local destinations around Coban, there are buses that leave in front of Plaza Magdalena.

You can take a taxi almost anywhere around town for Q20 for something like 5 kilometers. Always get in the taxis that are marked with a taxi number on the door, the unmarked ones are not licensed to work as a taxi.

Another option is to take a bus (collectivo) that start from Cobán and finish at the nearest villages like Tactic, and San Francisco.


By walking on the street from the Parque Center to the terminal market you will feel the spirit of the Mayan. Workers from the village that surround Coban come to the city in the morning to work and leave afternoon.

The Main Cathedral at the town center.

Semuc Champey about two hours from Coban. There are private tours you can hire to get there that contains also visiting the Caves in lanquin. On 1 Avenida there are several tours guide.

You don't have to book tours or walk around with your nose buried in your LP guidebook to figure all this out. If you want to go to Semuc Champey, hop on a colectivo across from Plaza Magdalena (a big yellow shopping mall - everyone knows it, just ask) and go to Lanquín; get off there, hit up the dudes at El Zapote immediately to your right when you get off for a free ride down to Las Marias hostel, and pay Q15 for a mattress and Q15 for a tour.



Every Sunday there is a small crafts market in the center of town. Be sure to offer a lower price or ask what the sellers best price is. Same goes for the market behind the cathedral. Take a tour around and buy some of the local clothing. A Huipil, or women's woven and sometimes embroidered shirt can go for as much as Q500 (US$50) or more depending on the quality and detail of the work, so don't be surprised if it seems like a high price for a non-tailored shirt. More simple styles can be found for about Q100.


"De La Abuela" Hotel and restaurant serves traditional dishes and fresh seafood, but their specialty is the meatiest barbecue ribs in Guatemala. They have outdoor eating areas upstairs and downstairs surrounded by nature, the atmosphere and service are very friendly.

"Al Carbon d'Fiora" serves really good burgers as a local alternative to MacDonalds. It costs about Q25-Q30 for a burger and about Q60 for Churrasco (grilled steak). The food is really good and the place is hygienic although the atmosphere is nothing fancy. Fiora is on Calle Minerva a few blocks inward (toward downtown) from Plaza Magdalena.


Cobán has many cantinas where locals go to drink and get drunk for cheap. They can be found all over town, are usually associated with trouble, and are not usually very nice or clean. Most restaurants serve wine and beer and a few locally known cocktails but for a slightly higher price than the cantinas. Visitors should still be wary of activities at the discos even if they look nicer than the cantinas. In 2010 some women were reportedly raped in one of the nightclubs and there are many reports of women leaving having been drugged. That said, there are some nicer places to go out for a drink in town.


Tourists tend to spend only a night or two in Coban. The most popular place to stay is Casa d'Acuna, which is a relatively inexpensive and reliable hostel. There are a number of other small hotels around the main plaza, though, most of which are comparable in price.

  • The newest hotel and restaurant De La Abuela sits on a hill on the main road as you enter Coban. Their bedrooms and bungalows can accommodate families and large groups.
  • La Paz Hotel is very pretty, relatively quiet, has a friendly staff and as much security as one could desire; single with private bath is Q45, a room for three with private bath cost Q110 (2012). Next to La Paz are the B&B Rooms, a dorm-type affair run by a Mexican-American; low prices, cool ambience. Stay away from the Hotel Familiar, which is filthy (Q25), and especially the Tourist Information Office, which is actually a hotel and restaurant which sells information you don't really need. There are other hotels away from the center but they're hardly worth hunting down for the prices.
  • Los Faroles Hotel. Is very beautiful. The service is personalized, welcoming and very friendly, as they strive to make people feel "en Su Casa";).
  • The Park Hotel. 15 minutes south of Coban towards Guatemala City.

Go next[edit]

Most buses and microbuses use the Talpetate bus terminal, which is about 1.5 km from the city centre, rather than the Monja Blanca station. Travel agencies and Casa d'Acuna will book shuttles.

The best tip is to ask the locals and try the locals way. They work very well and fast, of course it will be cheaper that the regular way.

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