Orange Walk Town
Orange Walk Town is the capital of the Orange Walk district in Northern Belize.
Orange Walk Town is a little over an hour from the airport in Belize City, up the Northern Highway. The Highway is also known as the Belize-Corozal road, and runs right through the center of town. There is a toll booth on the approach to the Town from Belize City (or simply Belize, as the locals put it). The road is generally in good condition, although like anywhere in Northern Belize, one must be careful in the wet season. During the sugar cane season, watch out for the many large cane trucks.
Walking is the best way to get around the downtown area. The market area between the Corozal road and Main Street gets going early in the morning. There are many small to medium shops and restaurants. Do not miss the carts selling breakfast tacos. Walking anywhere in the town is fairly safe, especially in groups, and the people are friendly and will be happy to chat.
The best attraction in the area is Lamanai, the Mayan ruins up the river. You can catch a boat or bus tour from Orange Walk. The boat will be easier on your kidneys, as the road is quite rough.
The Belize Bank on Main Street will change Euros and US Dollars, but not Mexican Pesos. Scotia Bank was similar. To change Mexican Pesos into Belizean Dollars, go to the store called Baba's, that faces on the main square (near the clock tower). Inside Baba's there is a teller window where Pesos can be changed to Belizean dollars at a reasonable rate. There is no indication on the outside of the store that this service is available.
There will be many street vendors selling tacos and the like in the morning. Try them. While you are in Belize, be sure to have some salbutes - fried corncakes, tomatoes, chicken - available at a couple of places along main street. There are a lot of Chinese restaurants in Belize, and they are usually pretty good, especially the bigger ones.
Of course, the staple of Belizean cuisine is chicken - barbequed chicken, rice and beans, flour tortillas and potato salad.
One of the better places to eat in Orange Walk is the Lamanai Riverside Retreat. The menu emphasizes seafood. There are no vegetarian options on the menu, but the staff are happy to work out a vegetarian plate.
Drive through the surrounding countryside. Be sure to visit some of the smaller towns in the district - August Pine Ridge, San Pablo, San Narciso, etc. Mennonite communities abound. You can recognize them by their perfectly tended farms.
2nd Class buses (no airconditioning, and usually no "trunk" for suitcases) run regularly from Orange walk to Belize City, usually no more than 2 hours one way. From Belize City, you can connect to almost anywhere else in the country. While avoiding Belize City is desireable, it is almost unavoidable if you want to make bus connections to other locations.