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El Salvador

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Royal Decameron Salinitas
Royal Decameron Salinitas - dream vacation

Paseo General Escalon N 4711, Col. Escalon, Salinitas

Courtyard by Marriott San Salvador
Courtyard by Marriott San Salvador - dream vacation

Esquina Calle 2 y 3, Centro de Estilo de Vida La Gran Via, San Salvador

Crowne Plaza Hotel San Salvador
Crowne Plaza Hotel San Salvador - dream vacation

89 Ave. Nte Y Calle Poniente, San Salvador

Holiday Inn San Salvador
Holiday Inn San Salvador - dream vacation

Ubr. Y Blvd Santa Elena, San Salvador

Barcelo San Salvador
Barcelo San Salvador - dream vacation

Av. Magnolias y Boulevard del Hipod, San Salvador

Sheraton Presidente San Salvador
Sheraton Presidente San Salvador - dream vacation

Ave. La Revolucion Col. San Benito, San Salvador

Plaza Hotel And Suites San Salvador
Plaza Hotel And Suites San Salvador - dream vacation

87 Ave. Norte Colonia Escalon, San Salvador

El Salvador is a country in Central America . It is bordered on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, and lies between Guatemala and Honduras.

Regions

Cities

  • San Salvador - national capital; San Salvador department
  • Acajutla
  • La Libertad
  • Puerto Cutuco (La Union)
  • San Francisco Gotera, Morazán department
  • Santa Ana
  • San Miguel, San Miguel department
  • Santa Tecla
  • Suchitoto

Other destinations

  • El Pital (highest mountain in El Salvador) and its rural life.
  • Parque Nacional Cerro Verde (also known as Parque Nacional Los Volcanes)
  • Parque Nacional El Imposible
  • San Miguel beaches - Playa Las Flores, Playa El Esteron, Intipuca Beach and El Cuco

Understand

Although El Salvador only covers an area of about 21,040 square kilometers (the smallest country in Central America), it is the most densely populated. El Salvador is home to more than 6,500,000 people. It is divided into 14 sections called Departamentos. It has 25 volcanoes, 14 lakes, and four large cities and is divided in to East, Central and West with the capital San Salvador in the central region, Santa Ana in the west, and San Miguel, the largest city in the east.

History

Pre-Columbian to early independence

The civilization of El Salvador dates from the pre-Columbian time, around 1500 B.C., according to evidence provided by the ancient structures of Tazumal in Chalchuapa.

The Spanish Admiral Andrés Niño led an expedition to Central America and disembarked on the Island Meanguera, located in the Gulf of Fonseca, on May 31st, 1522. This was the first Salvadoran territory visited by the Spaniards. In June 1524, Spanish Captain Pedro de Alvarado began a predatory war against the native tribes of Cuzcatlán. During 17 days of bloody battles many natives and Spaniards died. Pedro de Alvarado was defeated and, with an injury to his left hip, abandoned the fight and fled to Guatemala, appointing his brother, Gonzalo de Alvarado, to continue with the conquest of Cuzcatlán. Later, his cousin Diego de Alvarado established the Villa of San Salvador in April 1525. King Carlos I of Spain (who also ruled in what is now Germany as Karl V) granted San Salvador the title of City in the year 1546. During the following years, El Salvador developed under Spanish rule.

Towards the end of 1810, the criollos (European descendant people born in the Spanish colonies) who had long been excluded from most real power in the colonies, wanted to overthrow the tiny elite of peninsulares (people born in mainland Spain) as well as the colonial administration. The moment to fight for independence from Spain arrived at dawn on November 5th, 1811, when the Salvadoran priest, Jose Matías Delgado, sounded the bells of the Iglesia La Merced in San Salvador, making a call for insurrection. As with most former Spanish colonies, independence was made likelier by the fact that Spain was occupied by Napoleonic troops and the colonial administration was unsure whether they should be loyal to the former king or the new king of Napoleon's choosing. After many internal fights and setbacks that made independence seem unlikely, the Acta de Independencia (Act of Independence) of Central America was signed in Guatemala on September 15th, 1821. Like the other four Central American states that gained independence that day, El Salvador joined the short lived United Provinces of Central America, the closest those five countries have ever come to a meaningful form of political unity since.

While independence brought more political participation (at least in theory) to the (white) land-holding elites and urban middle class, the indigenous population didn't benefit at all and in fact continued to be disenfranchised and dispossessed even more. By 1900 over 90% of the land was in the hand of just 0.01% of the population, a situation that would prove to threaten the country's political stability for much of the time to come.

20th century

The fraudulent elections of January 1932 were the detonating factor of the social outbreak. Several voting sites were suspended in populations in which the Communist Party had a strong presence. A new insurrection began. After two frustrated assaults on the Cuartel de Caballería (Cavalry Quarters) were conducted by the rebel forces, the government ordered martial law. Strict censorship of the press was implemented. In the following days thousands of farmers and workers, carrying machetes and some few "Mauser" rifles attacked police stations, municipal offices, telegraph stations, warehouses, and wealthy landowners' properties. This insurrection was crushed. On January 31st, Manuel Antonio Castañeda sentenced Farabundo Martí to death. He was shot and killed on February 1st, 1932. Another sad consequence of the uprising and its suppression was "la Matanza", a mass slaughter of indigenous people (many of them sympathetic towards Martí but many of them not) simply for being indigenous, looking indigenous, wearing clothes deemed to be indigenous or speaking indigenous languages. While not all indigenous people were actually killed, it dealt a huge blow to indigenous culture and even today less than 1% of Salvadorans self-identify as indigenous, the lowest number in all of Central America. While this is in part due to fear of being discriminated against or stereotyped when identifying as indigenous, there are some people of indigenous descent that have lost all ties to the culture of their ancestors and don't self identify as indigenous because of that.

Over the next decades, many coups d'états followed, including the one that overthrew General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez.

Relations with Honduras deteriorated in the late 1960s. There was a border clash in 1967, and a four-day so-called guerra de futbol (Soccer War), as it was named by the international mass media, broke out in July 1969 after a FIFA world cup qualification match between the two countries. The war ended with a cease-fire prompted by pressure from the United States and the Organization of American States. The Salvadoran forces that had invaded Honduras were withdrawn. They were just a few kilometers outside Tegucigalpa, Honduras' capital.

A movement of organized leftist guerrillas sprang up in 1974 and 1975, amid increasing political violence. In 1980, three of the leftist organizations united to coordinate a fight against the government. This movement was called FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional. English: Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front). In March of the same year Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated while he was celebrating mass. It is widely believed that the order for his execution came from Major Roberto D'Abuisson, the founder and leader of ARENA, a right-wing party. D'Abuisson is best known for his suspected involvement in death squad murders. He died of cancer in 1992. On January 16th, 1992, the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) signed Los Acuerdos de Paz (Peace Accords) in Chapultepec, Mexico, putting an end to one of the most painful chapters in the history of El Salvador. The 12 years of armed conflict claimed the lives of over 75,000 people and caused the exodus of hundreds of thousands more who fled to the United States, Canada, and other countries to escape the violence.

The FMLN today is a legal political party today and has done quite well in recent elections. Apart from economic woes a big problem the country still faces is also somewhat of a legacy of the war as some people who left El Salvador ended up in American jails and upon release were deported to El Salvador bringing with them US style gang culture. As many of these people were very young when they left El Salvador more or less their only source of identity was gang culture, and thus combating these extremely violent groups has proven to be extremely difficult.

Today, El Salvador is stable and with a growing economy, leaving behind its painful history.

Climate

Tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on the coast; temperate in the uplands.

As this is a tropical country, temperature doesn't depend all that much on season but rather altitude and time of day. If you have never been to the tropics and want to capture a sunrise or sunset be very quick, as the sun sets and rises much faster than in the temperate or even polar zones.

Holidays

Get in

Visas

Immigration requires that visitors entering El Salvador have their passport and one of the following documents: visa or tourist card. Visas are issued by the Consulate of El Salvador accredited in the countries where these type of diplomatic missions exist; and the tourist card is generally issued for 90 days and can be purchased for US$10 at the port of entry. [1] Passports of certain countries might need to obtain a visa before entering El Salvador such as Malaysia. Visa for U.S. citizens is free. Some countries pay a fee for the issuance of the visa.

By plane

Visitors traveling by plane usually arrive at El Salvador International Airport in Comalapa (IATA: SAL), located 50km or a forty-five minutes' drive south of the capital city.

  • Avianca is the national airline of El Salvador. Taca had formally completed their merger into Avianca Holdings as of May 2013 using the Avianca brand for the whole operation, thus expanding services to more places in South America and to Spain. Avianca inherited a fleet of new A319s, A320s, and A321s and the Embraer 190 series from Taca which are still in use throughout North, Central, and South America. However, they maintain a greater monopoly with the highest ticket prices, especially for travel within Central America and savvy buyers would do well to compare options using an online service such as kayak.com.

A US$32 departure tax must be paid upon departure. Depending on the airline, the full amount or part of the tax may already be included in the price of your ticket and the amount you must pay will vary from US$0 - US$32.

Other airlines that fly into El Salvador include:

  • Aeromexico Connect (Mexico City).
  • American Airlines (Miami and Dallas)
  • Copa Airlines (Panamá City)
  • Delta (Atlanta and Los Angeles)
  • Iberia (Madrid)
  • Spirit Airlines (from Fort Lauderdale)
  • United (Houston and Newark)

By car

The Pan-American highway travels through El Salvador and is a safe route for entering the country and travelling between San Miguel in the East and San Salvador in the West

By bus

The following bus companies offer luxury (and safer) bus travel between El Salvador and other Central American destinations:

  • Pullmantur, Sheraton Presidente San Salvador @ Ave De La Revolucion, Col. San Beneito, ? +503 2526-9900. They serve San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Managua and San Jose.
  • Trans Galgos Inter, 7a Avenida 19-44 Zona 1, Guatemala City, ? +502 2331-4279, +502 2361-1773. departs 1pm. Once daily departures to Tapachula via Retaluleau and Coatepeque (up to $43 o.w.) on one route and to Guatemala City ($13 o.w.) on another. Passengers transfer in Guatemala City to get to Quetzaltenango/Xela.
  • Platinum Centroamerica (King Quality), (Centro) 19 Avenida Norte y 3era. Calle Poniente; (San Benito) Boulevard del Hipódromo, Pasaje 1, Local 415,, ? +503 2281-1996, +503 2241-8704, +503 2241-8787. They serve San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Managua and San Jose.
  • Comfort Lines, (San Benito) Boulevard del Hipódromo Pasaje No. 1, 415; (Centro) 19 Ave. Norte y 3ra. Calle Poniente Esquina (ex Shell gas station), ? +503 22418713/14FORMAT, +503 2281-1996. Only between Guatemala City and San Salvador. $25 o.w. or $50 rt.
  • Ticabus (Transportes Internationales Centromaericanos), (San Benito) Boulevard del Hipódromo Local 301; (Hotel San Carlos) Calle Conception 121, ? +503 2243-1188. The next stops from San Salvador are in Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and Managua. They travel to the major cities in all countries in Central America except Belize.
  • Transportes del Sol (Av La Revolución No 159-A, San Benito), ? +503 2133-7800.
  • Arsotur, ? +502 5705 6393, e-mail: arsotur@yahoo.com. Direct shuttle service from Antigua, Guatemala to El Roble Hostal, Playa San Diego and other beaches of El Salvador.

Get around

If driving, rental car agencies include Alamo and Hertz. Buses and taxis also provide good ways of getting around. Distances between sights make walking an unpopular option, as does the street layout in the city; San Salvador is not a square city, but has long avenues that are straight and streets that aren't. That said, in some areas walking is a great option, such as in Zona Rosa.

El Salvador now has a well developed GPS navigation system called QFind [2] that can help you move around either in urban or rural areas. This is a fully functional system with thousands of points of interest and turn by turn routing to your destination.

Another option for luxury transportation is Linea Ejecutiva [3], they bring private transfer. If you want, you can contact the Bureau of Conventions of El Salvador to visit the country.

By train

All rail transport in El Salvador was suspended in October 2002.

In 2006 a pilot scheme for reviving the rail network commenced and in 2007 a service between San Salvador and Apopa was restarted with two return trips each morning and evening aimed at commuter traffic. Whilst this will be of little use to travellers, it is hopefully a sign of future reopening of more of the extensive rail network.

By bus

Numerous buses traverse the highways of the country. Domestic bus services are typically very cheap (not more than two or three dollars for even the longest rides) and difficult to understand except they are consistently numbered. Single and double digit numbers designate local, in-town routes while buses numbered in the triple digits travel between cities and towns. The buses themselves are often very well painted and adorned with all kinds of posters and trinkets, ranging from the religious to the pop-culture. As chaotic as it may seem they do run consistently and frequently. Longer bus rides may include a stop in some town where plenty of mujeres, and sometimes their children, too, will board hawking mangos, nuts, water, and even sometimes fried chicken in a box. There is no central agency that coordinates bus routes and schedules except to see HorarioDeBuses.com to get an idea as to which bus to take get there and from where. The site also includes a map showing where the bus stations are at. It is best to just ask the cobrador or anyone at the bus station where the bus is going and when. Most are very friendly and helpful, but do watch out for scams on the buses

Note! Anyone riding the buses (visitor or local) must take caution in riding the buses and microbuses that are seen around the country. The buses are often crammed and it is very easy to be robbed. The buses are cheap and are a great way to get around, but remember that as a visitor you are at a higher risk of being robbed. If you must ride a bus take extra care of yourself and your belongings.

Talk

The official language in El Salvador is Spanish, however a large population does speak English. Around 1% of people speak Izalco or Nahuat, the Pipil language.

See

The countryside of El Salvador is breathtaking, with volcanoes and mountains offering "green" adventurers exactly what they are looking for. Many of environmentally-oriented community-based organizations promote eco-tourism, and there are a number of beautiful and secluded beaches and forests scattered throughout the country.

A well-maintained and practically deserted national park is found in the west at Bosque El Imposible. Additionally, there is Montecristo Cloud Forest, and a quaint fishing village with incredible local hospitality and remote coconut islands in La Isla de Méndez. Isla de Olomega in the department of San Miguel is an excellent eco-tourism destination, as are the beautiful Isla El Cajete in Sonsonate, Isla San Sebastian, Conchagua, Conchaguita, Isla Conejo, Isla Teopan, and Isla Meanguera.

One should also visit the colonial towns of Apaneca, Juayua, Panchimalco, and Suchitoto as well as the Mayan sites of San Andrés, Joya de Cerén (The Pompeii of Central America and an UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Tazumal, whose main pyramid rises some 75 feet into the air. The on-site museum showcases artifacts from the Pipil culture (the builders of Tazumal), as well as paintings that illustrate life in pre-Hispanic El Salvador. Souvenir hunters will find some of the best artisans in San Juan el Espino and in La Palma (the artisan capital of El Salvador).

The capital, San Salvador, is a cosmopolitan city with good restaurants highlighting the country’s fresh seafood, as well as plenty of shopping, entertainment and nightlife.

San Miguel in the East offers tourists a more authentic way to see El Salvador by getting off the beaten track to see its countryside, coastline and lakes

Do

  • Surfing El Salvador is gaining a reputation for having some of the best surfing in the world. Tourists from all over Central America are discovering the surfing meccas of La Libertad (near San Salvador), El Sunzal, El Zonte and El Cuco (near San Miguel ), transforming El Salvador into the fastest growing surf tourism hot-spot in Central America.
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding at the famous Intipuca Beach
  • Water skiing, Tubing, Wake boarding, Para sailing, Jet skiing in Playa El Esteron, one of the most beautiful beaches in El Salvador
  • Volcano hiking up Chaparrastique - One of the most active volcanoes in El Salvador
  • Nature hikes and lake tours to Isla de Olomega on Lake Olomega
  • Waterfalls and hot springs
  • Drink! you'd love staying all night long in Zona Rosa

Buy

Money

El Salvador's official currency is the U.S. dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" (ISO currency code: USD). Carry only $1, $5, $10 or $20 bills. Most stores, supermarkets and department stores won't accept $50 or $100 bills. If you need to exchange to lower denominations, you can go to any bank.

If you have money from other Central American countries on you the banks of those countries are usually your best bet, as they almost always exchange their own currency for dollars at pretty decent rates. You can also get dollars in many ATMs in countries such as Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Large bills ($50 & $100) are almost unspendable. Get change wherever you can -- gas stations are always a good bet. A good idea is to visit a bank and ask for small bills and nothing larger than a $20.

Costs

Expect to pay $30-60 for a room in a hotel, $3-5 for a simple meal, $0.25-0.35 to ride a San Salvador city bus, $1/hour to use the Internet, and $0.25 for a bag of sliced mangos. Take note of the prices that street vendors sell their products because at times they will take advantage of people that look or sound foreign by raising their prices dramatically.

Shopping

El Salvador has the largest malls in the region (MetroCentro - MetroSur), especially in San Salvador, with many upmarket international stores. Goods can also be purchased from markets, including national and international supermarkets.

San Salvador has a number of large modern shopping malls stocking the latest in international fashion, accessories and cuisine. These are generally found in the city's upscale suburbs such as Escalón, Santa Elena, and their surroundings. These malls include:

  • Multiplaza [4]
  • La Gran Vía [5]
  • Galerías [6]
  • Plaza Merliot [7]

For those shoppers interested in purchasing fairly traded crafts and organically grown produce, a local alternative market is held every other Saturday in the San José park in the San Luis area just west of the National University.

Eat

The restaurant scene in El Salvador is influenced by many different cultures. Food options include Italian, Korean, Japanese, French, Chilean, American, Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, Middle Eastern, German, Chinese, Argentinian and others. You can also easily find American fast food chains such as Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, Subway, Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar's, and Domino's, in the largest cities in the country such as San Salvador, Merliot / Santa Tecla, and Santa Ana. Other franchises include Tony Romas', Bennigans and others. Some of the best restaurants are located in Zona Rosa (Paradise, Alo Nuestro, 503).

The typical Salvadoran diet includes lots of rice and beans, seafood (particularly among those who live on the coast), and the most common Salvadoran dish, the famous Pupusa, a round corn tortilla filled with cheese and other elements, usually chicharon (shredded pork meat). It's widely agreed that the best pupusas in the country can be bought in Olocuilta, which you can get to along the highway on the way to the Comalapa airport. You will find 50+ pupusa stands there, competing for business.

Also Salvadorans eat fried sliced plantains (platanos) usually with beans, sour cream, cheese and sometimes eggs, yuca con chicharron, pastelitos de carne, panes con pavo (turkey sandwiches), hand made tortillas among other very delicious Salvadoran foods.

If you are staying on the coast, make sure you try the cóctel de conchas. It is a mix of black clams, lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and chiles in a spicy black sauce. You can find them for about $3/bowl, using freshly harvested clams. A wide range of other seafood dishes can also be found.

Many large modern supermarkets are scattered throughout the capital and in large towns, such as La Despensa de Don Juan and Super Selectos, which sell local produce and a large variety of international products. Like anywhere else in the world, these are a cheaper alternative to eating out every night.

Drink

Typical beverages and fruits

Try the most delicious Horchata (made from rice and "morro" seeds) and Cebada (a smooth and sweet pink barley refreshment). If you prefer (at your own risk) to drink natural juices, such as: guava, jocote, arrayan, chirimoya, granadilla de "moco" and marañon. Furthermore, you should try to savour the local fruit, as: jocotes, marañon japones, green mango (with salt, lime, alhuaiste (ground pumpkin seed), manzana pedorra (orig.from Los Planes de Renderos), "nance", "red or yellow almendras" salvadorenias, "hicaco", "paterna" (also try the cooked paterna seed with lime and hot pepper, and don't miss the suave and liquory aroma of "carao".

Clubs

In San Salvador, The trendiest night spot to visit is called La Zona Rosa. Although it doesn't cover a large area, it is home to many exclusive, upscale bars and nightclubs, and the best restaurants in town. A famous spot to go is a mall named Multiplaza, where it has several clubs and bars. There's also Paseo del Carmen.

In San Miguel the famous Av. Roosevelt that hosts one of the biggest festivals in Central America in November is where you will find numerous bars and clubs for sexy nightlife.

Sleep

San Miguel has high end hotels on Av. Roosevelt by the Metrocentro mall and budget hotels near the bus terminal

Work

Finding employment in El Salvador is difficult for both Salvadorans and extranjeros (foreigners) alike, although bilingual schools are constantly looking for English speakers, as well as other foreign language teachers. Bilingual schools offer competitive salaries for foreign teachers. For current vacancies see the schools websites (above). Most foreigners find themselves volunteering with one of a number of local community organizations or NGOs. The Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad [8] is often looking to hire bi-lingual project managers and liaisons, and offers both Spanish classes and numerous volunteer and cultural opportunities.

Another organization offering volunteer work in Santa Tecla and on the Islands in the south is Travel to Teach [9].

The recent incursion of the call center business has raised the bar in the need for a bi-lingual workforce.

Stay safe

El Salvador has a bad reputation due to the civil war of the 80s. The Consular sheet from the US State Department indicates that El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Crime is an issue, most of it is attributed to street gangs, though statistics from official sources do not support that claim. You must use common sense and avoid entering into a zone that does not appear safe, just like you do in any country of the world. Avoid carrying fancy items such as jewelry, expensive cameras, and watches if you are walking on the public streets. Women should avoid traveling alone as they may catch the occasional cat-calling and perhaps get felt up on tightly packed buses. As a foreigner the kind of response you might get from the police is "hit or miss." If you have been pick-pocketed or otherwise robbed without harm to your person, a visit to the police station will almost certainly be an exercise in frustration. Police officers have also been known to harass or to be inappropriate to female travelers.

Many Salvadorans are armed, and shootouts are not uncommon. Foreigners, however, may not carry guns even for their own protection without first obtaining firearms licenses from the Salvadoran government. Extortion tactics have included indiscriminate grenade attacks on buses, businesses and restaurants, resulting in the death or injury of dozens of people, including children. These types of attacks are unpredictable and the U.S. Embassy advises its personnel to remain alert to their surroundings and to minimize risk to themselves.

It is a good idea for any person visiting El Salvador to keep only necessary forms of identification, such as a driver's license, when exploring the city or tourist locales. If you must keep your passport on you at all times, a traveler's pouch would allow you to have it safely with you. Police officers routinely ask tourists to present their passports, most can be convinced that a copy of the passport and another form of id is sufficient. Others will insist on accompanying back to your hotel to retrieve your actual document. Most tourists prefer to stay within the safe areas of El Salvador such as La Zona Rosa where there is relatively no crime. In case you are not staying at one of the country's 5 star hotels, remember to ask if the city or town you are visiting has a high level of gang activity.

In 1996 San Salvador was considered the second most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere, according to statistics. Since the end of the civil war in 1992 El Salvador has not seen a reduction in crime rates. Today San Salvador, and El Salvador in general, experience some of the highest homicide rates in the world, it is also considered an epicenter of the gang crisis, along with Guatemala and Honduras. The homicides reported in 2006 reached up to 3,906, in 2005 3,779 were reported; 57.2 violent deaths per every 100,000 people. Crime rates in general have been steadily growing throughout the years, from 2005-2006 crime rose 7.5%.El Salvador is the most dangerous and violent country in Central America. The government tried controlling the gangs with a tactic called "Super Mano Dura" which means "Super Strong Hand", however it has not been successful and crime rates have continued to rise.

Stay healthy

If you are not accustomed to food sold by street vendors, you might want to stay away from food sold on the streets until you acclimate. If you want to try a pupusa, you should try to find a restaurant to taste this popular dish rather than buying them from street vendors. That said, street food that you see cooked can sometimes be safer than restaurant food that you do not see cooked.

'Agua en bolsa' (water in a plastic bag) is very commonly sold in the streets and corner stores of El Salvador.

Pharmacies are easily found all over the country. Be sure to have a first-aid kit if you travel to the countryside and to archaeological sites. Mosquito repellent comes in handy.

Respect

Salvadorans are known for their great hospitality. They are among the nicest people in the world. They are friendly, industrious people always willing to help anyone. That is what has earned El Salvador the nickname of "the country with a smile". When speaking with people you don't know, it is customary to address them in a formal manner, using señor, señora and/or usted.

Connect

The international country code for El Salvador is 503.

Hear about travel to El Salvador as the Amateur Traveler talks to Joe Baur of joebaur.com about his recent visit to this Central American country.

Laptop in Malta

There’s a question that I’ve been asked more and more often lately:

“There are so many travel blogs out there today. If I start, I’m going to be so far behind. Do I have any chance of making it a career? Is it even possible?”

A lot of people would say no — but I disagree.

I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There’s more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you’re open to a lot of opportunities that I didn’t have.

 

RELATED: How to Start a Travel Blog The Right Way

 

Here are a few tips from 2016 that did not apply to the space until fairly recently.

Chiang Mai Travel Bloggers

Know you don’t have to be the biggest travel blogger of all.

Just a few years ago, only the top tier of bloggers were making a full-time living from their blog, and only a few were making enough money to live anywhere more expensive than Southeast Asia.

That has changed. More people are making decent livings. You still see plenty of bloggers living in Southeast Asia, but an increasing number are living in pricey cities in North America and Europe.

A lot of new bloggers start with the goal of being one of the biggest travel bloggers of all. (Quite frankly, that was my motivation in the early days.) If you do that, you’re going to be chasing it forever. But if you don’t let fame motivate you — if you instead want to have a quality working career — you can absolutely make it happen.

Think of it this way: every TV actor dreams of having Viola Davis or Kerry Washington’s career, headlining a popular Thursday night drama. But you could also be a working actor appearing in small guest roles on everything from Law & Order to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to random commercials and the latest Judd Apatow flick, the kind of person where people say, “I know that face! What’s she been in?”

Those actors still make money from their craft. Many of them have a pretty good work/life balance as well. That’s something to keep in mind.

Kate Quaker Oats Murder

That said — most of the big names have slowed down their travels.

There was a time when the people behind the biggest travel blogs were on the road at least 80% of the time. That’s not the case anymore. We’re very tired.

I’m not going to name names because some people are keeping it quieter than others, but a great many popular travel bloggers have chosen to get year-round apartments with leases and travel far less often. (Most of you know that I am one of these bloggers, having moved to New York seven weeks ago.)

That means that if you have the opportunity to travel long-term, you’re going to be doing so in a way that not a lot of others are doing at the moment. That’s especially good for real-time platforms like Snapchat. More on Snapchat below.

Kate in Albania

Niche is good; personality plus specialty is better.

Niche is always a big discussion — people always talk about how important it is to HAVE A NICHE. You need to open that proverbial fly-fishing blog!

But in this day and age, I see it differently. I think the most important thing is to have a well-developed voice and personality along with a few specialties on which you can become an expert.

Alex in Wanderland, for example, has a specialty in diving.

Young Adventuress has a specialty in New Zealand travel.

Flora the Explorer has a specialty in sustainable volunteering.

These specialties are not the only subjects that these bloggers write about, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call them their niches. But they are areas that differentiate them and give them expertise and credibility. If I needed help with any of those subjects, I would go to their sites in a heartbeat. (Also, it’s worth adding that Liz didn’t even visit New Zealand until she had already been blogging, so yes, it is possible to develop a specialty on the road!)

This is especially important for all the women trying to differentiate themselves as a solo female travel blogger. There are a million of you now, ladies. Work on diversifying.

The most difficult part is developing your voice and personality, and that can only be done by writing, writing, writing.

Smartphone Challenge

Social media is more important than ever.

We’ve entered a time where social media can often eclipse the value of your blog. That was never the case early in my blogging years, but I’m seeing it more and more today, especially with Instagram.

At this point in time, Instagram is by far the most important social network. It’s widely consumed by “real people,” it’s prioritized by brands (translation: this is where the money is), and it allows you to show your strengths. A company may be more interested in advertising on Instagram than anywhere on your blog.

But this means you’re going to throw a lot of time and effort into creating a beautiful, engaging Instagram profile.

Snapchat is another big network on which I recommend getting started. It’s huge among “real people” and it’s still early enough that you can be an early adopter, like me.

Another place that can become a game-changer is Pinterest. Pinterest now regularly drives traffic to lots of my pages that don’t necessarily do well in search.

Other social networks are important. Some people swear by Facebook (and I do quite a bit with it); others live and die by Twitter. And by all means, yes, work on growing your Facebook audience in particular. But if I were you, I’d throw your time and resources into focusing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

Kate and Brenna in Koh Lanta

The time to get into video is now. Or yesterday.

Video is projected to grow more and more — a year and a half ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he expected video to be the dominant content on Facebook within five years. I’ve said before that not doing enough on YouTube keeps me up at night. I just feel like I haven’t had to learn all the skills.

There is plenty of room to grow on YouTube — I’d argue that you can grow faster and far more effectively as a travel YouTuber than as a travel blogger. The time is definitely now.

FYI — Travel Blog Success is having a sale on their videography course this week. It’s 35% off. See below for more.

I actually bought the course last year but I need to make creating better videos a priority for this summer.

Angkor Wat at Dawn

I still mean it — get out of Southeast Asia.

This is one of the most controversial pieces of advice I’ve given, and I stand by it. Southeast Asia is tremendously oversaturated in the travel blogosphere at this point in time.

Is it possible to focus on Southeast Asia and still become a prominent travel blogger? Of course it is. You can stand out if you consistently create genuinely original content.

But most people who spend time in Southeast Asia don’t do that. They write “this is what it’s like to cruise Halong Bay” and “here are photos from my day at Angkor Wat” and “the best things to do in Ubud are these” and “this is how awesome Koh Lanta is.”

It’s good stuff, sure, and it will be useful to your readers who aren’t familiar with those destinations, but posts like those will not allow you to gain traction as a travel blogger. Major influencers will not be sharing these posts because they’ve been seen a thousand times before.

If you want to spend extended time in a cheap region, consider parts of Mexico and Central America (inland Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, inland Nicaragua), parts of South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia), parts of Central and Eastern Europe (Balkans excluding Croatia and Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, former USSR), and/or parts of South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka).

Because while plenty of people have written about those destinations, they are nowhere near the saturation level of Southeast Asia.

Bloghouse Mentors: Kate, Lisa, Cailin, Mike, Steph

Travel Blog Success Will Help You Grow Fast, Well, and Efficiently.

I push Travel Blog Success because it’s the best product out there. Why?

  1. The course will teach you so much at a fast rate. If you read the materials and put the work in, you won’t make the mistakes that the majority of bloggers make.
  2. The course comes with discounts and perks. Savings on premium plugins, hosting, design products, conference tickets, and more.
  3. The Facebook community is the best travel blogging group on the web. Forget the giant groups on Facebook — the private Travel Blog Success group is the only place where I give out advice to bloggers publicly, and lots of other experts do, too.

And yes, I earn an affiliate commission if you purchase through that link. 26% on the main course, 15% on the others. But I only link to products that I actually use, like, and recommend. Always have, always will.

What do I always tell people? Wait until the course on sale. Because even though that means I’ll be making a much smaller commission, I’d still rather have you get the maximum discount.

Well, it’s on sale now. 35% off all courses. And since I last wrote about it, more courses have been added in addition to the main Travel Blog Success course:

  • Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards — A course on getting partnerships, both comped and paid
  • Bloggers to Bylines — A course on becoming a freelance travel writer.
  • Videography for Travel Bloggers — A course on becoming a travel videographer or YouTuber.

The sale ends Friday, March 25, 2016, at 11:00 PM ET.

San Juan del Sur Sunset

Because yes: It’s still possible to make it if you start today.

I know some people will disagree with me, but I think that in many ways, it’s a lot easier to get started now than it was when I did in 2010. The market may be crowded, but there is always — always — room for excellent content.

And whether you’re watching a brilliant sunset on a beach in Nicaragua or sitting on your purple couch in your Harlem apartment (which I may be as I write this), the life of a travel blogger is incredibly rewarding. Each day, I feel so grateful that this is what I do for a living.

Note: the links to Travel Blog Success are affiliate links. I only use affiliate links on products that I actually use, like, and recommend. This course is worth every penny and then some!I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There's more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you're open to a lot of opportunities that I didn't have.

Photos: Themis

WHEN I WAS A KID I saw travel as an opportunity for adventure and hedonism. It was a chance to try new things, to learn a bit about the world, to absorb a bit more life. But I did not travel with anything resembling a conscience. Travel was something that was earned through hard work — it was a reward, it was something the world owed me.

Then, when I was a senior in high school, I went to El Salvador and saw poverty for the first time. Shortly after that, I traveled to Brazil, South Africa, India, and China. I saw shanty towns and starving children. I saw horrors that had been hidden from me in the suburban United States. And I met people in all of these places who were still kind to me. I started questioning things I’d always taken for granted — the idea that poor people were poor because they were lazy, the idea that people living in poverty were somehow fundamentally different from me — and my life started to change.

My experience isn’t remotely unusual — it’s extremely common for travelers to leave one person and come back another. And a lot of the time, the people that come back end up changing the world. Here are four of them.

George Orwell

george-orwell

Photo: Monsterspade

Eric Blair was a middle class kid in turn-of-the-century England when his family decided he ought to go serve the Empire in Burma. Blair had an innate sense of fairness, and he began to chafe against the injustices of the imperial system. So he quit and became a writer. From there, he moved back and forth from London to Paris, living in abject squalor in order to better understand poverty. He wrote two influential books describing the life of the poor under the pen name George Orwell — Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier.

When Blair went to Spain to cover the Civil War, he put down his pen and picked up a gun. A lifelong socialist, Blair was appalled at the brutality and the propaganda of both the fascists and the Stalinists. This would influence his two greatest known works, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm. His became the best known voice to speak out against totalitarianism in the 20th century, and his name is basically a catchphrase for anti-totalitarianism today. Who knows what we would have lost if he’d stayed at home?

Che Guevara

Photo: Vurter

Ernesto Guevara was born into a relatively well-off family in the Argentine city of Rosario. He’d grown up in a left-leaning family, but he himself said that the period in which he became a revolutionary was when he and his friend Alberto Granado took a year to ride a motorcycle through South America. Along the way, he met the continent’s outcasts, poor, and indigenous, and he came out of the journey totally changed.

Guevara wrote about his experiences in the seminal travel book The Motorcycle Diaries. He became a leftist revolutionary, and eventually joined a group of anti-imperialist Cuban’s led by Fidel Castro. “Che,” as he became known (after a popular Argentinian word), would become Castro’s right hand man, and would be a major force in converting the nationalist Cuban leader into a full-blown Marxist. Guevara’s legacy is checkered at best — his tactics were brutal, and he became a full-blown executioner when the revolutionaries took Havana. But his face became the face of 20th century rebellion, and the fact that he changed the world is unquestionable.

Siddhartha Gautama

Photo: Lidealista

Siddhartha Gautama’s early life is the stuff of myth — he was born around 2600 years ago into a life of luxury. He was a prince, and his father made sure that he was given every luxury imaginable, and was sheltered from even seeing any suffering. But when Siddhartha began traveling beyond the walls of the palace, he began to see suffering — aging, disease, poverty, and death — and he became convinced that material wealth wasn’t the key to life.

He renounced his birthright as king and he became a wandering monk. One day, while traveling, he sat down underneath a Bodhi tree and meditated until he became enlightened. After that, he was known as the Buddha — “the Enlightened One.” The religion founded around his teaching, Buddhism, is now the world’s fourth largest faith.

Malcolm X

malcolm-x

Photo: Ricardo Cardenas

Malcolm Little was born into a poor family. His father was murdered by white supremacists when he was young, and Little was shifted around foster homes until he fell into a life of drugs and crime. After being arrested for a robbery, he was sent to jail, where he began to educate himself. He converted to the Nation of Islam, rejected his last name and replaced it with an X, and quickly became the most influential voice for black power in America.

Malcolm X’s early teachings were controversial to say the least. He was a black nationalist, and did not believe in integration or cooperation between the races. He was an unflinching critic of white supremacy, and was often (with some good cause) accused of being a bigot towards white people himself.

It wasn’t until he left the Nation of Islam and went on the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage, that Malcolm X began to change. On the hajj, he saw people of all races cooperating and treating each other with dignity and respect. And he began to temper some of the anti-white rhetoric (while still furiously denouncing American racism). We unfortunately did not get to see enough of the man he would’ve become after this change — he was murdered by members of the Nation of Islam in 1965.

You don’t often hear about the Central American country of El Salvador, and if you do, it often involves some sort of gang-related crime or murder. When I told my family I was traveling there I was met with fear and worry. I was well-aware of the violent reputation, and the US Department of State’s travel warnings, but something drew me in. If you look at the Global Peace Index, you’ll find that El Salvador actually ranks as safer than places like China and Mexico, places that see way more visitors than El Salvador.

I am happy to say that during my seven days exploring the country, I did not experience any violence or crime. Though El Salvador has the reputation of being dangerous, here’s why I can’t wait to go back there.

There are relatively few tourists.

One of the best things about El Salvador is that is it not overrun by tourists. You won’t find large crowds of people within the attractions. Your hotels won’t be filled to capacity. You won’t feel like just another tourist in the crowd. Due to the lack of tourists, El Salvador is one place you can travel and have an authentic cultural experience.

It’s a budget-friendly place to travel.

You can easily find accommodations from $8-$15 per night. Food costs around $10 a day. Transportation via local bus won’t cost you more than $2 for an hour-long ride. There were even many US products I found to be cheaper in El Salvador than in the States.

It’s the home of papusas.

Pupusas are a classic El Salvadorian food, that will make both your taste buds and your wallet happy. They are essentially a thicker version of a tortilla, stuffed with cheese, chicken, beans, and whatever else your heart desires. Two pupusas are usually enough to fill you up, and will only set you back a couple of bucks.

It has an amazing and far-reaching cultural history.

This country’s history dates back to around 3000 BCE, when the Mayan civilizations lived in the region. Today, you can still see ruins — like Tazumal and Joya de Cerén — from this time when visiting El Salvador. In addition to its ancient history, visitors can learn about the Spanish conquering of El Salvador and its recent Civil War at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in San Salvador.

There are some seriously pretty little towns.

Many of them are in an area called La Ruta de las Flores, or the Route of the Flowers. This mountainous area is known for its little villages, covered in vibrant flora. If the big city scene is not for you, head into the mountains and explore them. Some notable places include Apaneca, Concepcion de Ataco, and Juayua.

It has super chilled out beach towns.

El Salvador has a small patch of Pacific coastline and is a great destination for surfers. But for me, the real draw to the coast is the chilled-out vibe that everyone seems to exude. With the warm weather, the ocean waves, and the abundance of cheap piña coladas, the beach towns are a great place to just relax and enjoy your surroundings. Try the towns of El Tunco, El Sunzal, or El Zonte to experience this vibe for yourself.

For a small country it has an amazing variety of landscapes and lifestyles.

There are so many different places to visit within El Salvador. From the coastal beach towns to the large cities, the small mountain villages to the volcanoes and lakes, there is just so much to take in. If you’ve grown tired of one area of El Salvador or if it just does not interest you, it’s not a problem. Simply move along to a new area to see and experience a whole new part of the country. More like this: Everyone thinks Iran is a dangerous place. Here’s why I can’t wait to go back there

FamilyBreakFinder put together this map of all the tourism slogans in the world and we’re loving it! Some of them are inspiring, a few are corny, and others are downright funny.

Tourism slogan

Map: FamilyBreakFinder

To be able to zoom in on the map, click here.

Cape Verde

“No stress”

Sounds good to us!

Tourism slogan

Slovakia

“Travel in Slovakia — Good idea!”

Slovakia goes straight to the point and does not enjoy excessive enthusiasm.

tourism slogan

Kiribi

“For travelers”

We’re coming!

tourism slogan

Latvia

“Best enjoyed slowly”

We love slow traveling.

tourism slogan

El Salvador

“The 45-minute country”

We’re not sure what they mean by that, but we heard El Salvador is wonderful!

Tourism slogan

Check out the map and let us know what is your country’s tourism slogan in the comment section. More like this: Mapped: What you did not know about time zones

Prague’s laid back and extensive coffee culture makes it a fantastic city for freelancers, with hundreds of great coffee shops all over the city. Here are some great cafes where you can settle in, and stay caffeinated and productive for hours.

1. Monolok

Una publicación compartida de Huyen Vuova (@huyen.vuova) el 24 de Abr de 2017 a la(s) 1:32 PDT

Monolok is one of the most comfortable places to work in Vinohrady. It has plenty of seating across two floors, including a little outdoor terrace. Their small menu of breakfast and lunch items means you’ll never go hungry at Monolok. The café is also great for small meetings because there’s plenty of space between the tables. But perhaps the best thing about Monolok is the music which gives the place a chill vibe.

2. Cafedu

Una publicación compartida de Cafedu (@cafedu_prague) el 25 de Sep de 2016 a la(s) 10:55 PDT

Cafedu reading room is open 24 hours a day. But you can only get your croissants and lattes at the café until 10 pm every night. It’s a student café that’s often busy, but if you can get a table, it’s a great place to be productive because almost everyone else will also be studying or working.

3. Friends Coffee House

Una publicación compartida de Miranda 🌎 (@mirandamhunt) el 4 de Dic de 2015 a la(s) 3:21 PST

Friends Coffee House is another great place to work in Prague. Despite being in the heart of the city, it doesn’t carry a city center price tag. It has spacious and cozy back rooms, where you’ll also find a small library. And if you like the calming sound of running water, there is a fountain in a back room with floor-to-ceiling windows.

4. Cukrarna Alchymista

Una publicación compartida de Barbara (@barbarag027) el 19 de Oct de 2016 a la(s) 9:06 PDT

This unique café and tea room is in Prague 7. Cukrarna Alchymista (or the Alchemist) has wood-paneled walls and brass chandeliers. But the real magic of the Alchemist is the fairy tale garden, which fish-pond. They have the best variety of homemade cakes and desserts in town, but no regular food.

5. Můj šálek kávy

Una publicación compartida de Luci Fabianová (@luckafabi) el 24 de Mar de 2017 a la(s) 11:48 PDT

There’s café in Karlin, owned by doubleshot coffee roasters, Můj šálek kávy. The Czech specialty coffee roasting company is serious about their coffee, so you know your brews are always going to be high quality. They offer espresso and filter coffee from countries like Brazil, Ethiopia, and Colombia, in addition to great coffee and pastries. Their exposed brick and bookcase atmosphere is perfect for a long work session. It gets busy, so a reservation is recommended.

6. Café Sladovsky

Una publicación compartida de Noona Maria (@noonavin) el 17 de Feb de 2017 a la(s) 12:09 PST

This hipster hideaway is not only a café, but a great spot to grab a beer with friends after hours. Café Sladovsky has a really affordable menu that includes breakfast favorites, sandwiches, and a variety of burgers. The patterned wallpaper and the cushy weathered furniture make you feel like you’re in the movie Garden State. It’s a great atmosphere to get your creative juices flowing.

7. Kavárna Pražírna

As are so many great bars and restaurants in Prague, Kavárna Pražírna is in a stunning underground cellar. Their selection of coffees from Ethioia, Peru, Colombia, and El Salvador is roasted in house. In addition to coffee, they serve homemade lemonade and alcoholic drinks. Their roomy wooden tables and good lighting create the perfect mood to focus on your work. And don’t worry, even mostly underground, their WiFi signal is stellar.

8. Café Jen

Una publicación compartida de Prag'ta Yaşam (@pragtayasam) el 30 de Abr de 2017 a la(s) 12:20 PDT

Café Jen is a tiny hole-in-the-wall. There’s a welcoming chalkboard sign outside the door, and the café is always full of locals. They have a great selection of coffee roasts from around the world and a tiny food menu, which includes yummy homemade cakes. Maybe it’s the size, the décor, or how friendly everyone is, but it feels more like someone’s living room than a café.

Salvador

Joan Didion

"Terror is the given of the place." The place is El Salvador in 1982, at the ghastly height of its civil war. The writer is Joan Didion, who delivers an anatomy of that country's particular brand of terror–its mechanisms, rationales, and intimate relation to United States foreign policy.As ash travels from battlefields to body dumps, interviews a puppet president, and considers the distinctly Salvadoran grammar of the verb "to disappear," Didion gives us a book that is germane to any country in which bloodshed has become a standard tool of politics.

El Salvador the Land (Lands, Peoples, & Cultures (Paperback))

Greg Nickles

Suitable for ages 9-14, this book features photographs which capture the lush landscape of El Salvador from the Pacific coastline to the volcanic mountains and rainforests. The topics covered include: geography; climate; people; cities; farming and industry; the changing economy; transportation; and, plants and wildlife.

El Salvador Handbook (Footprint - Handbooks)

Richard Arghiris

El Salvador's roads are less traveled compared to other Central American countries, making for a destination which retains that elusive quality travelers often look for: adventure. From dramatic volcanic landscapes to blue-green lagoons, the bustle of San Salvador to the quiet wilderness of El Imposible National Park, this guidebook will help you make the most of your visit to this spectacular country.Essentials section with indispensable information on getting there and around.Highlights maps of the region so you know what not to miss.Comprehensive, up-to-date listings of where to eat, drink and sleep.Detailed street maps for San Salvador and other key towns.Slim enough to fit in your pocketLoaded with advice and information, this concise Footprint guide will help you get the most out of El Salvador without weighing you down.

Moon El Salvador (Moon Handbooks)

Jaime Jacques

Moon Handbooks give you the tools to make your own choices.Can't-miss sights, activities, restaurants, and accommodations, marked with MEssential info on San Salvador, El Salvador's resilient urban heartSuggestions on how to plan a trip that's perfect for you, including:The Best of El SalvadorSurf's Up!From Cool Cloud Forests to Warm WavesArt and Culture: Past and Present13 detailed and easy-to-use mapsThe firsthand experience and unique perspective of author Jaime Jacques

Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

Explore the heart of Central America with National Geographic's Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador Adventure Map. Hundreds of points of interest are highlighted including national parks and reserves, World Heritage sites, archeological sites, churches, shipwrecks, castles, and more. This map includes the locations of thousands of towns and villages along with a user-friendly index, plus a clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for highways, roads, and other routes.

The front side of the print map includes Honduras and El Salvador, two countries whose coastlines offer wonderful opportunities to surf, scuba dive, snorkel, or just soak up the sun. Sites for these activities and more are noted, as are hotels, lodges, and resorts. Nicaragua covers the back side of the map, and its detail includes diverse points of interest from museums and historical sites in Managua and Granada to areas noted for windsurfing, fishing, and observing the country’s unique wildlife.

A hot spot for ecotourism, this region boasts tropical rainforests, white-sand beaches, colorful wildlife, and stunning barrier reefs for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. The ancient and colonial history of these countries offer additional attractions from the impressive ancient Maya ruins of Copan in Honduras to the rich architecture of Granada, Nicaragua. As the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America, El Salvador offers a rich nightlife in addition to its beaches along the Costa del Sol.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:710,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Lonely Planet Nicaragua & El Salvador

Paige Penland

Forged by the spirit of poetry and revolution, Nicaragua and El Salvador are Central America’s hot up-and-comers, offering volcano treks, rip-roaring surf spots and tons of seldom-visited cultural and ecological treasures. Now, years after the guns were silenced, both countries are opening their doors to the world. And packed with expert advice, this comprehensive guide is your key to discovery.Get Out– Special outdoor adventures section brings the waves, dizzying treks and wildlife hot spots to lifeThe Road Less Traveled – Get off the Gringo Trail with informed do-it-yourself content to some of Central America’s best-kept secretsFind Your Way – Custom-tailored itineraries make planning a breeze. More than 80 maps mean you won’t get lost along the way.Safe & Sound – Thorough safety and health sections provide top tips to ensure many safe returns

El Salvador Travel Journal: Perfect Size 100 Page Notebook Diary

CreativeJournals

Lightweight and perfect for traveling, this soft cover notebook journal is ideal for tucking into a full bag or suitcase. The cover is a glossy finish so that you can easily wipe it off (if it ends up covered in something delicious-tasting, or lands in a mud puddle ;) Keep your memories for longer by journalling them in your El Salvador travel journal. A nice affordable travel notebook designed with the traveler in mind. This would make a great gift for the traveler in your life. Bon voyage!

El Salvador - Guía Para Viajeros (Spanish Edition)

Marina K. Villatoro

El Salvador tiene mucho que ofrecer y es difícil decidir por dónde empezar.'Take the Kids Along' – La Guía para El Salvador hace tu viaje más fácil, al proporcionar una gran cantidad de información importante:Encuentra Hoteles para Toda la FamiliaQue Ver y Hacer en FamiliaDonde Ver Gran Cantidad de Animales de CercaViaja como un Local – Encuentra atracciones Secretas que los Niños AmaránActividades gratis y Baratas para Toda la FamiliaPrueba la Comida Tradicional de El Salvador y Descubre algunos RestaurantesÚtiles Mapas de Cada ÁreaImágenes de los Lugares Para que Sepas a Donde Vas y Que Buscar¡Y mucho más!Viajar con niños  pequeños es retador, esta guía te indica los mejores lugares en los cuales puedes alojarte o visitar en los que los niños son bien recibidos. Además encuentra muchos tips que harán de tu viaje una experiencia más divertida, económica y en general una aventura que nunca olvidaran!

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent crime such as homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, rape and kidnapping is common throughout the country.

Although most Canadians visiting El Salvador encounter no safety or security problems, the criminal threat in El Salvador is real. Robberies often occur on public transportation and in tourist areas. Violent, organized gangs (“maras”) are often behind extortion attempts and have been known to use grenades to enforce their demands. Attacks have occurred in open-air markets, restaurants, police stations, public buses and clinics. The attacks are unpredictable and often harm or kill innocent bystanders.

Robberies and express kidnappings by “moto ratas” are on the rise and can occur day or night. Victims, generally selected on the basis of perceived wealth (including late-model cars), are identified at such places as shopping centres, gas stations, restaurants, night clubs, banks and parking lots. One or two robbers, riding on motorcycles, follow their victims and stop them at gunpoint.  In most cases, victims are taken to automated banking machines (ABMs) and forced to withdraw the highest amount possible. Carjackings also occur. There are occasionally reports of armed criminals following travellers from the airport to private residences or secluded stretches of road, where they carry out assaults or robberies. Criminals can become violent and shoot if victims do not cooperate immediately.

Homicides frequently occur on public buses, roads, soccer fields and farms, as well as in private residences.

Remain discreet and vigilant at all times. Avoid displaying signs of affluence in public. Travel in groups. Avoid travelling after dark, including in the capital city of San Salvador. Hotels in the neighbourhoods of Escalón and San Benito, in San Salvadore, are generally safe. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Carry only a copy of the identification page of your passport and sufficient funds for the day, and exercise extreme caution when using ABMs. If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and cooperate.

Be especially cautious in the departments of La Libertad, La PazLa UnionSanta AnaSan MiguelSan Salvador, San Vicente, and Sonsonate, which have the highest homicide rates in El Salvador.

The historic downtown of San Salvador (especially from Parque Simón Bolivar to Plaza El Zurita, and from Alameda Juan Pablo II to Boulevard Venezuela), can be dangerous as criminals often hide in crowds and attack without warning. Gangs and individuals who specialize in muggings, extortion and murder operate in these areas.

Neighbourhoods of San Salvador that should be avoided if possible since they pose the highest risk to travellers are Soyapango, Apopa, Nejapa, Ilopango, Tutunichapa. The regions bordering Guatemala can be dangerous because of drug turf wars. While Canadians are not specifically targeted, there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Attacks and robberies have been reported at border crossings, particularly on the Guatemala side. As the Las Chinamas crossing is particularly hazardous, use one of the other three border crossings (La Hachadura, San Cristóbal or Anguiatú) if possible. Armed robbers have been known to dress as Guatemalan police and to erect roadblocks to stop buses with Salvadoran licence plates heading into Guatemala. They then rob the driver and passengers. When crossing the border with Guatemala, drive with car doors locked, do not stop for street or roadside vendors, and avoid travelling after dark.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations, sit-ins and protests may occur at any time or place, especially in the capital city, on its main access roads and, in particular, around the Salvador del Mundo monument (Plaza Las Americas). Avoid large gatherings or demonstrations, and follow local media reports.

Road travel

Overloaded vehicles and mechanical problems are common. Streets tend to be narrow, poorly signed and crowded with street vendors. Salvadoran authorities will arrest or detain drivers involved in accidents resulting in injury or death until responsibility for the accident has been established in court.

Drive with car doors locked and windows closed, and avoid driving after dark. There is always a risk of banditry, carjacking, kidnapping and criminal assault on rural roads. Due to the lack of police and roadside assistance services, travel in convoy when not on major highways. Rural areas may be accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicle.

While most land borders remain open 24 hours a day, some have been known to close without warning. Cross early enough to ensure that you will arrive at your destination before dark. Do not exchange any type of currency with informal money changers at land borders as doing so has led to robbery.

Public transportation

Use only reputable tour operators. Do not use local or intercity public buses as vehicles are often mechanically unreliable and passengers are frequently robbed, often at knife- or gunpoint. Grenade attacks have also been reported on public transit.

Taxis are widely available. Use a reliable company recommended by a major hotel chain and negotiate fares in advance. Tipping is not expected.

Air transportation

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Hiking

Tourists have been robbed while climbing volcanoes and hiking in remote locations. Travel only with reputable tourist organizations or persons familiar with local conditions. Ensure personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times.

General safety information

Strong currents and undertow make swimming in the Pacific Ocean risky. Always exercise caution as beaches have few, or no, lifeguards. Avoid isolated beaches.

Cellular phone service is generally reliable. Cellular phones are available locally for a modest sum at any retail kiosk for a major telephone company. These phones provide the added advantage of having a local number for emergencies.

Emergency services

Dial 911 for local police, and 503-2264-7911 to reach Priority, the most reliable ambulance service in the country.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central America and Mexico. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Some private hospitals offer services corresponding to Western standards. Medical care in rural areas is limited. There are public clinics (“unidades de salud”) throughout the country, but their resources, hours of operation and services are limited. Public hospitals are located only in large cities. Doctors, clinics and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services. Private hospitals in San Salvador and other major cities such as Santa Ana and San Miguel accept credit cards, and may request a deposit if you have to be hospitalized.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences.

Laws

You must obtain approval from the El Salvador Department of Foreign Affairs to attend international conferences. If permission is granted, you may participate only as an observer, not as an activist or lobbyist for a particular political position.

To own or carry a firearm, you require a permit issued in El Salvador. Carrying unregistered firearms is punishable by a prison sentence.

Salvadoran authorities will accept a valid Canadian driver's licence if it is presented with a valid Canadian passport. However, an International Driving Permit is recommended for travel between countries.

Money

The official currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). Although the colón (SVC) still exists, it is not in circulation. Traveller’s cheques in U.S. dollars can be changed in major hotels and banks when presented with a valid passport. Ask for small denominations ($1, $5, $10), since US$50 and US$100 bills are not widely accepted and can expose you to greater risk of robbery.

Canadian dollars (cash or traveller's cheques) cannot be exchanged in El Salvador.

Climate

Seismic activity

El Salvador is located in a highly active seismic zone. Tremors occur regularly, while major earthquakes occur more intermittently. You should be aware of the proper safety measures should an earthquake occur.

The Sistema Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (in Spanish only) reports above-normal levels of volcanic activity at the San Miguel and Conchagua volcanoes. The Charparrastique volcano erupted on December 29, 2013. Pay close attention to all warnings, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of another eruption.

Rainy season

The rainy season (including the occasional tropical storms) extends from May to November, often causing flash floods and landslides, especially in the lower Lempa River area. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.