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El Salvador Next Hotspot for Tourism

SUCHITOTO, El Salvador- El Salvador is on the Lonely Planet top ten list of countries to visit in 2010.

It has already begun.

Lonely Planet’s Top Ten Countries to visit in 2010

El Salvador is now the new feast in Central American tourism — the NEXT place, the new adventure, the next location to write home about — and Suchitoto will soon find itself the main course. It is nice here, you should come, this place is good, this country is beautiful.

“El Salvador is not developed at all, everywhere you go here is beautiful. This is the most beautiful country in the world,” a German expat proclaimed in the little park side cafe that is the traveler and expat hang out in Suchitoto.

These words represent the fruits that stand before any tourism flood gate, the catch phrases of a place that will soon see a drastic rise in development in the name of tourism. “Not developed,” “beautiful,” “most,” these words should perk up the ears of any investor and make their mouths water over steak that lays before them.

As soon as one place exceeds their critical mass of tourism, the next location is already being sought. It is my impression that Guatemala may no longer be providing a good

There is little apparent “adventure” traveling the easy roads laid out before you in Guatemala, the independent tourist infrastructure is among the best in the world. Most travelers take a tourist shuttle to one town, go to a hostel, drink with their peers in a bar — it is almost too easy to travel there, and it is a slight challenge to get out of the tourist bubble. Once you are in Guatemala the bubble sucks you in, and you can be passed through the country from one side to the other without ever feeling as if you were actually on the ground.

I use the word “adventure” in the Lonely Planet way, in a way to indicate the feeling of stepping up to a cliff edge and peaking over, but never taking the plunge. Adventure as in doing something that the people back home tell you is dangerous and daring but in reality it is about as risky as spitting in the wind.

The countries who can provide this equilibrium — the feeling of adventure without it ever really being as such, are the ones next up for the guidebook’s top ten lists.

El Salvador is next.

The draw of tourism is much like the blade of a knife: every traveler wants to stand on the razor’s edge, but few want to risk getting cut. Once the blade of a place becomes dull, over worn, blunted, it becomes time to travel on to sharper domains. The trick is to find the blades that look sharp but rarely cut deep.

El Salvador looks pretty sharp from afar.

Come on in.

I was sitting in the Arttec cafe on a Sunday afternoon just watching people go by with my wife and her cousin. Both of my companions had lived in or near Suchitoto previously. Chaya stayed here in 2006 and her cousin lived here for a few years early on in the 2000 decade.

We watched a train of backpackers, tourists, and foreigners walk by one after another. It was a train without end. I took it that this was not a scene that my wife nor her cousin would have been accustom to seeing when they lived here a few years ago before.

“Where are all of these people coming from?” Chaya finally asked.


This was the simple answer. Perhaps fed up with crowds, the over saturation of language schools and volunteer programs, a tourism bubble that is sometimes difficult to break out of, and traveler routes that feel a touch too over worn, Guatemala has started to overspill its tourists into El Salvador.

Suchitoto is not yet over saturated with foreign tourists. You still crane your next to catch a glimpse of a fellow white face, you still walk up and say hello to travelers on the grounds that there are still not that many of you here, you do not feel as if you are ruining a traveler’s “cultural experience” by nodding as you pass on the streets. On most days, you walk through Suchitoto and don’t seen any foreigners, some days you only see the small group of expats at the cafe, though on the weekends the volunteers are let loose, and they come into town for a break.


“I went to surf, but it was not possible. There were like three people to every wave,” a French traveler spoke to me across a cafe table. He said that he traveled down to El Salvador from Guatemala to get away from the tourists.

He found me. I don’t think his plan worked out so well.

El Salvador Travel Guide | El Salvador Wiki Vagabond | El Salvador Photos

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Filed under: Central America, El Salvador, Tourism

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3169 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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