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El Salvador Travel Guide

El Salvador was once thought of as “the other” country in Central America — a place to avoid on your journey between Guatemala and Nicaragua — but this is no more: El Salvador is now a great place to visit, live, and travel through. Use this guide to help you prepare for your travels to [...]

El Salvador was once thought of as “the other” country in Central America — a place to avoid on your journey between Guatemala and Nicaragua — but this is no more: El Salvador is now a great place to visit, live, and travel through.

Use this guide to help you prepare for your travels to El-Salvador. Below are topics and categories that are important for travelers going to El-Salvador. Browse the topics and submit links, comments, ideas, and information wherever you can to assist other travelers in El Salvador.

El Salvador Getting There and Away

There are two routes through Central America:

1. Travel between Nicaragua and Guatemala through Honduras.
2. Travel through El Salvador.

I highly recommend the later option, as El Salvador is truly a great country for traveling in.

It is easy to get to and from El Salvador, and there are bus connections to San Salvador from just about every Central American capital city as well as from Flores in Guatemala.

As far as air travel goes, price conscious visitors may want to fly in and out of Guatemala City and then take a bus to El Salvador.

Map of El-Salvador

Geography
total area: 21,041 sq km
country comparison to the world: 153
land: 20,721 sq km
water: 320 sq km
coastline: 307 km

Climate: tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands

Landscape: mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

Use of land: arable land: 31.37%, permanent crops: 11.88%, other: 56.75% (2005)

Natural hazards: known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity; extremely susceptible to hurricanes

Population: 7,185,218 (July 2009 est.)

Invections Diesease aquisition possibility:

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Ethnicity: mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.9%, Mormon 0.7%, other religions 2.3%, none 16.8%.

Filed under: El Salvador, Travel Guides

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3421 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

4 comments… add one

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  • Estelita canas December 10, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Hi my name is Estelita and i am 22 yrs old. I live on long island in ny and have been to El salvador a couple times becuase my parents are from there. i will be traveling with my parents and my 5 month old baby boy in january to el salvador for 1 week. im really freaking out about alot but mostly the carseat situation. i was wondering what your thoughts about it were. thank you so much for your time! ps your little girl is so pretty and she has such a lucky life!

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com December 11, 2010, 3:06 am

      Your worry about riding with your baby in a car in El Salvador is more than reasonable. We put our daughter in an Ergo baby carrier which was strapped to an adult who was buckled in a car seat.

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  • M.E.S January 4, 2011, 6:46 pm

    I arrived from the US to Guatemala, and I decided to visit Copan Ruinas…. well I went by bus.. not really knowing what to expect (Im not a seasoned traveler) once I got off on the border, Guatemalan side… I didnt see much movement, hardly people. Not knowing what to do I saw a Tuk Tuk and I asked him if he could take me to Copan Ruinas, he said yes, foolishly I got in.. and next thing you know he left me on the Honduras side and said thats as far as he took me… just a few seconds away from the Guatemalan side and I was puzzled, but i saw a minibus parked and a few passengers getting on it, I went up to it and got on it. Well not thinking anything on exit or entry stamps, I continued on… on the 3rd day I leave Honduras and this time I took a shuttle bus straight to Guatemala City, but this driver stopped at the border, Guatemalan migration booths for us to check in…. so well I went up and the guy asked me where was my exit stamp (although I did have my first entry stamp when I arrived in mid October) and I said, I dont have one…. he asked me why not and I explained…. then he said he was going to fine me $150 USD…. I told him, I don´t have it….. I ended up paying $80 and he directed me to the next agent where the guy asked me again why I didnt have the stamp and this other guy comes and tells him, she already paid the fine…. well.. he scanned my passport and then stamped an entry stamp for 90 days….

    So then I am still worried… what really happened. After the incident I came to a conclusion I was scammed.. because if I already had my 90 day stamp, that should allow me to go in and out of the CA4 countries, right?

    So now Im wondering if I will have any trouble exiting Guatemala by plane when I head back to the USA and my initial 90day stamp expires January 17…. and I was planning of getting a new stamp at the migration office in Guatemala City, but since I was given another one, I won’t need one?

    Any feedback, advise, etc, will be much appreciated. Thanks

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 4, 2011, 7:36 pm

      Correct about the CA-4 visa, and the fact that if you are stamped into one country in the region you can go to them all. But, unfortunately, some countries still track intra-regional immigration with passport stamps. Guatemala will stamp you in and out even if going to Honduras or El Salvador. I am not really sure why they do this — as the CA-4 is suppose to be one big immigration zone — but they do. So it was easy for immigration to tell that you did not properly leave Guatemala on your way to Honduras.

      About the fine, I am unsure how legit this is. It could very well have been official, but I bet your money never made it past the pockets of the ones who took it.

      It is my impression that you should consider yourself lucky that they did not detain you and give you way more problems. It is often best to just pay up when you get caught breaking an immigration rule, as the other consequences could be far more of a hassle.

      About leaving Guatemala, don’t worry, you have 90 fresh days (which is also a strange quirk about Guatemala within the CA-4 agreement).

      This was my experience of crossing the border between Guatemala and El Salvador:

      Travelers between the CA-4 countries are also not suppose to receive stamps in their passports — like in Schengen Europe, the initial stamp into the region is good for all of the countries. But I was stamped out of Guatemala as I traveled into El Salvador, and did not receive an entry stamp. I am unsure if this is standard procedure — if the single exit stamp from Guatemala counts as my entry stamp to El Salvador as well — or if this was an error on the part of the immigration official who officially marked in my passport that I am no longer in Guatemala. –CA-4 means no more El Salvador entry tax

      Also go to this page, CA-4 visa explained, for more information on the quirks of the CA-4 agreement.

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