What if you were to discover El Salvador, a small Central American country that has long suffered from a bad reputation? All too often neglected, it is now becoming a choice tourist destination for those seeking authenticity and a trip far removed from mass tourism.
This country is sure to seduce you with its grandiose volcanic landscapes, charming colorful towns and colonial cities, as well as its Mayan culture, thanks to its fascinating archaeological sites. It’s an original destination you wouldn’t have thought of!
I invite you to see our general article on El Salvador to prepare for your trip
Allow around 13h30 for the flight. Find your cheap flight to El Salvador with Skyscanner
- Time difference
minus 8 hours in summer (late March to late October) and minus 7 hours in winter. So when it’s noon in San Salvador, it’s 7pm in Paris and 8pm in August.
- El Salvador’s official currency is the US dollar (USD) and not the colón (SVC), which is no longer in circulation.
- Leave with US dollars and/or withdraw cash from ATMs (cajeros automáticos) once on site
- Always carry small-denomination notes ($1, $5 or $10), as US$50 and US$100 bills are not widely accepted and may increase the risk of theft. It’s also always easier to negotiate and pay for your food at street stalls.
- Credit cards are widely accepted (Visa mainly, MasterCard and American Express to a lesser extent), with the exception of small shops and local restaurants. Always carry identification in case you’re asked for it.
- In restaurants, we add around 10% to the bill if service is not included.
- No vaccination required for travellers from Europe
- Keep up to date with universal vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, MMR, hepatitis B.
- Anti-malarial treatment is not necessary, but you should protect yourself against mosquito bites: dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria and the Zika virus circulate in El Salvador. Mosquitoes are particularly numerous between June and November (when it rains).
- Instead, we recommend drinking bottled water and avoiding ice cubes to avoid stomach upsets!
- No visa is required to visit El Salvador for stays of less than 90 days.
- Passport valid at least 6 months after date of return.
- Beware of entry formalities if you are transiting the United States.
- Spoken language: Spanish is the official language, although Salvadorans may speak English due to their strong expatriation to the USA. One of the features of the Salvadoran accent is the pronunciation of the “s” at the end of syllables and before a consonant, which is sometimes pronounced as an aspirated “h”. The accent is not always easy to understand. Several local languages are also spoken, including Kekchi, spoken by around 1,200 people, Pipil and Lenca.
- Electric current : 110-120 V, 60 Hz. Take a universal adapter and a multiple plug, as the plugs, with two vertical flat pins, are identical to those found in the USA and Canada.
- Internet: When I was there in 2011, there were only cyber cafés! Today, free wi-fi zones can be found in city centers, shopping malls, Internet cafés, many accommodations and some restaurants. Use Skype for your phone calls – it won’t cost you anything for wifi!
On ne trouve pas au Salvador des auberges de jeunesse faisant partie du réseau Hostelworld. Vous trouverez des auberges indépendantes mais aussi des hostals, à mi chemin entre la pension de famille et la maison d’hôtes. L’offre hôtelière n’est pas très variée et les jolis établissements sont pris d’assaut en haute saison. En passant par nos services, nous avons sélectionné des hôtels classiques mais aussi de charme à l’esprit colonial et quelques lodges pour vous assurer du confort, de l’hygiène, du calme et de l’authenticité.
- Si vous cherchez des B&B / chambres d’hôtes → Cliquez sur ce lien
- Si vous cherchez des hôtels → Cliquez sur ce lien
Comme dans toutes grandes villes, vous trouverez aussi des appartements à louer. Je vous invite d’ailleurs à profiter de notre réduction sur Airbnb si vous le souhaitez.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around is by bus. Connections with neighboring countries such as Honduas, Nicaragua and Guatemala are daily, safe and affordable.
- ⚠️ Taking the bus in Latin America is also a way to rmeet and chat with the locals who use this means of transport on a daily basis. The best-known bus companies include Ticabus and Platinumcentroamerica. Fares depend more on the class than on the company and the distance travelled. Beware of theft and bus security.
- To get around between towns, you can use cabs or the big American school buses, repainted in bright colors. It’s very folkloric, cheap and practical, but less comfortable for long journeys.
- Don’t look for trains in El Salvador, there aren’t any!
- Many car rental companies are available in the area, so it’s best to book in advance. The minimum age for renting a vehicle is 21. Please note that some premises may overcharge you if they do not respect the rates mentioned on the booking. To avoid problems, it’s best to speak Spanish well and insist. Find here your cheapest car rental
- ⚠️ Road conditions are generally good, but please take care to avoid potholes, stray livestock and pedestrians or cyclists on the roads. During the rainy season (summer), dirt tracks often become complicated. Avoid driving at night.
- Don’t forget your international driver’s license
Compared to Mexico, El Salvador’s cuisine is much less spicy, but just as inexpensive. Latin American dishes are generally based on rice, eggs and red or black beans, the famous frijoles. You’ll also find plantains (bananas in Spanish), meat (fried chicken), avocados and cheese (queso). In the markets, you’ll find a variety of fruits to eat without moderation.
El Salvador’s specialty is pupusa, tortillas filled with cheese, vegetables or meat, I talk about them in Salvador’s general article. It’s very tasty, really inexpensive, but don’t eat it every day or you’ll get greasy! You’ll find them everywhere, from restaurants to street food stalls.
On the Pacific side, you can enjoy fresh fish as well as ceviche.
⚠️ I’ll tell you more about the country’s security in Salvador’s general article. There are certain places to avoid, and you need to be vigilant. The French Embassy advises against taking local public transport and microbuses due to occasional attacks and robberies. I’m not sure how to answer that, because yes, I’ve seen armed locals with long knives, and settling scores happens quickly. As a precaution and for greater comfort, I recommend hiring the services of a private chauffeur with car. Find here your cheapest car rental
Avoid driving at night, as in addition to the risk of being mugged, you have to watch out for stray livestock and unlit pedestrians and cyclists.
With its tropical climate and wet rainy season, here is a short list of things to pack depending on the season you choose:
- Swimsuits, hats and pareos
- Beach bag and flip-flops for the Pacific
- Light, comfortable clothing for your excursions
- Sandals and a pair of sneakers
- A pair of shoes suitable for climbing volcanoes or wading through muddy terrain if it rained the previous day
- A Kway just in case
- A little wool for cooler evenings after a shower
- An excellent repellent for mosquitoes, clothing and skin
- Light, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing with plenty of coverage for the rainy season to protect you from mosquito bites.
- Soothing cream for severe stings
- High-protection sunscreen and after-sun cream
El Salvador is a country known for its handicrafts in charming villages. You’ll be able to take home fabrics, particularly indigo blue, as well as baskets, hammocks, ground or bean coffee, pottery, carved objects… You can read our Salvador’s general article
El Salvador is characterized by a tropical climate that remains stable month after month. It’s best to travel to this country between November and April. This is a period of low rainfall, pleasant temperatures and many sunny days.
November to April : it’s the dry season, with almost no rainfall. From January to December, there’s plenty of sunshine, and April is quite warm. Enjoy pleasant temperatures of around 25°C and enjoy the beaches.
May to October: this is the wet, rainy season, characterized by high rainfall, especially in August.
The average cost of living in El Salvador is -42% lower than in France, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Don’t forget that the local currency is the US dollar. The hotel offer is quickly limited, so prices are quite high, especially in high season, and everything fills up very quickly. Plane tickets to Central America also come at a price, often approaching €1,200/p, round trip, if you don’t plan ahead.
The food doesn’t cost much, but the private driver will add a bit to your budget. On average, a 13-day trip with car and driver costs around €2,500/p (excluding meals and activities).
Don’t hesitate to contact us for a quote on this destination.
Please note that as an accredited bespoke travel designer, I offer to accompany you in the creation of your tailor-made trip to Samvador and create a personalized itinerary tailored to your needs. Please send me an email at : email@example.com