El Salvador

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. The country has offer 25 volcanoes, 14 lakes, and three large cities: Santa Ana, San Miguel, and San Salvador – the capital and biggest city. That being said, you can imagine the many beautiful sights and activities that you can plan for your trip. The country is big on eco-tourism, so expect many eco-friendly adventures. El Salvador counts with many secluded beaches and forests like Bosque El Imposible, a well-maintained national park in the west. Moreover, you can visit Montecristo Cloud Forest, Isla de Méndez if you want to go fishing, Isla de Olmega, Isla El Cajete in Sonsonate, Isla San Sebastian, Conchagua, Conchaguita, Isla Conejo, Isla Teopan, and Isla Meanguera. Don’t forget to visit the colonial towns of Ataco, Apaneca, Juayua, Panchimalco, Suichitoto, and of course, the Mayan sites of San Andrés, Joya Cerén (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Tazumal. For the best souveniers, go to El Salvador’s artisan capitals: San Juan el Espino and La Palma. Below, you’ll find more information on safety and precaution you can take, so you can enjoy your trip.

SAFETY INDEX

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Is El Salvador a Safe or Dangerous Country?

El Salvador has a bad reputation; however, the violence is not commonly directed at tourists, so visitors should not worry more than they would in any other developing country they’re visiting. Nonetheless, it is recommended that you still take standard safety precautions.

Petty crime is common throughout the country; this includes robbery, mugging and sexual assault. Criminals often operate in groups and target solo travelers. We recommend that you do not venture into isolated and/or poorly lit areas. It is best to use taxis after dark even if your destination is a couple of blocks away.
Most of the crime is gang-related (maras), and they include extortion, mugging, highway assault, and home and car theft. Most of the armed robberies reported have occurred on public transportation and in tourist areas. The bus stops on Alameda Roosevelt Street and in the area around del Mundo square in San Salvador are considered dangerous, especially on weekdays between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Petty crime, like bag snatching and pickpocketing, is also common. Make sure that your personal belongings are secure at all times. It is best to travel in groups and avoid exploring the city at night. The zones bordering Guatemala are dangerous due to drug war activity. If you are driving to/from Guatemala, please note that the crossing at Las Chinamas is hazardous due to the high number of robberies and carjacking reports. It is best to use one of the other three border crossings (La Hachadura, San Cristóbal or Anguiatú). Keep your car doors locked and do not stop for street vendors. The country is also known as “the country with a smile” due to the locals’ warmth and great hospitality, so as long as you are respectful and use common sense, you can enjoy your stay in El Salvador.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Standard safety precautions are recommended in El Salvador. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behavior as you would in any other country. Watch out for petty crime in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

Pickpocketing and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

Muggings have happened in urban areas. People walking alone are often the targets, especially at night. In case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you like a tap on the shoulder, spitting or getting something spilled on you. Credit card skimming is also common.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Public buses are often unsafe due to poor vehicle maintenance, and passengers are often robbed. Make sure you book a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible as there have been reports of traveler being robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers. Make sure your set a fare in advance.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

El Salvador is located in an active seismic zone. The rainy season may cause floods and landslides, especially in the lower Lempa River area. The Hurricane season runs from June to November. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There is no recent history of terrorism in El Salvador. However, they should not be ruled out, so remain vigilant for suspicious activity.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Many women travel safely without any issues. However, there have been reports of sexual assault throughout the country. Avoid isolated locations and traveling alone after dark. Remain extra vigilant at bus terminals and in taxis.

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