Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”
Do you need some El Salvador travel advisory?
In this post, you will find the essential information and some useful tips to prepare your trip to this beautiful country in Central America!
SAY ZONTE! would like you to have a great time! So, get the most essential travel advisory for El Salvador before you start!
Is it safe to travel to El Salvador?
We hear that question very often, and we must answer: “Yes!”. But also, we want to give you the whole picture.
El Salvador is a developing country. Lots of people have to live with less than US$10 per day. Social inequality is a huge problem, and unfortunately, gang crime has pushed El Salvador on the blacklist for lots of travelers for decades. But: El Salvador is safe for tourists in general!
Anyway, every El Salvador travel advisory will tell you the following:
Don’t walk alone in the streets when it’s dark!
Don’t play with your newest iPhone 12 on a public bus!
Don’t resist in the very unlikely case that you are getting robbed!
Be extra vigilant if you visit banks or ATMs!
Don’t hike or walk alone in areas that you don’t know! We always recommend a tour guide!
Avoid dodgy places like red-light districts!
But, to be honest, these could be travel warnings that should be taken into account in almost every country you visit, maybe also in the US and Europe.
If you want to get the newest El Salvador travel advisory for, you should check out the official page of your embassy in El Salvador, for example:
US Embassy El Salvador Travel Advisory
German Embassy El Salvador Travel Advisory
French Embassy El Salvador Travel Advisory
Canadian Embassy El Salvador Travel Advisory
The British Embassy El Salvador Travel Advisory
The good news is that the US Embassy just dropped the travel advisory level from level 3 to level 2. The new Salvadoran government under president Nayib Bukele successfully put a lot of effort into making El Salvador safer. Please read our other post if you want to learn more about safety in El Salvador.
Typical tourist , like El Tunco or El Zonte, are generally safe in El Salvador.
Be aware of what you eat in El Salvador!
Every El Salvador travel advisory will point out the following concerning your health while travelling:
Use good sun protection!
Get the necessary vacunation!
Use insect repellent if necessary!
El Salvador is a tropical country, which means that you shouldn’t drink tap water and be aware of what and where you eat.
If you have a sensitive stomach, you might get some problems with diarrhea.
Maybe you should consider not to eat a fresh salad or seafood unless you’re 100% sure that the kitchen of the place is clean and the people who prepare your meal know how to wash their hands properly. But in general, it’s not a huge problem here in El Salvador.
Sometimes, Dengue or Zika can be a problem in El Salvador. Be sure to have proper mosquito protection with you: repellent, lightly colored clothes, and no perfume!
Malaria isn’t a problem in El Salvador. You should get an international health insurance cover before you travel to El Salvador!
Another but an often ignored point is sun protection. If you’re not used to the tropical sun, you might get sunburnt quickly, especially when you’re surfing.
Be sure to cover your head and use excellent sun protection. It’s worth bringing it to El Salvador because it can get expensive here.
Guided tours, or do it on your own?
Well, in general, we advise our customers to take a guided tour, whatever you do! Why? Not only because of safety reasons. An excellent local guide has a not of knowledge, wherever you go: Santa Ana Volcano, a coffee-tour or a surf-trip.
The money you spend on an excellent tour guide is often spent wisely. You save a lot of time, you travel safely, and you might get to know places that you would have missed traveling on your own.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to make trips on your own. Just be sure that you get some local knowledge before you go and plan it wisely – don’t travel when it’s dark, and don’t travel to unsafe areas!
Some reliable tour operators are:
- El ZonteSCool (El Zonte)
- Salvadoreantours (Suchitoto)
- Eternalsummer El Salvador (El Tunco)
- Surfos (El Tunco)
Luis Rivas from “, for example, offers excellent coffee-tours in El Salvador
El Salvador Travel advisory: Money!
The official currency in El Salvador is the US-Dollar. Most businesses accept credit cards – but not everywhere in El Salvador.
You can get cash with your credit card at ATMs at almost every gas station or bank in El Salvador.
Traveler’s checks are not that common. Some small villages, like El Zonte, don’t have ATMs yet. Go to El Tunco or La Libertad to get cash.
Check back with your local bank before you travel to El Salvador to be sure not to run out of money.
How get safely from the airport to my destination in El Salvador?
It’s probably best when you arrange your pick up from the airport with your accommodation before your arrival. Sometimes it can be really stressful to start organizing your the transfer to your accomodation when you arrive.
Also, there’re official taxis (Acacya) available at the airport. Transport to El Tunco or El Zonte should be in between US$40-50.
Some travelers come by public bus. It can be an adventure to get where you want by public transport. If you decide to do so, be aware that you will need a lot of time, patience, and maybe some words of Spanish. Check out this site: Centrocoasting.
Also, you can read more here to get some helpful information about how to get around in El Salvador.
When is the best time to travel to El Salvador?
During dry season the beaches in the west of El Salvador are covered by sand! (here: El Zonte)
It depends on what you’re looking for! The rainy season in El Salvador is from May till October, which doesn’t mean that it rains all day long. Mostly it rains during the night.
October can get messy sometimes with a lot of rain, also during the day. But prices are getting lower, and you still might have a great time here! The best time for surfers to travel to El Salvador is from April till August, with perfect waves and beautiful surf spots. Surf in El Salvador: Useful Tips & Hints
Where to stay if you travel to El Salvador?
El Salvador’s central tourist hub is El Tunco, about 45 minutes away from the international airport of El Salvador. The beach town offers a large variety of accommodation, restaurants, and tour operators. Most foreign tourists who travel to El Salvador come here first.
Depending on what you want, there’re other places to stay when you visit El Salvador.
El Zonte, for example, is just 15 minutes away by car from El Tunco. The little beach village is quieter and way more relaxed than El Tunco. Also, there’re two surf spots, like in El Tunco.
If you go to the eastern part of El Salvador, you will be able to discover beautiful sandy beaches and great surf spots like “Las Flores” and “Punta Mango.” But the infrastructure for tourists is worse than around the La Libertad area (El Tunco and El Zonte).