El Salvador Travel Guide

El Salvador Travel Guide


Overview El Salvador

Country-specific safety information


Compared to Germany and many other countries, including Latin American countries, El Salvador has a very high rate of crime and violence. The greatest danger in the country comes from rival youth gangs. Foreigners and tourists have so far not been a special target group for acts of violence. Nevertheless, there is a nationwide risk of being affected as bystanders “at the wrong time, in the wrong place”. The possibility of travelers being targeted or victims of theft, robbery, break-ins or other crimes cannot be ruled out. The inhibition threshold when using Violence is very low, so in the event of an attack it is strongly recommended that you do not resist.

People are often attacked after withdrawing money from banks or ATMs. We strongly advise against withdrawing large amounts of cash. Credit cards are also “cloned” again and again. The use of ATMs in shopping centers, hotels or banks is preferable.

It is strongly recommended to keep your travel documents (passports, plane tickets, travel health insurance, etc.) in a safe place (e.g. in the hotel safe) and to have copies of the most important documents (passports, etc.) with you so that you can identify yourself if necessary. Travelers are advised to register electronically in the German list of the German diplomatic mission (under: External link, opens in new windowhttp: //elefand.diplo.de) and to keep the contact details stored there up to date.

We strongly advise against using regular public transport buses. The vehicles are not in a roadworthy condition. Many bus operators are blackmailed by criminal groups (protection racket). The demands for money are emphasized with extreme violence, numerous assaults on buses and also murders of bus drivers and passengers are the result. Long-distance buses without intermediate stops have far higher standards in general and in terms of safety. Several bus companies offer direct connections to the capitals of the surrounding countries. The buses used for this are mostly in good technical condition.

In any case, it is preferable to use approved taxis rather than buses. It is recommended to use a car even for short distances (approved taxis have an “A” as the first letter on the license plate). The airport taxis are operated by the ACACYA cooperative (Tel. + 503-2521-1000) Do not use taxis or other vehicles whose drivers offer their services outside the fenced ACACYA car park.

Keep your car doors and windows closed. Do not take hitchhikers with you and do not stop in the event of an apparent accident, but notify the nearest police station (many accidents have already been faked to rob those who hurry to help).

Travel over land

Caution should be exercised when traveling to the interior of El Salvador. Nocturnal trips outside of the cities and on remote routes should definitely be avoided; you should not travel alone. You should also avoid hiking tours or similar excursions without a knowledgeable guide away from the main roads.

Cross-country trips after dark, even in your own car or rental car, are not only strongly advised against because of the crime rate, but also because of the increased risk of accidents. Particular caution is required in San Salvador, Santa Ana and San Miguel, as well as the departments of La Paz, La Libertad, Cuscatlán, Usulután and Sonsonate.

Natural disasters

In Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the southern states of the United States, cyclone season is from June to the end of November. Tropical storms, heavy rainfall and, under certain circumstances, landslides must be expected. Travelers should follow the weather forecast for El Salvador (external link, opens in new windowhttp: //www.snet.gob.sv/) and pay attention to the instructions of the local security authorities (external link, opens in new windowwww.proteccioncivil.gob.sv). A real-time rain map for El Salvador can be found at the following link: External link, opens in a new windowhttp: //www.snet.gob.sv/googlemaps/radares

There is also the risk of volcanic eruptions. The Chaparrastique volcano, located in the east of El Salvador near San Miguel, is still slightly active after increased ash emissions in December 2013.

Heavy rainfall during the rainy season (approx. May to October), as last happened in 2011, can severely damage the infrastructure in the entire country within a short time.

As a country located in North America according to commit4fitness, El Salvador is a very earthquake-prone country. It is therefore recommended that you familiarize yourself with instructions on how to behave in the event of an earthquake before starting your journey.

El Salvador Travel Guide



In addition to the El Salvador Colon, the US dollar is the official currency: 1 US dollar = 100 cents. Currency abbreviation: US $, USD (ISO code). Banknotes are available in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 US $. The $ 2 banknote is so rare that it cannot be issued by ATMs. It is a popular collector’s item that many have never held in their hands because of its rarity. Coins are available in denominations of US $ 1 as well as 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cent.

Since 2001, the central bank has not issued any new colones that have practically been replaced by the US dollar in daily payment transactions.

Credit cards

American Express, Visa, Mastercard and, more rarely, Diners Club are accepted. Details from the issuer of the credit card in question. Cash can be withdrawn with a credit card at ATMs in larger cities, shopping centers and petrol stations.

ec / Maestro card / Sparcard
cards with the Cirrus or Maestro symbol are accepted throughout Europe and worldwide. Cards with the Cirrus or Maestro symbol are accepted in some ATMs (in the galleries in San Salvador) in El Salvador, but not in shops. Typically, the maximum withdrawal limit is US $ 400. Further information from banks and credit institutes.

Attention: Travelers who pay with their bank card abroad and want to withdraw money should find out about the possibilities of using their card from their bank before starting their journey.

Bank opening times

In general Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.-5 p.m., Sat 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Banks are on 29./30. June and 30./31. December closed for semi-annual accounts. Deviations between individual banks are possible.

Foreign exchange regulations

The import and export of local and foreign currencies is unlimited, declaration of US $ 10,000 or more is recommended.

Currency Exchange

Money should only be exchanged in banks and authorized exchange offices. Bringing US dollars is recommended as euros are not accepted.