El Salvador, An Exotic Destination!
Posted by Donald T. Lee - centralamericatraveltips[at]yahoo dot com
Country: El Salvador
Region: All
Cost: depends location or specific tour
Website: www.theotherelsalvador.com
Date: 09th June 2007
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Location: El Salvador, teh country, is located in Central America, bordered on teh north and
west by Guatemala and teh north and east by the nation of Honduras. All other
information is included in teh travel tips.

More and more...folks are beginning to discover the
beauty, charm and friendly people of El Salvador,
"Central America's Hidden Gem"

EL SALVADOR...
DISCOVER THE UNDISCOVERED CENTRAL AMERICA AN EXOTIC
AND SUPRISE DESTINATION.......

The following suggestions are put together for anyone
traveling to El Salvador, whether it be to visit
friends or relatives, for business or just for a visit
of the country.

How to Pack: El Salvador is hot and humid any time of
the year. Rainy season begins usually at the beginning
of May and runs through October, so plan accordingly.
Bring light weight clothing, but appropriate clothing.
In some rural areas it is still inappropriate for
women to wear pants and especially shorts so be sure
to pack some skirts, sisters, just in case! You’ll now
see more and more bikinis sported on El Salvador’s
public beaches as in the resort areas of Costa Rica
and Mexico. Things are slowly but surely changing.

Good shoes.... Please bring comfortable shoes. Even if
you hire a driver or tour operator to transport you or
rent a car in El Salvador some hiking and walking will
be required to explore off the beaten path, and it
won't always be down paved sidewalks, more often
mountain trails, so bring some good, sturdy and
comfortable hiking shoes. Leave all your valuables you
will not need at home. No flashy jewelry, no fancy
watches, nothing that will make you stand out in the
humble villages you are bound to visit. Remember, the
contents of your luggage could contain more than a
humble person may possess in a lifetime.

Travelling around: In the modern cities of San
Salvador and San Miguel, Santa Ana and Sonsonate the
visitor shall encounter the modern US style
"MetroCentro" malls boasting everything from
supermarkets to tattoo parlors where the young imitate
US dress and styles, chatting endlessly on the
cellular phones! ATM machines and Banks are located in
the modern shopping centers and accept most all
international credit and debit cards, paying out in
USD, the currency of legal tender in El Salvador since
2000. The shopping malls have their own private guard
services avoid using ATMs located on the street or
outside banks when alone, especially at night. When
travelling to to beach or countryside bring only as
much cash as you feel you'll need for meals and small
purchases, some of the larger coastal restaurants and
all of the larger guest houses, B & B's and beach and
mountain resort hotels accept credit and/or
international debit cards. For large purchases in the
city, use credit card. Never flash a lot of cash, nor
leave valuables unattended in a parked vehicle unless
locked securely in the trunk out of sight.
Never discuss your travel itinerary with overly
friendly strangers nor tell anyone where you are
lodging. Many El Salvadorians have lived or worked in
the US/Canada and there are many who understand
English..if you are in public and wishing to converse
or conduct business privately go to areas like the
Food Courts in Metrocentro or Galerias Mall where it
is noisy and strangers are unlikely to overhear, being
a little 'nosy', especially regarding foreigners is
part and pacel of the culture here in El Salvador. If
you speak a language(s) other than English or Spanish,
go for it, I used to speak German with a multi lingual
Salvadorian friend in such situations.

Getting There: There are several flights daily into
San Salvador from the US Gateways of Los Angeles,
Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New York, and Miami (as well
as from Montreal and Toronto and other Central and
South American cities, Flights direct from Europe into
Cancun & Mexico City, Guatemala and San Jose, Costa
Rica)). Shop around and start early and you may
actually find a good deal. Don't rule out the national
airline, Grupo Taca. View: www.taca.com Their
international service is now at a par with the US
carriers, often even they usually run a little
cheaper. I the writer, work specifically with those
planning to travel to El Salvador, Guatemala and the
rest of Central America. If you notify me at least a
month in advance of your departure I can give you some
valuable information, either if you are travelling in
a group or independently. There is also a website,
http://www.skyauction.com/ , that generally has a
couple of tickets to San Salvador up for auction, but
we cannot vouch for their service, reliability, etc...
we have only seen that they offer cheap rates. Read
the fine print and study before making any purchases.
The Latin Travel Consolidator, Exito Travel, based in
the USA and dealing only with Latin Travel can be very
helpful in planning a trip view:
http://www.exitotravel.com/

US and Canadian Citizens no longer need to purchase a
$10.00 tourist card when they arrive in El Salvador.
Stay given is 90 days, and that includes immigration
for 3 other nations of the CA-4 (Central American 4
countries): Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, after
that the visitor must exit to either Belize, Mexico or
Costa Rica and return after 72 hours for another 90
days, if planning to work or volunteer check with your
employer or non profit organization regarding
assistance with obtaining a 1 year work permit or
volunteer visa.

The airport departure tax leaving El Salvador is
generally $27.00-$34.00USD cash, check with your
airline. (not included in the price of your ticket
usually). Remember that the airport for El Salvador is
near the coast, actually 45 kms. or 28 miles from the
capital city (about a 45 minute ride to the capital).
Those planning beach or coastal vacations in El
Salvador will be more than happy to hear that resorts
and hotels on the Pacific Coast are all accesible,
some within minutes, from the airport by the Carretera
Litoral or Coastal Highway CA2, no need to drive into
or through the congested capital city of San Salvador.


There exist in El Salvador local tour
operators/drivers and transportation companies who
will arrange in advance to pick you up at the airport
and transfer you to your Beach, San Salvador city or
Countryside lodging place(or often the hotels may have
airport shuttles),

When travelling by first class or luxury bus services from either Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua/Costa
Rica(King Quality Lines, Pulmantur, TransNica and Tica
Buses), the The international bus terminals are
located at the modern 'Puerto Bus' terminal..with
security or in the upscale Colonia San Benito, near
many of the 4 and 5 star luxury hotels.

Where to Stay in San Salvador to suit any traveler's
budget:

There are several unique places to stay in and around
San Salvador.

Business and Upscale Travel: If you are a business
person looking for first class hotels with world
business class service try the Hotel Princess, El
Presidente, Raddisson, or Holiday Inn located in the
upscale San Benito, Escalón and Santa Elena
neighborhoods of Metro San Salvador. Also some
excellent 3 star hotels such as the Hotel-Casino
Siesta offering discounts with advance
reservations..have no fear, if you wish we’ll assist
you to handle all the detail work for you in advance,
and save you a bundle off the rack rate! Some of these
4 Star hotels are located in or near the Zona Rosa, a
trendy area with expensive boutiques and restaurants..
It is quiet and very safe in the surrounding areas by
day. The Holiday Inn is the newest large hotel in San
Salvador. It is in the neighborhood of Santa Elena,
just 3 blocks away from the U.S. Embassy. It is at the
edge of town and will allow you to leave San Salvador
for the western part of the country without having to
fight the traffic of the capital city. Prices in these
hotels range from $65-$100+ per night rack rate
depending on how many occupants you will be traveling
with. Book ahead.

Budget and Independent Travel: No doubt, if you are an
independent traveller you are looking for something
nice but less ritzy, try one of the many unique
lodging places, bed and breakfasts and guest houses
associated with us in and around San Salvador. They
have private rooms and bathrooms, but are not as large
as the hotels, generally with less than 15 rooms.
Prices for the bed and breakfasts/guest houses range from $25-$75 per night depending the establishment and
on how many beds you require. Cheaper accomodations
can be found at some of the smaller hotels closer into
town and around the National University area, which
boasts a thriving "Bohemian" style nightlife. Most of
these small hotels and guest houses offer excellent
basic services for our travellers, especially those
who wish to mix and socialize with natives and other
travellers and of course, do not mind taking a cold
shower in the early morning! Prices range from $6.00
per person in dorm rooms to $20.00-$25.00 double in
some small guest houses offering breakfast, cable tv
and hot water! . for anyone who wishes to stay on in
El Salvador for a time and either work or volunteer in
one of the ongoing releif projects or in humanitarian
aid, before and after your arrival we are willing and
able to assist you in finding home stay or long term
room or apartment rentals from $60 month+. Home stay
with native families in Indingenous Studies (Nahuat)
and Spanish Language programs is also recommended and
arrangements may be made with them on a weekly or
monthly basis.

Getting Around: Transport - Public Transportation The
buses in El Salvador are a thrill for those who have
never experienced our "guanaco" mode of transport. If
you enjoy a thrill, feel free to use the public bus
system on your free time to get around. It can be slow
at times, but it is extremely cheap. Even if you
choose not to use the public transportation, you
should take one bus ride just for the experience.
There's nothing quite like it... believe us! All the
organized tours for travelers are in insured vehicles
with driver for your comfort and safety..and theirs as
well! Taxis within the city of San Salvador are
reliable. Do not walk alone nor take public transport
after 8PM within San Salvador unless you are familiar
with the area and route. Simply flag a taxi down on
the street if you require to and determine the price
to your destination before you get in the cab. There
are also dispatch services that you can call from your
lodging place and have pick you up. Most dispatch
drivers have their own cell phones and you are able to
contact them later for pick up. Try to avoid the
"taxistas" at the luxury hotels, unless you are able
to negociate in Spanish, or if not, try and have a
native negociate price for you if possible. For
visitors in San Salvador there are safe and sound city
nightlife trips if desired: casas de arte, gallery
showings, theatres, bars and restaurants with either a
Salvadorian or international flavor, in the
countryside (small towns) in El Salvador there exists
little "night life" but the "right life" with El
Salvadorian native guides or friends introducing you
to our culture, cuisine and customs. Rental Cars: If
you don't wish to drive contract transportation which
is insured, with a local bonded company driver who
knows the conditions and terrain, however for certain
specialized archaeological and ecological trips it may
be necessary for your group to rent a 4WD vehicle, one
of several qualified native guides is able to conduct
you if desired. Remember that rental car companies in
Central America offer you two insurance options: 1.
Basic: with a $1,000 to $1,200 deductible on your
Credit Card at approx. $17 per day up insurance
charges or 2. Full insurance, including all collision
damages, fire and theft at approx. $60 per day
insurance charges for a 4WD, if I were you, venturing
to remote areas with rough terrain I would choose full
insurance, a friend of mine recently did so in
Nicaragua and saved $1,200! Again, economic car,
$40-$55 for a four door sedan, $75-$100 for a large
pickup or SUV. All these prices incluye insurance and
13%sales tax (IVA). What to see n' do: There are a few
things you shouldn't miss while you are in El
Salvador. Here are a few activities that you could do
Either on your own or with a guide.
For those independent travelers wishing to take
public transport to all of their destinations while
visiting El Salvador, be advised to leave the bulk of
your luggage, passport and valuables at hotel or
friend's home. If going far leave early in the
morning, most buses are running by 5AM. Buses are
generally crowded, especially after 3PM and on
weekends, there is excellent service on main bus
routes such as San Salvador to Santa Ana (Ruta 201),
San Salvador to San Miguel (Ruta 301) and San Salvador
to Puerto Libertad (Ruta 102), however to more remote
areas and smaller towns bus service can be sparse, in
areas where there exists little or no public
transport, you may need to hitchhike a ride on a pick
up truck, giving driver a tip at arrival. Many of
these pick ups often act as "public transport" for
locals anyway.

Cerro Verde and Lake Coatepeque: These two
destinations are beautiful, close to each other and
not to be missed.
Cerro Verde National Park: a lush verdant park on a
summit soaring above the lake with the famous view of
Izalco’s Volcano and its still smoking cone. The
lodge, where you may stay overnight, with volcano or
lake view rooms, is run by the national tourist
commission, reservations required. We obtain your
permits to enter the park. The lake is very scenic
with boat trips with local fishermen to the small
island "Teopan" in the middle that is a holiday and
weekend retreat for wealthy Salvadorians. Most of the
island is a nature preserve and hiking on the trails
is allowed, thousands of Monarch Butterflies in mating
season and a bird sanctuary. Lake Coatepeque is a
volcanic crater lake and there is a nice hotel and
some small restaurants along the lake edge.

Montecristo Cloud Forest: This is one of the most
beautiful hikes in all of Central America from the
summit, which is reached by 4WD, coaster or minibus
(standard vehicle not recommended) by winding dirt
road 23Km. above the town of Metapan, located 35 Km.
north of Santa Ana, near the Guatemalan frontier, a
1.5 hour drive from San Salvador. One of the few
remaining cloud forests in Central America,
Montecristo winds to the top where Guatemala,
Honduras, and El Salvador are all visible from the
Atlantic to the Pacific. Orchid Gardens near to the
Camping grounds…our organization provides camping and
equipment on all our organized tours for those able,
others may opt for country hotels. ..The park is
administered by an NGO from the EU.

Life is a Beach!
Ocean Highway - Calle Litoral from La Libertad to
Acajutla This coastal highway runs along the ocean
front for seventy or eighty kilometers. It is a
beautiful drive that winds along the hills and through
a set of five tunnels. Take time to snap some photos
and have lunch in La Libertad or Sonsonate. If you're
eating in La Libertad try La Curva one of the nicer
oceanside restaurants with a great view and wonderful
food. Acajutla is a thriving port city and the nearby
Los Cobanos Beach offers the adventure traveller deep
sea fishing and diving excursions. For more detailed
information on El Salvador's coastal desinations,
unique lodging places and resorts contact the writer.
At present, besides the 'Decameron' there are two new
resorts very close to to the International Airport
under operation and several more new unique lodging
places along the coast, as well, tourism in the
colonial and crafts villages and the countryside is
increasing.

Ruta de Las Flores - Carreterra from Sonsonate to
Ahuachapan Stop off in Nahuizalco and buy a few wicker
souvenirs. The nahuizalqueños set up their shops right
along the highway, but if you have time, go into the
small town and visit some of the shops. The
handicrafts are worth a few minutes of your time as is
the market. Drive through Salcoatitan and take the
detour into Juayua. If you're driving through on a
weekend, they often have a market with traditional
dishes set up around the central plaza. These are
generally very clean and safe to eat. After Juayua
visit Apaneca where you can have a bite to eat at the
Cabañas de Apaneca and take in the view of the coffee
fields and surrounding mountains. Continue to escape
the heat by passing through Ataco on your way down to
Ahuachapan. Chorros de Juayua: The Chorros de Juayua
are a set of waterfalls outside of the town of Juayua.
The hike down is not difficult, but the path is not
easy to traverse. It is definitely worth it, though.
The secenery around the waterfalls is beautiful and
the hike down is also very scenic. **If a single or a
couple alone..Ask the local police in Juayua if they
would be willing to provide an escort as local thieves
occassionally hide out along the trail. If you do
encounter a thief, however, simply give him some money
and be on your way. They are usually local teens that
do not intend to harm anyone, but are looking for an
easy buck. If you are the type who would rather be
"safe than sorry" then The El Salvadorian National
Tourist Police are also able to escort small groups on
day tours, including eco tours, anywhere within El
Salvador if you give them about two weeks notice,
there is no charge, however tipping is expected.
Police are very helpful to tourists, and if driving a
rental car and are stopped, show your licence and car
papers and you'll be on your way

Mayan Ruins: San Andres and Joyas de Cerén San Andres
and Joyas de Cerén are two Mayan ruin sites. San
Andres has a new museum that is excellent and offers
free tours before examining the pyramids. If you have
seen the majestic temple ruins in Copan, Mexico or
Guatemala, don't expect much in "size" from these
ruins, but more in "quality" We know native guides who
are experts in every aspect of our Maya-Pipil
culture..We ourselves are associated with 'Mundo Maya'
(The Mayan World) organization. Joya de Cerén is the
only "non royal" Mayan site existing in MesoAmerica,
an ordinary village buried under volcanic ash some
1400 years ago after an eruption of the nearby
volcano, Joya de Cerén is referred to as the "Pompeii
of the Americas". It is a very interesting site for
academics and a "must see" for visitors who wish to
understand fully our pre-Hispanic culture! with some
displays explaining what has been unearthed, but is
not completely finished yet. Well worth the effort is
a visit to Cihuatan, a ruins north of San Salvador,
still under excavation, called "The City of Women"….

Santa Ana: Cathedral and Theater in the Central Plaza
of Santa Ana The catedral in Santa Ana is famous
throughout El Salvador for its classic gothic design.
Be prepared for the pigeons and local photographers
trying to snap your photo and sell you a picture. The
theater on the other side of the park is a rare work
of art in El Salvador. They are attempting to restore
it, and it seems very "out of place" for Santa Ana
with its classic design and architecture. There is a
nominal fee (less than 50¢) to get in, but it is an
interesting stop if you are in Santa Ana.

Suchitoto:
Narrow Cobbled Stone Streets and Adobe Houses...
Time definitely seems to have stopped in the city of
Suchitoto, one of the country's most visited cities in
the Northern part of the country. Suchitoto is located
in the department of Cuscatlán and is situated 47
kilometers from the capital city of San Salvador. This
equates to about a one hour drive.
Suchitoto, which in the native Nahuatl tongue means
"City of the Flower Bird", literally became a ghost
town in the period of the country's civil war, which
lasted from 1980 - 1992. The constant cascade of bombs
and battles near the extinct volcano of Guazapa forced
most of its inhabitants to abandon the city. Yet it
was this migration that helped the city to preserve
its unique architecture. While visiting Suchitoto,
you'll experience that magic calm of the old days,
with narrow cobbled stone streets and adobe houses
with balconies.
Read more:
http://www.alfatravelguide.com/english/sv/Suchitoto.asp

For more detailed information: http://gaesuchito.com/
& http://www.theotherelsalvador.com/ in English &
Spanish, Webmaster is a Salvadorian-American residing
in Suchitoto. Any contributions to the site are
welcome in either language.




*Guatemala, just over the border: We have associate
native guides, hotels and lodging places and tour
operators in Guatemala, only 4.5 hours by vehicle or
first class bus from San Salvador. Antigua, where most
travellers choose to base, is only 45 minutes
southwest of Guatemala City (42 Km.) by paved divided
highway. For budget travellers buses to Antigua leave
Zona (Zone)3 in Guatemala city every 10-15 minutes
during the day.

No No's: Do not plan JUST for a "vacation". Plan for
AN UNFORGETTABLE CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE! Do
not bring expensive gifts to give out to beggars or
street children... This sets up false expectations for
other families and trravelers when they come to visit
in the area. Many of the people you visit will be
extremely poor, but the best thing to do is not to
give them money, ESPECIALLY STREET CHILDREN, if you
wish to donate, arrange to do so quietly with your
native guide and a village leader or priest. Please do
not offer anyone promises of visas or work in the
United States, etc... Always respect local culture and
customs, never become argumentative nor critical and
always have your native guide smooth out any disputes
that arise.. Do everything possible to make all your
own arrangements leaving from the United States,
Canada, etc. and not burden others with those little
minute travel details that you should be able to
handle on your own. If I do not know the answer to a
question I shall try and find out for you. Invaluable
to bring along with you are PRINT Guidebooks, up to
date, such as Footprint Mexico & Central America
Handbook..very detailed..your best bet!, Lonely Planet
Central America and the 'On Your Own in El Salvador'
(the only country specific guidebook for El
Salvador)..2nd edition out of print..try on Amazon.com
and detail maps available in bookstores as well as on
the Internet..... so 'Let's Go Amigo!…'

Donald Lee, San Salvador, El Salvador
Resident of El Salvador, Guatemala & México over 21 years
E mail or message me on care2.com for more detailed information.
Donlee23 at care2.com

Alpha Travel Guide...
In English, Swedish and Spanish
Great information and reservations portal for all
Central
America....http://www.alfatravelguide.com/english/index.htm


For a virtual tour of El Salvador: English or Spanish
http://www.4elsalvador.com/

Some Top El Salvador Attractions:
Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site
San Andres Archaeological Site
Devil's Door (Puerta del Diablo)
Arbol de Dios Gallery and Shop , San Salvador
Parque de San Martin Suchitoto
Iglesia Santa Lucia Suchitoto
For more information on the charming colonial
restored town of Suchitoto view:
http://gaesuchitoto.com/
http://www.theotherelsalvador.com/
plus:
Catedral Metropolitana , San Salvador
Lake Coatepeque
El Sunzal Surfing Beach
Montecristo Cloud Forest
El Imposible Nature Reserve

More much, much more..ignore all the 'bad press' and
discover the undiscovered El Salvador!
********************************************************************
***************************************
Security...keep a low profle and use common sense..anywhere you travel in Latin
America
Drive defensively, and as at home..you may encounter a few 'nuts' on the road,
if you do ever become involved in an vehicular accident, keep your cool, never
react to another angry driver**, 'road rage' and stressed out motorists are
becoming a world wide phenomenon..if you must venture into the capital city of
San Salvador for vehicle parts, ATM or errands, hire a local to help you and
take public transportation, another good way to get to know the country and
people.
**Also be aware that 'hit and run' accidents..motorist on pedestrian or
bicyclist are quite common throughout Latin America..avoid driving Saturday and
Sunday afternoons when many drivers are intoxicated and never at night, except
in case of emergency.

By Donald T. Lee


El Salvador - All - El Salvador, An Exotic Destination! - santa tecla is the Modern city of el salvador
Posted by Edwin Saravia - saravia1985[at]hotmail dot com
Date: 14th October 2007
santa tecla is the Modern city of el salvador
El Salvador - All - El Salvador, An Exotic Destination! - santa tecla is the Modern city of el salvador El Salvador - All - El Salvador, An Exotic Destination! - salinita resourt the best one to visit in el salvador, for turist El Salvador - All - El Salvador, An Exotic Destination! - Colonia Campestre el salvador
 
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Date: Friday, 01st July 2011 11:03 AM
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Posted by: Kimberly - kimberlycallioux[at]yahoo dot com
Date: Saturday, 08th February 2014 02:04 PM
I am considering retiring in El Salvador in the fall of this year and will be living on a small pension from Canadian Armed Forces. I am looking to live among locals in a small community any suggestions where I should look to find long term rentals of old homes or cottages?
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El Salvador
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Population: 6,704,932
Land Size: 21,040 sq km
Capital: San Salvador
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