El Salvador or officially the Republic of El Salvador is a state in Central America. The country borders Honduras and Guatemala. The southern coast of El Salvador is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The capital city is San Salvador.
The weather in El Salvador is hot all the year round (the temperature can reach +34°C). The average annual temperature is +22 - +23°C. In the mountain regions, it is a bit more cold but still the temperature there never drops below +16°C. The wet season lasts from May to October and it rains every day. The ideal period for holidays in El Salvador is from November to April.
Almost 90% of the population are the Mestizos. The citizens of El Salvador are the adherents of Christianity. The majority (57%) are the Catholics.
Spanish is the official language but people speak Caliche in their everyday life.
El Salvador is the country with numerous monuments of Maya civilization. Amazing nature attracts the lovers of hiking from all over the world. Beautiful beaches and clear waters of the Pacific Ocean will satisfy any surfer.
The main political and cultural center of the country is its capital San Salvador which is located at the foot of the volcano. A small city Ilopango is known for its lake with the same name. The lake was formed in the 5th century as a result of a volcano eruption. The tourists can have a boat or a catamaran trip along the Lake Ilopango.
At the foot of the volcano Chaparrastique, there is one of the main business centers the city San Miguel. You will like this city if you prefer city noise and entertainments because Nuestra Senora de la Paz Carnival takes place here and lasts for two months.
The port city La Union is known for its calm sandy beaches.
There are no direct flights to El Salvador from Russia and other CIS countries. The tourists will have to take transit flights with a stop in Europe, Cuba or the USA.
The international buses run between El Salvador and the neighboring cities. The company Tica Bus offers the transfer.
A more affordable way to travel to El Salvador is through border checkpoints. When you reach one of the borders checkpoints, you can cross the border on foot and then travel by a local transport.
The port La Union on the east of El Salvador welcomes the ships from Nicaragua and Honduras.
If the EU and CIS tourists are planning to stay in El Salvador up to three months, they do not need a visa.
The travelers from Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia and Romania must obtain a 30 days visa when entering the country (the cost of a visa is 10 US dollars).
According to the Agreement on the Common Visa Space, the citizens from Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras can come to El Salvador visa-free.
To pass the border, the tourists must have a valid international passport, tickets, a document confirming financial sufficiency and migration card (in English and in Spanish).
Planning your trip to El Salvador, learn the Customs legislation of this country.
Export and import of national and foreign currency is not restricted.
Adult tourists can bring in El Salvador cigarettes and alcohol for personal use. The total cost of perfume and other personal belongings must not exceed 500 US dollars.
It is prohibited to import perishables. Canned food and meat in a vacuum packing can be imported.
The tourists are not allowed to export antiquities, animals’ skins, rare birds and animals without a special permit.
It is allowed to export and import the pets provided that there is an international vet certificate and a permit from the Veterinary department of San Salvador.
The cuisine of El Salvador is a bright mixture of Spanish and Indian cooking traditions. In their daily life, the citizens of El Salvador make a hot mix from rice and beans Casamiento. Maize flour flatbreads Pupusa with beans, meat or cheese are also very popular.
If the tourists will visit small settlements in El Salvador, for breakfast they will be offered Almuerzo (fried or boiled eggs with tomato sauce and spices). Fried bananas are served as an appetizer. Meat dishes with rice and beans are served for dinner.
People in El Salvador prefer pork, mutton and poultry however, seafood has also gained popularity among the locals. Typically they stew the seafood in a creamy sauce or grill it. If you crave for something exotic, you should try roasted iguana meat or roasted whole armadillo.
El Salvador is known all over the world for its coffee which is an extremely popular drink among the locals. The tourists will be served black coffee without sugar and traditional beverages made from sugar cane. You will surely like the taste of Fresca (sweet nectar) and Horchata (milk and rice cocktail with sugar and cinnamon). Fizzy drinks in El Salvador has a common name Gaseosas.
In El Salvador they make fantastic rum from sugar cane Aguardiente and an alcoholic beverage Torito which is similar to Russian vodka.
The official currency in El Salvador is Salvadoran colon but since 2001 dollar has became a new official currency. Only a few shops in the country put a price in colons.
Airports, hotels, banks and exchange offices are the main place where the tourists can exchange currency.
Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club are accepted in hotels, restaurants and stores in the capital city and in large touristic areas. Outside big cities, people are not willing to accept the cards and prefer cash.
There are ATMs only in large and port cities.
The tourists can cash traveler’s checks at banks and in hotels and they need to have a passport for this transaction. We recommend taking checks in US dollars. The exchange rate in El Salvador can vary at different banks and in different exchange offices of the same bank.
Details of interest
People in El Salvador are very proud of their culture which was greatly influenced by the Indian traditions.
People address to each other using the word Don or Judge depending on the social status. In some cases, they add the last name of a person they are addressing to. Before a name they often add Secor or Secora which is the same as Señora or Señor in Spanish.
Sightseeing in El Salvador
In El Salvador, there is a unique site which is under UNESCO protection. This is an ancient settlement Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site. This place is also known as Pompeii of the Americas. Maya lived there for many centuries but in the result of volcano eruption, the settlement was buried under the ashes. It was a miracle that people managed to run away and remained alive. Human fossils were not found during the archaeological excavations.
In the capital city San Salvador, there is a volcano with the same name and if it erupts, the city will ve destroyed. The city of Tazumal is a wonderful monument of Maya civilization, it is located 60 km away from the capital near Chalchuapa. In San Salvador, the tourists can see the colonial heritage of the country including the National Palace, National Theater and National Library. In the capital city, there is the Cathedral of San Salvador and the Cathedral of La Ceiba de Guadalupe.
A small city Apaneka attracts the tourists as a magnet with its amazing nature. Do not miss a chance to visit one of the most famous restaurants in El Salvador La Cochin de mi Abuela.
The city of San Vicente is a destination for those who prefers hiking. There are the hiking routes to Chichontepek volcano and crater lakes. Heading to the volcano, you will pass a Coatepeque village where there is a local relic the Virgin of Fatima in Portuguese, mountains and sulphur springs. The hiking route ends with an excursion to the ruins of Maya civilization Tehuacán.
In San Miguel, the tourists can see one of the oldest colonial churches the walls of which are 5 meters thick. In the Community Museum, there is an exposition devoted to the culture and history of El Salvador.
Ecological tourism is boosting in El Salvador. A horseback riding trip to Guazapa volcano will leave you with unforgettable memories about this exotic country.
In El Salvador, there is everything you need for water skiing, sailing, fishing, kayaking on the volcanic Coatepeque and Ilopango lakes. Divers will enjoy the waters of Ilopango.
Souvenirs in El Salvador
The tourists can buy in El Salvador pottery with authentic Mayan patterns, the crafts made of turtle shell or straw. The local also sell masks of a shaman or a stone figure of a man for protection.
In souvenir shops, you will find the beads and bracelets made from leather and bright threads.