Don’t skip El Salvador.

When I first told my dad I was going to backpack around the world he had a million questions and did not understand me at all. Later on when I told him I had a change of plans and was going to be starting a few months early and in Central America instead of Europe. The first thing he told me was too not go to El Salvador. I didn’t ask why I already knew why… or so I thought I did.

See some countries get a bad reputation by news outlets and the images and headlines they put out about them. In my head I had an image of El Salvador that was not cute at all. I thought people lived scared to go outside and locked inside because of the many dangerous gangs that are around. Well was I wrong… way wrong.

I had been on the road just about 2 months before getting to El Salvador. I had spoken to many backpackers and a lot of them seemed to have skipped El Salvador and not go at all. I was planning to do the same thing. See I am a chicken and well I was scared to go to El Salvador by myself. Luckily I met up with SuperXicana and Mark. The three of us had similar itineraries and all wanted to go to El Salvador but not really alone. We decided to travel to El Salvador together and man am I glad we did.

This is why you should not skip El Salvador.


Semana Santa in Suchitoto, El Salvador.

The small towns are amazing. While in El Salvador we visited Perquin, San Vicente, Suchitoto & La Palma. They are all small enough for you to enjoy a nice walk around the entire town with out being exhausted yet big enough to have everything you need. I loved that they all had a central plaza and were so alive. Sitting there and watching people live was a highlight.


A shot of Rio Sapo, El Salvador. Everyone would jump/dive in to the natural pool made by the river.

Nature lovers will have a lot to do and see. Even though we didn’t do much of the nature stuff you will have a lot to choose from. We spent one afternoon at Rio Sapo swimming and jumping/diving off the cliff. El Salvador has many rivers, volcanos and national parks to keep you busy.


Me, SuperXicana and Mark with kids from El Mozote, El Salvador.

The people of El Salvador are awesome. Not once did I feel unsafe or encounter anyone that was not nice. Everyone we met was more then happy to help us out. Hell it was also in El Salvador that we started hitchhiking. Many times instead of waiting for a bus we put our thumbs out and hitched a ride up to where we needed. We spent one afternoon hanging out with a family from El Mozote, it is now a highlight of my trip. Another night SuperXicana and I went to a bar and ended up making friends with the owner his girlfriend and her brother.


One of the many campaign poster used during the Salvadoran Civil War.

The history is intense. I know all countries have a long history, but El Salvadors is very intriguing. I am not going to go into detail about El Salvadorian history, but will say a few things. Aside from a few museums I went to in Nicaragua going to the ones in El Salvador were tough. I visited the civil war museum in Perquin and while there so many times I had to hold my tears back because I couldn’t believe the things my country (USA) had done here.  Then while visiting the memorial for the El Mozote massacre I couldn’t hold them any longer the tears were rolling. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The links included here are links to pages that will give you more information on those situations.


Pupusas up close and personal. Man they are so damn good!!!

The food okay I guess I should say the “PUPUSAS”. They were so good they got an entire blog post. Check out what I had to say about them here.


So are you convinced? I hope so! Tell me have you been to El Salvador did you love it as much as I did? If you haven’t is it on your list of places to visit why or why not? For the record Nicaragua is still my favorite country in Central America, but El Salvador comes in a close 2nd.

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  1. Love it Jaime, glad you had a great time in El Salvador. Those natural pools look awesome, hoping some of those make it into your photo post for the week!
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..A Smack in the Face Reminder

    • Thanks Justin, some of those photos wont end up on my photo round up. I was in El Salvador like 3-4weeks ago. I am a few post behind on my blog. Trying to catch up a bit.

  2. You make an important point of not always listening to the advice of others. Many people, including my parents, were worried when I went to Morocco. They told me not to go because they were afraid. People are afraid of what they don’t know, and the more foreign it is, the stronger that fear will be. Unfortunately these fears are often created and compounded by the media.

    Traveling to somewhere ‘dangerous’ isn’t ever easy but if you are smart you can find ways of coping with these problems, like traveling with more people.

    Experiencing any culture destroys stereotypes and when we find out what life is really like there, that’s a liberating experience and one of my favorite parts of traveling.

    When I went to Morocco I spent three weeks there and came to realize that it’s not a dangerous place at all, just extremely different. It was by far the most difficult place that I traveled but also the most rewarding. Glad you had a similar experience.
    Ross Roams recently posted..Day 186- Escaping Morocco Seville and Faro

    • Hey Ross I am very glad to hear that about Morocco. I plan on going a few weeks while I am in Spain. I know its going to be different and a bit more difficult but will def be worth it.

      I agree with you traveling somewhere dangerous is never easy but you have to be smart about it. Meeting other people and going together is a smart thing to do.

      I will def need to chat with you about Morocco and get the inside scoop.

  3. I totally agree. I spent about 3 weeks in El Salvador, and I loved it. Not only is it an incredibly affordable destination, it is beautiful and there are lots of great outdoors activities. Since it’s a small country, you can get around easily and quickly.

    I visited Playa El Tunco and Juayua in the mountains. I also did a hiking tour in El Bosque Imposible. I highly recommend all three places.

    Great post on some of the less-traveled destinations in Central America.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..Discovering Kentucky in Buenos Aires

    • Glad to see you went & loved it just as much. It really is an incredible destination and very affordable. I hope more people make it out there. I know in the future I would love to spend more time there.

  4. I love this post because it highlights an important point about travel – people need to see the world for themselves instead of letting others tell them where to go. I’m glad you made the decision to go to El Salvador. It looks like you’ve had a wonderful time.
    Alouise recently posted..I’m Different When I Travel

  5. My mother loves to read the “Dangers and Annoyances” section of the guidebooks to all the places I go – if she had her way, I wouldn’t go anywhere 😀

    Getting beyond the headlines is one of the greatest things about travelling.
    megan recently posted..Getting drunk on the road to Kathmandu

    • Oh Megan I can not stop laughing… that is too funny!!! I hardly ever look at the “Dangers & Annoyances” section of the guidebook because I dont want to be scared jajaja. I agree though getting beyond the headlines is one of the greatest things about traveling.
      Jaime recently posted..Photo Round Up – Week 10

  6. El Salvador was such a huge surprise to us! WE live in Guatemala and went there for a very long weekend. We totally fell in love with it! We went to Suchitoto and Playa Tunco.

    Wow! The people are lovely, the energy is high, the beaches are gorgeous. Since then we’ve been back 2 more times and at this point have made El Salvador our families favorite country!
    Marina K. Villatoro recently posted..Playa Tunco – The Ultimate Surf Town!

  7. Hi Jaime

    El Salvador is a great destination, I visited many years ago, and while I had quite an interesting experience ( I am including a link to my story, hope you don’t mind, otherwise delete it I would still go back because of the people and general vibe.
    Federico recently posted..Where is Bulgaria Where Past Meets Present

    • Hey Federico of course I dont mind about the link you posted. I read it and wow, that is crazy & scary. It reminded me of the time I was held at gunpoint, when you are in those situations you really dont know how to react and just go with the flow. I agree I would still go back to Costa Rica even though that happened there.

  8. I have to admit El Salvador wasn’t really on my to do list, and never really bothered to look into it. But maybe I should start paying more attention to El Salvador, sounds like a place worth visiting.
    Tijmen recently posted..Kamchatka- The Land of Fire and Ice

    • Yeah give it a shot… I really was hesitant as well, but it is well worth it. I am glad I went and wish I could have spent more time there.

  9. Thank you so much for this article! I don’t see a lot written about El Salvador but it’s on my list. I love that you took a chance to go somewhere you wanted to instead of letting other people hold you back.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      You’re Welcome Becky, yes I am so happy I ended up going. It was nice and beautiful and I loved the food and the people. Everything was just great.

  10. Hey, I am really glad to find your blog. A lot of people think that El Salvador is not a beautiful destination …

    I am going in Salvador at the end of April (we got return ticket from Munich for only 250 euros – awesome), but unfortunately we have only 2 weeks for travel because of our college. So do you have any suggestion about what we should see; Honduras, Guatemala or Belize? We say that we have time for only one (+ Salvador), My boyfriend said that he would like to swim in Caribbean see – we have never been on Caribbean yet 🙂 I looked on google maps and I saw that from San Salvador it is 8 hours to Belize (for example Ciudad de Belise) and the same to for example La Ceiba in Honduras. Maybe it is better to go in Honduras, because I read that there is also an entree fee, so if we go to Belize, we have to cross also Guatemala 🙂

    What do you think?

    Thank you for you comment and enjoy on your trip – wherever you are right now 🙂

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Nina, Looks like you have some great plans. As for where to go other than Salvador. That is up to you. I mean really El Salvador is on the complete opposite side of the Caribbean. I loved Caye Caulker in Belize, but to get there from El Salvador over land would be pointless, would take you so long. SO unless you’d like to fly. But I mean really Salvador has a lot to offer for a small country and the neighboring Gautemala is amazing too. As for Honduras I am honestly scared of traveling there, just from everything I’ve heard. I only went to COpan Ruinas and left. I hope this helps.

  11. Great stuff mate, you really cover all the reasons why people should really try out El Salvador. I had some of the same experience with my family when I said I would move to El Salvador.

    There are so many great reasons to why visit El Salvador. If your readers want some more reasons they can check out the article, 100 things to do in El Salvador

  12. Jaime, I really love your blog, I´m Salvadorian and we are trying to bring more travelers to the contry and let everyone that #dontskipelsalvador, I´m so happy that you didn´t. We also are offering free travel advice under our website , also we have the #1 free walking tour in central america EC tours El Salvador

    El Salvador is great

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