"Welcome to "danger zone"" San Salvador by Srechko

San Salvador Travel Guide: 156 reviews and 420 photos

One exciting day in San Salvador

My original plan did not include staying or even visiting San Salvador, but in order to make my plans - I had no other choice. If you are travelling towards south or west you can not avoid the capital. I am glad though that I have seen and experienced this city - it really is one of the kind.

We arrived from Guatemala City and we got settled in the hotel located close to bus station. Hotel staff told us that walking by night is dangerous in San Salvador's historical center. Center was only 6 blocks away - so obivously that is exactly where we wanted to go. Apparently gangs attack lone passenger with knives and guns. As we were two unshaved guys taller and more dangerous looking than most locals - we figured that we should give it a try and at least see from the distance what the situation looks like.

Walking at night

Area around the hotel was quite deserted. All the stores were closed (it was only 8pm) and we only saw a few people in rush walking up and down the street. I must admit it was kind of scary but we walked 2 blocks towards the center anyway. There, now 4 block away, we asked some people on the street if it was safe to continue to walk. They said no - and that we should take a cab. It sounded silly to us to take a cab for 2 minute ride - so we carefully continued walking. Based on reaction of people we passed by, it was obvious that gringo tourist don't come here often. Finally we arrived to the center and that moment became one of those authentic memorable ones. All of a sudden crowds were everywhere, stands with all kinds of merchandise (nothing for tourists) were lined on the pavements all over so walking on the street was the only option. Reggeton music was pumping loudly from everywhere which coloured entire atmosphere. This was also the dirtiest area I have ever seen. Piles of garbage were everywhere, and I was thinking that streets weren't cleaned for months. I was wrong though as next day after walking in the same area I noticed that they cleaned them up. So all that garbage was accumulated in only one day!!! Anyway, we are there on the street, popusas with cabbage, what else, and we talked to some locals. They seemed very friendly but surprised if not shocked to see tourists in this danger zone. We got many looks there - I felt quite important.

More warnings

Next day I spent walking around and looking for the bus station and information about transferring to the south. I received a few more warnings about not walking around the old town - even in fairly busy streets by day!!!

Also, finding touristy information in old town was difficult. There were no tourist agencies or any kind of offices. I liked that though as it was always a challenge when I had to get some information.

Aparently western part of the city (which we saw only from the bus) looks and feels totally different. There are nice shopping malls and other western-like establishments - I am glad I didn't stay there though - as old town was the real thing!!!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Very exciting and authentic
  • Cons:Dirty and not very pretty city
  • Last visit to San Salvador: Dec 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (2)

Comments (1)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    I'm looking forward to visit San Salvador, but I will not walk around after dark alone.


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