A passport is required to get a CA-4 tourist card—obtainable at the El Salvador airport for a nominal fee—is good for 90 days and allows for travel to neighboring Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Having a vaccination for hepatitis A and keeping your tetanus and typhoid shots up to date is advised, and a course of anti-malarial shots is recommended if traveling near the Guatemala border.

Health and Safety

The main health concern in El Salvador is eating bad food. Clinics and hospitals outside of San Salvador are few and far between and state hospitals should be avoided if you get sick. Dengue fever is an issue and there is a low risk of malaria in the rainy season around the Guatemalan border. Visitors should stick to bottled water and be cautious when consuming snacks from street vendors, ensuring food is freshly and throughly cooked.

The main safety concern is the high level of crime. Homicide and gang violence is prevalent in El Salvador, although areas where such activity occurs are typically away from the tourist areas. Even so, pickpockets are common and downtown San Salvador and La Libertad should be avoided at night.

The roads are good, although minor routes can get swamped during the May to October wet season. While nearby Caribbean destinations have the threat of hurricanes in the latter part of this period, El Salvador avoids them for the most part. The Pacific surf is strong and bathers should avoid going too deep as many beaches are unpatrolled. It is best to go with a reputable tour company when hiking and try not to venture out on your own.