Once you’ve traveled to several different countries, especially those within the same region, they start to blend together. For example, when I traveled throughout Southeast Asia, it seemed every country had the same temples and statues. This is why every country I go, I’ve tried to find 5 unique places or things that make that country stand out from the rest. This list is solely based on my experience and may not cover certain well-known traditions or tourist sites.
Currency- El Salvador is one of the few countries in the world, and the only country in Central America, that uses the US Dollar as its official currency. Thus, there is no need to deal with currency exchange if traveling from the United States. Despite using the same currency, the cost of being in El Salvador is a lot lower than it is in the United States.
Papusa- If you told me that I would become nearly addicted to something that was made out of corn, beans, and cheese, I would have told you that you were crazy. That was before I tried a Papusa. Papusa’s are a staple Salvadorian food that can be made fresh for you on any street corner throughout the country. Although they look small, they are surprisingly filling. They are also cheap as you can buy three of them for about 50 cents. Many places also include a side of soup in a bag, but because I don’t like a side of Salmonella with my lunch, I never tried it.
Ruta De Las Flores- Translated as the “Route of the Flowers”, Ruta De Las Flores is a collection of five unique villages that stretch 68 kms along a picturesque highway west of the country’s capital, San Salvador. Although there is no one way to go about traveling the route, I started in Apaneca and ended in Juayua, where I hiked up to a waterfall. The bus system was so cheap and efficient along the route that I was able to see all of the villages in one day. However, I would definitely recommend going at a slower pace if you have the time.
Playa El Tunco- Located about 35km from the country capital San Salvador, Playa El Tunco is part of a network of beaches on El Salvador’s west coast that have become world renown for surfing. Playa El Tunco has managed to distance itself from the crime problems that plague the rest of the country as it has become a mainstay in El Salvador’s tourist circuit. I actually based myself out of Playa El Tunco when I was touring San Salvador as it only cost about $2 for a one-way trip in an air-conditioned microbus. While the views of the sunset on the beach are definitely one in a kind, the actual water is not conducive to recreational swimming as the currents are some of the strongest in Central America.
Santa Ana Volcano- Credited with being the highest active volcano in the country, the Santa Ana Volcano is located about 2 hours from the city of Santa Ana in Cerre Verde National Park. The best way to access it without booking an official tour is to take the #248 bus from the La Vencedora bus station in Santa Ana for about $1 USD. However, the bus only leaves ONCE per day at 7:30 AM. While not the only volcano in El Salvador, it was the one that I had direct experience with. Unfortunately, the adventure came from the journey and not hike itself. Upon arriving at the base of the hike, and after paying the $3 USD entrance fee to the park, we were told that we would be unable to do the hike due to weather.
One of the most popular tourist activities in El Salvador is to explore La Ruta de las Flores, or Route of the Flowers. This route consists of a unique blend of natural wonders and historical monuments. This video is of a popular waterfall right outside the town of Juayua.
If you like traveling but hate spending money, you will need to be precise in planning your route. I learned the hard way what happens when you try and wing it as this video was made after taking 6 buses and 8 hours to go 200 km from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala to the El Salvador border crossing. The good news is I only spent $4 USD.