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San Sebastian ©innovacionweb
Plenty of breathtaking sightseeing opportunities await the traveller coming into this most lush of Central American nations. It is one of the most volcanic places on Earth, which has ensured fertile soil and a thriving wilderness in its small 8,124 square miles (21,040 sq km).
Interspersed between the forest, mountains and 21 volcanoes are the best preserved remains of the Mayan civilisation. A highlight is Joya de Cerén, all that remains of a Mayan site buried under volcanic ash 1,400 years ago and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The San Andrés region and the ruins of Tazumal are other vestiges of this ancient civilisation.
Getting around the small country is easily achieved by bus or taxi. The longest journey is between San Salvador and La Palma and lasts a meagre four hours, making internal flights redundant. San Salvador and San Sebastian are the main attractions. The latter is a popular, picturesque beachside resort village, a town of quaint Romanesque sights and simple beauty. San Salvador, by contrast, is the hub of a rapidly industrialising country, it is densely populated and crime-ridden. Still, visitors can enjoy a wide range of sights in the city; colonial cathedrals and buildings including the Catedral Metropolitana, St Ignatius Loyola and the Spanish façade. Atop San Jacinto Mountain one can enjoy a panoramic vista of the city as well as an amusement park and cable car rides.
The international dialling code for El Salvador is +503. To dial out, the code is 00 followed by the destination country's code. Pre-paid SIM cards for mobile phones are cheap and local service providers use GSM networks. Internet access is generally limited to larger urban centres and hotels.
911 (General Emergency Helpline)
Visitors to El Salvador may import the following goods: 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 500g of tobacco in any form, five litres of alcoholic beverages, two kg sweets, six units of perfume and gifts valued up to US$500.
Electrical current in El Salvador is 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs and a plug with a third round grounding pin are standard.
All foreign visitors to El Salvador must hold return or onward tickets, and the required travel documentation for their next destination. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter El Salvador, if arriving within 10 days of leaving or transiting through any yellow fever risk area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a valid passport, and are required to purchase a Tourist Card (fee: USD 10) upon arrival in El Salvador. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
British citizens must have a passport valid for six months on arrival. British passport holders do not require a visa; unless their passports are endorsed 'British National (Overseas)', in which case a visa must be pre-arranged. British visitors will be required to buy a Tourist Card (fee: USD 10) upon arrival if they do not have a visa.
Canadian citizens must have a passport valid for six months on arrival in El Salvador, and are required to purchase a Tourist Card (fee: USD 10) upon arrival in the country. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
Australian citizens must have a passport valid for six months on arrival, and are required to purchase a Tourist Card (fee: USD 10) upon arrival in the country. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
South African citizens must have a passport valid for six months on arrival. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.
Irish citizens must have a passport valid for six months on arrival. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for six months on arrival. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
Emergency Phone Number
911 (General Emergency Helpline)
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
The official currency of El Salvador is the US Dollar (USD). Financial information can be expressed in US dollars and in Salvadoran colón, but the colón is out of circulation.
Exchange RateNot available.
Embassies of El Salvador
Foreign Embassies in El Salvador
The people are warm, welcoming and friendly, however etiquette in El Salvador can be formal in address. Always use the formal pronoun 'usted' with strangers and acquaintances, and use titles of respect. Greetings are common in shops and in passing on the street, and it is considered rude not to return a greeting. El Salvador culture is patriarchal and women traditionally show respect to men. It is considered rude to put your feet up on a chair or table, or to yawn without covering your mouth.
Public Holidays in El Salvador
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