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How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

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Redondo Beach...
posts: 4
reviews: 1
How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

I jumped on the opportunity to go down to ES with my girlfriend and her husband to visit El Salvador at the end of this month. Her dad lives in El Salvador and we would be staying with him at his ranch and he would be tour guide. She ensures me we will be super safe, stay in the touristy areas, and also have an amazing time!

However a couple days ago my mom calls crying her eyes out about how dangerous it is, the most dangerous city in the western hemisphere, considered the second most dangerous country, echoed by tons of articles on crime, kidnapping, AK47s and grenades!! (YIKES!!!!)

Ticket is already paid for- should I just eat the cost or get on the plane? Has anyone experienced any problems in ES, and is it worth the risk for an American female traveling with fluent Spanish speakers? Not gonna lie- a leeeeetle bit freaked out!

129 replies to this topic
Sonsonate, El...
posts: 242
reviews: 3
1. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

Hola deeee!

No fears, no worries, no problems! Get on that plane as you planned & look forward to an incredible stay in spectacular El Salvador!

Please read the post 4 below yours by Montanagrl who also had some concerns about safety! If I can reassure you in any other way, please message me. Tourists are always warmly welcomed by the kind, friendly, proud, happy Salvadoran people who love their country & love sharing it with visitors!

Please don't be freaked out in any way by ridiculous propaganda targeting a country that the offenders know nothing about! Troubled times in El Salvador are over & done with decades ago & the more people who come & experience the real El Salvador the better to put an end to the false hype! Word is spreading quickly that this is definitely on the rise to being a very popular & sought after tropical destination with so much to offer!! You are very lucky to have a friend with family who lives here--you will experience El Salvador from a totally unique perspective & you will see & feel the amazing warmth of the beautiful people in this beautiful country!

Anticipate your arrival here with excitement & confidence!! You are going to love it! As with any travel any where, come with an open mind & an open heart & you will make incredible memories of El Salvador!!

Cheers!! .......Cathy :D

Lafayette, LA 70506
posts: 4
reviews: 2
2. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

I really liked San Salvador & El Salvador as a whole, the country is on the way up, unlike Guatemala which is very troubled.

New York
posts: 1
reviews: 3
3. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

Be Very Careful. I don't agree with the post that it is so safe - and there are no more troubles. I traveled there and had problems with locals robbing me, stalking me, even assaulting me (trying to rape or rob me) etc. Some of those locals might have been gang members. One piece of advice I would advise is to dress modestly. Don't wear jewelry. You don't want to attract thieves by looking prosperous. Keep a very low profile. Don't get separated from your group outside your hotel. Don't frequent restaurants or hotels (amusement parks etc.) unless they have visible security. (That is because sometimes the locals will take advantage of an "opening" when you are not well protected). Don't walk alone at night. Try to watch to see if anyone is following you, or taking extraordinary or excessive interest without explanation in you. Travel in a large group at night, preferably by car. Be skeptical. Don't let too many people know your exact travel plans, (such as posting your route on Facebook) since that could draw unnecessary attention to you. People are in desperate economic condition there and there are a lot of problems with the gangs. Try to familiarize yourself in advance with what a potential gang member looks like. Forewarned is forearmed.

San Salvador, El...
posts: 106
4. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

I dont totally agree with the last post. It completely depends on which areas you are visiting and if you are going to be with a local there is nothing to worry about, sometimes tourist get in trouble because they dont know the areas they are not supposed to be, like any other city in north america (new york, l.a, etc) . You will have a great time in El Salvador.

Sonsonate, El...
posts: 242
reviews: 3
5. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

Oh my goodness, KarenWeber--you make ES sound like it is hell on earth! You have every right to your opinion but the post is a huge misrepresentation of this country. I'm sorry if you had a bad experience here but one bad experience does not label a country.

ES is no different than Canada, US, Caribbean, Europe, Asia, etc etc etc. Without a doubt there are always areas to avoid in any city/ country in the world & each destination has its societal problems. For heaven's sake, you are labeling Salvadorans as criminals because they are not materialistic & prefer a simple healthy lifestyle. Of course there are people of lesser means here but that does not make the people of this incredible country dangerous! Travel any where in the world should be done with common sense & smarts--living any where in the world should be done the same!

Deeeee, you are not in any jeopardy by coming to ES & you will have an unforgettable time. You are in the best hands with your friend's father who certainly knows areas to avoid & you are surrounded by Spanish speakers. The negative post above is very closed-minded & shows ignorance regarding the people of El Salvador. Salvadorans are very warm, gentle, friendly people who love to share their country with visitors! They can be shy by nature but are full of kindness & generosity. When approached with a warm smile & a friendly greeting, they will happily engage in a very pleasant conversation! Salvadorans are very thoughtful people who are anxious to help & do so with respect to others. You do not have to worry about being tailed or stalked by gang members nor do you have to look over your shoulder. Relax, savour, enjoy your time in this beautiful country & you will take home wonderful memories. Of course, you should dress modestly & leave your jewellery at home....that's the golden rule of any travel destination. As Canadians, we have never been treated with such genuine warmth & hospitality as we have here. We eat, sleep, live in this beautiful culture & do so with peace & security. We are smart enough not to put ourselves in a bad situation or area & we know to respect those around us & be humble. I'm very upset at this attack on the people of El Salvador & I hope you will look past the blatant slander.

You will see security guards at many stores, businesses, banks, restaurants, etc because it is part of Central American culture. It is not only an effective deterrent against criminal intentions but also employment for Salvadorans. Please look at it as such & not as a sign of "danger". Canadian banks, businesses, etc used to have "real" people doing security jobs until they were replaced with security cameras which are helpful "after" the crime has been committed. Perhaps if we had more physical presence today, there wouldn't be as much "grab & run" crime. You will also see an obvious presence of Salvadoran civil police walking the streets & interacting with people as well as military police. As for gang members.....what does a gang member look like??? It is a ridiculous statement to tell you to familiarize yourself with their appearance. Gang activity here is no different than anywhere else. Their interest is a very complex hidden web of international drug involvement, etc & not targeting visitors! They have their way of doing things & prefer to keep out of sight by moving in their own circles.

You need to know that El Salvador is working very hard to open the eyes of the world to everything it has to offer & it is succeeding! Tourism is on the rise & new opportunities are coming to travellers & Salvadorans! JAcosta is right.....you will have a great time....better than great! :D I will always advocate strongly & determinedly for this country that we are proud to be part of! We came to El Salvador for many special reasons....the people being the most special reason of all!!

Anticipate your trip with excitement, Deeee, & you will soon see for yourself! Listen to what your friend tells you because she's absolutely right!

Cheers & happy travels! .......Cathy :D

Houston, Texas
posts: 1
6. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

i know you will enyoy going to El salvaor people there is very fiendly and warm if you are nice they very humilde you have to see by your self .

just be careful no wearing jewelery leave it at home . there are biutiful beaches i know you will have fan visiting your friends.

Suchitoto, El...
posts: 45
reviews: 18
7. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

Been living here now over 18 years never had a problem. That does not mean there is no crime here but you would really have to go out of your way to find it. Don't know what the poster was doing that mentioned that she was stalked but if she was here with gang members then that would be highly possible.

Come and enjoy this tiny country has loads to offer and if staying with a local family you will most likely see the best.

posts: 9
reviews: 25
8. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

Please let us know how it was, I am a retired Houston police Officer living in El Salvador and trust me so far this is as safe as Houston and safer than New Orleans. We love it

Cobourg, Canada
posts: 6
reviews: 1
9. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

My mom and I just booked our first trip to El Salvador! Really looking forward to it and to learning about the country! Both of us are real explorers and we love going 'native' when we travel. This isn't to say that we don't stay in the safer zones...but we do not like being stuck on a resort for two weeks! We want to see the area, interact with the people and barter when we shop! My friends went last year..and they were afraid to leave the resort...which personally I find strange since they were in a group of 6, but then I love seeing new things and it's been 5 years since I was able to travel!....Looking forward to seeing this amazing country. Any tips or places to see that you can suggest would be great!

posts: 9
reviews: 25
10. Re: How safe is El Salvador for American Tourists?

Mona don't allow other people to make El Salvador smaller that it already is, by staying at the resort your Salvador experience becomes a 5 or 10 acre vacation. Island -4-2 (FROM THIS FORUM) is also from Canada and both of them are the best example of what you can do when you open your mind to new cultures. You and your family are invited to visit us when in El Salvador, and YES I am a Salvadorean proud of my culture. Moyo5042@gmail.com. enjoy

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