Both Ticabus and King Quality operate direct bus service from San Salvador to Guatemala City. They both have bus stations in the Zona Rosa and have daily departures. They take about 5 hours and cost around $25. King Quality is a little nicer and more expensive. Do a google search for their web sites and schedules.
Nancy (VT-member conejita71) had come to the airport to pick me up, but as my plane was delayed in Miami for 1,5 hours she arranged with a taxi to take me to my hotel (Thank you Nancy!). I dint know anything of this so when I had cleared customs I went directly to the two taxi companies small offices just by the exit. These are safe taxis. Before I had the chance to ask for a taxi a man came up to me and asked if I was Malena, and he showed me a written sign he had with my name on it. The taxi was waiting for me and it was a good car. To my hotel in San Salvador it took 40 minutes and it was 25 dollars (June 2009).
There is a bus leaving Sonsonate for Barra de Santiago at 10 and another one at 16.30. To be sure to be in time for the first bus I left the Hotel Happy House in San Salvador at 7.00. They had called for a taxi that took me to Terminal de Occidente. The price for the taxi was 6 dollars, but it was not very far.
From Terminal de Occidente buses of different categories leave for Sonsonate. There was a big sign with the different prices on the wall. A bus with the second most expensive fare was leaving in a few minutes so that's the bus I took. The ticket was 1.15 dollars (June 2009) and the bus ride took 65 minutes. I could have all my luggage beside me inside the bus.
When I arrived in Sonsonate there was still 1 hour 40 minutes until the bus for Barra de Santiago was leaving. I asked around to be sure from where it was leaving and then went to buy a coffee. At the terminal there are lots of pupuserias and stalls selling snacks.
The bus came 10 minutes before departure and it left in time. It was one of these old American style school buses and I could once again have my luggage beside me in the bus. After 50 minutes on the highway we came to the dirt road to Barra de Santiago. Here there is a place to eat and pick ups are waiting to take people to Barra de Santiago if they come at othere tims then the bus. Here the bus waited 20 minutes because someone had called and asked the driver to wait for him. We passed the outspread village and in the end of Calle Principal the bus stopped. It had taken another 40 minutes from the highway. From the bus stop it was about 5 - 10 minutes walk to Caprichio Beach House where I was going to stay.
The ticket between Sonsonate and Barra de Santiago was 1.70 dollars (June 2009).
There is a Pullman bus service from San Salvador (Sheraton Hotel Presidente) to Guatemala every day in the morning and the afternoon. Sunday has even three connections. The problem is that unlike Ticabus, (less flashy brand) once you have passed your luggage on to the company employees (airport style) you are not to worry anymore. Well, Pullman has a similar type of organization but somewhere between the counter and the bus the passenger has to reclaim the luggage and physically load it on (entrega!!?) the bus. Already lulled by the previous worry-free experience on Ticabus, I missed this nuance and so my luggage was left behind. Fortunately, in the age of mobile phones, the stewardess on board was alerted by the ground staff in San Salvador when I was on my way to cross the border with Guatemala. The uneasy feeling continued for another 4 hours until the last Pullman bus from San Salvador arrived at the Holiday Inn in Guatemala City with my luggage with it.
This might not be a big problem if Guatemala City is your final destination but the chances are that it is a transit point and so the missing baggage can turn into a big headache further down the road. Moral of the story - stick to Ticabus if possible!
El Salvador now counts with it's own GPS navigation system (just like "Never Lost") It's very complete, with almost any imaginable point of interest and all roads, from main highways to the smallest dirt road you can find. The name of the device is QFind and you can find it in it's web page: http://www.elsalvadorgps.com
This was the first trip where we rented a car. I'm so used to taking trains, taxi's, funiculars and bus's. Getting around town was easy. We even left the city one day to drive along the road by the beach. I had to get out to take a photo or two of cows lounging on the side of the road.
If you wish to travel on low budget and enjoy the beautiful scenary of Central America, and you have the extra time I would recommend to take a bus!
In general the busses leave between 5am-4pm for their various routes from one central american country to another. The fares are around $15 one way. The busses are rather comfortable (soft, adjustable seats, A/C, assigned seats) and also safe.
You can also take a so called chicken bus that will be a lot cheaper but also less comfortable (hard seats, no A/C, no assigned seats).
I would recommend to check out the following websites for fares and routes within Central America:
Maya de Oro +503 22983275
Puerto Bus +503 2217 3300
The best for getting around San Salvador is by car or taxi. If you take a taxi, you must negotiate your fare up front since the cars have no meters. Taxis are generally cheap and more reliable than the buses.
TACA airlines was just fine and offered a good fare. If you live in a community with a sizable Salvadoran presence, ethnic travel agencies often have really great deals especially around peak travel times like Christmas and Easter.
We rented a car (on the web from Thrifty) which worked fine but also used buses in and around San Salvador. The buses are a trip -- very individualized by the drivers with art work and tschotkes everywhere. Sometimes they are in fairly bad shape and often belch diesel fumes that have taken a bad toll on the air quality
If you can I would advise flying into El Salvador. I went through customs and it took several hours both going into and out of El Salvador.
Most people take 'busses' to get from one place to another. The busses are usually a van without the sliding door, and they slow down just enough so you can hop in before they take off again.
Since I work for Grupo TACA Airlines, I'd have to say the best way to get here is by flying Grupo TACA! Once at the airport, a few of the major hotels have shuttles to their sites, otherwise a taxi will cost you $18.00 to San Salvador.
Once you are here in the city, aside from planned tours, the best way to get around would be by taxi. Negotiate your cost up front so as to not be surprised once the ride is over. The cost from the Airport is approximately $18.00, but around town, most rides should be under $5.00 (USD).