While El Salvador does have incredible natural beauty, it also happens to have an incredible level of unnatural crime. Some days, there can be as many as 15 or 20 murders in San Salvador. While the causes of gang violence are varied and often difficult to understand, one aspect of life in the capital that helps fuel the violence and social disorder is the presence of vendedores ambulantes, or mobile vendors. Usually the poorest class of society, these individuals provide ample fodder for gangs to move drugs and practice extortion, leading to a steady turf war among rival gangs. Violence isn’t usually directed at foreigners, but venturing into the areas frequented by the sellers isn’t a wise decision, as petty crime is rife and can quickly escalate into violent crime, given the number of arms amongst the general population. Government efforts to crack down on street vending have also given rise to violence, as a demonstration in June against the municipal government quickly degraded into pitched battles between police and vendors.
The area around the Tica bus station where the Hotel San Carlos is located (10a Av Norte, 3a Calle Oriente and Calle Concepcion) is very dangerous according to the locals. Violent street crimes occur. Avoid walking alone in that area even in the day-time. Absolutely do not go there alone after dark. If you do need to go to the Tica bus station, take a taxi.