A popular book that gives practical medical advice for Peace Corps types and other people who expect to spend large amounts of time in remote underdeveloped areas is titled _Where There Is No Doctor_. Similarly, it’s good to know what to do when there is no bus. In some places, other vehicles – such as this flat bed truck loading passengers for a trip from Ilobasco to Points Unknown – fill the void with quasi-regular service. Traveling along the bumpy dirt back-roads of rural El Salvador, standing up on an over-crowded flat-bed truck and holding on to a rope for balance can be a terrifying experience (especially going downhill, or when the driver slams on the breaks unexpectedly in order to avoid on-coming traffic or stray farm animals, or just to amuse himself by seeing his passengers bounce off each other like bowling pins in the rear-view mirror). So, if the flat-bed truck is your chosen method of transportation, try to get aboard early enough to claim a spot along the wooden railing.
Chances are, if you’re traveling through El Salvador on a budget, you’ll get to know the country’s ubiquitous bus system. Frequent departures to most relatively important destinations and dirt-cheap fares do a decent job of making up for how crowded, hot, and uncomfortable many bus trips can be. Robberies and assaults on buses aren’t unheard of, especially on local buses in and around San Salvador, but they aren’t so frequent as to make bus travel inadvisable. Indeed, the worse thing that ever happened to me using public transportation in El Salvador for nearly five years were the bruises I would get on my knees whenever I would end up on a bus whose seats had been moved so close together that I couldn’t squeeze my 6’1” frame into a normal seated position.
Buses are the number one way to get around. If one dresses modest and doesn't act over exhubarant there is no danger. In a country were the police run contrabands and fake taxis tourists should ride aboard the many caravans of buses. Think about it...
They're picturesque, they're only a quarters or so, you get where you need to be mega fast and you make a friend on the way most of the time.
I saw that Hedman Alas began new service between San Salvador and San Pedro Sula (via Copan) Honduras. I decided to try them out for a trip from Salv to Copan.
I arrived at their private bus terminal at 5:30. I was the sole passenger that day. It was weird having a huge bus all to myself.
We drove past Santa Ana and crossed into Guatemala at San Cristobal. The crossing was quick - El Salv. immigration stamped me out, handed my passport to his Guat counterpart who stamped me in, and we were back on the road. I found this border crossing unique in that the Salvadorean and Guatemalan guards were chit-chatting and mingling with each other. It was very nice (note: the return side of the border wasn't as nice).
We drove through Guatemala for about 1.5 hours and hit the busier border of of Guat / Honduras. Since I was only going to Copan and would be returning the same route, they stamped me out of Guatemala and into Honduras on a piece of paper rather than wasting my passport visa pages.
Overall, the trip was good. It only took 3 hrs 15 min to get from San Salvador to Copan and about 4.5 hours to return. (There were 6 ppl on the bus back, immigration was slower, and we hit rain).
Food: Not fried chicken like the pictures show. Just juice and muffins.
Attendants: Nice but they don't speak English.
Cost: $45 roundtrip between Salv & Copan. SPS -> Salv roundtrip is around $60.
Overall, it's a good, comfortable, safe way to get between El Salvador and Honduras. I'd recommend it and hope Hedman will continue this routing.
There are only 230 kms aprox. between guatemala city and san salvador city, the closers capitals in central america.
By bus it takes only 4 hours, including the fast border customs.
i did it by Las Chinamas, a tiny place and a remote border
very cheap prices, about 8 USD by King Quality buses, and 9USD by Ticabus.
If you drive, locals say it is unsafe at night!
El Salvador has essentially one airport which is located about 45 miles south of San Salvador, the capital. When going to El Salvador, the US FAA recommends that you fly on only planes that depart from the US.
Any major US airline has direct flights to El Salvador from major US cities(NYC, Miami, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, etc) There is also the local Grupo TACA, good option if travelling within Central America, they fly out of the same major US cities and also from Toronto and Montreal, Canada. El Salvador International Airport is modern and functional and is also a hub for travel in Central America, there are many daily direct flights to any Central American destination. The airport is located about 45 min away from San Salvador and about 20 mins. from the Costa del Sol resort.
Traveling around El Salvador is easy. Don't forget that you are in Central America and that El Salvador is recovering from 12 years of civil war and a major earthquake last year so don't expect German highways. The main roads are well kept (for Central American standards), so you shouldn't find any difficulties if driving. Always carry a detailed map since there are roads that are not well signaled. Car rental is cheap, numerous travel agents organize bus tours, 4X4 rentals, and more, check the different options. Once again since El Salvador is not a major tourist destination you may be surprised at the price of some of these options. The public transportation system is not very good and I wouldn't recommend it, but there are some intercity bus lines that are OK (to go to Santa Ana, San Miguel, from San Salvador). There is an excellent bus service from San Salvador to Guatemala City and to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in Honduras ($40.00 for a round trip San Salv/Guatemala City/San Salvador luxury bus ticket with A/C, movies, and full meal).
Travelling by car allows you a certain freedom and time to take in the spectacular scenery that the country offers.
Some scenic roads are: Carretera los Naranjos in the Apaneca mountain range, the road from Santa Ana around the rim of lake Coatepeque and up to Cerro Verde, la Carretera litoral between La Libertad and Sonsonate takes you along th Balsam coast - breathtaking (check my Travelogue), the road connecting the Indian villages of Sonsonate (Izalco, Nahizalco, Caluco, etc)
El Salvador International Airport is a hub for air travel in Central America, by far the most modern and convenient airport in the region. Many North American and some European airlines have service to San Salvador, however the most convenient is the Taca Group, flying from major North American Cities and from Latin America. The picture comes from them at thier website at www.taca.com
The best way is to drive or take the train or bus!! I am serious! I have done all three. The train trip through Mexico was a once in a lifetime experience. I also love going on long distance buses in Latin America-- Cheap and meet great friends. But, unfortunately, with time constraints, work etc, we mostly end up flying. TACA is a very good airline, but many airlines go there now and they are all OK.
Buses are good and cheap, but very confusing to a non spanish speaker. Petty crime also occurs on the bus like pick pocketing, and watch, jewelry, or purse snatching (this usually happens just as the bus is about to leave a stop). Taxis are good and cheap, but always ask price to your destination first. San Salvador is set up for driving (it reminds me a lot of Los Angeles my home town), so we usually rent a car. We get ours from Avis, by the Hotel Alameda, just off Alameda Roosevelt.
getting around by pick-up truck is not uncommon throughout central america especially in smaller places.