El Salvador is gradually easing up on its Visa requirements, so its a good idea to check ahead to see if you need one. Visas are currently required from citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Most citizens from western Europe do not need one. Visas cost between $10 and $30 depending upon your nationality, and are valid for 90 days. No vaccinations are currently needed to enter the country, however it is advisable to check with your doctor before traveling to El Salvador for possibilities of Cholera.
Salvadoran labor is abundant and highly trainable. Current average monthly salaries are as follows:
$125.00 per month
Electric current is 110 volt, 60 cycle, but is far from stable. Power outages are common Receptacles are of the two flat pin type as found in the U.S.. Electric alarm clocks should not be relied upon, and surge suppressers should be used with all important electrical appliances or electronics.
The dress code in El Salvador is casual. Professionals usually wear light cotton suits. The popular "guayabera" or embroidered cotton shirt, is preferred casual wear for men, particularly in the warmer areas. As a courtesy, those visiting on business should wear a light weight suits.
A 10 percent tip should be left in restaurants and hotels or 15 percent if the bill is small. Airport porters are usually tipped $1 per bag, and an additional 20 colons should be given to barbers. Taxi drivers are not tipped.
Salvadorans eat a lot of rice, beans, salads, meats, and seafood's. Soft, white corn tortillas are served as bread. Local specialties include iguana and armadillo. Lunch is usually extended and dinner is served late. Most U.S. style cuisine's are available at many fast food franchises
A typical and tasty fast food is a type of fried sandwich called a pupusa made of white corn tortillas and filled with pork, cheese and sausage. A few pupusas, at around 30 cents each, with a bottle of water or soda make an excellent meal. Small restaurants that specialize in pupusas are called pupuserias. They are located all over the country. Pupusas are also sold on the street, but because hygiene standards are lower, it is advisable to stick to restaurants when you have a craving for this Salvadoran treat.
Surprisingly, coffee is weak and unflavorful in El Salvador because all the finest coffee is exported. Natural fruit drinks called frescos are popular. Pop and bottled water are also widely consumed.
Salvadorans love their beer and the country brews two brands. Pilsner is the most popular beer, followed by the slightly more expensive Suprema. Two potent liquors, Tic Tac and Torito, are distilled from sugar cane and uphold their reputation as white lightning.
Cheap restaurants and pupuserias abound in El Salvador but avoid food sold in street stands. Many restaurants offer daily specials that include rice, beans, salad, and your choice of meat, chicken or fish for around U.S. $1.00.
As many Salvadorans fled during the civil war return to the country, El Salvador is facing a crime problem, including gangs. The civilian police is working hard to clamp down on pickpockets and car thieves.
Disgruntled former soldiers from the Salvadorans military also cause occasional violent disruptions in the streets and in the capital. It is best to ask advise before traveling into certain areas of San Salvador at night. Some rural areas likewise are not safe for the average visitor.
The country's yearly big bash is thrown in honor of El Salvador del mundo, the patron saint of El Salvador. This day, Aug. 6, and the entire week preceding it, are celebrated with fairs, music, and parades. Other major holidays include holy week, and Dec. 12, the day of the virgin of Guadelupe. Literally all small towns render a yearly celebration to their respective patron saint.
El salvador's legal holidays include...
Jan. 1 .............................................................................................
New Years Day
San Salvador's hottest night spots are located in the spendy Zona Rosa, the more moderate priced Boulevard de Los Heroes and Colonia Escalon on Paseo General Escalon. Are all safe to walk through at night.
The Teatro Cafe, in the National Theater building, features a guitarist during the week and a variety of cultural events such as poetry and literature readings.
If you like the traditional Mexican style Mariachi music, head for the Boulevard de Los Heroes. Mariachi groups gather there nightly awaiting for hired parties or other special occasions. Inexpensive restaurants fill this area, and several groups of Mariachis work the streets, strolling up and down while singing and playing.
An estimated 86 percent of Salvadorans are Roman Catholic, while most of the remaining 14 percent comprising Protestant faiths, such as Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and many fundamental sects.
Situated in the highland valley and surrounded by magnificent volcanic peaks and green hillsides, San Salvador is beautiful and intensely over-populated.
One of the most overwhelming capitols in Central America, the city is packed with rich and poor alike, who rarely mix, living their lives from within their own, economically defined boundaries.
Sprawling outdoor markets that sell everything from produce to baby shoes typify the city. Street commerce is competitive and intense. San Salvador isn't a beautiful city, and their are no major tourist attractions to speak of, but newcomers are overwhelmed and fascinated by its industry and energy.
Wealthier neighborhoods are located in the northern and western hills above the downtown area. These barrios offer elegant tree lined streets, peace and quiet, but residences are walled and have many guards.
Few foreigners live outside San Salvador or on of its surrounding districts, such as Santa Ana, San Miguel, or Sonsonante. Most of the foreign population own or rent homes or apartments in Colonia Escalon, Colonia San Benito, Colonia San Francisco, or Colonia Altamira.
In these areas, the price for an average mansion fluctuates from U.S. $120,000 to the high end of $700,000. Rent generally runs from $1,000 to $4,000 per month. These homes are located on half acre lots and have at least four bedrooms, swimming pool and maids quarters.
Outside the stereotypical expatriate areas, nice, very secure homes with back yards can be purchased between $50,000 and $90,000. Condos sell from $30,000 and rent from $250 per month. Most of these moderate priced neighborhoods are located on the outskirts of the older, wealthier areas.
Foreigners can own private land in El Salvador, including beach front, without restrictions.
All property is registered in the Instituto Libertad y Progreso, a state owned registry that clearly identifies the owner of the property. The accuracy of this registry, which is currently being computerized, makes the need for property insurance obsolete. This type of registry system is common in Central America and is considered a safe way to guarantee ownership.