Is El Salvador Safe? Travel Advisory 2023

Is El Salvador Safe? Travel Advisory 2023

El Salvador is a popular destination for tourists due to its temperate weather and the affordable entertainment options that it provides. Generally speaking, El Salvador is a moderately safe place for tourists to visit. 

Despite this fact, the country of El Salvador does have an understandable reputation for ongoing gang violence. This history of gang violence originates from the troubled political history of the country.

However, one should also be aware that the homicide rates in El Salvador are the lowest that they have been in more than a decade. As such, this is a good indication that El Salvador is a safer place to visit now than it was in previous years. 

As of March 2023, the U.S. Department of State has a Level 3 travel warning issued for El Salvador, which translates into “Reconsider Travel”.

What should tourists watch out for in El Salvador?

The most common form of crime that can threaten the safety of tourists in the country of El Salvador is theft. Theft is quite a common crime in the nation of El Salvador and it is more likely that thefts can become violent in El Salvador compared to other countries with similar rates of theft. 

Because of this, tourists should be careful with their belongings. The rate of intentional homicides in the nation of El Salvador decreased from 2015 to 2018. 

However, the intentional homicide rate is still 52 homicides per every 100,000 people in El Salvador. Robbery, assault, and carjacking are a few more safety concerns for tourists in El Salvador. 

streets of San Salvador, Capital of El Salvador

Property crimes accounted for nearly half of all crimes in El Salvador in 2019

The most common crimes in the country of El Salvador are property crimes. Property crimes accounted for 47% of all crimes committed in El Salvador in 2019.

The most common crime for tourists to experience in El Salvador is common burglary. Tourists should be aware of who is near them in crowded areas. 

Tourists should also make sure that they do not store all their valuables in one place. In the event that tourists have the misfortune of being robbed, they should comply with the burglar’s demands. 

Stolen items can be reclaimed or replaced. One’s life cannot be replaced, though. 

More than a third of crimes in El Salvador fall into one of four categories: assault, sexual assault, rape, and homicide. The official data does show that violent crime is going through a downward trend, meaning it is decreasing. 

Still, it is a good idea for tourists to go to a trustworthy tourism company and pay to hire a local guide. Local guides can help keep tourists safe in El Salvador. 

Stay away from dangerous areas

Tourists should also avoid dangerous areas as much as possible. The three most dangerous areas in El Salvador are Ciudad Delgado, Apopa, and San Salvador

Ciudad Delgado includes part of the rural area of north-central San Salvador and a small part of San Salvador’s urban north-central area. Thankfully, Ciudad Delgado is far away from the path to notable tourist destinations such as the Monument to the Divine Savior of the World. 

Tourists should not go to Ciudad Delgado for any reason. If a tourist finds themselves in this area, they should talk to a local shop owner or vendor for directions out of Ciudad Delgado. 

Apopa is located even further in the northern part of El Salvador than Ciudad Delgado. This municipality is far away from the usual route for tourists and for good reason. 

Stay away from the Apopa municipality and mark it as a no-go zone on the itinerary. If one goes to San Salvador, one should stay in the central area of San Salvador. 

The central area of San Salvador is heavily policed. The Monument to the Divine Savior of the World is part of the safest area in the metropolitan portion of El Salvador. 

El Salvador is moderately safe

There is a medium amount of risk for tourists visiting El Salvador. Tourists can decrease this risk by remaining in densely populated regions in San Salvador’s western half. 

In general, El Salvador is not that safe for tourists to visit. However, tourists can visit El Salvador safely with careful planning and by sticking to tourist areas with dense populations on San Salvador’s west side.