If you plan on visiting South America, you’re going to need a lot more than just money and a passport. You’ll have to take your time to understand the culture and civilization of each country, while also paying attention to potential dangerous areas.

And, while Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina are definitely on every tourist’s list, there are plenty of hidden gems in South America that would make great vacation destinations. El Salvador is one of these countries that has a specific charm. It is the home of around 6,5 million people and is known for its beautiful landscapes.

Agriculture and tourism dominate the country’s economy that has mainly developed in the past 30-40 years. However, although it ranks amongst the first states with the highest industrialization rate, El Salvador continues to deal with high crime rates, inequality, and poverty.

And, as much as we would love discovering new places with just a tourist map and the right facial moisturizer to prevent sun rays from harming our skin, the country is filled with cities that should be avoided by foreigners. Here are some of them.

 

San Salvador

If you had to ask the locals what the safest places to stay and travel to in El Salvador are, none of them would pick the country’s capital, San Salvador. Despite being the largest city and the home of all local institutions, San Salvador is by no means a safe place to travel, especially if you are alone or a woman.

The capital is the headquarters of street gangs and has an alarming crime rate of about 14 deaths per 100,000 people. This city is beautiful and maintains something of the classic charm of a former colony.

However, if safety is amongst your concerns, you should probably stick to the cities along the Ruta de Los Flores or “The Route of Flowers,” inside the country, and not spend too much time in the capital of El Salvador.

La Libertad

Another important tourist attraction in El Salvador, this city has nearly 36,000 inhabitants. The main points of attraction remain the city’s national park, the fish restaurants, and the beautiful beaches. It is also known as one of the best spots for surfing in the country.

But, as mesmerized as you might be by the place’s beauty, staying safe in La Libertad should be your number one concern. Although the crime rate has decreased in the area in the past few years, as a traveler, you need to pay attention to pickpockets and gang members.

To stay safe in this city, you need to follow some basic ground rules for all tourists – don’t use the public transportation at night, choose taxis instead, don’t wear expensive jewelry or display your possessions in public. You should avoid hanging out in locations that seem abandoned and should never rent a luxurious car.  

San Miguel

Although the city is small, there are still numerous dangers lurking around every corner. Some of the neighborhoods are filled with gang graffitis and, while the locals are still very friendly, you wouldn’t want to spend your night wandering on the streets of San Miguel.

Most gang members are involved in non-violent crimes like mugging and stealing, so you should avoid displaying your brand new designer aviator sunglasses or DSLR camera. In fact, it would be best to avoid the city or just go for a walk during midday.