Getting around

Bus

Bus services are good and cover most areas, although the buses are usually crowded. All bus routes have a number, some also have a letter. Strange as it may seem, the system works and the route numbers don't change. In 2009 there was a bus price war. That, combined with the wide variations in oil prices, means that bus prices are changing erratically. Buses are brightly painted, particularly around San Miguel.

Transport is not difficult for the budget traveller as nearly all buses have luggage racks. For bigger bags there is space at the back where a couple of seats have been removed, so sit near there if you want to stay close to your bag. However, when problems on buses do occur they are usually at the back of the bus. The cheaper alternatives to the
Pullman buses
, which cross to Guatemala and Tegucigalpa from Puerto Bus Terminal in San Salvador, have luggage compartments beneath them and the luggage is tagged.

Car

At the border, after producing a driving licence and proof of ownership, you are given a
comprobante de ingreso
(which has to be stamped by immigration, customs and quarantine), this is free of charge and you get the vehicle permit for 60 days. You need to have a passport from the same country you have your drivers licence or an international drivers licence and that you have not been in the country for more than 60 days. (If you are a foreigner residing in El Salvador you need to get a Salvadorian drivers licence.) You receive a receipt, vehicle permit and vehicle check document. Under no circumstances may the 60 days be extended, even though the driver may have been granted 90 days in the country. A few kilometres from the border the
comprobante
will be checked. When you leave the country a
comprobante de ingreso
must be stamped again and, if you don't intend to return, your permit must be surrendered. Do not overstay your permitted time unless you wish to be fined. Leaving the country for a few days in order to return for a new permit is not recommended as customs officials are wise to this and may demand bribes. To bring a vehicle in permanently involves a complex procedure costing thousands of dollars.

Roads
are very good throughout the country, but look out for crops being dried at the roadside or in central reservations. Take care of buses, which travel very fast. Third-party,
insurance
is compulsory in El Salvador and can be arranged at the border (enquire first at consulates). Under the 1996 law,
seat belts
must be worn.Do not attempt to bribe officials.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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