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San Salvador

Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Crime is a serious problem in San Salvador and the country as a whole. However, the vast majority of El Salvador's violent crimes - including around 3000 murders yearly - are committed by and upon rival gang members. Assaults on tourists are extremely rare, especially in well-trafficked areas and tourist sites, where the police are quick to hustle away any suspected troublemakers. Pick-pocketing is somewhat more of a concern; always be aware of your belongings (especially on crowded buses and in market areas), and avoid flaunting cash, jewelry or other valuables. If you're going to the center of town, leave your camera at the hotel.

Taxis are safe, reliable and cheap - you can go anywhere in the city for US$3 to US$5 - so take them at night, especially if you've been drinking and/or you're un familiar with the area you're in. Blvd de los Héroes, Zona Rosa and Colonia Escalón are quite safe day and night, especially if you stick to busy streets. (The shortcut from Blvd de los Héroes to Ximena's Guest House and La Estancia should not be used at night, however.) You should not walk around the city center or the Parque Cuscatlán area after dark. As everywhere, common sense will steer you clear of almost all trouble.

Pollution is perhaps a bigger annoyance, as it's held in place by the mountains surrounding San Salvador. Thick vehicle exhaust fumes, especially from buses, can leave you with runny eyes and a sore throat. For some reason, many travelers catch a cold in San Salvador - eat right and be extra careful about germs.

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While you're there

City center

Farmacia Principal(2222 8093; Calle Delgado 227; 8:30am-8pm)

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Boulevard de los héroes

Farmacia Rowalt (2261 0515; Av Los Sisimiles; 24hr) The only 24-hour pharmacy in this neighborhood. If it looks closed, just ring the bell. Delivery available from 8am to 5pm. It's near Av Sierra Nevada.

Hospital Bloom(2225 4114; Blvd de los Héroes at Av Gustavo Guerrero/25a Av Norte; 24hr) Large public hospital specializing in treatment of children but with services for all. Expect long lines.

Hospital de Diagnóstico(2226 8878; Calle 21 Pte at 2a Diagonal; 24hr) An excellent hospital with reasonable prices.

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Zona rosa & colonia escalón

Farmacia Super Medco (2243 3599; cnr Av La Revolución & Blvd Hipódromo; 24hr) Between 11pm and 7am use the service window on Blvd Hipódromo.

Hospital Diagnóstico Escalón (2264 4422; 3a Calle Pte; 24hr) One of the best private hospitals in the country, and it accepts most US and European insurance plans. Recommended by the US embassy.

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