BORDER CROSSING: GUATEMALA TO EL SALVADOR
November 4, 2019
CROSSING THE BORDER FROM GUATEMALA TO EL SALVADOR VIA CHINAMAS AND VALLE NUEVO
El Salvador is a small country located in Central America, often skipped by travelers in favor of its bigger neighbors Guatemala and Nicaragua. It had its share of corruption, violence, and gang problem, leading people to believe that it is unsafe to travel. I disagree; first of all, we know that the media tends to exaggerate things, so I don’t believe 100% when they say that I should avoid visiting someplace. Secondly, I used to work with Salvadorians, and they were some of my best colleagues. And finally, I plan to travel to every country in Central America, so a trip here is inevitable. Besides, I was talking to my former Salvadorian colleague now living in Switzerland. She told me that her friend will tour me around the country if ever I decided to visit, which cemented my decision to visit this country.
I asked my Couchsurfing host to help me with transportation, and the cheapest option we found online was from Ticabus, which cost $20. Travel time is estimated to be 6 hours, and they have two schedules daily – 05:00 to 11:00 and 14:00 to 20:00. I don’t want to arrive in El Salvador at night, so I decided to buy the 05:00 ticket.
DOCUMENT CHECK AT THE BUS STATION
I arrived at the bus station around 04:15 because I know that check-in will take a while. True enough, I took longer than the other passengers because I was the only foreigner, and they had to verify that I had adequate documents to enter the country. They have a list of all nationalities that need a visa on their bulletin board. However, it also mentioned that they accept a US visa as a substitute. Since I have one, then I don’t need to apply for a separate El Salvador visa.
Immigration procedure: Guatemala to El Salvador
We left the station at precisely 05:00 and reached the Guatemalan border in Chinamas after 2 ½ hours. We went down to have our passports stamped, and we then proceeded to the Salvadorian side of Valle Nuevo. The Immigration Officer himself went on the bus to check our documents. Since I was the only foreigner on the bus, he interrogated me regarding my purpose in El Salvador, and he also asked for my papers. He told me that since I will use my US visa to enter, he needed to stamp my passport (he did not stamp the other passengers). After 10 minutes, the officer returned and gave it to me with the stamp. After that, we continued on our merry way.
We arrived in San Salvador at around 11 am, and my colleague’s friend picked me up at the station. We drove by some of San Salvador’s sites before he dropped me off at my hostel (Hostal Doña Marta – highly recommended).
My initial impression of San Salvador was good, and I can’t wait to explore the city!