El Salvador Trip Budget: Costs & Tips

The tiny country of El Salvador often gets overlooked by travellers in Central America. But it ended up being one of my favourites! Though we didn’t spend long here, Adam and I found the tiny country to be full of tasty food, helpful people, and beautiful surroundings. Here’s our El Salvador trip budget, and some money saving tips.


The currency in El Salvador is the US dollar.


US Dollars, El Salvador trip budget


El Salvador Accommodation

Accommodation in El Salvador was surprisingly expensive, though this was just because everything else was surprisingly cheap! We paid US$10 each for a hotel room in La Palma, and US$9 each for a dorm in Juayua.


Street art on wall in La Palma, El Salvador

La Palma- our colourful introduction to El Salvador


El Salvador Transport

Buses in El Salvador are unbelievably cheap, provided you take the local chicken buses and not the pricey tourist shuttles.Our journey from Copan in Honduras to San Salvador by chicken bus cost around $14, instead of the outrageous $40 that the tourist shuttle charged. Though, granted, the journey did take far longer, and we did have to change buses several times.


Local buses cost just US$0.80 per hour of travel, and run frequently along numbered routes.


El Salvador Food

You can pick up cheap and tasty street food in El Salvador. A papusa (pancake stuffed with fillings) costs just US$0.40. For something a little more upmarket, expect to pay around US$5 for a meal.


Our best food experience in El Salvador (and possibly in all of Central America), was attending the Juayua Food Festival. Reserve a good chunk of your El Salvador trip budget for the festival. Dishes here are US$3-6, and you’re going to want a lot of them!


Plates with meat and vegetables on a table at the Juayua food festival

Some of the dishes on offer at the Juayua food festival


El Salvador Activities & Entrance Fees

We didn’t spend much on activities in El Salvador. Places such as the painted town of La Palma and hills of Ruta de las Flores are ideal for strolling around (for free).

Our only expensive trip was our coffee tour in Juayua. At US$20, it was fairly pricey, but worth it.


Savouring the smell of the beans, photo courtesy of Adam Richards

Coffee tour in Juayau, photo courtesy of Adam Richards


El Salvador Total

In our five days in El Salvador, we each spent just US$98. This works out way under budget, at just US$20 per day, making El Salvador the cheapest place we visited in Central America (and one of the cheapest places we’ve visited in the world!).


Rigua- surprisingly yummy!

Rigua, a common El Salvador dish


El Salvador Trip Budget Tips


Seek out the local food stalls, where you can fill up on the cheap. But do splurge on the Juayua food festival, it’s worth it!


Travel by chicken bus, and avoid the overpriced tourist shuttles.


Some coffee tours cost far more than others, but some tour fees go to the operator, whereas others go directly to the farms. Ask about where your money is going, and find a tour that suits you and your budget.


For more trip budgets by country, click here.

2 comments on “El Salvador Trip Budget: Costs & Tips”

  1. SCADA says:

    Great article, love your sharing so much, thank you!

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