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Crossing Borders – How To Get To El Salvador From Guatemala


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Blinni Das



Travelers looking to explore the vibrant and diverse countries of Central America often plan to visit both Guatemala and El Salvador. Nestled between Mexico and Honduras, these neighboring countries offer a variety of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. If you are planning a trip to El Salvador from Guatemala, you may be wondering about the best way to cross the border and embark on your new adventure.


In this article, we will guide you through the different border checkpoints between Guatemala and El Salvador and explore the various methods of transportation available. We will also provide valuable customs and immigration information to ensure a smooth and hassle-free crossing experience. Additionally, we will share safety tips and practical advice to help you make the most of your journey.


With its Mayan ruins, colonial towns, and stunning natural landscapes, Guatemala offers a plethora of sights and experiences. From the bustling markets of Chichicastenango to the majestic Mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala will captivate you with its rich history and vibrant culture.


El Salvador, on the other hand, surprises visitors with its stunning beaches, lush volcanoes, and charming colonial towns. Whether you want to surf the waves in El Tunco, explore the coffee plantations of the Santa Ana region, or immerse yourself in the colonial architecture of Suchitoto, El Salvador has something for everyone.


Now, let’s delve into the details of crossing the border from Guatemala to El Salvador and discover the various options available to you.


Border Checkpoints Between Guatemala and El Salvador

When traveling from Guatemala to El Salvador, there are several border checkpoints that you can choose from, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here are the main border crossings between these two countries:

  1. El Carmen: Located in the Western Department of Guatemala and the Ahuachapán Department of El Salvador, this border crossing is commonly used by travelers heading to the towns of Santa Ana and San Salvador. It is a popular choice due to its convenient location and well-maintained infrastructure.
  2. Las Chinamas: Situated in the Department of Santa Ana in El Salvador, this border crossing is close to the Guatemalan city of Ayutla. It is a convenient option for travelers visiting the western regions of El Salvador, such as Sonsonate and La Libertad.
  3. San Cristobal: Located in the Petén Department of Guatemala and the Jutiapa Department of El Salvador, this border crossing is commonly used by travelers heading to eastern El Salvador or exploring the nearby ruins of Copan in Honduras.
  4. La Hachadura: Situated in the Department of Ahuachapán in El Salvador and the Department of Santa Ana in Guatemala, this border crossing is ideal for travelers coming from or heading to the coastal areas of El Salvador, such as the popular surf spot of El Tunco.

It is important to note that the opening hours of these border checkpoints may vary, so it is advisable to check with local authorities or online resources for the most up-to-date information before planning your journey.


Additionally, it is recommended to have your passport and any necessary travel documents ready when crossing the border. Be prepared for customs and immigration procedures, which we will discuss in more detail later in this article.


Now that you are familiar with the main border checkpoints between Guatemala and El Salvador, let’s explore the different ways you can cross from one country to the other.


Crossing by Land

For travelers looking to experience the scenic landscapes and immerse themselves in the local culture, crossing the border from Guatemala to El Salvador by land can be a rewarding option. There are several ways to make this journey:

  1. Public Bus: One of the most common and affordable ways to cross the border is by taking a public bus. In Guatemala, you can catch a bus from various cities and towns, such as Guatemala City or Antigua, to the border checkpoint of your choice. Once you have cleared immigration and customs, you can take another bus to your destination in El Salvador.
  2. Private Transportation: If you prefer a more comfortable and convenient option, you can hire a private car or taxi to take you across the border. This allows you to have more control over your schedule and stops along the way. It is advisable to arrange this in advance or make use of a reputable transportation service.
  3. Shuttle Service: Another popular option for crossing the border is to use a shuttle service. These shuttle companies operate regular services between major cities in Guatemala and El Salvador, making the journey hassle-free and convenient. They typically provide comfortable vehicles and handle the necessary paperwork at the border, saving you time and effort.

It is important to note that crossing the border by land may involve some waiting time at customs and immigration checkpoints, especially during peak travel periods. However, with proper planning and patience, the process can be smooth and straightforward.


Remember to have your passport and any required travel documents ready, as well as sufficient cash in the local currency for any visa fees or border crossing fees that may apply. It is also advisable to have a basic understanding of the local language, as English may not be widely spoken at the border and in remote areas.


As you travel through the beautiful landscapes of Guatemala and El Salvador, take the time to appreciate the cultural differences and similarities between these two countries. Enjoy the journey and embrace the adventure that awaits you on both sides of the border.


Crossing by Air

If you prefer a quicker and more convenient mode of transportation, crossing the border from Guatemala to El Salvador by air is a great option. While there are no direct flights between the two countries, you can easily reach El Salvador from Guatemala by following these steps:

  1. Flight from Guatemala City: Start by booking a flight from Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport to El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport. Several airlines, including Avianca, Copa Airlines, and TAG Airlines, operate regular flights between these two destinations. The flight duration is approximately one hour, making it a fast and efficient way to cross the border.
  2. Arrival and Customs Procedures: Once you arrive at Comalapa International Airport in El Salvador, you will go through the standard customs and immigration procedures. Ensure that you have all the required travel documents, including a valid passport and any necessary visas. Fill out the necessary immigration forms and declare any items as required by the regulations.
  3. Transportation within El Salvador: After clearing customs, you can easily find transportation options to your destination in El Salvador. Taxis, car rental services, and shuttle services are available at the airport. You can also pre-arrange transportation or use ride-hailing apps to ensure a smooth transfer to your desired location.

Traveling by air offers the advantage of saving time and providing a comfortable journey. It is particularly convenient for those with limited time or who prefer to avoid long hours of travel by land.


When planning your flight, it is best to book in advance to secure the most affordable fares and convenient schedules. Consider the baggage restrictions and requirements of the airlines you choose, as well as any visa requirements for entering El Salvador.


As you fly from Guatemala to El Salvador, take a moment to appreciate the aerial views of the stunning landscapes and natural beauty that both countries have to offer. Whether you are embarking on a new adventure or returning to a familiar place, this air journey allows you to experience the thrill of travel and discovery.


Crossing by Sea

While crossing the border between Guatemala and El Salvador by sea may not be a common option for most travelers, it is still worth mentioning for those seeking unique and adventurous ways to reach their destination. Here are a few possibilities for crossing the border by sea:

  1. Ferries: Some travelers may choose to take a ferry from Guatemala’s Pacific coast to El Salvador. While there are no direct ferry routes between the two countries, you can catch a ferry from Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala to La Union in El Salvador. These ferry services are infrequent and seasonal, so it is important to check the schedules in advance and plan accordingly.
  2. Private Yacht or Boat: For those with access to a private yacht or boat, crossing the border by sea can be an exciting and adventurous option. However, it is important to ensure that you have the necessary permits, clearance documents, and knowledge of maritime regulations when embarking on such a journey. Additionally, be aware that you may need to hire a customs agent or use the services of a marina to handle the necessary paperwork.

While crossing the border by sea can be an unconventional and exciting experience, it is important to consider the practicalities and preparations involved. Ensure that you have proper navigation equipment, safety gear, and a thorough understanding of the sea conditions and regulations in the area. It is also advisable to have emergency contact information and travel insurance coverage in case of any unforeseen circumstances.


Furthermore, keep in mind that crossing by sea may not be the most time-efficient option, as ferry schedules are limited and subject to change. It is essential to plan your journey accordingly, allowing for potential delays or missed connections.


While crossing the border by sea may not be the most common method, it offers a unique and adventurous alternative for those seeking a different kind of travel experience. Remember to prioritize safety, be well-prepared, and enjoy the sense of freedom and exploration that comes with crossing the border by sea.


Customs and Immigration Procedures

When crossing the border from Guatemala to El Salvador, it is important to familiarize yourself with the customs and immigration procedures to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Here are the key steps you should know:

  1. Passport and Documentation: Make sure you have a valid passport that will remain valid for the duration of your trip. Check if a visa is required for entry into El Salvador based on your nationality. It is always a good idea to carry a printed or digital copy of your passport, visa, and any other relevant travel documents.
  2. Exit Procedures: When leaving Guatemala, you will go through the exit procedures at the border checkpoint. Present your passport to immigration officials, who will stamp your passport and record your departure. It is essential to keep this exit stamp as it may be required when leaving El Salvador or for other purposes upon your return home.
  3. Entry Procedures: Once you reach the El Salvadorian border, proceed to the immigration area. Fill out the necessary immigration forms and present your passport, visa if applicable, and any required entry documents. Immigration officers will review your documents and stamp your passport, granting you entry into El Salvador. Remember to keep this entry stamp during your stay in the country.
  4. Declaration and Baggage Checks: Be prepared for customs inspections and baggage checks at the border. Some items may be subject to restrictions or require you to pay import taxes or duties. Familiarize yourself with the customs regulations of both countries to avoid any issues. It is recommended to declare any items of value, foreign currency, or restricted goods to avoid penalties or confiscation.
  5. Health and Vaccination Requirements: Check if there are any specific health or vaccination requirements for entering El Salvador. Some countries may require proof of vaccination against certain diseases such as yellow fever or COVID-19. Ensure that you have the appropriate documentation to comply with these requirements.

It is important to note that these procedures may vary depending on the border checkpoint and any specific regulations in place. To ensure a seamless crossing, it is advisable to research the current customs and immigration requirements and consult official government websites or travel advisories before your trip.


By familiarizing yourself with the customs and immigration procedures, you can navigate the border crossing between Guatemala and El Salvador with ease and avoid any unnecessary delays or complications.


Transportation Options within El Salvador

Once you have crossed the border from Guatemala into El Salvador, you’ll want to explore the different transportation options available to navigate the country efficiently and conveniently. Here are some popular methods of transportation in El Salvador:

  1. Buses: The bus system in El Salvador is an affordable and extensive mode of transportation. You can find both local buses that operate within cities and towns, as well as long-distance buses that connect different regions of the country. Bus terminals are typically located in major cities and towns, making it easy to access different parts of El Salvador.
  2. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in El Salvador and are a convenient option for getting around, especially within cities. It is advisable to use official taxis with meters or negotiate the fare upfront to avoid any misunderstandings. Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and DiDi are also available in certain areas, offering an additional transportation option.
  3. Car Rental: Renting a car can be a great choice if you prefer the flexibility and freedom of having your own transportation. Many international car rental companies have branches in El Salvador, and there are also local rental companies available. Be sure to have a valid driver’s license and familiarize yourself with local traffic regulations.
  4. Shuttle Services: For travelers who prefer convenience and comfort, shuttle services are a popular choice. These services operate between major tourist destinations, offering door-to-door transportation. They often include English-speaking guides and provide a hassle-free way to explore the country’s attractions.

No matter which transportation option you choose, it’s important to consider factors such as safety, reliability, cost, and time efficiency. It is advisable to research reputable transportation providers, read reviews, and ask for recommendations from locals or fellow travelers to ensure a pleasant experience.


It is worth mentioning that El Salvador is a relatively small country, and most destinations can be reached within a few hours by road. Take advantage of this proximity to explore the country at your own pace, discovering hidden gems, picturesque towns, and stunning natural landscapes.


Keep in mind that traffic conditions in larger cities like San Salvador can be busy during peak hours, so plan your travel accordingly. Take note of any specific road conditions or tolls that may apply and exercise caution when driving in rural areas, especially at night.


By utilizing the transportation options available in El Salvador, you’ll have the freedom to immerse yourself in the local culture, visit historical sites, and discover the natural wonders that make El Salvador a captivating destination.


Safety and Travel Tips

When traveling to El Salvador from Guatemala, it’s important to prioritize your safety and follow these travel tips to ensure a pleasant and worry-free experience:

  1. Research: Before your trip, conduct thorough research about the current safety situation in El Salvador. Stay updated on travel advisories and consult reliable sources such as government websites or local tourism bureaus to gather the most accurate information.
  2. Stay Informed: Stay informed about local customs, traditions, and cultural norms. Understanding and respecting the local culture can help you navigate the country with ease and avoid any unintentional offense.
  3. Blend In: Dress modestly and avoid wearing flashy jewelry or displaying expensive belongings to minimize the risk of attracting unnecessary attention. By blending in with the local population, you can decrease your chances of being targeted by pickpockets or opportunistic individuals.
  4. Stay Alert: Be vigilant about your surroundings, especially in crowded places and tourist areas. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and avoid isolated or poorly lit areas, especially at night.
  5. Use Reliable Transportation: Opt for reputable transportation options such as registered taxis, established shuttle services, or licensed car rental companies. This can help ensure your safety during your journeys within El Salvador.
  6. Communicate: Let your family or friends know your travel plans and keep them updated on your whereabouts. Share your itinerary and contact information with someone you trust, providing them with essential details in case of emergencies.
  7. Be Mindful of Health and Hygiene: Stay hydrated, especially in warmer climates, and follow basic hygiene practices like washing your hands regularly. Pack a first-aid kit with necessary medications, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent to stay protected.
  8. Respect Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with the local laws and customs of El Salvador and ensure that you adhere to them during your stay. This includes following traffic regulations, respecting sacred sites, and refraining from engaging in illegal activities.
  9. Trust Your Instincts: Listen to your instincts and exercise caution when making decisions. If something feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your judgment and take the necessary steps to ensure your personal safety.

By following these safety and travel tips, you can enjoy your journey through El Salvador with peace of mind and create unforgettable memories in this beautiful country. Embrace the warmth and hospitality of the locals, explore the stunning landscapes, and immerse yourself in the rich culture that El Salvador has to offer.



Traveling from Guatemala to El Salvador offers an incredible opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality of Central America. Whether you choose to cross the border by land, air, or even by sea, there are various transportation options available to suit your preferences and travel needs.


By familiarizing yourself with the different border checkpoints, customs and immigration procedures, and considering safety and travel tips, you can make the most out of your journey. Remember to have your passport and necessary travel documents in order, and stay informed about the current safety situation in El Salvador to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.


Once you have arrived in El Salvador, take advantage of the convenient transportation options to explore the country. Whether you choose public buses, taxis, car rentals, or shuttle services, you will have the opportunity to unravel the charm of El Salvador, visit historical sites, indulge in delicious cuisine, and relax on pristine beaches.


Throughout your travels, prioritize your safety by staying alert, blending in with the local culture, and using reliable transportation. Respect the local laws, customs, and traditions of El Salvador, and be mindful of your surroundings at all times.


With its vibrant culture, natural beauty, and friendly people, El Salvador is a remarkable destination that has much to offer. Embrace the adventure of crossing the border, immerse yourself in the unique experiences that await you, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, pack your bags, prepare for an exciting journey, and get ready to discover the wonders of El Salvador from Guatemala. The enchanting landscapes, historical sites, and warm hospitality of El Salvador are waiting for you to explore!