Culture, Customs, Tradition El Salvador

Discover El Salvador's culture in this article. Greetings, etiquette, tipping, do's and dont's for navigating El Salvador.
El Salvador

Facts about El Salvador 

El Salvador is located in Central America, between Guatemala and Honduras, and it borders the North Pacific Ocean. With a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October, El Salvador’s capital city of San Salvador has a tropical climate. As of 2018, the population was estimated to be 6,187,271 people, 90% of whom were mestizo (having a mixture of European and Indian ancestry), 9% were white, and 1% were Amerindian. Roman Catholicism is the most popular religion, with 57.1% of the population, followed by Protestantism at 21.2%, Jatah’s Witnesses at 1.9%, Mormonism at 0.7%, other faiths at 0.8%, and none at 16.8%.

What Language is Used in El Salvador

El Salvador’s official and primary language is Spanish; the regional Spanish dialect is known as caliche. The only remaining indigenous language is Nahuatl, which a few elderly Salvadorans only speak in western El Salvador.

Society and Culture

Machismo still exists in El Salvador, where traditional gender roles are deeply ingrained. Typically, the man provides the family’s income while the wife takes care of the house. Children are taught that, depending on their gender, they will have various responsibilities and expectations in life. More women from the middle and upper classes are now entering the workforce as attitudes have started to change. They are nonetheless frequently restricted to clerical or support roles. Women are increasingly entering the fields of medicine, dentistry, and education, but it is still being determined when this trend will extend to business.

Digital nomads may want to live in El Salvador because it has a pleasant climate, beautiful scenery, and a low cost of living. To avoid offending locals or any misunderstandings, it is crucial to understand the nation’s cultural and social norms, particularly regarding gender roles. It is also essential to be aware of safety concerns in some regions of the country and to take precautions accordingly. For digital nomads who are prepared to show respect for the local culture and way of life, El Salvador can be a unique and enriching experience.

Etiquette and Manners in El Salvador:

Meeting and Greetings:

When meeting someone for the first time in El Salvador, it is customary to use an honorific such as Senor or Senora and only refer to them by their first name if you are very close. Instead of shaking hands, female colleagues and friends may pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder. Men wait for women to extend their hands before shaking their hands. Use the appropriate greeting for the time of day when addressing another person, such as “buenos dias” (good morning), “buenas tardes” (good afternoon), or “buenas noches” (good night) (good evening).

Meeting and Greetings El Salvador

Etiquette for Giving Gifts

A young girl’s fifteenth birthday is an important date in El Salvador, along with birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s, and religious events. A bouquet of roses is always appreciated when visiting someone’s home, as are other flowers, high-quality spirits, pastries, or imported sweets. Avoid giving lilies or marigolds, which are associated with funerals, or scissors or knives, which can be interpreted as a desire to cut ties. Perfume is an excellent present if you know the recipient well. 

Dining Etiquette:

The people of El Salvador are warm and friendly. Guests are expected to stay at least an hour after dinner to continue socializing with the hosts and other guests. It is polite to arrive between 30 and 45 minutes after the scheduled time and to dress formally. Unless specifically invited, refrain from talking shop. A fork and knife are used on the left side of the plate, following Continental table manners. The host serves the guests first and says “buen provecho” to signal that they can begin eating (“enjoy” or “have a good meal”). Even fruit is eaten with utensils, and leaving a nibble behind is considered courteous when you’re done. Meals are social events that typically last a while and feature lively conversation. Before a drink, a toast is made, typically with the host offering the first “Salud!” When raising your glass in a toast, it is proper to look at the person being honored, and to leave your glass a quarter full to indicate that you are full.


In most restaurants in El Salvador, a 10% tip is already included in the total price. Taxi drivers and other service providers should be allowed to receive only the necessary recommendations. However, hotel porters frequently receive gratuities.

Tipping El Salvador

Business Etiquette in El Salvador 

This guide will help you plan a business trip as a digital nomad to El Salvador.

A digital nomad must know El Salvador’s traditional business culture and etiquette to do business there. A handshake is the standard form of greeting and farewell in El Salvador. Make direct eye contact when greeting someone, and don’t be afraid to use formal titles like “Doctor” or “Ingeniero” when conducting business. When meeting someone for the first time, exchanging business cards is a common courtesy.

It’s important to remember the Salvadorian people hold high regard for their dignity and pride when interacting with them. They may be too sensitive to criticism that could hurt their reputation at work or in their social circle. Therefore, be mindful of your words and tone when interacting with others. Assure the offended party that you mean no harm if you may have offended them. Because Salvadorans tend to speak in a way that isn’t clear, they may not answer yes or no questions directly. It’s important to ask questions differently to ensure you grasp the answer completely.


It is standard practice to introduce the most senior staff members first and in order of rank at business meetings. Typically, panels have a set agenda and start on time, with the discussion continuing over food. The person with the most seniority typically makes decisions, and they might place more weight on their “gut feeling” than on actual evidence. You can improve your interactions with colleagues and business partners in El Salvador if you observe these cultural norms.

Business Ethiquite El Salvador

Do’s and Don’ts in El Salvador

Incredible variety can be found throughout El Salvador. You can find everything from cloud forests and volcanoes to colonial towns and green valleys to black-sand beaches and some of the world’s best surfing here, and you’ll likely have the place to yourself because few tourists know about it.

Gang problems, natural disasters, and a bloody civil war plague El Salvador. Even with all of this, people in El Salvador are friendly and open to visitors.

As a digital nomad in El Salvador, it’s essential to remember that the country has a conservative culture where politeness and respect for others, both local and foreign, are highly valued. Make the right first impression with this handy checklist:


  • Dress conservatively, especially when visiting churches. Conservative attire is also appropriate for business meetings.
  • Use the word “indigena” to refer to indigenous men and women. “Indios” is considered an offensive term.
  • Be patient and avoid expecting everything to move quickly. Things may take longer to get done than in some other countries, so it’s essential to be patient and flexible.
  • Ask for permission before taking photographs of religious ceremonies or people. It’s necessary to be respectful of cultural practices and privacy.
  • Learn some basic Spanish phrases, as English is only widely spoken in tourist areas. This can also help you communicate more effectively in business settings.
  • Be prepared for frequent power outages and water shortages, which are common in some areas.
  • Keep small changes on hand for tipping in restaurants and other services.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes before entering someone’s home.


  • Go into shops shirtless or in a bikini. Though the beach may be nearby, wandering around in such skimpy attire is inappropriate. It’s best to stick to conservative clothing in public.
  • Wear tank tops, shorts, or hats when visiting churches. These items of clothing are generally not considered appropriate for religious settings.
  • Wear shorts outside of the beach and in coastal towns. Salvadorans typically only wear shorts in these areas, so avoiding them in other locations is best.
  • Refer to indigenous people as “Indios.” This term is considered offensive and should not be used.
  • Assume that everyone speaks English. While some people may speak English, it’s essential to be prepared to communicate in Spanish.
  • Drink tap water, as it may not be safe. Stick to bottled or boiled water instead.
  • Show off expensive jewelry or electronics in public, as this may make you a target for theft.
  • Be offended if people give you a related nickname based on your appearance. This is often done affectionately and is not meant to be hurtful, so it’s best to take it in stride.

Dos and Dont's El Salvador


the article about El Salvador’s culture explains how the country’s traditions come from both local and Spanish influences. It talks about important festivals, the kind of food people eat, and their usual customs. This article teaches about these traditions in a fun way, helping readers get a clear picture of El Salvador’s rich and lively culture.

Common Questions 

The article focuses on the unique cultural heritage of El Salvador, including its indigenous and Spanish influences, traditional festivals, cuisine, and social customs.

Yes, there are several adventurous activities to do in El Salvador. Some popular options include surfing in El Zonte, hiking in El Imposible National Park, ziplining in Apaneca, exploring the Tazumal ruins, and visiting the Lake Coatepeque for kayaking or jet-skiing.

 El Salvador is known for its spectacular beaches. Some of the best beaches to visit include El Tunco, El Zonte, Las Flores, La Libertad, and Costa del Sol. These beaches offer picturesque views, great surfing spots, and calm waters for relaxing.

Certainly! You can immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the colorful markets of Suchitoto, exploring the archaeological site of Tazumal, attending traditional festivals such as the August Fair in Santa Ana, and enjoying live music and dancing in the capital city of San Salvador.

El Salvador is rich in natural beauty. Some of the top natural attractions to visit include the scenic Lake Coatepeque, the majestic Santa Ana Volcano, the stunning Montecristo Cloud Forest, the breathtaking El Boquerón National Park, and the picturesque waterfalls in Juayua and Chorros de la Calera.

While El Salvador has had a history of safety concerns, the situation has improved over the years. Like with any travel destination, it is essential to stay informed about current safety conditions, avoid high-crime areas, and take common-sense precautions. Researching and following travel advisories from your home country is also recommended.

Start Planning Your El Salvador Trip Now!

Book Your Flight:

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flights. A travellers favorite way to book flights, as it searches websites and airlines around the world with one click.

Book Your Bus or Transportation Within El Salvador:

There are two ways to book your transporation, ask your hotel or hostel, go to the local bus terminal, or book online, for a less stressful trip using

Book Your Accomodation: 

Find the best hotels or hostels at HostelWorld,, Perks include with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out and Free cancellations.

Dont Forget Your Travel Insurance:

Two popular choices are SafetyWing and WorldsNomads. A traveler should buy traveler’s insurance to protect themselves against unexpected events such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost or stolen baggage. It provides peace of mind and financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Useful Apps?

Bus Bud / Red Bus / Bookaway – Booking Busses

WhatsApp Messenger / Telegram / Snapchat – Communication / / Trivago – Booking Hotel

Bookaway / / – Booking Train

UberEats / Deliveroo / Just Eat – Food Delivery

Svippr: One-click taxi booking app / Tietoevry / MyTransfer – Booking Taxi

Want More Information On El Salvador?

Be sure to check out my nomad travel guide on the El Salvador for even more tips.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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