Chalchuapa, El Salvador: Travel Guide

chalchuapa el salvador travel guide

Chalchuapa may not be as popular as other cities in El Salvador, but don’t let that fool you. Chalchuapa is a regional archeological power house that anyone with a love of history should commit to visiting. Once a regional epicenter for Mayan ceremonial sites, the archeological zone of Chalchuapa exhibits over 2000 years of Mayan occupation. With eight individual sites within this zone, there are two that stand out above the others; El Tazumal and Casa Blanca.

What to Do

The two main attractions in Chalchuapa, El Salvador, are the Mayan archeological sites of El Tazumal and Casa Blanca. Just a 20 minute drive from Santa Ana, you can easily make Chalchuapa an enjoyable half-day trip.

El Tazumal 

el tazumal chalchuapa el salvador travel guide
El Tazumal is one of the best examples of a Mayan ceremonial center in El Salvador.

The more prominent of the two sites is El Tazumal. First settled around 1000 BC, the site became one of the major Mayan ceremonial sites in the region until 250 AD when life there was interrupted by the eruption of a volcano. Construction resumed again in the area around 500 AD, in which time renovations and new buildings were constructed.

The site itself consists of a mostly excavated main pyramid, auxiliary pyramid, ball court, and a small museum. There is also a covered excavation plot for you to see a section of the lower level of the main pyramid, as well as carved stones on display. Although you are not allowed on the main pyramid, you can climb the stairs of the auxiliary pyramid to get a different view. 


el tazumal museum chalchuapa el salvador travel guide
One of the many artifacts on display in the museum at El Tazumal.

The museum is well worth a visit while you are in the site compound (part of your admission). The museum gives a timeline for Mayan construction in Chalchuapa and displays many artifacts found at both El Tazmul and Casa Blanca.

Cost: $3
Hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 4pm

Casa Blanca 

casa blanca chalchuapa el salvador
One of the pyramids at Casa Blanca.

Casa Blanca is a very interesting site in Chalchuapa and is well worth a visit. This archeological site is not as excavated as El Tazmul, but it is a much larger site with a very informative museum and indigo exhibit. A stroll through the site leads you along a path, through a slightly forested compound, where you sill see two partially excavated pyramids, four mounds, and a large covered excavation site.

casa blanca museum chalchuapa el salvador
The museum at Casa Blanca explains the history of the Mayan civilization in El Salvador.


 The museum (part of your admission), is located just inside the entrance and is a great place to learn about the history of the Mayan civilization in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. This small museum has many plagues telling the story of Mayan influence in the region, describing their culture, and relating the ceremonial importance of the sites there. Along side the museum is also an indigo exhibit where you can learn about the art and cultural importance of indigo dyeing within the Mayan culture, as well as participate in the production of or buy dyed artwork.

Cost: $3
Hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 4pm

Where to Stay

If you are wanting to stay in Chalchuapa there are a few hostels in town where you can find a room. Being so close to Santa Ana, and only 1.5 hours from El Salvador, you can easily stay in one of these larger cities where there are far more options for accommodation. When I am looking for my hotel I always use Agoda to book my accommodation.

Get Around

If you are not renting a car, there is a bus stop nearby the entrance to both archeological sites where you can disembark to see the sites or catch a bus to your next destination. From one site to the next, it is a quick 20 minute walk that will take you nearby Laguna Cuzcachapa (also of historical significance).

How to Get There 

pin point location chalchuapa el salvador


From Santa Ana: Bus 218 is the best option as it can be boarded at Parque Colón, in Santa Ana, and will drop you off near either of the archeological sites. It leaves every 15 minutes, costs $0.20, and will take about 20 minutes to arrive.

From San Salvador: Take bus 202 from Terminal de Buses de Occidente, in San Salvador, and ask to be dropped of at either of the archeological sites. The bus will take about 1 hour 45 minutes and cost $1.00.


From Santa Ana: Chalchuapa is a quick 18 minute drive west, down RN-13. Casa Blanca is on the right as you enter the city. El Tazumal is just a few minutes south of Casa Blanca on RN-13 W.

From San Salvador: The drive from San Salvador will take you 1 hour 15 minutes (barring any traffic). Simply take CA-1 north to Santa Ana and then turn west on RN-13; where you can follow the directions above.

Which site did you like best in Chalchuapa?

chalchuapa el salvador travel guide

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