Two months ago, I wrote that I booked a flight to the most dangerous country in the world. Since I mostly visit Latin American countries, I wanted to see if it really is true that San Pedro Sula, Honduras is the most dangerous city in the world. I just got back to Los Angeles yesterday evening and survived the most violent city on Earth. I promise to have a full trip report in the next coming months (since I’m really backed up). Here are the 10 things I learned from my recent trip to San Pedro Sula Honduras.
1. Taxi Cab Mafia at Ramon Villeda Morales San Pedro Sula International Airport (SAP) – Basically when you land in SAP airport, your only option to get out of the city is by taxi. Of course you can rent a car, but that option is very expensive. There is another method by calling a hotel shuttle to come pick you up, but that won’t be free and it’s better to just take a taxi for the same price. It’s basically $20 all in for a trip from SAP airport to the city center of San Pedro Sula. I really dislike taking taxi cabs as there is always a viable form of alternative transportation such as buses, but there aren’t any at SAP airport.
2. Armed guards are present at many shops and restaurants – Most establishments in San Pedro Sula have armed guards in the malls and restaurants. Even fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Pizza Hut have armed guards. The smaller stores run by mom and pop stores don’t have the luxury of armed guards which is unfortunate because gang crime is rampant. Gangs collect money from the smaller stores on a weekly or monthly basis and if they don’t pay, someone in their family will up dead.
3. Tourism in San Pedro Sula is non-existent – I walked around San Pedro Sula for a total of 9 hours in a span of two days and did not see a single tourist. Basically San Pedro Sula lacks a lot of culture and it’s not a good sign of a destination when there’s only 4 things listed under “Attractions in San Pedro Sula” on Trip Advisor. Most people visit San Pedro Sula for business and they mainly stay in the hotels. There was business being done in the lobby, hotel restaurant, and hotel lounge.
4. Don’t go out after 6pm – All the bad things happen in San Pedro Sula after 6pm when the sun sets. I highly advise you to avoid walking in the streets of San Pedro Sula, especially Parque Central during the night. If you do have to go out, grab an authorized cab from the hotel instead of a street cab. Travel only by taxi and they’re pretty cheap.
5. Everyone drives – Like I said earlier, I walked around for a total of 9 hours in a span of two days and I barely saw anyone walk besides me. I was walking on the main circumvention “the ring” road and there was hardly anyone walking. There is a huge car culture here and they even have 15 ATM’s that were drive through only and it was packed with cars. Most fast food places offer a drive-thru window as well.
6. Alcohol Prohibition on Sunday nights – Every Sunday after 5pm, no establishment in Honduras can sell alcohol until the day after (Monday) at 6am. This is a huge 13 hour gap which was placed by the government in Feb of 2014 in order to decrease crime in Honduras. Even in beach resort places like Roatan, there is no exemption to this policy. Police have been cracking down forcing restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to close on Sunday evenings.
7. There are too many chain restaurants – There are so many chain restaurants in San Pedro Sula like Popeyes, McDoanlds, Burger King, Denny’s, Church’s Chicken, Pizza Hut, Applebees, Little Caesars, and Chili’s. There are also many chain restaurants that are from Honduras and Central America like Pollo Campero, Power Chicken, Taco Inn, and Antojitos Mexicano. Local and family owned restaurants are hard to find and only found deep in the center of San Pedro Sula.
8. Huge police presence – During my two days in San Pedro Sula, I saw armed guards at almost every store and police patrolling the streets. In addition to local Honduran police, the military police is also on the lookout. Sometimes you’ll see local and military police riding in the same vehicle.
9. The airport departure tax is not included in your ticket – The San Pedro Sula International Airport (SAP) has instituted an international departure tax to be paid in local currency (830 lempiras) or US Dollars ($39.72). You can also pay the fee in mixed currencies of lempira (good way to get rid of lempiras) and US Dollars. In addition, you can pay the airport exit tax using a VISA or MasterCard debit or credit card. Be aware if you pay with a credit/debit card, you will be charged a cash advance from your financial institution.
10. Baleadas are amazing – The national dish of Honduras is the baleada which is a tortilla filled with mashed refried beans, avocado, cheese, butter, and whatever meat you choose. It’s super huge and looks like a quesadilla, filled like a taco, and tastes amazing. The softness of the freshly handmade flour tortilla with enormous fillings really hit the spot and it doesn’t fall apart.