10 Things I Learned From My Recent Trip to San Pedro Sula Honduras

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.

 

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19 Comments on "10 Things I Learned From My Recent Trip to San Pedro Sula Honduras"

  1. paul hoffman | April 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Reply

    Hey Jamison.. I like your blog..question? I have a ten hour layover at sap airport from 9pm till 7am. Wondering if i have to pay the departure tax even if i’m in transit? I might just hang all night at the airport. What would happen if I leave for a hotel instead? Does that affect the departure tax thing? Thanks if you can help with any insight…Paul

    • you’re gonna have to pay the airport tax whenever you clear customs, meaning exiting the airport security zone… if you’re just transiting and staying inside the terminal (security side), then you won’t. Just a warning, the departure gate area is very small and I don’t think they’ll let people stay overnight there. It’s an awful long time to hang out at the airport with no open restaurants in the middle of the night. The airport is also in a very desolate area.

  2. Nice article, although you should’ve made a local contact to see the nice side of the city (not the night life)

    Everyone does drive because everyone’s scared to get mugged. Plus, walking the “ring” doesn’t count, triple dare you to walk on colonia sunseri, cabañas, planeta or satélite.

    Sure SPS is lacking tourism because there’s nothing historic-worthy here, except for the old railroad. Tourism looking tourists usually head for Copan or the natural reserves.

    The rest is spot-on, can confirm.
    Source: I’ve lived here all my life.

    • Thanks Ben. I definitely need a local contact next time. What goes on in Colonia Sunseri, Cabanas, Planeta, or Satelite?? lol

    • hi,ben, thanks for your information. May I ask a question? My friend is gonna go to utila to dive, from Antigua, Guatemala. She wants to spend sometime in San Pedro Sula to apply the visa to go back Guatemala, because she previously held only a one-time entrance visa, Do you know how long does it take to get the visa, like one day or several days like a week? thank you so much.

    • Dario Garcia | March 7, 2015 at 8:30 am | Reply

      I like your response. It is true about there is nothing to do in SPS; but I love the people; their friendliness and warm personalities.
      Good hearted hard working.
      SPS is about 30 years behind in many aspects; infrastructure is one of them.
      Public transportation and education.
      SPS it is starting to take off and it will take another 20 years before we see the changes.

  3. Taylor Brown | June 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm | Reply

    Hi Jamison, I am planning a week long trip to Honduras this summer with a club at my college and I am coming in through SAP. I am interested in what else you have to say about your time there, will you be writing up another blog about it soon?

  4. Hi! I came across your site when I was searching about safety in San Pedro Sula. I do speak Spanish and I have traveled to other south and central American countries but I am a little scared about flying into SAP alone and being a woman. The only way I can do it is to fly Spirit Airlines and they arrive at 1AM at SAP and im a little freaked out that I might be making a really bad decision. Im not so scared about being in the city since I am meeting with a group the next day but its the 1am thing and being alone and the fact that the travel advisory alert mentioned that tourists have been killed leaving the airport – yikes. Is it really that scary? Thank you!

    • You’ll be perfectly fine at 1am. Just be sure to take an authorized taxi and not an “unofficial one”. San Pedro Sula International Airport was quite pleasant in the arrivals hall – //www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpBVWl1aG4E

    • Hi! I have the exact same concern! I’m flying into SAP at 1am and plan on taking a 5am Hedman Alas bus out to La Ceiba. My plan is to spend a few hours in the airport until I take a taxi to the bus terminal. As a solo female traveler, I’m nervous about taking a cab by myself at that hour. In your experience, were the authorized taxis easy to track down (and do you think I’ll be able to catch one around 4am?) Thanks so much for any insight you’re able to offer!

  5. Hello. I will be arriving at San Pedro airport on Spirit at 1:15 am and leaving on an 8:00 am flight to Roatan. I assume it would be reasonable to hang at airport for the six hours in between? Or would they kick me out? thanks

  6. Anywhere in the world u not safe sorry to say that USA u can get rape an shoot.so Honduras is not that bad u just need to be careful 🙂

  7. Hey good article here, I’m engaged to a girl who had to go back to San Pedro Sula for a year (she used to live near me). I keep wanting to go down to see her, but I keep being told by family members and Hondurans to stay away from San Pedro Sula because I wont come back alive. Ya, pretty scary lol. She doesnt live in the city center, about 20 minutes from it….do u think its safe for a 4-5 day visit?

  8. Hi. I’m going to see family there. I would like to take some trips to the ruins and other places. Are excursions affordable! I have been seeing pretty expensive ones…also I want to go to Roatan by Ferry. How easy is it to take the bus and Ferry?

  9. Hey good stuff Jamison, I have been talking to a girl in San Pedro Sula for over a year and we really like each other. I want to visit her, stay at the Metrotel, she is very involved with her church. But my family keeps saying If I go to SPS I will get robbed, or my head chopped off. Are the fears overblown? Or can an American really get hurt down there?

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