If the Pacific Coast beaches are your reason for visiting El Salvador then La Hachadura should be your pick. However the Las Chinamas is much more convenient for Ruta de Flores, Volcan de Santa Ana or Suchitoto.
Step by step instructions:
• From Antigua to Guatemala City: catch a chicken bus labelled “Guate” from behind the main market near Calle de Recoletos (1 hour, Q10).
• Disembark the bus at the last stop (to be honest we just hopped off and hoped like hell!)
• Catch a taxi (Q20-30, 5-10 minutes) to the Pullman bus station. Communicate to the taxi driver you want the cheapest bus to the Las Chinamas border.
• At the station look for the chicken buses. Ask around the bus boys to get on the “Las Chinamas Frontera” bus (Q30, 3 hours).
• The bus to the border is full. Expect to share a 3 person seat with 3 adults, 2 children. There is regular people who board the bus with food and drinks for sale.
• The bus will go as far as Jalpatagua. At the end switch to a collectivo (free with bus fare, 30 mins).
• Walk over the border completing exit/ entry procedures (see tips below).
• On the El Salvador side cross the bridge and follow the road uphill 300m past the immigration tent. NB: the buses next to the immigration desk do not go to Ahuachapan (they possibly go to San Salvador?).
• Bus to Ahuachapan (20 minutes, US$0.50). If there is no bus 300m past the immigration desk wait in the small carpark to the left (no standard timetable).
• Depart the bus at the last stop – Parque General Francisco Menendez, 8A Calle Poniente, Ahuachapan.
• The next step depends on your next destination. For Ruta de Flores or Santa Ana; catch a chicken bus from 12A Calle Oriente (this is 2 blocks up Avenida 2 De Abril. Most people will be able to direct you. Take bus number R249 for Ruta de Flores.
TOTAL COST: Q70 + US$0.50
• El Salvador does not issue an entry stamp. Don’t expect one. We got into El Salvador and out the other side with no problems or questions asked!
• There are unofficial money changers on the border. With some knowledge on current exchange rates you may be able to get a good deal. If not, atleast exchange enough to get some USD coins for the bus.
• Do not lose any pieces of paper given to you by immigration at either end. Always keep these papers as they are often needed for onward travel when you leave the country. Better to be safe than sorry.
• The El Salvadoran immigration is merely a tent across the bridge. These guys were nice to us despite our lack of Spanish and even gave us a great map of the country.