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Costa Rica Travel Tips

We are local experts and will be more than happy to help you!
Restaurants and Tipping | What to Bring | Visa requirements | Health | Rent-a Car Security Money and Banking | Electricity | Postal system | Phones 

Even though Costa Rica is considered a very safe country, there are, as in any other country, some precautions that should be practiced.


1. Always carry a copy of your passport, and keep the original in a safe place. 

2. Keep your wallet in your front pocket. Be cautious in certain areas at night. It is best to take a taxi door to door. 

3. Try to always drink bottled water, especially in rural areas if you are driving, be very defensive, especially around the traffic circles, known as “rotondas” (it will remind you of a demolition derby) 

4. ABOVE ALL, never run over any animals on the road, frogs, snakes, dogs, raccoons, etc. 

5. Travel with tickets and money separate in case of theft/loss. 

6. Keep valuables and passports safe and only carry enough money for anticipated expenses. 

7. Leave a copy of your itinerary, a photocopy of airline tickets, passport identification page, driver’s license, credit cards, traveler’s checks, prescriptions medical history, and important business documents with family and / or friend for emergencies. 

8. Make sure your health insurance covers medical emergencies away from home. If not, look into purchasing travel insurance. 

9. Label each piece of luggage inside and out (name, address, and telephone number). Use covered luggage tags, Instead of your home address, use that of your office information. 

10. Bring extra batteries for cameras and electronics. They may be hard to find here, as you are going to be traveling around.

11. When possible leave jewelry at home. 

12. Patience, remember you are a visitor to this country. Customs and practices may be different, enjoy the difference!!!!! 

13. Pack a small first aid kit (antiseptic, antihistamine, and decongestant, band-aids, anti itch ointment, diarrhea medications, and painkillers (asa) gravol. 

14. Protect cameras, batteries etc. in plastic bags. Even the humidity of the Rain Forest can permeate into your electronic equipment. 

15. Protection from insects. Insects are attracted to some of the things you carry in your luggage soap, lotions, harmless insects don’t bother people but it is better to have them away from your clothes. 

Restaurants and Tipping

By law in Costa Rica there is a mandatory 13% services charge. If your service was excellent, it is nice to give an extra5 or 10% tip, especially if the waiter or waitress was truly deserving.[Top] 

What to Bring

On almost any trip to Costa Rica, you will visit mountains, the beach, and the temperate Central Valley. You need to be prepared for temperatures from the low 50s to the low 90s, and everything in between. 

Rapid and numerous changes in temperature and the probability of rain mean you should bring prepared with appropriate clothing. Come prepared to dress in layers, and try to bring lightweight, fast drying clothing. 

If possible try to fit everything into one carry-on and one checked bag. 

Remember that domestic flights, charters and water taxis within Costa Rica have luggage weight limits usually 25 pounds per person. You can store extra luggage at your hotel in San José. 

  • A couple of bathing suits Shorts
  • T-shirts or tank tops
  • Loose-fitting cottons
  • Lightweight long sleeved shirt
  • Rubber sandals
  • Hats
  • Lightweight hiking boots with good tread
  • Athletic shoes for walks
  • Light sweater and/or jacket
  • Light cotton pants
  • Jeans (for horseback riding)
  • Extra socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect Repellent (75% Deet recommended)
  • Waterproof sun block lotion (SPF 29-40)
  • Towels
  • Folding sturdy umbrella
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Day pack
  • Cameras
  • Film for cameras (VERY expensive in Costa Rica)
  • Camera batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight
  • Medications
  • Plastic bags
  • Prepaid phone card to call home

[Top] 

Visa requirements

When traveling with a passport, citizens of the U.S., Canada and most Latin American and European countries may stay in Costa Rica for 90 days. 

No visa is necessary for travelers from the U.S., Canada and Western Europe. 

Citizens of some Latin American, Asian, African, and Eastern European countries need visas, which can be obtained at Costa Rican Consulates.[Top] 

Health

Costa Rica is one of the safest destinations in the developing world, from a general health point of view. This is largely due to high health standards in our country. 

There are no required immunizations for entering Costa Rica. However, it is always wise to keep up your basic shots such as tetanus and diphtheria. Risk of contracting malaria is minimal, but for itineraries that include the Caribbean lowlands, travelers might wish to take the extra precaution of a prophylactic medicine such as chloroquine. 

Decisions about immunizations and anti-malarial medications should be made on a personal basis after consultation with your personal physician. 

If you take prescription medication, have your doctor give you a spare prescription with a note suggesting an alternative medication if your first choice isn’t available. 

Private and public hospitals in Costa Rica treat foreigners. Many Costa Rican doctors speak English. You are required to pay all doctor and hospital bills when you are treated. [Top] 

Rent-a Car Security

• Your rental car license plate makes you a prime target for breaking and entry. Follow these tips to avoid being a victim.
• Always lock your car and roll up the windows.
• Never leave valuables in the car, even locked in the trunk.
• Always park in a lot and pay the guard a little tip to watch your car.
• If you are leaving non-valuable items in the car, put them in the trunk or under seats.
• Obey all posted speed limits. If stopped by transit police, show your rental contract, passport and driver’s license. Pay your ticket at your rental car agency when you return the car.[Top] 

Money and Banking

The best place to change money is your hotel or in a local bank, banking can be frustrating due to long lines. Never change money on the street. Your passport is required to cash travelers checks or make other transactions. 

Credit cards are widely accepted in San Jose but not in rural areas. Visa is the most common, followed by Master Card and then American Express. Some hotels and other businesses charge a service charges if you pay by credit card. Traveler’s checks are widely accepted in hotels but not by other businesses. ATMs are widespread in San José and most of the touristy places. 

Use the currency calculator below to calculate how many colones you should receive when you change money.[Top] 

Electricity

Costa Rica’s electrical system is compatible with that of North America, 110 volts. Three hole grounded plugs are very uncommon, so if you have equipment that needs this type of plug, be sure to bring an adapter or buy one at a hardware store.[Top] 

Postal system

Expect your postcards to arrive home after you do—especially in December. Never send cash or anything else of value by regular mail from Costa Rica. Federal Express, DHL and other courier services are available in major cities.[Top] 

Phones

The best place to make an international call is from your hotel. All phone booths are connected to the international system, and you can connect directly to operators in the U.S. and Canada to call collect or use your credit card. The numbers are listed in the telephone directory, or ask at your hotel. 

Public phones take phone cards with an electromagnetic strip (buy them at drugstores, hotels or supermarkets).[Top]