Important Costa Rica Traveling Tips
Costa Rica Traveling Tips
Your dream vacation is finally here! Traveling to Costa Rica, the happiest country in the world, and one of the most beautiful ones too. Stay tuned because you will get important Costa Rica traveling tips from this costa rican expert!
In June 1980, in San Jose, Costa Rica a beautiful baby girl was born…that’s right!…it was me!!! So when I tell you that I know my Costa Rican stuff is because I do. Most of my family still lives there, we travel to Costa Rica every other year and we stay there for about a month (at my mom’s house). My husband and my kids love it there and I’m sure you will love it too.
First of all, let me tell you that Costa Rica has one of the most stable economies in Latin America. Vacationing there is not as cheap as other countries in Central America so keep that in mind. If you are planning on doing a lot of tours, make sure you budget accordingly as some of the tours can be very expensive ($100 per person).
Costa Rica is one, if not THE safest country you can visit in Central America. There is crime just like you would find in any country around the world but overall it’s pretty safe.
Tourism is huge in Costa Rica, chances are you will find people from all over the world. You will also find tourist that have made Costa Rica their home. A large part of the population speaks English. It’s also good to know a some basic Spanish for when you find someone that doesn’t speak English.
You will find all kinds of fun things to do in Costa Rica, tours, for example, riverboats, canopy tours, volcano exploration tours, city tours, you name it, they have it!
Here are a few tips that will help you make the best out of your Costa Rica vacation. Feel free to post your comments at the bottom or send me an email if you have a question.
Costa Rica has 2 airports for international travel. The Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria is located in Alajuela, which is just a few minutes from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Chances are if you are flying there you will most likely stay in San Jose. San Jose is busy, cars everywhere, buses, taxis and people selling all kinds of goodies, especially in the heart of the city. There, you can find the phone charger cable you forgot at home or the most amazing buttery avocados you’ve tried.
Daniel Oduber is the other international airport, this one is situated in one of the most beautiful provincias of Costa Rica, Guanacaste. Most of the people staying at a resort in Guanacaste or the surrounding areas will come in through this airport. When you fly here, you are minutes away from beautiful beaches and amazing resorts. Guanacaste is very different from San Jose, is my favorite place in Costa Rica because is not as busy as San Jose. In Guanacaste it seems like the days are longer, the food is yummy and the people are amazing. There are taxis and ubers and busses that can take you anywhere you need to go from the airport. The red taxis are usually cheaper than the orange airport ones and Uber is cheaper than both. Tips are not required but always welcome.
Colon is the national currency of Costa Rica. US dollars are accepted pretty much everywhere. If you want to exchange your money you can do that at the airport. I prefer to go to a bank outside of the airport and exchange money there, all you need is an ID. The exchanging rate goes up and down, as of right now $1 equals 594 colones. In order to find out the dollar exchanging rate all you have to do is: google it (mind-blowing advise here).
Now, what can you buy with a dollar in Costa Rica or with 600 colones? All depends on where you are, for example if you go to the farm market you can buy several mangoes with that, or a bag full of green peppers or a watermelon. If you go to Starbucks you cannot get anything there with that amount of money, but if you go to the corner store or a pulperia, you can buy ice cream or candies or cookies. All fast food is the same price as the United States, mom and pop restaurants are a bit cheaper and the food better.
If you are renting a car make sure you plan accordingly because gas is more expensive there than the U.S. Even though the country is small, there are lots of mountains so it takes a while to get around. Just take it slow, plan, and enjoy the view!
Just like in any country, there are always evil people that will try to take advantage of a tourist. Just be on the lookout, don’t trust your personal belongings to anyone. If your hotel room has a safe, use it to put away your money and all important documents. Try not to carry all your money with you. What we usually do, not only in Costa Rica but everywhere we travel is to keep a little bit of cash on us just in case and then mostly use a credit card. We pay off the credit card as soon as we get home from our trip.
When booking tours, make sure is from a reputable company or do it through your hotel. Try not to wander around in the middle of the night, especially in San Jose. If you use common sense and follow these important Costa Rican traveling tips you can have a great vacation not only in Costa Rica but everywhere you want to go.
I’m already hungry just thinking about it. In Costa Rica, you will find the most amazing variety of fruits and vegetables. You can find mangoes and avocados the size of cantaloupes, the sweetest pineapples, and the weirdest looking fruit. Gallo pinto con huevo is the traditional breakfast in Costa Rica. Gallo pinto is a mixture of rice and beans with cilantro and onions and garlic, it is served with huevo (eggs), sweet plantain (maduros), natilla (similar to sour cream but better) and cheese. Everywhere you go, you will find this amazing dish, because even though it is a breakfast meal, people will eat it for lunch or dinner.
Other amazing dishes you must try are: chifrijo (rice, beans, fried pork or chicharrones, pico de gallo and avocado). Casado (rice, beans, your choice of fish, pork chop or beef with salad, picadillo, and cheese). Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), olla de carne (beef and vegetable soup). Picadillos which are made out of finely chopped vegetables mixed with spices and ground beef. Try different things to see what you like. On a side note, also remember that the water in Costa Rica is safe to drink.
Depending on how much you want to pay, and where you want to stay, you can find a wide variety of prices for hotels. For example, you can stay in a Hostel for about $20 per night, you may or may not have ac or water heater or they may charge a little bit more for both. Also, you can find great deals on Airbnb.
For a basic hotel with ac you can pay $40 and up. The prices will go up depending on the area and the hotel you are staying, high-end hotels will be $200 and up. With time and planning, you should be able to find a good hotel for a good price.
My favorite are the All-Inclusive Resorts, although they can be very expensive at $200 and up, per night, you can find very good deals online all the time. Last time we went to Costa Rica; we went to a resort for 3 nights/4 days and we paid a little bit over $600 for all 4 of us. That is great considering that all your food and drinks are paid for (even alcohol), there is a great atmosphere and they have shows at night to entertain you.
Another important Costa Rica traveling tip is to plan your dates, because, during the high or peak season, all hotels will be a little more expensive than during the low season. So keep reading to find out when is the…
Best time to visit Costa Rica
When you go to Costa Rica you have to keep in mind the season that you are going. Most of the time when we go, we do it when our kids are off from school which is June-August. There is usually some rainy days (rainforest anyone?), but since we stay a whole month, there is plenty of time and opportunities for us to do things.
Plan your vacation depending on what kind of things you want to do, and what kind of places you want to visit. I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad time to visit Costa Rica, but that’s just me. The rain usually doesn’t stop us, so bring a raincoat, mosquito repellent and enjoy your vacation! I found a great article about the best time to visit Costa Rica at mytanfeet.com, check it out, it will be a great tool for all your planning.
What to wear
Shorts and flip-flops are a must but also take into consideration the places you are going to be visiting. Flip flops are great for the beach but not so great when you are going through a mountain. It gets very cold in some areas due to elevation, so if you are planning on visiting any of our volcanoes or Monteverde I do recommend to bring a light jacket and jeans.
I’m so happy that you are looking into visiting Costa Rica, you won’t regret it. The people are very nice and friendly and you will always find someone that will help you. If you have any questions about any of these important Costa Rica traveling tips or any other questions, feel free to comment below or sent me an email.
Is this your first trip to Costa Rica? If you have been to Costa Rica, what did you like the most? Let me know in the comments below. If you are traveling with kids, don’t forget to read my post on Tips for traveling with kids on a plane. Have a wonderful day friends!