Tips for travelers to Costa Rica
We want you to get to know every corner of our beautiful country, travel like a local, enjoy and be safe, having in mind the following recommendations:
Costa Rica is a place where nature always rules and the adventure awaits, just remember:
- Book tours offered by authorized travel agencies
- Always check the local weather conditions and forecasts before you take a tour.
- Make sure the tour guide provides you the safety instructions and the activity’s regulation before starting the tour.
- Ensure the company has the operating permit of the Ministry of Health, insurance policies and certified tour guides.
The health care system in Costa Rica is very good, both private and public. Although, basic vaccines for hepatitis A and B are recommended, as well as rabies and tetanus, before making the trip.
The government of Costa Rica requires the yellow fever vaccine certificate when traveling from countries in Africa (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan), Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and the Republic of Guyana. The vaccine must be administered at least 10 days before the start date of your trip.
Solo Female Travel
We want you to enjoy exploring the beauty and culture of our country. And if you are traveling alone, please take the following precautions:
- Use official transportation only.
- Avoid walking, jogging, or sightseeing alone in secluded areas, especially at night.
- Do not share the details of your itinerary on social media or with strangers.
- Understand the risks of traveling alone and being with people you do not know.
- You can trust the police. They are here to help you.
- Always keep in touch with your family and friends.
- In case of emergency or suspicious behavior, dial 9-1-1.
Imagine you find yourself running low on bottled water and your only source is the water from the tap. You’re in luck The tap water in Costa Rica is completely drinkable.
The biggest meal of the day in Costa Rica is lunch. Make lunch the main meal of your day and save your money for more adventures. Head to a soda (a small, locally owned cafe) or the local market for the freshest and most authentic cuisine.
It is easy to find restaurants, sodas, cafes, bistros, and bakeries. The cuisine is quite extensive and includes both national and international options.
In restaurants and hotels, 13% Value Added Tax and a 10% tip are included in the final price; however, if you are more than happy with the service and want to leave a gratuity, it will be welcome.
An unlocked cell phone will work in Costa Rica. But remember to call your wireless provider before you go to add global roaming capabilities to your plan.
You can also buy a SIM prepaid card and use your unlocked cell phone in Costa Rica. Find SIM cards at the Kolbi (the national telecommunications company) booth at the airport, or in any telephone company store around, such as Claro and Movistar. A local line is not required to dial 9-1-1 just in case of emergency.
Traveling on a budget No problem. Costa Rica has a ton a things to do for travelers on almost any budget:
- The colon is the currency of Costa Rica.
- US$ dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
- Exchange money only at banks and approved change offices. Check exchange rate here
- Bank transactions require a valid passport (not a copy nor a picture).
- ATMs are located throughout the country. Some of them remain closed from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Remember not to flash your cash.
- Sales tax or Value Added Tax (VAT) is 13%. It is included in the final price of every service or product purchase.
- The departure tax should be included in most of the airline tickets. For those flight tickets where it is duly stipulated that they do not include the departure tax, you must pay $29 per person, either in dollars, colones (local currency), credit or debit card.
It’s always best to travel light
When you?re headed to Costa Rica, travel light. If there’s a way to avoid checking baggage, do it. Play it safe and carry on. You’ll be able to take advantage of hotel wash rooms and laundromats on your journey and the less you have to keep up with, the better. If you are checking baggage, remember to weigh bags before you get to the airport.
Try to pack only what is necessary, cool clothes that are easy to wash and dry, since airlines and tour operators have weight restrictions on luggage, and you will probably move from one place to another.
Include in your luggage all the medication you may need if you have a medical condition, since some medications in Costa Rica require a certified prescription.
We want you to have an incredible time exploring Costa Rica safely:
- Always take care of all your belongings and valuables, even when traveling by bus.
- Carry your backpack in front of you.
- Avoid unsolicited help from strangers.
- Avoid walking in isolated places and places without lighting.
- Check your map and mobile phone in secure areas.
Keeping safe on the road
Driving a car in Costa Rica gives you the freedom to navigate the beautiful landscape at your leisure. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you begin your adventure.
- If you experience a mechanical issue or a flat tire avoid stopping in lonely places and don’t accept unsolicited help from strangers. It is better to call the Rent-a-Car or dial 9-1-1 to request help.
- Don’t leave any valuables unattended in your car such as credit cards, cash, jewelry, or your passport. Use public parking lot with surveillance.
- Use a GPS or a GPS navigation app. It’ll save time and prove convenient when exploring. Just make sure you have a chip or an international data plan.
- The terrain can get more adventurous depending on where you choose to go. So keep that in mind when renting your vehicle.
- Verify the condition of the car and its required safety equipment (warning triangles, reflective vests, lug nut wrench, spare tire and a fire extinguisher).
- When renting the car, read the contract thoroughly to understand what is covered and what is not. Ask for details of car policies and insurance. Be aware of all the details about the insurance policies.
When you’re headed on vacation, the idea is to keep it as stress-free as possible. Pay attention to the little things to avoid any snags. BRING THE RIGHT SHOES There are a ton of fun things to do in Costa Rica and you don’t want your footwear to limit you or give you blisters. A pair of sandals and some decent sneakers should do fine. If you plan on doing some serious hiking or climbing, consider some heavier duty options.
Feel The Sand
- Costa Rica is a year-round destination! Go get a tan, go surfing and walk on the beach, but don’t leave your belongings alone when you do.
- Ask locals or surfers about the beach conditions and about rip currents.
- If someone is at risk, and you haven’t been trained in first aid, seek for help.
- When traveling with friends, don’t joke around in a way that may put your life or others at risk.
- Keep children, elderly people or people with physical limitations close to you, and avoid swimming alone.
Many Costa Ricans speak English quite well, but remember the native tongue is rooted in Spanish. When you’re planning a trip, we suggest brushing up on your Espanol. Download some audio lessons on your mobile device and listen while traveling or keep a pocket translator handy. Chat with the locals maybe they can suggest an excursion you had not planned on!