Life can become boring and tiresome between your normal routine and work. That is why you should vacation to the phenomenal places Costa Rica offers. However, you must know a few things before preparing for your trip. These are the things that will determine your Costa Rica travel experience. And since we wish you the trip of your lifetime, below, we have highlighted a few things that you need to pay attention to before you visit Costa Rica.
26 Tips for Costa Rica Travel
1 – Instead of using taxis, take an Uber
When you get to Costa Rica, you want to have fun while maintaining your initial budget. Therefore, if you are not ready for a horror movie experience with taxi prices, you are better off taking an Uber instead of a taxi. Uber services are a cheaper option and much better when navigating around. If you do have to take a taxi, ensure that it’s red in color or orange if provided by the airport.
2 – Public buses also make a decent alternative
While in Costa Rica, public buses are convenient and a very cheap option. Although this is not the fanciest way to get around if you need to move shorter distances, they are always a good option.
3 – Download the Travel app separately
If you feel that public buses will work for you when traveling across the country, download the Travel App Off the Grid Traveller or the Moovit App. This app is available in English, and you don’t have to pay anything to get it. The app helps you navigate with ease. In that, it tells you the bus to take on a certain route and its departure time to any location across the country.
4 – Rental cars are expensive but truly the best
Although you might have to spend a few more bucks when using a car rental when navigating the country, they are one of the best ways to move around. Car rentals allow you to do things according to your schedule. You no longer have to worry about the pre-packaged tours.
5 – The Drivers in Costa Rica can be crazy
Welcome to Costa Rica, where the drivers can be insane. You will need to be ready for people who ignore the traffic signals while still having speeding bikers pass you on both sides of the car. It’s ironic how much everyone in Costa Rica will be relaxed about anything around them but not driving. When it comes to driving, they are always in a rush.
6 – During peak hours, please AVOID the San Jose area
First, in Costa Rica, you need to avoid driving downtown, especially the San Jose and surrounding areas. The place can always be too much, especially during rush hour.
7 – Waze will always be your best friend when getting around
The last thing you need to use in Costa Rica is maps. This is because the roads change constantly, and you could get stuck. To handle this problem, your best bet when getting around is the free Waze app that will never disappoint you.
8 – The distances may be longer than they seem
In Costa Rica, the roads are curvy and often unpaved, with a lot of traffic. Therefore, you will likely take longer to reach your destination than anticipated. So, when planning your travel time, check the driving period beforehand. This way, if you want to get to whichever destination in good time, you must add at least 20 – 30 minutes.
9 – They have tolls too
There are strategically stationed tolls on all the major highways in Costa Rica. The good thing is that they are not insanely expensive, and best of all, they accept dollars.
10 – Costa Rica residences don’t have addresses
Most people will never believe this when they hear about it at first, but it is true. There is no address system in Costa Rica. The use of numbered street names is a recent development they have started using in the last couple of years.
11 – You’ll love the local eateries: “sodas”
Every town in Costa Rica has small local eateries that locals call “sodas.” This is one of the best places to grab something quick to eat. They have basic plates of food like beans, rice, salad, and meat for as low as $5 USD. Although cheap, you will love every bite of the food you get.
12 – Try their local fruits
Costa Rica has many unusual local fruits that you need to try. Most people go to the local farmer’s marketplace at least once a week to grab some for themselves. The good thing is that every town in Costa Rica has a market day for the local farmers at least one day per week. Trust me; you can ask the hotel when the market day will be. Your visit will be worthwhile.
13 – Feel free to drink water in Costa Rica
If you are concerned about water, the water in Costa Rica is good and safe for drinking. 95% of water is potable. But, the best thing to do is ask the hotel management before filling your water bottle from the tap.
14 – Don’t feel obliged to give tips, but it’s expected
When you visit some of the ‘sodas’ or local restaurants during your Costa Rica travel, you should not feel obliged to leave tips as it is already included in the bill. But if you’ve had a good experience, you may want to give a little extra. However, regarding the more touristy locations, tips are among the most expected things.
15 – If you have to buy souvenirs, get them at grocery stores
This may sound quite unusual to most people, but if you want to get the best souvenirs at affordable prices, get them at the local grocery stores. If you think about the whole situation, this is one of the best ways to cut on extra finances. If you are thinking of taking some chocolate or coffee from Costa Rica, instead of getting them at the expensive souvenir shop, get them at almost half price at the local grocery stores.
16 – You don’t have to take a guide
This is common in most places, and Costa Rica travel is no exception. When you get to some national parks, you will get guides standing at the gates with offers to be your tour guide for the day at negotiated prices. I can’t deny the guides are good at what they do.
They know how to find most of the animals and even have certain equipment, such as a telescope, to get a closer view of all animals.
17 – If you have to travel, do it during the off-peak seasons
During the rainy season, everything tends to go down the price. The rainy season mainly runs from May to November and December. As much as this might be considered the annual rainy season, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will rain daily.
The rain starts at 2 pm and may continue pouring hard for a few more hours. So if you want the best deals on Costa Rica travel, this is the time to go. You will wake up early and enjoy the day in the morning hours before the rains begin in the evening.
18 – You can get a SIM card with prepaid services at the airport
When you want to have fun, you need to consider excess spending. Therefore, instead of going for those fancy international plans from the cell phone provider in your home country, you can get a SIM card that is prepaid at the airport. This will cost you around $5-10 USD, and the money will be applied to your account.
The process takes less than 5 minutes. However, if you need to add more money to the account, you can get the Kolbi card at any mini-market or renowned supermarket in the country. All you have to do is ensure you have an unlocked phone that can use any international card.
19 – Have your onward ticket with you
When entering the country, you might be required to show proof of your departure to the customs and border patrol. This is a common thing that you need to be ready for. Therefore, just in case, you need a copy of the departure ticket. Also, ensure that the departure ticket is scheduled within 90 days of arrival.
20 – Are there exit taxes?
Also, in Costa Rica, when you have to cross the border to Nicaragua or any other place like Panama, you may need to pay an exit tax of around $8 USD. However, the tax may be around $28 USD when leaving the airport. Most airlines include the tax in the ticket price for the flight.
21 – Bring a bug spray with you
The CDC recommends an insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET. You can buy repellent at most grocery and convenience stores in Costa Rica, but unfortunately, they mostly carry ones that have 15% DEET. This may work briefly, but a higher concentration will last longer. Insect repellent is also expensive, at about $10 USD a can. For these reasons, we recommend bringing your own supply.
22 – The sun is powerful here
Most people forget that the equator is not too far from Costa Rica. Therefore, bring sunscreen from home. While you can still buy it in Costa Rica, it will be more expensive.
23 – Venomous animals
There is a list of venomous animals, but this should not worry you unless you walk in the jungle. Also, avoid walking barefoot as there are scorpions.
24 – That nice and fancy bling stuff you have, leave them at home
Generally, Costa Rica travel is safe but not the best place to stand out. Therefore, leave all your fancy and expensive clothes and jewelry at home. Chances are you will make yourself less of a petty theft target.
25 – Be sure to grab your rain jacket
Costa Rica is a unique place when it comes to climatic conditions. Every area in the country will have different climatic conditions, known as microclimates. Worst of all, the torrential downpours are very unpredictable in this location. In that case, whether you are traveling in the dry or rainy seasons, always make sure you have your rain jacket available. Pack a light jacket that will not be too hot while wearing it if you can.
26 – Relax and have a great time
Costa Rica happens to be one of the calmest places to be. Life in this place is ‘Pura Vida,’ meaning pure life. More often than not, the local people may use the phrase as more of a greeting, but it could also mean that everything is quite okay. When traveling in Costa Rica, you need to adopt this attitude.
Instead of getting frustrated when dealing with electrical problems, traffic delays, and canceled buses in Costa Rica, you can take a short stride across the city, which will be a good part of the travel and exploration experience too. If you have this attitude, your Costa Rica travel experience will be one of the best of your lifetime!
27 – Which electrical adapters do I need to bring to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica uses Type A and Type B electrical outlets with a voltage of 120V, the same as the United States and Canada. Therefore, if you are traveling from North America, you will not need a voltage converter.
However, you will need a plug adapter if your electrical devices have a different plug type. The most common plug types are Type A and Type B, which have two flat prongs and two flat prongs with a round grounding pin, respectively.
If your devices have a different plug type, you must bring a plug adapter that converts your plug to a Type A or Type B plug. You can easily find plug adapters online or in travel stores.
-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).
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