The Republic of Costa Rica, located in Central America, has a temperate climate that makes it a perfect get-away for travelers. Bordering the country is Nicaragua in the North, the Pacific Ocean in the West and the South, the Caribbean Sea in the east and Panama in the Southeast.
Costa Rica is a democratic republic and is the most stable nation in Central America with atleast 59 years of uninterrupted democracy.
Spanish is the national language in Costa Rica but most Costa Ricans can understand and speak a bit of English.
Fore more information on Costa Rica, visit the official website of the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism: http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/home.asp?ididioma=2
From bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels, Costa Rica has different accommodations to meet the needs and budget of travelers. A comprehensive list of hotels and resorts are listed on the official website of the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism. The list includes star-ratings and information about the accommodation. Visit: http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/home.asp?ididioma=2
There is a departure tax of US $ 26 in Costa Rica. This can be paid using cash or using a Visa Card. There is currently no entry tax but there is a proposal to implement an entry tax of US $ 15 to replace the 3% hotel tourist tax.
Arrival and Departure
There are four international airports that service Costa Rica. The Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, formerly known as the Liberia International Airport, is the main airport that services tourists that visit the county’s Pacific Coast. The Limon International Airport is located in the Limon province. The Juan Santamaria International Airport is located in San Jose Costa Rica. The fourth international airport is the Tobías Bolaños International Airport. This airport serves only two international flight to Nicaragua and Panama.
The National currency of Costa Rica is colon. It is very easy to have dollars exchange to Colon. There are private agents that change dollars and other currencies. Money can also be exchanged in banks.
You can change your money in the bank. It is much safer to change money in the bank although it can take up a lot of your time as the process can be slow. There are a couple of private banks such as Banex and Banco Mercantil that offer fast service. Money can also be changed at the airport although you can expect a much lower exchange rate there. Some restaurants, shops and other commercial establishments do accept US dollars. Just be careful not to transact with the black market money changers as there is a possibility you may be scammed.
Banks in Costa Rica are open from Monday to Friday from 9AM to 3PM. Almost all commercial establishments shut down between 12 noon and 2 PM for the traditional siesta.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica especially those under the following network: Visa, Master Card and American Express. Check with your credit card’s issuing bank what policies they have over transactions using foreign currency before you head to Costa Rica.
There are plenty of places to dine in at Cost Rica from the high-end restaurants in hotels and resorts to sodas, a convenience store that also sometimes doubles as a bar. You can enjoy various cuisines from French to Costa Rican in the different dining establishments in the country. If you can’t decide what to eat and would like to go for the simple and familiar there are always the popular American fast food joints such as McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.
Drinking water is generally safe in most major cities and towns but to be safe, you can always choose to drink bottled waster that is available in restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores.
Electricity throughout Costa Rica is 120 V, 60 Hz. Plugs are the same as what’s used in the United States.
What to Wear
The weather is warm and humid in some areas while some areas are warm and dry. Bring light clothes such as cotton shirts and shorts. Casual, laid-back outfits are acceptable in Costa Rica. Bring a light jacket, a loose shirt with long sleeves or anything dressier for when you need to go anywhere that will require you to dress up. For women, shorts, tank tops and other casual clothes are appropriate. Bring a nice simple dress for dinner out or for when you need to go anywhere that requires a dressier outfit.
Mobile phone networks in Costa Rica operate GSM 900 or GSM 1800 A subscriber identity module card (SIM) can be purchased and can be used by a foreigner provided his mobile phone runs on GSM 900/ 1800 and is not locked to one specific mobile phone service provider.
Pay telephones are abundant in major cities but they may be a problem in some rural areas.
There are post offices in almost all towns in Costa Rica. Post offices are usually open between 8 AM to 5 PM during weekdays. Some postal offices are open during Saturdays.
Getting around Costa Rica is pretty convenient. Tourists can travel through air with two domestic airlines: Sansa and Nature Air. It is very to go around San Jose, the nation’s capital as there are buses, taxis and other forms of public transportation. It becomes a little bit difficult to travel to remote areas. There are cars, vans and motorcycles that can be rented at affordable rates.
Visa and Entry Facilities
US citizens may enter Costa Rica without a tourist visa provided the traveler will stay only up to 90 days. If a traveler wishes to extend his stay, he will be required to apply for the appropriate visa. The same policy applies for citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom.
The country code for Costa Rica is 506. There are no area codes for Costa Rica
Useful Telephone Numbers
Emergency : 911
Ambulance : 128
Fire : 118
Police : 222-1365 or 221-5337
US Embassy : 519-2000, or 220-3127
Directory Assistance: 113
International Director Assistance: 124