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Zilla asked in TravelLatin AmericaCosta Rica · 1 decade ago

Tips for traveling in Costa Rica?

What would your top tips be for first time Costa Rica visitors as far as what to bring along, what to keep in mind once you get there, etc? Thanks for any answers!

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Costa Rica can be deceptively similar to wherever it is you call home, but several basics are a bit different. Read this list, print it out and pack it in your bags, because our tips will help make your trip to paradise a bit smoother.

    Time Zone

    Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Saving Time. From March through October, during U.S. Daylight Saving Time, Costa Rica's time zone is equivalent to Mountain Standard Time. November through March, Costa Rica's time zone is equivalent to Central Standard Time.


    Your North American appliances are compatible with Costa Rica's electrical system, which functions at 110 volts. If you bring 3-pronged appliances to Costa Rica, make sure to bring a converter, as many of Costa Rica's outlets are only 2-pronged.

    Drinking Water

    Unless specifically labeled "no potable," you can drink Costa Rica's water. This means that you don't have to worry about fruit or vegetable salads, fruit drinks, or any other food item made with water that has not been boiled.

    Shots & Inoculations

    You do not need any shots or inoculations to come to Costa Rica, despite what people may tell you. However, it’s always wise to make sure you're up-to-date on your tetanus shot.

    Mosquitoes & Dengue Fever

    Dengue fever, a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, is found throughout Latin America. Though not a major problem in Costa Rica, it affects hundreds of people in isolated pockets of the country every year. The virus is most prevalent in urban communities. Also known as break-bone fever, it causes severe flu-like symptoms, lethargy, nausea, joint pains and a rash. There is no treatment for Dengue other than rest and re-hydration. Symptoms can last anywhere from one to three weeks. As there is no inoculation for the virus, prevention is key. Be sure to bring plenty of bug repellent (or buy some here), and wear long-sleeved shirts on buggy evenings.


    Driving Costa Rica's roads can be an adventure sport, with few street signs, aggressive drivers, and distances that seem deceptively short on a map. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times, budget plenty of driving time, and practice both offensive and defensive driving. Read more about driving in Costa Rica.


    Costa Ricans do not use North American-style directions. An address or directions will be given by referencing a landmark, and can be a little tricky to understand at first. For more information, see Navigating San Jose

    Credit Cards

    Credit cards are widely accepted in heavily touristed spots, but you can't use them in some of the more rural areas. Hotels and restaurants will generally accept credit cards and dollars, but once you fan out from San Jose, small businesses, restaurants, and hotels will ask for cash payment in colones, the local currency. Don't worry, ATMs are scattered throughout the country, and usually offer good exchange rates.


    You can find camera memory cards for sale on almost every San Jose corner, though heavy import taxes make them expensive. Try to bring backups from home.


    Restaurant bills will almost always include tax and tip, except in certain tourist areas. Before you buy, look for I.V.I. on both the menu and bill which means that a 13% sales tax and 10% tip have already been added. Note: 10% can seem like a stingy tip, but in Costa Rica, it's perfectly acceptable. If service is exceptional, feel free to round up or add a small additional tip.

    At hotels and the airport, $0.50-$1/bag is an appropriate tip for the concierge or baggage handlers. On the street, you'll often find area guards willing to watch your car until you return. For their services, a $1 tip is appropriate. Tip tour guides $5-$20 per person, depending on the guide's knowledge and the cost of the tour. Don't tip the taxi driver, unless you want to round the fare up a bit. For more information, read our suggested tipping guide.


    Most Costa Rican sewer systems cannot process toilet paper. If there is a trash can placed strategically close to the toilet, discard your paper there.


    Coin laundries are virtually non-existent in Costa Rica. Instead, you'll find lavanderias throughout the country, where employees will wash, dry, and fold your laundry for less than $5 per load.


    Believe it or not, prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. If you don't know where a city's red light district is, just ask.

    Leaving Costa Rica

    On the way out of Costa Rica, you'll have to pay a $26 exit tax, payable with cash or credit card at the international airport. If you're traveling with an underage child without his/her second parent, you will need extensive paperwork to be allowed out of the country. Don't come without it.

  • i've found the best source for information on traveling to Costa Rica comes from CRV.

  • 1 decade ago

    Study a little spanish, there are many people who take advantage of the tourists by charging more money. DON'T EVER exchange money in the airport. Get to your hotel and then find a near bank. Sunscreen, GOOD hiking shoes, camera, bathing suit. Costa Rica is great you have to at least spend 2 weeks to visit all the natural parks.

    Source(s): Im from Costa Rica
  • 7 years ago

    Here are some other tips! I dont agree with Mɔgяατ! I think Costa Rica is a unique country.

    Take a look to the following web page with tips:

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Bring a gallon of bug spray, don't drink the water ( drink bottled ), don't eat any salads , don't eat any fruit with a skin unless you wash it first, don't even take the ice cubes in ordered drinks. I went there 2 years ago and got deathly sick. I have been traveling for many years and Costa Rica was the worst place I ever went to. Stay away from San Juan. There is human poop on the sidewalks and NEVER go out at night. Take insurance out beforehand so you can be air lifted out . Honestly......pick another place to go.

  • Here is a short, informative video on top 7 vacation tips when traveling to Costa Rica:

    Source(s): Local travel agency with 15 years of experience:
  • 1 decade ago

    Bring raingear, good hiking shoes, bug repellent, and sunscreen. Also, some kind of camera, Costa Rica is a beautiful place. Keep an open mind and have fun!

  • 7 years ago


    If you still need more information about costa rica, check out this blog. I travelled to costa rica and I am currently writing a blog about the best places to visit and good advices for a costa rica journey.

  • Millie
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    For exchanging money, use your ATM card. It's very convenient and gives the best exchange rate.

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