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Costa Rica Travel Information, Tips and More

Country Information
Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama and is one of the most-visited international tourist destinations. The main reasons for this are the country’s tropical climate and geographical desirability, which ranges from green mountain rainforest's to gorgeous beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. A democratic and peaceful country—Costa Rica has not had an army since the year 1949—its people are friendly and highly educated.

Although Costa Rica is a small country in terms of area, there is a lot going on here in terms of weather. Though generally classified as a tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has no real summer or winter, and the sun shines here throughout the year. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5am and sets at about 6pm consistently throughout the year.



In San José and most tourist towns, the tap water is safe to drink. However, if you go to remote areas, especially on the Atlantic coast, you should drink purified water only. Best Single Travel recommends drinking bottled water at all times.


Visa
Passport-carrying nationals of the following countries are allowed 90 days’ stay with no visa: most western European countries, Argentina, Canada, Israel, Japan, Panama and the USA.

Citizens of Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela are allowed to stay for 30 days with no visa. Others require a visa from a Costa Rica embassy or consulate. These lists are subject to continual change
Other nationalities please check this website - http://costarica-embassy.org/?q=node/72#1

 


There is a departure tax of $29 USD for visitor
s that is to be paid at the airport. Please note that the departure tax is payable at the airport with USD/Costa Rican cash or VISA, Mastercard or American Express. This tax must be paid before you check in for your flight.



Money:
Costa Rica money is called the colon. 1 USD = 509 Colons. US dollar is accepted almost everywhere so there is no need to exchange. Prices in Costa Rica are frequently listed in US dollars, especially at upmarket hotels and restaurants, Canadian dollars are not widely accepted.

ATMs are common in San Jose, but will be hard to find in smaller towns. Credit cards are widely accepted, please call your credit card company and let them know you will be traveling to Costa Rica.

 

Time:
All of Costa Rica is in the GMT -6 zone, which corresponds to U.S. Central Time during winter months, and U.S. Mountain Time when the U.S. is in daylight savings time. The length of days in Costa Rica varies by only half an hour between seasons, so Costa Rica does not observe daylight savings time.


 

Electric Plugs
Costa Rica's electricity supply is 110V AC at 60 Hz - If you're traveling from the U.S. or Canada leave the electric converters and plug adapters at home.


Weather
In Costa Rica the average annual temperature is between 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit and the coolest months of the year are November, December and January. The months March through May are the hottest months of the year, so make sure you protect yourself from the sun.

 

 

What to Bring
Remember to pack all your liquids in your suitcase or you must follow the TSA rules for carry-ons -
3-1-1 = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger


Bags

One easily managed medium suitcase (bus to boat…) and 1 carry on bag. Some days you will be out all day so bring a small bag or knapsack that you can carry all day.

Leave your wallet at home - they make easy targets for pickpockets.


Clothes - Keep it casual.

Costa Rica is an extremely casual country. Leave that office/dress-wear behind and slip into your more comfortable tops, shorts, and sandals. You’ll probably also want a lightweight sweater/cardigan or jacket for the cooler mornings and evenings.

Water is another consideration when planning your wardrobe. Cloud and rainforest's have little regard for phrases like “dry season.” It may not rain during your visit, but the saturating humidity dripping from the leaves and the spray from the inevitable waterfall will make you glad for quick-drying garments.
May through November is the rainy season in Costa Rica, though in many areas it can rain at any time of year. It’s a good idea to pack a lightweight raincoat or at least a poncho no matter where you’re going.

If you are planning on washing clothes as you go, be aware that laundries are few and far between in Costa Rica, but you can hand wash a few items (things like jeans can take forever to dry). Some of the hotels have laundry services—expect to pay a buck or two per item.

Visiting the Cloud Forests of Monteverde -Bring some layers like pants, long sleeve shirts, and lightweight jackets. Temps are a lot cooler in these areas compared to the beach, especially at night. Even temps around 65˚F can feel especially cold because of the high humidity.

The Caribbean Coast - These areas are extremely hot and humid so bring lots of lightweight clothes. Anything that wicks away moisture and dries quickly is great. A sun hat is a great option for the beach is recommended and wide brim ones are the best. You can usually find them at beachside-souvenir shops, if you want to wait to buy until you get here. Ball caps or visors are great for the guys, and sunglasses are also a necessity for obvious reasons.

Sunscreen is 3-4 times more expensive in Costa Rica so be sure to bring as much as you’ll need. Due to its proximity to the equator, Costa Rica enjoys a tropical warm climate year-round. That also means the strength of the sun requires extra precautions. Bring a sunscreen that is SPF 50 or above, and make sure to reapply. There’s no quicker way to ruin a vacation

If you have water shoes, bring them. They’re really nice to have if you plan on visiting any of Costa Rica’s amazing waterfalls where the rocks are often slippery.

Don’t forget your Swimsuit – You may also want a sarong or other casual beach cover-up.

Bug spray – Costa Rica has mosquitos. Bug spray is one of your best defenses — look for those containing deet or picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE, also called para-menthane-diol [PMD]), IR3535, or 2-undecanone.


Phone & Internet
Calling Costa Rica from the United States explained

•011 - US exit code; must be dialed first for all international calls made from the USA or Canada

•506 - Country Code for Costa Rica

•phone number - 8 digits

•US to Costa Rica international dialing format: 011 + 506 + 2??? ????

Cell Phone Service - We recommend checking with your individual cell phone carrier to see if your phone will work in Costa Rica and check the international rates for both phone and data. You will have limited phone and Internet service in Tortuguero. There should be readily available Internet in the other parts of the country. To dial international on your cell phone you usually need to start with + (plus sign), then the number.


Shopping
Costa Rica is more known for its adventure activities than for its shopping. Shopping for souvenirs and other items can range from local markets offering traditional goods to large stores and gift shops. Prices at regular shops are fixed and bargaining is uncommon.

Coffee is the best buy in Costa Rica. Buy whole beans and not the ground ones. Packaged grinds are much finer than US grinds and more often contain sugar mixed in with the ground coffee. For the best deal, buy coffee beans in the grocery stores.

Costa Rican wood carvings, mostly bowls, napkin holders and elegant art pieces are good buys.


Local Foods
Costa Rican cuisine is known for being flavorful, yet fairly mild, with high reliance on fresh fruit and vegetables. Rice and beans are the bases of most Costa Rican meals. At breakfast, they're called gallo pinto and come with everything from eggs to steak to seafood. At lunch or dinner, rice and beans are an integral part of a casado, usually consisting of cabbage-and-tomato salad, fried plantains (a starchy, banana-like fruit), and a chicken, fish, or meat dish. On the Caribbean coast, rice and beans are called rice 'n' beans, and are cooked in coconut milk.

Don’t Leave Home without your Passport!

 

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