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HOME: COSTA RICA TRAVEL GENERAL INFORMATION
 

COSTA RICA TRAVEL - GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Unlike many other countries around the world, one of the best things about Costa Rica is that it's people actually welcome foreigners. They are friendly, affable, and try to make you feel right at home. Compared with the rest of Latin America living standards here are still at an enviable level, with a literacy rate of 94% and a per capita income double that of the regional average.

Government: Costa Rica is a democratically elected Republic. Elections are held every four years.

Religion: Like all Latin American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic, but other denominations are found throughout the country.

Population: 3,500,000 of which over 50% live in the Central Valley which comprises only 4% of the entire country.

Language: Spanish is the native language, but other languages such as English, French, Italian, and German are frequently spoken especially in tourist areas.

Time Zone: Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time is not observed.

Climate:

Almost ideal year-round, the climate is a moderate 72 degrees in the highlands, while the lowlands and coastal areas range from the low 70's to the high 90's. Evenings in San Jose are free of humid heat, and beaches are cooled by ocean breezes. Rainy season occurs from the end of May to November, with the heaviest rainfall in October. The Atlantic or Caribbean side is driest from February thru April, with a short "summer" in June and July, and the wettest months from November thru January. However, you should be prepared for rain at any time during the year in this part of the country. The Pacific side and central parts of the country are driest from January through March.

Avg. highs are between 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit and avg. lows between 72-75 degrees.

Topography:

Costa Rica is bordered to the north by Nicaragua and to the south by Panama. It has both a Pacific and Atlantic Coast. A series of volcanic chains (cordilleras) runs from the Nicaraguan border in the Northwest to the Panamanian border in the southeast, splitting the country in two. In the center of theses ranges is a high-altitude plain (Central Valley), with coastal lowlands on either side. Over half the population lives on this plain, which has fertile volcanic soils. The Caribbean coast is 132 miles long while the Pacific coast is 635 miles long.

Entry requirements:

A valid passport is required to enter and visas are needed for certain nationalities so check ahead before traveling.
For more information click here.

The citizens of the following nationalities can stay for 90 days without a consular visa if International Agreements exist.

Argentina Hungary Puerto Rico
Austria Israel Romania
Belgium Italy Spain
Brazil Japan South Korea
Canada Liechtenstein Sweden
Denmark Luxembourg Switzerland
Finland Norway Trinidad y Tobago
France Panamá United Kingdom
Germany / Deutschland Poland United States of America
Greece Paraguay Uruguay
Holland / Netherlands Portugal  


Departure tax: $26.00 U.S. by air. Land and Sea exits are not charged

Currency, banking, credit cards, traveler's checks

The Costa Rican monetary unit is the Colon. NOTE: DON'T BE TEMPTED TO EXCHANGE MONEY IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY BEFORE DEPARTING, THE RATE YOU WILL RECEIVE IS WELL BELOW WHAT YOU'LL RECEIVE HERE. The exchange rate is currently hovering around ¢447.00 colones to $1.00 U.S. (02-02-04) and can fluctuate without notice. It is best to bring money in the form of U.S. dollar denominated traveler's checks, don't expect to cash personal checks. In the city most businesses will accept major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Amex), however in the outlying areas cash is preferred. There are numerous ATM's around that work on (Cirrus, Star, and Plus) systems, don't forget your PIN. Office hours are generally from 8:00 am to 4:30-5:00 pm with an hour for lunch between 12 noon and 1 pm. Most banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays.

Electricity: Standard current is 110 volts, 60 Hertz

Telecommunications:

Direct-dial telephone service, fax, telex, Internet services (Internet Cafe), radio and cable television are all available. Telephone service is efficient and there are more telephones per capita than in any other Latin American country. Bilingual operator assistance for international calls is 116, local information 113, and long distance information 124, and direct dial service is available to most countries. You may also use telephone credit cards through the appropriate operator for the following companies; ATT, MCI, SPRINT, and BELL CANADA.

Health: Public health facilities in Costa Rica compare favorably with that of many developed countries and are numerous and dependable. Many English-speaking doctors and dentists practice in San Jose.

Water: Yes, you can drink the water! Pure and suitable for drinking throughout most of the country.

Flight information:

U.S. carriers include American, United, Continental and Delta Airlines. LACSA is the official Costa Rican carrier.

Public transportation:

Large number of affordable taxis. Bus service is readily available both inter and intra city as well as internationally. Two domestic airlines service the country well and there are a number of air taxi services as well as helicopters. The road system is somewhat primitive compared to North American standards, and driving at night is not recommended. An international driver's permit is not necessary.

Clothing:

The tone here is casual wear - it is not necessary to dress up to go to the theater or to dinner. Comfortable lightweight is best. In the higher elevations, San Jose, the volcanoes, or Monteverde, temperatures are cool and sweaters or light jackets are suggested

Pack lightly!! Suggested items:

  • One or two swim suits
  • Lightweight hiking boots with a good tread suggested for hikes
  • Walking or athletic shoe with a good tread suggested for walks
  • Plastic or waterproof sandals or river shoes
  • Personal toiletries
  • Insect repellant - at least 75% DEET
  • Sunscreen - with high sun protection factor, such as SPF 29-40
  • Hat or cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Lots of film (expensive here)
  • Check batteries in camera
  • Light natural, blends of cotton and a synthetic such as nylon
  • Poncho or rain gear
  • Light jacket or sweater for higher elevations and chilly nights in San Jose
  • Day pack
  • Plastic bags - for keeping books, binoculars and other items dry, and for wet clothing.

Taxes: There is a 13% sales tax and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.

Tipping: A 10% "service charge" is generally added to all restaurants bills so act accordingly. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip.

 

So accept our invitation for an unforgettable travel adventure vacation in a magnificent tropical paradise whose breathtaking, unsurpassed natural beauty and friendly and hospitable people are an inspiration to all who visit.

 

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Arthur Gustavo Ana Mariela Elizabeth Valeria Gerardo Marcela