have chosen a destination which offers a friendly welcome, natural wonders,
secluded beaches and exciting nightlife. As a country dedicated to the
preservation of nature, Costa Rica has set aside 11% of its land for national
parks and biological reserves. As a fun loving, social oriented people,
Costa Rican's or "Ticos" enjoy fine restaurants, discos, gambling
and the theatre as well as daytime resort activities such as golf, tennis
and scuba diving. We're sure that this delightful combination of nature,
sports and nightlife will make your visit to Costa Rica a thoroughly unforgettable
experience, and we offer the following information as you plan for your
Located just 10 degrees north of the equator, Costa Rica offers a year
round tropical or spring like climate. The average temperature in the
highlands is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lowlands average between the
high 70's and low 90's. There is a rainy season or "winter"
from May to November, but the rains generally hold off until the afternoon
in most areas so you can plan your activities accordingly. The dry or
"summer" season is from December through April. The Tortuguero
Canal area has a tropical jungle climate and receives rain throughout
Casual clothes - slacks, jeans, shorts, bathing suits, etc. - are appropriate
for almost all daytime and evenings activities outside of San José.
Dress in San José is more formal with jeans or slacks appropriate
for day wear and dinner clothes appropriate for most evenings out.
items to include in packing list:
Lightweight plastic raincoat / umbrella
Light jacket for cool evenings (all year, higher elevations)
Small flashlight (beach excursions/animal watching)
Mosquito repellent (beach excursions/canal area)
Snorkeling equipment (beach excursions/island cruises - often available
for rent but quantity and quality sometimes limited)
Beach Towel (available at most beach resorts but necessary when itinerary
includes water based activities in route from one hotel to another)
Sneakers or hiking boots (jungle walks/volcano tours)
Extra pair of sneakers (river rafting/beach excursions - these may get
wet and/or muddy)
Suntan lotion, sunscreen, wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
Warm jacket and heavy socks (Excursions to Chirripó Mountain or
high altitude volcanos such as Poás or Irazú)
Binoculars, camera and plenty of film
For Whitewater Rafting
Rubber soled shoed (tennis or similar)
Shorts and T-shirts or Swimsuit
Sunscreen Lotion (Optional)
Complete change of clothing including shoes
For more information regarding tours to the Osa Península and Corcovado
National Park, please request our "Dear Traveler to Corcovado National
Park" information sheet.
flight within Costa Rica only allow up to 30lb of luggage per person.
It is handy to take a small bag for overnight excursions to the beach
or to the country. We suggest a fold-up expandable type that can be carried
in your large suitcase. A backpack is a necessity for those who plan to
do a lot of bird watching or hiking through the jungles.
States and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. A tourist card (approximately
U.S. $2.00) is sometimes required and can be purchased at either the airline
ticket counter or at immigration upon arrival in San José. Others
should contact the Costa Rican Consulate for entry requirements.
And Exchange Rates
currency of Costa Rica is the Colon (pl. Colones), but U.S. dollars and
major credit cards are accepted as payment in most hotels, restaurants
and shops. Dollars and traveler's checks may be exchanged at banks and
most hotels; traveler's check command a slightly lower rate than actual
currency. The exchange rate fluctuates, so check with local tour guide
upon arrival in San José for current rate. There is a "black"
or "parallel" exchange market in the streets of downtown San
José which pays a slightly higher exchange than the hotels or banks.
However, we strongly advise visitors to avoid or use extreme caution when
exchanging money in this market. The parallel market is not legal in Costa
Tips And Taxes
in most countries, taxes are unavoidable and tips are given on the basis
of the quality of service rendered. The amounts suggested for tips in
this section are a guideline for appropriate tips for average to good
service. Note: It is helpful to carry a small quantity of US $1 bills
for tips and easy change.
A 13.3% tax is levied on all room charges. Bellboys and maids are generally
tipped for their services on the average of $ .50 per bag porterage and
$ .50 to $1.00 per room per night of accommodation as a room tip for the
There is a 10% sales tax and 10% gratuity added to all restaurant bills.
It is customary to leave an additional 5 - 10% for good or excellent service.
All taxis are metered and taxi drivers do not expect tips. Hotel taxis
have set rates for specific destinations and rates are slightly higher
than regular taxis.
guides and drivers: On group tours, the average tip for a tour guide
is $3.00 to $4.00 per person for full day tours and $2.00 per person for
half day tours or 10% of tour cost. The drivers tip is usually half of
what is given to the guide. For private car tours, guides generally receive
at least $10.00 per full day tour and $5.00 per half day.
On international departures there is an exit tax of approximately $5.00.
This tax varies according to the exchange rate and can be paid in Colones.
Check at the airport or with the local tour guide for exact amount of
Items: Items not made in Costa Rica are sold with a 100% import tax
and are much more expensive than elsewhere. Some of these commonly needed
items include film and camera equipment, insect repellent, sun screen,
contact lens solutions and binoculars. A word to the wise, if you use
these items, bring them from home.
We suggest that while touring or shopping you leave your passport and
the bulk of your money in the hotel safe; only take with you the money
you intend to spend or exchange at that particular time. It is also helpful
to take a copy of the picture page of your passport to carry in your wallet
because it is sometimes needed to exchange traveler's checks. This copy
can also be useful in the event your passport is lost or stolen.
No inoculations are required for travel to Costa Rica, and we do not find
health to be a problem as a general rule. Medication for colds and stomach
upset are readily available in San José, but you may want to bring
along your own if your itinerary includes excursions outside the city.
The electric current is the same as in the United States, 110 volts AC.
The hour in Costa Rica is the same as Central Standard Time in the United
States. Daylight savings time is not observed.
The official language is Spanish, but English is widely spoken.
Banks: 9:00am/3:00pm Monday - Friday
Shops and Shopping Centers: 9:00am/7:00pm Monday - Saturday
Government & Professional Offices: 8:00am/5:00pm Monday - Friday
Note: Some establishments close from 12:00pm/2:00pm for lunch.
Souvenirs And Such
Wooden and leather handicrafts are good buys and hand painted oxcarts
from Sarchí are a favorite souvenir of tourists. Seasoned shoppers
will want to check out the jewelry shops on Central Avenue in San José
which offer reproductions of pre-Colombian creations in gold and silver.
Note: Planter or bar size oxcarts cost about as much to ship home as to
buy, so you will probably want to accommodate them with your luggage.
to useful information