Traveling to Costa Rica

     Every country has unique characteristics, and Costa Rica is not an exception. In order to make it easy for you to find this type of information we have gathered several aspects on this section related to traveling to Costa Rica. Feel free to contact us if you have any other doubt you wish to clear up.


The Colon is the currency in Costa Rica. Around 565 colones worth US $1; however, it may vary d throughout the year. Check out the currency exchange online on Banco Central de Costa Rica’s website for updated information.

Payments in dollars

Tourist services always accept payments in USA dollars. Even people who sell products on the streets take dollars. However, public services do not usually take foreign currency, for instances public buses or stores in villages out of touristic areas. It is always good to take some cash with you since most small souvenir shops or local stores do not accept cards, particularly for villages where hikers spend the night before a trek. Make sure you take enough if you have to pay something at that place or for souvenirs.  Moreover, take everything you need like ponchos or headlamps if you need to purchase these items on the way as those may not be available in local stores.


     In general, Costa Rica is a safe country. Nevertheless, this does not mean we do not have social problems. Please, do not make the mistake to be exposed to hazards. Stay always with your group during the tours. Do not take too much cash with you if you do not need it. Always take a copy of your passport and leave the passport at the hotel in the security box. Act as if you knew always where you are heading to. Do not ask for directions to any person; try to find an establishment where you think they can help you. Never walk alone one lonely back roads or during late hours. Ask for this type of information at each hotel or the guide so you can be aware of what might be dangerous in that specific destination.


Handshaking is usually common for us even when we do not know the person. If this is not comfortable for you, you may just say “¡Hola!” and smile to be polite, but do it before the person starts or it may look weird. On the other hand, our personal space is very small compared to other cultures like people from the USA. That is, you may feel the person is too close or feel we are invading your personal space. Please, do not take it as an offense. Only tell the person you need more space. Or if you consider it is no big deal to cope with this situation after telling you this, it might be a funny new experience.


Do not expect fast trains in Costa Rica. Actually, the only way to travel by train is from San José to Cartago. Other options are rental cars (we can arrange it for you at no extra cost), public bus, local flights, private transport or we can help you arrange shuttle transport for you with no extra costs.

     We suggest arranging your airport-hotel- airport in Alajuela before, or taking Uber for your sake. Usually taxi drivers do not speak other languages or even worst end up being assaulted by “fake taxis”.

Area code for international calls

When dialing to Costa Rica you must include 506 before the number you were giving.


Make sure you are giving the prices including taxes. 13% of government taxes is charged for services you hire in Costa Rica. If it is not mentioned, ask the person or company whether it is included or not.

Departure taxes

When you leave our country, you have to pay US $29 for the concept of departure taxes. This amount is usually included in the flight ticket you purchased, if not you pay it at the airport when you depart.


Spanish is our official language. Nevertheless, it is not the only one spoken. Native indigenous people have their own dialect. Most of them speak Spanish, but their accent is different as they keep it from their native primary dialect. By the way, we suggest you visit them if you wish to get to know more of our natives cultures.


Our accent differs too much from any other Latin American country and even more from Spanish from Spain. We have a very flat intonation that tends to put the same stress to almost any word. However, there are soft levels of stress in the words while we speak even though you do not notice them. This may be the reason why other Spanish speakers from other countries cannot imitate our way of speak so easily.

English in Touristic Places

Costa Ricans have a high level of English understanding and companies that offer services to tourists manage to hire people who speak this language. Some guides even speak French or German, but if you want this type of service you may need to book it with plenty of time.


Tipping is welcome everywhere. It is not offensive as for other cultures and there is no specific percentage of this as a rule. You may tip according to the service quality you receive and to your budget. Finally, it is very this habit is very common for touristic services.

Pura Vida

“Pura vida” is the most common expression you will hear during your trip from Costa Ricans. We use this expression for many different situations. Interestingly, even though you may find out we use it mostly for good things it may be a sign of disagreement or anger. How so? It is very uncommon, but you will know it if the face of the person does not look like when that person is happy.

     “Pura vida” might mean “thanks”. If you give something to a person or if you just did something nice to that person. He/she might say “pura vida” instead of thanks. Another meaning could be “How are you?”. In this case you meet a person and usually before getting close to you that person utters a “¿pura vida?” sounding like a question. You can reply with “¡pura vida!” as it also means fine, good, or nice. So, if a person says you are “pura vida” it means you are a nice person. Finally, this expression is somehow informal and most of the time you will not hear at certain establishments.

Asking for a Ride

Asking for rides is dangerous. Probably in your home country this is a normal habit and a safe one, but not in Costa Rica. You basically never know what kind of person is driving that car. Also, it is not part of our culture and many people will not give you a ride since they may have the same thinking of picking up a dangerous person. Rides are only common in small villages far from cities where buses are not frequent. However, the driver is always that one who offers the lift, not the person who walks.

Lodging categories based on stars

Even though you will find hotels with categories base on starts, you need to know this measurement differs a lot from other countries. So, a 5 starts hotel in Costa Rica may not look like one of the same category as in another country.


Weather varies a lot depending on the area you visit. Please, read our post about weather in Costa Rica for more detailed information about this aspect.


We are a tour operator established in Costa Rica that offers hiking and mountaineering options for those who wish to explore the most remote and majestic places in Costa Rica.


When planning your trip, it is advisable to know certain aspects about the country you visit. Therefore, we have a section you may want to read in order to know generalities of the country.

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