What are the entry requirements?
All visitors are required to have a passport valid
for at least six months beyond the dates of the trip.
Visa requirements for Costa Rica change rapidly so check
with your consulate before leaving. Currently
visitors from the following countries are allowed
to stay for 90 days without a visa: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Panama,
Paraguay, Uruguay, United States and all European countries
except from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republics,
Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Visitors from these countries are allowed to stay
for 30 days without a visa: Australia, Belize, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland,
Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, The
Philippines and Venezuela.
When is the best time to travel?
The travel industry designates several business seasons
during the year: High Season (related to the dry season,
from December until April), Peak season (Christmas,
New Year and Easter), and the Green Season (also called
the Low Season -related to the rainy season, from May
until November). If you live in the Northern Climates,
you will probably consider winter the only time to visit.
However, persons from others areas of North America
and Europe find the rest of the year equally pleasant.
They also find it quite a bit more affordable. Other
vacationers just prefer the country when there are fewer
tourists -during the Green Season.
What should I pack and what kinds of clothes should
Pack light: Baggage carts are scarce at airports,
and luggage restrictions are tight. Bring comfortable,
hand-washable clothing. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable
in San José (during the day, if planning to go out in
the evening slacks are highly recommended as some restaurants
won't admit you in shorts or sandals). Bring a
large hat to block the sun from your face and neck.
Pack a light sweater or jacket for San José's cool nights
and early mornings and for trips up volcanoes. Sturdy
sneakers or hiking boots are essential if you plan to
do a lot of sightseeing and hiking. Waterproof hiking
sandals or other footwear that lets your feet breathe
are good for strolling about town, and also for beach
walking, fording streams, and navigating the myriad
mud holes you'll find on rain and cloud forest trails.
Insect repellent and sun block is a good idea.
Extra film for cameras
What are the business hours?
Most banks are open from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
and do not close for lunch. Credit cards are widely
accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, Dinners and American
Express being the most popular. Government offices
are open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Most commercial
businesses open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Stores
and other businesses at commercial centers from 10:00
a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Most restaurants open from
10:00 am to 11:00 pm. Hotels and some restaurants
are open 24 hours.
Am I supposed to tip or is it an insult?
A 10% tip in a restaurant is appropriate but
most restaurants will add it to your bill so read your
bill before paying a tip. Taxi drivers generally do
not receive a tip. If you are satisfied with the service
you receive, private drivers, tourist guides, maids
and bell boys would be glad to receive a tip. The
amount would be totally up to you.
What taxes should I pay?
Travelers must be at the airport two hours before
departure. There is a departure tax of US$26.00 (only
cash). There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants
and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist
tax at hotels.
How are the medical facilities?
Health care in Costa Rica
is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found
throughout San José and some of the other largely populated areas. Since
long ago, diseases such as malaria, paludismo, and yellow fever were eradicated
in Costa Rica. There are no plagues like in other countries and no
special vaccine recommendations for travelers more than the influenza and the
tetanus vaccines. Hospitals and the Red Cross will provide any medical treatment
in case of emergency.
We are almost sure that you have already been informed well before your
departure to Costa Rica about possible diseases and vaccinations. We would like
to point out, that it is always your very own decision to consume medicine or a
preventing medicament. Our information does not replace professional advice of
a doctor or a vaccination institute and their information has priority always.
We would just like to point out some possible dangers you might face on your
Costa Rica trip. There is a very low but existing risk of malaria disease in
Costa Rica, mainly near the border to Nicaragua and close to the Panama border.
Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. You can protect
yourself against mosquito bites by using appropriate cloths and mosquito
repellent. Most doctors recommend buying an emergency medicament, which you
only use in case of a malaria infection. There is another disease in Costa
Rica, with very similar symptoms as malaria. It is called dengue fever and
there are no vaccinations or medicines against this infection available to
date. Dengue fever is transmitted by a mosquito bite as well and there are two
types of the disease. The less dangerous, but more spread is the classic dengue
type. Symptoms of the classic version are high fever for about 5-7 days, strong
headache, pain on the whole body and eyes and sometimes vomits, diarrhea,
bleedings and itching. The patients are prescribed a lot of bed rest and it is
important do drink allot of water. Painkillers are also prescribed, but it is
important to not use Aspirin, because they could cause more bleedings. The
other and more dangerous type "dengue hemoragica" is very rare. The
symptoms are similar to the classic version, but in addition to that, patients
suffer of inner and external bleedings, swelling of the face, respiration
problems, circulation problems, sweating, tiredness and loss of appetite. A
doctor must attend the patient immediately. The second type is especially
dangerous for those, who already have been infected once by the less dangerous
classic dengue. Dengue fever mainly appears in poor and dirty city districts of
Puntarenas, Limón, Siquirres, Guápiles, Santa Cruz, and very rarely in Alajuela
and Heredia. As soon as dengue fever appears, the ministry of health takes
immediate action against mosquito breading and the disease can be controlled
within a very short time. Protect yourself against mosquitoes by using
appropriate cloths and mosquito repellent. The possibility for infection is
very low dough.
Is Costa Rica safe?
If you feel safe in your own hometown, you should
feel safe here. Costa Rica has lower crime rates than
many cities around the world. But, as with most
cities there, are always places best to avoid. Ask
at your hotel desk and if an area exists they will let
you know. Taxis are everywhere, cheap and a good
idea at night.
Do you have final suggestions?
Plan your trip well in
advance so you have more options to choose from. Since your eating and
drinking habits are often radically different during a trip, be sure to drink
lots of fluids, especially the day before arriving. Try not to go overboard
your first night giving your body a chance to acclimate. The water is safe to
drink in all areas of the country except on the Caribbean and Puntarenas city
nevertheless we suggest you to buy bottled water for drinking. If you want to
be consequent, you should also renounce to ice cubes made of tab water. Many
places prepare their ice with treated water that is without danger. At all the
cozy and simple places on the Caribbean coast, we recommend to order meat well
done only. Beside that, not many dangers exist and you can enjoy fruits,
vegetables, meats and seafood without any worry. Costa Rica is a very hygienic
country, and the health ministry applies very strict rules for restaurants.
/ Currency / Change / Credit Cards
local currency is Costa Rican Colones. Only checks and
cash in US$ can be changed. If you arrive with currencies
such as Euros or Pounds, you can change them only at
a bank’s headquarter in San José or at Financiera de
Londres. Both options take a significant amount of time.
For changing money, you must present your passport (or
a copy of it). We highly recommend never changing money
on the street with a “flying agent”. Instead, we suggest
changing your money at a private bank, such as “Bancrecen”,
opened from 09h00 until 21h00. They offer a good and
fast service. Changing your money at a state bank such
as “Banco Nacional” or “Banco de Costa Rica” may take
more time and they are opened from 08h00 till 15h00 only.
cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops
all over the country. Though, few small businesses and
those without phone line might not accept them. In smaller
shops, you may be charged a 7% additional charge covering
their credit card commission. VISA is preferred, while
MASTERCARD might cause some problems. Therefore, if
holding a MASTERCARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS or DINERS CLUB
credit card, we recommend carrying always a cash reserve.
Please ask before consuming, if credit cards were accepted.