|To make your stay in Costa Rica the most enjoyable experience, take into account these personal traveling tips.
1. Always carry with you a photocopy of your passport. Make sure your photograph is clear, your personal information and the date you entered the country have to be in it too.
2. Keep your valuable belongings (money, passport, plane tickets and traveler’s checks) in your hotel’s safety box.
3. Keep a list of all the numbers and serial numbers of your personal documents.
4. If you stay in cabins find out about the security of keeping your valuables within your room.
5. It’s better not to carry jewelry with you.
6. Avoid changing money on the street. Use banks or well-known money exchange offices. Check in your hotel for recommendations on the subject. Try to take only the amount of money you are going to use during the day.
7. Don’t leave unattended objects such as cameras and video cameras. Keep your wallet in an inconspicuous place.
8. Make sure you know the address where you are going. Tell the people at your hotel about your destination.
9. Use cabs whose identifications are exhibited on the door. The license plates must have red numbers and the cars must be red too.
10. When driving, do not give rides to people you don’t know. Try not to park in dark or deserted spots. Use parking lots. These places are legally responsible for your car and anything left in it. Tell the administrator about anything you want to leave in your car.
11. The emergency number is 911. They speak English.
Passport. It must be valid. You need to have a good return airplane ticket. To exit the country an airport tax needs to be paid. Your passport should have validity of a minimum of 1 to 3 months.
Electricity. There is 110 or 220 volts power all over the country. Check with the people in your place of stay before connecting any electrical devices.
Currency. The colon is the official currency. The exchange rate varies from day to day.
Paying with cards. Major international credit or debit cards are widely accepted.
Tips and taxes. Always find out whether the 13% sales tax is included in the goods’ price you’re purchasing. In restaurants and bars an additional 10% tax is charged. Tipping is optional here.
Renting a car. A current driver’s license is necessary, along with a credit card. The driver must be over 21 years old and a deposit should be paid. You drive on the right side lane and the international traffic signs are used on streets and roads.
Cabs. Every city has a taxi fleet; they’re usually red. You can get one at any hour. Phone the cab company for one or just stop one on the street. There are also cab stops in different places.
Legal cabs have a meter that shows the service price. When boarding a cab, check that the meter shows only zeros, or negotiate with the cabby the price of your trip prior to starting the trip. The cabs that have a license to wait at hotels’ doors charge twice as much for long distance services.
At the Juan Santamaría Airport, the orange Taxis Unidos Company is the official transportation for the airport. They charge a fixed rate and changes if a car or a small bus is used.
Time. Costa Rica is within the Central Standard Time, but the time does not change during the year.
What to wear. Light clothes are recommended, but it may be wise to carry a sweater or jacket since nights tend to be cool. At sea level, shorts are good enough. If you plan to walk in the forests, long sleeve shirts, jeans, boots and a hat are more appropriate. Be sure your clothes are made of cotton. Don’t forget a mosquito repellent, sunglasses and suntan lotion or cream. During the rainy season (May through November) a jacket and an umbrella are a must.
Health. No vaccinations are required to enter the country. It’s wise to keep in mind that some dengue cases on the coastal area have been reported. There is drinking water throughout the country from the tap. There may be a few exceptions to this. Be sure to ask about it.
Holidays. On holidays all government and most public offices are closed. These are the official holidays. New Year Day, Good Thursday and Good Friday, April 11th (National Hero, Juan Santamaría’s Day), May 1st (Labor Day), July 25th (Day of the Nicoya annex to Costa Rica), August 2nd (Los Ángeles Virgin Day), August 15th (Mother’s Day), September 15th (Independence Day) and December 25th (Christmas Day).
Office and business schedules. Most establishments work from Monday to Saturday and are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some private businesses close at noon. Bars and other recreation businesses are open until late at night. Government offices open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Banks open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some banks have offices that remain open until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.