COSTA RICA TRAVEL GUIDE
All practical information to live the best stay in Costa Rica.
" Creating a trip according to your tastes and desires should not be an additional option, but a fact."
PASSPORT / VISA
Your passport must have validity extending beyond 6 months after your departure date.
No visa needed for Belgian, French, Swiss and Canadian passports.
To rent a vehicle you will need a credit card (valid for at least six months) with the driver’s name + a passport + a valid driver's license (not necessarily an international permit). A deposit (often around $ 1000) will be blocked on the card. The basic insurance is always included in the daily rate of the rental, if you want the "full" insurance or other complementary services, you can subscribe when taking possession of the vehicle. Attention, you are not allowed to leave the country with a rented car.
Costa Rica has a quite well-developed road network. The country counts two "highways", the Caldera which connects the capital San Jose to Tarcoles (Pacific) and the "Panamericana", which crosses the country from north to south. One-lane national highways connect the rest of the country. In general, except for the two main roads, the national roads are often damaged (potholes, pavements that need repairing, bridges, etc.). Secondary roads are for the most part dirt or stone. In times of heavy rain these roads are more difficult to access. This is why a 4WD (4 Wheel Drive) is often recommended on this kind of road,
Long live the adventure! Those roads are sometimes responsible for the long duration of certain trips. To get an idea of the distance between two points, do not hesitate to contact us.
The Road rules are identical to the French ones although the signaling system is less developed. There are not often signs indicating the arrival in a village, but to know where you are, find landmarks, churches, above the bus stops, the name of sodas (typical restaurants) or sometimes the school’s names.
Important, buses always have priority, in the capital, they have a priority lane and in the rest of the country, they have the right to stop anywhere to pick up passengers. So be careful when you follow a bus! We advise you to avoid driving at night due to lack of lighting on the secondary roads.
Parking is fairly easy in Costa Rica, almost all hotels have parking and in towns and villages you will find paid, supervised car parks. Most of the time, it as a single day fare that remains cheap. If you park in the street, guards wearing a fluorescent vest monitor your vehicle in exchange of a tip. You can give what you want, usually 100 to 500 colones (about 0.50 €) depending on the duration of parking. Be careful when it comes to tourist areas where the price of parking can vary from single to double only 500m away.
The addresses in Costa Rica are based on a geographical orientation system, neither numbering nor street name, your hotel will be for example 100m north of the Church and 150m west of San Juan College.
BUDGET AND EXCHANGE
National currency: the colon (1 EUR = 620 colones). For your everyday purchases (eg drinks, food, souvenirs, etc.); we recommend paying in Colones. Colones can be picked up on arrival at the airport, at currency exchange offices or at ATMs (Visa / MasterCard) in major cities across the country.
The US Dollar remains a reference currency and we advise you to bring Dollars in small denominations with you.
When you leave the country, you will have to pay an airport tax (US $ 29).
For meals, plan between $5 and $15 per person for a typical hot meal.
This is a usual and not mandatory practice. Depending on your satisfaction, at the end of a service or at the end of your trip, it is customary to tip your guide and the local team. It must be adapted to the standard of living of the country and the duration of your stay. It is your gesture of appreciation in relation to the service received.
On the other hand, in some establishments, prices do not include taxes (13%) or service (10%).
In summer, Costa Rica is 8 hours behind France and Belgium.
In winter, Costa Rica is 7 hours behind France and Belgium.
110V, 60 Hz, American style flat plugs.
Tropical, usually humid and warm. The average temperature is 23 ° C in San José, 31 ° C on the coast and north, only slightly cooler at night and this all year round. At altitude, the temperature drops quickly: at 3000m, it is 5 to 15 ° C. There are two distinct seasons in Costa Rica: winter, humid from May to November (short but torrential rain), summer, from December to April (sun and clear sky).
You can travel to Costa Rica all year long, because it never rains the whole day.
Each period of the year has its advantages:
- From January to April: sun, wind and drought on the Pacific side. Beware, the dry season is less marked on the Caribbean side.
- In April-May: it’s spring, the rainy season starts at the end of May.
- In June-July: it's the "veranillo", the little summer! Rainfall is decreasing throughout the country.
- From August to October: Beautiful sunny periods on the Caribbean coast.
- October to December: sunny periods interrupted by showers. December, the return of the dry season announced by trade winds on the Pacific.
We advise you to take light luggage, especially as it is easy to wash clothes on site. As a precaution, remember to bring in your cabin luggage, your basic requirements for a couple of days in case your luggage does not arrive at the same time as you!
We propose to you a short packing list meant only as a guideline:
- Light cotton clothing
- Canvas trousers
- Long sleeve shirts against mosquitoes
- A vest / sweater
- A waterproof windproof jacket
- Rain cover or umbrella
- Shorts and t-shirts
- Chapeau / cap
- Solar cream
- Mosquito repellent
- Flash light
- Closed walking shoes
- A light backpack for excursions
- An alarm clock
Avoid bringing valuable jewellery, leather clothing or bags, and bulky, solid suitcases that are less convenient to carry than soft bags during tours.
FOOD - WATER
The water is drinkable all over the country except in some remote areas such as Corcovado or Tortuguero where the hotels will provide you with drinking water.
If you eat fruits bought by roadside, remember to wash them with drinking water.
The majority of Costa Rican dishes are rice and black beans. The most popular dish is called "casado" (married man) which includes in addition to these two foods, cooked bananas, salad and choice of chicken, meat or fish
The most famous fish is called Tilapia and is most frequently eaten fried. Other dishes such as chicharones "fried beef" or chifrijo "beans, rice, tomato, avocado, cooked beef, are eaten as tapas in bars.
Make yourself a basic first aid kit (Analgesic, anti-diarrheal, laxative, antacid, disinfectant, bandages, sterilized compresses ...)
Dengue: The risk of contagion by mosquito bites is low. It is advisable to protect yourself by applying repellent cream or spray. We do not encourage the use of preventive treatments when they are not needed.
No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica.
If you are traveling through a country in South America (Colombia, Panama,), check that the airline does not recommend you to take the yellow fever vaccine to enter Costa Rica.
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