10 Top Tips for Traveling in Costa Rica
There is absolutely no harm in taking Costa Rica luxury vacations, no matter what others may say; after all, it’s not everyday that you take some times off to really enjoy life. On that note, if it’s your first time in Costa Rica, it can be scary especially if you’re traveling by yourself. Don’t be. To help you out, here are several things you have to know about traveling in Costa Rica.
The problem with mankind these days is the reliance on technology. Everything is all about the tech, even money which is why some people carry hardly any cash at all. Not in Costa Rica. When traveling in the country, do not rely on your credit or debit card as there are still some local establishments solely catering to cash-based payments.
Renting a Car Is Not For the Faint of Heart
First of all, you need to be a really experienced driver in order to drive around Costa Rica. Some roads in the country may not be as smooth as you are used to, as they can be peppered with potholes. In addition, some of the roads can be very long and winding. Second, the traffic can be horrible. The best way to avoid this is by going out whenever it isn’t rush hour. Third are the roads can be confusing, so you better get a GPS or a map so as not to get lost.
Pack Rain Gear
Costa Rica is rainforest country, and that is something one should keep in mind before packing your bags. Make sure to bring an umbrella or two to shield your from the drops. If you plan on traveling light, it would also be helpful to bring disposable rain ponchos instead of your usual raincoat. If you plan on wearing sneaker or shoes that may get soaked, you may want to bring some rain shoe covers, which can easily protect your footwear in the rain and prevent you from squishing around in wet shoes.
Skip the Big Restos, Go For Sodas
In other countries, the word ‘Soda’ would immediately bring to mind a fizzy, carbonated drink that can be of different flavors such as cherry, lime or grape. In Costa Rica, the world ‘Soda’ is a whole different world; it refers to the little, local eateries which serve some of the best local food at a bargain price. For anyone who wants an authentic taste of Costa Rica, these eateries are the best. It doesn’t matter if you are on a budget or have unlimited cash flow, eating at a soda is a must for any tourist.
Drink Faucet water
While some countries issue warnings against drinking or even gargling water straight from the faucet in fear of chemicals or possible waterborne illnesses, this won’t be a problem in Costa Rica since most of the water from the taps are potable. You can even bring a bottle with you if you want and just fill it up with water from the tap so as to prevent spending extra on mere water while outside. Just to be sure, call ahead of time to your accommodations to ask if the water in your room can be drunk.
Insect Repellant is a Must
One of the worst souvenirs you can bring back home is an illness, especially one that can easily be prevented by a spritz or dab of insect repellant. Costa Rica is a country with humid temperatures, making it ideal breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes. Bring with you some insect repellent to prevent a possible case of dengue. Choose one with 20% DEET. Do not forget to always reapply the solution as per the instructions on the bottle.
Dollars are Welcome
When going abroad, you would usually be advised to have your US Dollars converted to the local currency; this is not the case when it comes to Costa Rica. It is probably one of the very few countries in the world where the United States Dollar is freely transacted between vendors and customers. Do keep whatever dollar you have in small denominations such as tens, fives and ones. When paying in dollars, your change will be given to you in the local currency, the colón.
Beware of Taxi Drivers
Although there are many friendly locals in the country, you have to remember there are always a few bad apples in a bushel basket. Always be wary of taxi drivers as not all of them are nice; some of them may even try to overcharge you or they might rig the meter. This is probably more so that you are a tourist who, they think, is unassuming and gullible. To avoid being scammed by a taxi driver, do your research on the internet or ask the front desk as to what the usual fare is from your accommodation to your destination.
Always Have Your Documentation with You
It’s been said many times, but you must always have your travel papers with you wherever you go. This is especially important in Costa Rica, where the police can stop you anytime and ask to see your papers. This is due to a crackdown against illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Said papers are pertaining to colored photocopies of your passport, itinerary and entry stamp.
Go During Off Season
If you’re traveling on a budget or you would like to skip the big crowds, then the best time to travel to Costa Rica is during the offseason, which is between mid-May and the first week of December. You’ll also get a better deal on tours and hotels during this time period. The sole con to this is the strong possibility of rain, which can easily be solved by bringing a foldable umbrella and disposable rain ponchos with you whenever you go out.
Costa Rica is undoubtedly a wonderful country. Hopefully, with these top tips, you’ll be encouraged to explore the country beyond the city.