About Costa Rica
the land of Pura Vida
Costa Rica Tripping offers trip ideas (like Hotspots in 10 days) and in-depth background information on Costa Rica, an astoundingly beautiful place bursting at the seams with wildlife and adventure.
About the Author
Since she was a girl, Erin Van Rheenen has been fascinated with Latin America. Family vacations were often spent driving and camping in Mexico, and later, when she could travel under her own steam, she began exploring as much of Mexico, Central America, and South America as possible.
From Acupuncture to Yoga
Alternative medicine--such as acupuncture and homeopathy--is popular in Costa Rica, especially in the Central Valley and in touristed beach towns, where arrivals from other countries have brought with them their interest in all things holistic.
Paper or plastic?
As in most of the world, credit and debit cards rule in Costa Rica. Credit cards are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas, though it's always a good idea to have cash on you as well.
Cheap & reliable
Costa Rica has a great bus system--cheap, extensive, and often on time. You can get just about any place in the country for under US$15. It's also a great way to see Costa Rica without the expense or hassle of a car, and to make contact with locals, who use buses as their daily transport.
Costa Rica Traveler Magazine
Invaluable online and print resource
Costa Rica Traveler magazine puts out a glossy full-color magazine with wonderful photos and advice about where to go in Costa Rica.
Daniel Oduber Airport
Easy beach access
Costa Rica's second international airport is
Drink the Water
Yes you can
Often people don't believe it until they arrive, but it's true: You can drink the water in Costa Rica!
The roads are riddled with pot holes (if they’re paved at all), signage is woefully inadequate, torrential rains can make some routes impassable, and all the aggression Costa Ricans repress in their daily lives comes out when they get behind the wheel.
Fire, traffic accidents and reporting crimes
Explore Medical Tourism
Cut-rate facelifts and bargain bypasses
Why would you want to get on a plane to get your health care? To save money, of course.
Hospital CIMA San José
Modern hospital near the capital
One of the better hospitals in the country, CIMA► is a very modern facility that opened in 2000, near the upscale suburb of Escazú, about half an hour from downtown San José.
Hospital Clínica Bíblica
Arguably the best hospital in Costa Rica
Founded in 1929 by Christian missionaries from Scotland and Ireland, the Bíblica (as this well-regarded hospital is known) takes up more than a city block in downtown San José.
Hospital La Católica
San José-area hospital
La Católica is one of three best San José-area hospitals vying for your medical tourist dollar.
Hospitals & Doctors
High-quality public and private care
Costa Rica is served by an extensive network of public hospitals and clinics, with a parallel world of private clinics serving those who can afford them. To access public services you're supposed to be a resident, but they won't turn you away in an emergency. Anyone can access private clinics.
Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO)
Just north of San José
Costa Rica's main airport is in Alajuela, 16 kilometers (10 miles) northwest of downtown San José. The airport occupies an attractive glass-and-steel terminal with fast food options, wireless Internet access, TVs, gift shops, and a money-change counter.
Living Abroad in Costa Rica
How to move to the jewel of Central America
Do you dream of moving abroad? Have you always meant to take a closer look at Costa Rica, famous for coffee, rainforests, and political stability?
Pharmacies & Prescriptions
Bring your Rx, and go generic
Pharmacies in Costa Rica (called farmacias) are on easy to come by, and most are well-stocked. If you bring a prescription from outside the country, make sure it is for generic rather than brand-name medication--generic names are common to all countries, while brand names are not.
Crime is on the rise, especially in the capital city of San Jos
é. Costa Rica still has less violent crime than the United States and is safer than most of its Central American neighbors, but visitors need to be alert. Petty theft is common, and tourists are easy targets. Keep your bags close, your money in deep pockets or tucked into a money belt, and your wits about you.
Zip from town to town
100 varieties, but fear not
Costa Rica has more than 100 kinds of snakes, including venomous ones such as the much-feared fer-de-lance (also known as the terciopelo), which accounts for 80 percent of all snakebites in the country, and the yellow-bellied, black-backed sea snake, which paddles along in the Pacific Ocean with its oar-like tail.
Red cabs with yellow medallions
Official taxis are red, with the taxi's ID number in a yellow triangle on the door. Taxis should have meters (called marías), and drivers should use them--otherwise you'll have to haggle, which is hard to do when you don't know how much the fare should be.
Tipping & Taxes
Tourists tip, locals don't
Since a 10 percent service charge is included on all restaurant bills, most Ticos (Costa Ricans) leave no tip. If service has been exceptional, you might want to leave another 5 percent, but it's not required or expected.
Travel by light plane
Puddle-jumpers save you time
You don't need them
Epidemic diseases have mostly been wiped out in Costa Rica, and the country requires no proof of vaccination upon entry.
Visas & Immigration
Getting in and out painlessly
Citizens of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most European countries don't need visas to travel to Costa Rica. Check with the Costa Rican embassy for details on specific countries. Here's more detailed visa information.
No street names, numbers, or signs
Whether you're driving on a dirt road deep in the jungle or walking along a crowded city street, finding your way in Costa Rica can be a real challenge. Roads--even major highways--are often not signed at all, and even main streets may have no indication of what they're called.
When to Go
High season is Dec - April
Costa Rica's tourist high season runs from early December through the end of April. This is the country's dry season--or summer, if you like--though temperatures remain fairly constant year-round, with variations more a function of altitude than season.