Frequently Asked Questions About Costa Rica
1. Are there any visa and/or passport requirements to travel to Costa Rica?
individuals of certain nationalities so check with your local Costa Rican consulate before
with a passport, US, Canadian and most Latin American and European citizens may remain
in Costa Rica for a total period of 90 continuous days.
2. When is the best time to travel to Costa Rica?
are major holidays for Ticos, so everything is crowded, transportation is hectic, and many
shops and restaurants are closed.
3. When is rainy season?
May and lasts through November. October and November witness the real downfalls, but
May and June are sometimes quite pleasant, and air fare and beach resorts are cheaper. June
often sees veranito, a "little summer" of several weeks with little or no rain.
showers. Rain forest, cloud forest and white water rafting tours live up to their names in
4. How safe is Costa Rica?
however, Costa Rica has its share of crime, especially in the larger cities.
visitor sites. Be aware of your valuables and avoid carrying large amounts of cash, jewelry
or other expensive items. Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest
information at: Costa Rica Country Specific Information
5. What time zone is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is six hours behind GMT (same as CST). They do not observe daylight-savings
time so during these months (April-October), Costa Rica is on MST.
6. What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
The local currency is the colon. Most restaurants, markets, and other service providers
readily accept US dollars as long as they don't have any rips. They will generally give you
change in local currency.
7. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use
Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as
they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities.
Travelers can withdraw US dollars or local currency at fair exchange rates. Traveler's
checks are fine, but they can be more difficult to exchange and you will usually receive a
poorer rate or be charged an additional fee.
Visa and Master Card are the most common credit cards in Costa Rica, accepted at
most hotels, gas stations, souvenir shops, and restaurants. Asides from the convenience
and safety, you will get a better exchange rate with the use of your credit card. We do
recommend bringing cash in small denomination bills for tips and other light expenses.
You can exchange dollars to colones at any hotel, bank, or at the airport. Traveler checks
are also widely accepted.
8. What type of food is typical of Costa Rica?
Rice, beans, tortillas, chicken, beef, fish, tropical fruit, and fresh vegetables are some of
the standard foods that travelers can expect in Costa Rica. International specialties are also
9. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally safe to drink in San Jose and other major towns. To be sure, ask
your tour leader or the hotel/ restaurant staff. Bottled water is readily available as well and
should be used in remote rural areas.
10. What should I bring? What clothes should I pack?
Pack light! Baggage carts are scarce at airports, and luggage restrictions are tight. Bring
comfortable, hand-washable clothing. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable during the day.
At least one pair of slacks and dress shoes for dinnertime is highly recommended since
some restaurants won't admit you in shorts or sandals. Loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts and
pants are recommended if you take any day trips out to smaller towns, where immodest
attire may be frowned upon. 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
to 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, beach walking, fording streams, and navigating
the myriad mud spots you'll find on rain and cloud forest trails.
Baggage Weight Limits: There is a limit of 27-30 pounds per person for in-country local
flights. This maximum weight allowance includes photographic/video equipment and carry-
on bags so please pack lightly. You must also keep in mind that the luggage compartments
are not pressurized. We highly recommend using duffel bags rather than hard suit cases.
You must arrive no later than 45 minutes before the scheduled departure.
11. Do I need to speak Spanish?
No, as long as you stick to the main hotels and resorts. However, a little Spanish goes a
12. Safety tips for the streets
Do not wander around alone at night in San Jose. Even brightly lit streets can be dangerous.
Keep your wallet in a front pocket. Don't take more cash with you than you plan to spend
(use your hotel safe).
Leave your Rolex or Movado at home. Bring a cheap watch, or buy one on the street. Make
a photocopy of your passport and carry it with you
In outdoor cafes, do not leave bags or purses draped over a railing near the street, nor on the
floor near a door. Don't leave anything of value unguarded on a beach.
Never leave your car unguarded when it contains anything of value, especially to take a few
quick pictures or run into a store for a bottle of water. Break-in thefts abound in tourists
areas, even outside the nicest hotels
13. Do I need an international drivers license to drive a car in Costa Rica?
No. An International license is not required. You are allowed to drive with your normal
drivers license for whatever is the term of your visa.
14. What is the difference between the rain forest and the cloud forest?
Mainly the altitude and the temperature. The rain forests are very hot and humid while the
cloud forest are humid and moist. The species of flora and fauna are significantly different.
15. What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?
No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica. No matter where you travel though, a tetanus
shot (or booster) is always a good idea.
16. Is there and exit or departure tax in Costa Rica? If so, how much is it?
Departure tax is $28, can be paid in US Dollars, colones or with a Visa card. You are able
to pay this departure tax upon your arrival into Costa Rica by CASH or VISA only. They
will provide you with a form and receipt that is good for your length of stay. By paying
your departure tax upon arrival you could potentially save a lot of time and hassle waiting
in long lines the day of your departure.
17. What number should I dial in case of emergency?
Dial 911. Do not expect the operator to speak English.
Dial 133. This is a Telephone Directory. Do not expect the operator to speak English.