General information about Costa Rica:
Costa Rica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502 on his fourth voyage. He found some indigenous reserves, such as the Chorotegas, Bruncas and Huetares. It is believed that the Spaniard, gave him the name of Costa Rica, because he thought he had huge gold mines hidden in the mountains. These days, it is said that the name is given because of the amazing natural resources found in this small country.
Costa Rica's democracy has evolved for over 100 years. It is one of the oldest democracies in Latin America. President and deputies are elected every four years. After the War of 1948, the government decided to abolish the army, and create institutions, many in charge of ensuring the benefits of Costa Ricans.
North - Nicaragua / South - Panamá
West - Ocean Pacific / East - Caribbean
San José - Capital
Alajuela, Heredia y Cartago - capital sorroundings
Guanacaste, Limon y Puntarenas - located in coastal areas
Population: 5 million approximately
Education: Public education is free and compulsory.
Lat/Long: 9°56'N / 84°05'W
Currency: Costa Rican Colon (CRC)
Dial Codes: +506
Official Language: Spanish
Time Zone Standard time zone: UTC/GMT -6 hours
Hours Ahead of PST Time See current local time: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/costa-rica
From mid-December to end of April
Sunshine during the day and light showers in afternoons (20% chance of rain in the rainforest and mountains).
From May to mid-December
Sunshine during the day and strong showers in afternoons (sometimes the rainis all day).
- Exchange Rate $1.00 US Dollar = ¢600.00 Colones (as of 22/04/2019).
- Suggested Money to Bring: $200.00 US Dollars (new/clean/non-ripped small denominations of $1.00, $5.00 $10.00 & $20.00) For tips to drivers, house-keepers, tour guides and airport exit fee.
- To exchange money, only uses banks or authorized exchange windows. You will need your passport for all bank transaction.
- One or Two Visa or MasterCard ATM/Bank Debit Cards: For withdrawing Costa Rican Colones at ATMs for spending cash, and to charge any additional tours that where not already paid in advance, etc.
- Your bank will charge a ATM fee (usually $3.00 or $5.00 US dollars) and the Costa Rica ATM will charge a currency conversion fee, which is about $1.00 -$3.00 depending on how much you withdraw. Most ATM machines in Costa Rica (and they seem to be popping up everywhere now), accept all the main partners, like PLUS, STAR, Interlink, etc., so you shouldn't have a problem using your ATM / Debit Card to withdraw local currency or make charges at places that accept Visa or MasterCard charges.
- Two (2) Visa or MasterCard Credit Cards: If you plan on using your credit cards for most of your in-country expenses, including withdrawing local currency, bring two cards, to have a back-up in case one doesn't work for some reason. You can use a Credit Card for withdrawing Costa Rican Colones at ATMs for spending cash (if you have your login code), and to charge any additional tours, hotels or transfers that where not already paid in advance, etc. Same local ATM conversion fees apply, however, most credit card companies have different policies for Cash Advances from Credit Cards, so please check with your credit card company for any fees that may apply.
- Use ATM's that are in public and well-lit areas. Avoid help from strangers. Withdraw, count your money, and put it away before leaving. Be aware of your surroundings. The ATM's are closed from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00a.m.
Tips for a Safe and Pleasant Trip
- Do not wear valuable jewelry or gold that can draw attention to you. Have the same care with cameras or electronic equipment.
- If you are carrying a small backpack with you while you are visiting the city, it is better to carry it in front of you and not in your back.
- Stay alert if someone approaches or pushes you, or you feel that you are being followed. Notify the nearest police officer or walk into the near public establishment.
- If you need to consult a map, look for a safe and public place to do it or approach a police officer for help. Do not stop for strangers.
- If you plan on traveling to areas far from your hotel, you must carry your passport and be cautious. If on the other hand, you stay within close range of your hotel, it is advisable to keep your documents in a safe box and carry a copy of your passport with all the relevant information and the arrival stamp.
- Use the safe deposit box of your hotel for your valuables.
- If you misplace your passport during your stay, immediately report it to your embassy or consulate and to the closest Judicial Investigation Police Office (OIJ).
- Do not leave unattended your possessions whenever you are in a public area (hotel lobby, transport, airports, restaurants, etc).
- Ask for information at the front desk of your hotel about the safest routes and means of transportation, especially during nighttime.
- When using taxi services, verify that they comply with the legal established requirements, such as yellow triangles printed on the door and a meter.