Things To Know Before You Go – Costa Rica

Traveling is a great education. I learned many different things while traveling to Costa Rica. Here are things to know before you go to Costa Rica from my own experience.

Things To Know Before You Go- Costa Rica ©2016 HollyDayz

Rent A Car. A great way to get around is by renting a car. It allows you the freedom to go and do what you want. Not to mention, although the public transportation buses looked nice, I didn’t see many of them. I mostly saw people waiting out on the side of the road for one to come.  If you know how to drive a manual, your rental will be cheaper. A 4×4 is your best bet for those unpaved roads. Also the security deposit is most likely going to be $500.

Have A GPS. Unless you know your way around or have opted to get a driver, you better have a GPS! The GPS needs to be updated for Costa Rican roads. There are no addresses. The only time I ever saw street signs was in Centro San Jose. The GPS we rented was awesome! It told us when a school zone was coming, potential falling rocks, speed bumps, and more. It also let us know when we were turning onto an unpaved road.

Have A Flashlight. Even if it is the flashlight on your phone, have one with you. I saw people walking on the side of the road to get to the store or a restaurant. Driving you can’t really see them in the dark. If you are walking you can’t see much. Especially when you are away from the city area, there aren’t street lights. Also the power went out at the house we stayed at. Luckily we had our phones for light.

You Don’t Have To Change Your Currency. Costa Rica’s currency is the Colon, but you can use USD there as well. So changing your currency isn’t a necessity. However you will get more bang for your buck if you change some of your money. It also comes in handy when going to stores, sodas, and paying the road tolls.

Inside one of the Sodas I went to ©2016 HollyDayz
Inside one of the Sodas I went to ©2016 HollyDayz

Eat At Sodas. The local places to eat are called Sodas. I thought it was going to be hard to figure exactly which place was a Soda. It was extremely easy to pick out. Most of them say Soda..and then the name of the establishment. It becomes pretty obvious. Sodas have great food and are inexpensive.

Don’t Worry About A Converter or Adapter. If you are from the US you are in luck! No convertor or adapter needed. Your plugs fit into the outlets with no issues.

Bring A Car Charger. Even if you don’t use your phone to make calls while there, you may use it for other things like using listening to music, a camera, a flashlight, etc. We all realized we forgot a car charger when the power went out. That would have been the best way to charge our phones.

Be Cautious While Driving. Most roads do not have a barrier to separate you from on coming traffic. The roads also have huge drainage holes in the ground. Would be horrible to accidentally get stuck in one of those if you were veer too far to the right. Also if you are driving too slow for the person behind you, as soon as there is no on coming traffic they will speed up and go around you. This is also OK for you to do, just be very careful that you are able to skip the cars before the on coming traffic comes close.

No Liquids. At the SJO airport you can go through security with liquids, but boarding the plane is another story. Make sure you have travel sized liquids. Also don’t bother buying water or anything to drink in the airport thinking you are going to take it on the plane. You will have to throw it away. Prior to boarding you will get completely searched by security and they go through everything.

Hopefully these tips help you on your visit to Costa Rica.

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? How was your experience?

56 thoughts on “Things To Know Before You Go – Costa Rica

  • February 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm
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    I have yet to visit Costa Rica, but reading your blog always allows me to add a new destination to my bucket list

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    • February 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm
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      Oh I am so glad and I hope you start crossing some things off your bucket list.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 7:06 pm
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    I’m from Panama so I can relate to all of the pointers you listed. I didn’t know you didn’t have to convert to Costa Rican currency. Panama uses American currency also!

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    • February 17, 2016 at 11:06 pm
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      I would love to visit Panama soon as well. Not having to switch currency if you don’t have to is great.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 8:35 pm
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    Does the plane serve water, drinks and food? I can’t be without water. I like the idea of being searched because folks crazy and I need to know no one is sneaking anything on the plane that can cause harm.

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    • February 17, 2016 at 11:07 pm
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      Yes the plane does. Well in the United States that happens before you even get to the gate. I personally think they need to switch up their security procedures.

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    • February 17, 2016 at 11:08 pm
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      Thank you. It is affordable, but it is the most expensive of the countries in Central America.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 7:53 am
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    Costa Rica is definitely on my list to visit in the next year or so. Thanks for sharing these tips. Beautiful pictures.

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    • February 18, 2016 at 10:29 pm
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      Thanks. I hope you get there very soon then.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 9:00 am
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    When I went to Costa Rica a few years ago, I wasn’t a huge fan. It was a little too rural for my tastes and now that I’m reading your post, I’m wondering if I would’ve enjoyed it more if we had rented a car.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

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    • February 18, 2016 at 10:30 pm
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      I enjoyed it. My friends and I felt like we had the country to ourselves. We got to see much more because we had a car.It may have made the difference in your trip.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 11:15 am
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    Good tips to share. I have found that having a car charger comes in handy a lot while traveling. I even use it to charge my camera batteries!

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    • February 18, 2016 at 10:30 pm
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      It really does for anything with a usb port.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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    Messing around with you my vacation list is going to be page and pages long. Adding this one to the list.

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    • February 18, 2016 at 10:31 pm
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      That is awesome lol…mine is pretty long too.

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  • February 19, 2016 at 8:24 am
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    Omg one of my friends was recently asking around for advice on Costa Rica! Will send her to this post! And after reading, now I want to go :-/. Every time I visit your blog I want to go somewhere new! Lol! Job well done!

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    • February 19, 2016 at 11:59 am
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      Oh awesome, right on time! You should go I think you would enjoy yourself. And thank you so much!

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  • February 19, 2016 at 10:12 pm
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    This is a very information piece. Let’s hope that I get to utilize it soon because Costa Rica sounds like an amazing country to visit!

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:20 am
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      I am sure you will sooner than later. It is a great place to visit, I would happily go back.

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  • February 20, 2016 at 12:11 am
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    When I do get to visit Costa Rica I will definitely visit your blog again. So many useful tips. Even the tip about buying water inside airport is something we never think of here. Great resource and thanks for sharing ! Also this reminds me of my trip to India

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:24 am
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      Awesome! Glad you could find them helpful. Yea that was interesting to find out about the water.

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:24 am
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      No I don’t think that is true. I enjoyed it and it felt like we had it to ourselves.

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:26 am
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      Thank you. I am glad it will be helpful to you when you do go.

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  • February 20, 2016 at 6:17 am
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    I wish I’ll go there soon. I’ve read amazing things about CostaRIca and I DO LOVE the local national policies. This is in my list!! Thank you for this post!

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:27 am
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      Very welcome. It is a great place I would go back to

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:27 am
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      Yes the flashlights came in handy!

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    • February 22, 2016 at 1:24 pm
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      Yes, safety is always important.

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  • February 20, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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    Great tips! I always have a flashlight in my luggage, I’ve been to waaaaay to many places with regular current breakdowns 🙂

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:27 am
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      That is great that you always keep one. You just never know.

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  • February 20, 2016 at 9:08 pm
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    Some great tips. Costa Rica is on my list of places to go and I learned some helpful things. I definitely would rent a car as I want to see the tropical mountains outside of the city. Cheers!

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:28 am
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      Thanks. The car came in handy to cover a good amount of ground.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 12:08 am
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    Great tips about Costa Rica!! Never been, but plan to visit soon. So interesting that the restaurants are called “sodas.” Will save this for our future trip. Cheers!

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:29 am
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      Yea I thought that was interesting too. The food at the sodas are good too.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 12:19 am
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    I visited Central America for the first time when I went to Panama last year, and I loved it! I would love to explore Costa Rica as well.

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:29 am
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      I would like to visit Panama.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 7:17 am
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    Great tips! I would also add that if you have an apartment or somewhere with an outdoor section, make sure you bring your shoes inside each night. We were staying in Bungalows a few years back and ended up finding scorpions in our shoes the next morning!

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:31 am
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      I didn’t see any scorpions. Just frogs and little geicos swimming. We left tons of stuff outside. Sorry you had that experience.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 7:19 am
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    Haven’t been to Costa Rica yet but it seems like a great place to visit. Like your list of hints&tips, very helpful!

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:31 am
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      Thank you. It is a great place to visit.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 8:11 am
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    Cheers for the tips. We can’t wait to explore all those national parks in Costa Rico. So much hiking.

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    • February 22, 2016 at 1:28 am
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      There are a ton of places to hike for sure.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 10:40 am
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    How interesting that there are no street signs! Never knew that so good advice on the GPS! I loooooove food too so thanks for the heads up about Sodas

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    • February 21, 2016 at 11:32 am
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      That seems to be typical in many latin countries.

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  • February 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm
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    Wow so much here I had no idea of. Costa Rica is not generally on Australian traveller’s radars as it’s quite a journey but I really like the look of it and I hope one day I can go eat at a Soda and spend some colons.

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    • February 22, 2016 at 11:11 am
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      That is understandable. I hope you can experience Costa Rica one day soon.

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  • February 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm
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    Great post and def useful! I love Costa Rica and have been back a few times. While you don’t have to exchange your money because they accept dollars, you do lost money by using dollars because your getting a bad exchange rate and you’re also paying the fee the vendor or restaurant would have to pay to exchange dollars to colones so you’re better off exchanging or withdrawing colones.

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    • February 22, 2016 at 1:26 pm
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      Thanks. Yes you are right, that is why I said you will get more bang for your buck if you do change it. But if you were to run out and that is all you had at the moment it is good to know you can use it if you had to.

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  • February 27, 2016 at 10:36 pm
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    Bringing a flashlight or reflectors is something I wouldn’t think to bring. Thanks for the tip! I’m here for eating at Sodas. Delicious and affordable eats = yass.

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    • February 28, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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      No problem, glad they are helpful. Yes, delicious and affordable are a great combo.

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  • April 16, 2016 at 11:36 pm
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    Went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon and fell in love with the country. I definitely second renting a car. We were able to explore so much more and for much cheaper compared to joining a tour group because we rented a car.

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    • April 17, 2016 at 10:56 am
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      It is a beautiful country. There is so much to see and do there I would happily go back. A car allows you to do so much more.

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