Be Prepared!

Costa Rica is a dream travel destination for anyone looking for pure nature, colorful wildlife, and relaxation. Hardly any other country on earth combines as many natural treasures and animal species as Costa Rica. You can pass the time lying under a palm tree on the deserted beach or by taking a refreshing bath while listening to the toucans, monkeys, and macaws.

Since Costa Rica is home to almost 900 bird species, you may want to pack both a good camera and binoculars. Many of the birds sit in the treetops and to an untrained eye can be hard to spot. Imagine looking through the lens at the bird of the gods, Quetzal, observing its graceful creature calmly and from a distance. The majestic bird is not disturbed and you can linger and dream while observing its beauty.

Have you ever seen a sloth up close? These slow creatures are just as much in the trees as birds. Catch one with binoculars and sit back to watch it hang out and eat. It is amazing if you get to see a mother sloth and her cub. Good binoculars are a “must have” on a Costa Rica vacation.

What do I have to consider?

  • Visa-free entry up to 90 days
  • Costa Rica can be visited all year round
  • No mandatory vaccinations
  • Binoculars and camera are “must haves”
  • Payment in Colones and US Dollars
  • Cash withdrawals in larger cities

What currency does Costa Rica have and how do I get cash?

The official currency is the colón, but often prices are given in US dollars. You can pay with dollars almost everywhere. We recommend that you bring cash in US dollars and a credit card (ie. VISA or Mastercard) with you especially if you have booked a rental car because you will likely have to make a security deposit. You can exchange money in most cities. All major cities have ATMs where you can withdraw money with credit cards or bank cards and never trade with private individuals. Costa Rica is not typically cheap as a travel destination. Calculate about $20-35 US dollars per person for meals and spending per day.

What do I have to consider when entering Costa Rica?

US citizens and many other nationalities can enter Costa Rica visa-free with a passport for a stay of up to 90 days. Check with your Federal Foreign Office of regulations for your home country. When entering the country, the passport only has to be valid for the day of entry and the following day, but other regulations of the respective country apply when traveling on to other countries or traveling there and back through other countries (including transit). It is recommended that your passport is valid for at least 6 months. Since the entry regulations can change continuously, we assume no liability for the correctness of the information given here so please check with your local authorities.

What vaccinations do I need?

Vaccinations are not mandatory for Costa Rica, but hepatitis A and typhoid are recommended. A malaria risk only applies regionally with general protective measures. A moderate year-round malaria risk exists in rural areas below 700 meters in the provinces of Alajuela, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limon. The capital San José and areas above 700 meters are malaria-free. 

Remember to get all vaccinations on time and to follow the instructions of the health department. You should ask your doctor about vaccinations at least two months before the trip, otherwise it will be difficult to get a vaccination before departure.

What measures should I take to protect against mosquitoes?

Costa Rica is a country with mosquitoes so protect yourself against them. It is advisable to wear mostly light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pant legs because dark colors attract mosquitoes. You may want to cover uncovered parts of the body with mosquito repellent.

Will my cell phone or smartphone work in Costa Rica?

With a cell phone or smartphone without SIM lock, you can buy a Costa Rican prepaid SIM card and add minutes to use data as much as you desire anywhere. Many phone companies offer international plans for an additional fee. Wifi is widely available in hotels and other public places.

What do I need for my Costa Rica vacation?

  • Passport
  • Flight tickets or receipt for the electronic flight tickets
  • Drivers license (if you have booked or want to book a rental car). An international driver’s license is only required if you are staying in the country for more than 90 days.
  • Copies of all important documents (printed and digital is recommended)
  • Well-worn hiking shoes
  • Sneakers or light shoes for the evening
  • Sandals for day trips (trekking sandals if possible)
  • 2-3 pants that dry quickly (such as microfibre)
  • Shorts 
  • 1-2 swimming suits
  • Umbrella
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight with spare batteries/rechargeable battery
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • 1-2 small towels for bathing trips to the hot springs or the beach
  • Small backpack for the day trips, plastic bags (to keep your gear waterproof)
  • Rain poncho or rain jacket
  • Ear plugs (for people who sleep lightly, because in the jungle it’s “crazy” at night!)
  • Snorkel equipment (if desired)
  • First-aid kit: Band-aids, wound spray, charcoal tablets, aspirin, mosquito repellent and anti-itch product for bug bites, sunscreen and personal medication
  • Big Backpack if you are traveling on public transportation or plan to do a multi-day trekking tour or a hard-wearing suitcase for rental cars and bus tours
  • Travel mosquito nets (if desired)
  • For travelers doing a trekking tour: towel, light linen sleeping bag, possibly a pillow

A little tip:
In many hotels you can leave your laundry to be washed. You can also buy nice t-shirts everywhere so you might not need to take a lot of clothes with you.

Is Costa Rica a safe country to travel to?

Costa Rica is a well developed and safe travel destination. Nevertheless, we advise our guests to pay attention and use caution. The gap between rich and poor is relatively large in Costa Rica as in all Central American countries, so adapt your behavior accordingly. You can experience a dream holiday by following the following simple suggestions.

  • When traveling in the country, you should not display your valuables. There is a saying for this, “opportunity makes the thief”. As in most major cities, a watchful eye is good, especially in the capital, San José. This means not presenting yourself as a typical tourist with a backpack in front of you or an SLR camera around your neck. In addition, it is suggested to keep expensive jewelry in your accommodation safe.
  • Do not count your money in public and only carry as much as you need with you.
  • Leave anything you don’t need for the day in your room. Do not leave your valuables on the beaches, especially while you are taking a dip in the sea. Attacks on travelers are rather rare, but as in any other vacation destination country, trick thefts are more common. If you can’t leave your valuables securely locked in your room, consider taking turns going swimming.
  • Don’t leave valuables or luggage unattended in the rental car. If possible park in guarded parking lots at least in the central valley and in places frequented by tourists. You should always take your GPS and mobile phone out of the car.
  • We are absolutely against sexual exploitation in destinations. Please report it immediately to the local police as well as to us as a tour guide if you have observed sexual exploitation, especially of children.

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