Costa Rica

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Costa Rica Money-Saving Tips

Look at Your Receipt

Don't forget to look carefully at your restaurant bill! Some restaurants may try to charge a double gratuity for an English-speaking wait staff, and unsuspecting tourists can pay an extra 10 percent of the bill. Look for "servicio" on the receipt, and ensure there are no undefined charges.

Take the bus

To get from A to B cheaply, quickly, and safely, opt for one of Costa Rica’s two private bus lines, Interbus (011-506-2283-5573; www.interbusonline.com) or Gray Line Tours’ Fantasy Bus (011-506-2220-2126; www.graylinecostarica.com). The adult fare for most routes on both lines, which shuttle visitors from San Jose to resorts, and between towns and cities, nationwide, ranges between $25-45.

Don’t monkey around

Please don’t feed the friendly, but fragile, monos titi (squirrel monkeys) that are unique to Manuel Antonio National Park. Approach Costa Rica’s endangered ecosystem with caution and respect.

Dress smart

While the subtropical humidity and heat might make shorts, T-shirts, and sandals seem the best attire options, you should also pack long-sleeve T’s, closed-toe shoes, and jeans or long pants for outdoor activities like horseback riding and hiking. And don’t forget to pack sunglasses, hats, and sunblock.

The buzz on bites

Costa Rica is infested with mosquito species that carry malaria (rare) and dengue fever (more common), particularly along the Caribbean coast. Although the risk of actually contracting the disease is low, precautionary measures like applying mosquito repellant are advisable.

Eyes open

Costa Rica has no army and is one of Central America’s most peaceful, stable, secure, and prosperous countries. However, robbery and violent crime are not unknown. Foreigners, particularly women, should not travel alone. Keep your eyes open, exercise caution and discretion, and do not carry large sums of cash or valuables.

Language

Most Costa Ricans, largely of European descent, speak Spanish more like Argentines than Central Americans: Vos (familiar “you”) replaces tu, and adios serves as both “goodbye” and “hello.” Tourism industry workers generally speak English, but you may want to bring along a Latin American Spanish phrasebook for interaction with shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and other locals.

Eating

While hearty national dishes such as gallo pinto (beans and rice) are worth a try, it’s the fresh tropical fruits – banana, papaya, mango, and the anona (custard apple) – and locally grown coffee that tickle tourists’ taste buds in these parts. Also, tap water is potable in most of the country.

Road rules

Ticos are notoriously aggressive drivers and roads are not up to U.S. standards, so most tourists wisely avoid driving. However, you’re slightly safer behind the wheel than on foot here as pedestrians account for around 55% of all annual road deaths.

Holidays

Businesses are usually shut for most of Holy Week, the week preceding Easter. Other holidays of note include Juan Santamaria Day (April 11), which commemorates a young hero who helped defeat invading Yankee profiteer William Walker in 1856, as well as, Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany (known as Three Kings’ Day in Spanish-speaking countries).

Money

Costa Rica is not Mexico, so don’t expect Puerto Vallarta prices, even in ramshackle Puerto Limon. Costa Rica is one of Central America’s most expensive destinations, and prices for goods and services (especially hotels) sometimes mirror those back in the U.S. ATMs are nearly as ubiquitous as they are in the U.S.; even the smallest town will have at least one.

Try Talking Them Down

Prepare a few bargaining methods before you leave, and practice them (when appropriate) in the outdoor markets and handicraft markets you visit. Bargaining is expected, but that doesn't mean it has to be void of fun. Try having a friend accompany you and act as if he or she is dissuading you - if the vendor feels that you might walk away, he'll be motivated to make his price more attractive. Also, feel free to refuse anyone who is rude or too pushy about their prices, and find somewhere else to spend your hard-earned cash.

Compare Rates to Costa Rica






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