Frequently Asked Questions on Costa Rica, including what to bring & what to bring for kids.
1) How do I get there?
By plane. Costa Rica has two international airports, Juan Santamaria International in San Jose (SJO) and Daniel Oduber International in Liberia (LIR) on the North Pacific. Please note that, these airports are a 5 hour drive from each other or a 50 minute domestic flight. However, domestic flights are not allowed after 5 p.m. in Costa Rica. We will of course tell you which Airport or Airports to fly in and out of depending on the final configuration of your hand-crafted itinerary with us. (Emergency domestic flights are allowed at night of course).
2) Are major international credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?
Yes, Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted at most places. Amex cards might not be accepted in many places due to their higher commission. There are plenty of ATM’s spread throughout the country.
3) Are cryptocurrencies accepted in Costa Rica?
Bitcoin is beginning to be accepted by a few businesses but with neighboring country El Salvador having legalized Bitcoin already, Costa Rica should of course follow quite soon.
4) Are U.S. Dollars accepted in Costa Rica?
Yes, they are, particularly the smaller denominations which run like Costa Rican currency. Businesses tend to not like the $100 bills so much for they fear they might be false ones. If you wanted to, the best place to exchange your dollars into the Costa Rican Colones are the front desk of your hotels.
5) How about tipping? Well, Tipping is not a city in China.
Tips are more than welcome by everyone although not expected like in New York for instance. They should be whatever you feel is right when the service was really wonderful and it normally is. At restaurants, a 10% service charge is already included on the bill but if you feel the service was superb, you can tip up to another 10% as a general rule. You can tip 2 dollars per person to bell boys and chambermaids. For drivers and guides, if you feel their service was truly wonderful and unique, and it usually is, anywhere from 10 and up for each of them as you see fit.
6) Do I have to carry my passport with me at all times?
What we recommend is that you leave your valid passport at your room´s safety box and carry a copy with you at all times instead. It is important to carry along another id as well.
7) How do I contact my Embassy in Costa Rica if I need to?
We will gladly do it for you. You can find it on line.
8) What about taking taxis in Costa Rica?
The trick is to settle the rate beforehand though they use a taximeter. Please only use only the authorized taxis which are red with a yellow triangle on their doors.
9) What is the electricity like?
It is 110/60 volts and standard American plugs for hair dryers, razors, phones, Laptops, etc.
10) What are the current entry requirements?
A valid passport and proof of onward travel are required. The vast majority of foreigners are granted a visa that allows them to stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days. Please click on the following link for the current entry requirements; they might change between now and the time of your trip: https://www.visitcostarica.com/en/costa-rica/planning-your-trip/entry-requirements ).
11) How about driving a vehicle in Costa Rica?
You need your valid home country license. It has to be valid for at least three more months. You must drive defensively for in general; Costa Rica’s driving style seems to be inspired on the Spanish bull fighting, how close can I get without getting hurt? Please drive slowly. The roads are known as tico roads, and are normally there are pot holes when you least expect it. In rural areas you may come across animals such as cows. Rent a Car Companies have doubled their prices recently since they had gotten rid of most of their fleet during 2020.
12) How about getting directions?
Most Costa Ricans do not know nor care for reading a map but they would normally leave what they are doing and personally take you there. Rather than street and avenue numbers, the directions will most likely be using points of references and land marks. For instance; 200 meters (it means two blocks) south and 25 meters (0.25 blocks) east from the Public School, next to the Mango tree on the left where there is always a cow resting. However, Waze and Google Drive work real well for the most part though sometimes they send you on a terrible dirt road to say the least.
13) Is water safe to drink in Costa Rica?
Yes, it is safe to drink. In fact, we only have running water in Costa Rica. Bottled water is also available everywhere at a low price.
14) What are the business hours?
Offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and stores from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Most restaurants open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., unless they serve breakfast in which case they would open at 6 a.m. Public banks open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., private banks open 9am to 6pm. At shopping malls, both private and public banks, open from 10a.m. to 7p.m.
15) What language do they speak in Costa Rica?
Spanish is the official language. However, there is an increasing bilingual Spanish and English) population, (English of some sort or another of course).
16) What is the Costa Rican food like?
The Costa Rican diet is very simple and healthy. Mostly rice and beans, fresh vegetables, fish, beef and lots of chicken. In addition, a wide variety of fresh fruits. However, international and Costa Rican cuisine with renowned restaurants is widely available as well.
17) Who (m) do I call in case of emergency?
Please call us 24/7 at our WhatsApp Team Tachiz number 011 (506) 8567 7294, or at Alex´s 011 (506) 8393 5190 or at Francisco´s 011 (506) 83741777 or at our Office 011 (506) 2560 0954 or at our U.S. 646 736 7661, or at our UK 020 323 94850 or at our Spain 900 808893 phone numbers.
18) What should I bring for my trip in Costa Rica?
- Extra prescription pair of glasses and medication (if needed).
- Sun block and insect repellent.
- Lightweight, fast drying clothes are best, as are clothes you can layer. Bring warm weather gear for the day activities and a mid-weight fleece or sweater for the evening. No suits or ties are needed.
- Short and long-sleeved Shirts: cotton preferably.
- Trousers: Hiking shorts and pants.
- Footwear: Closed waterproof hiking boots or shoes, secure river sandals or similar, tennis shoes/running shoes.
- Rain gear: light poncho, raincoat. Even if you are coming during the dry season, you should bring a couple of light rain gear items, at least an umbrella or a rain coat.
- Hat with visor for rain and sun protection.
- Camera with lots of memory, extra batteries and battery charger.
19) What should I bring for the KIDS’ trip to Costa Rica?
- Games for van drives.
- A journal.
- That special pillow or so.
- Child’s favorite snack.
- Rubber boots and a light rain jacket.
- Moist wipes.
- Small first aid kit.
- Eye drops and ear drops.
- A camera.
- Two pairs of socks per day.
- Small daypack or fanny pack for hikes and collecting stuff.
- Sweater or jacket (very important).
- Swimwear and inflatable water wings, if used.
- Comfy PJ’s.
- Favorite hat or sun protection.
- Extra prescription glasses and medication (if applicable).
- Sunscreen, insect repellent.
- Plenty of cotton t-shirts.
- Trousers: cotton.
- Hiking shorts.
- Footwear: secure waterproof, closed light-weight hiking boots/shoes and river sandals (Teva-sandals), tennis shoes.
20) Is it safe to walk the streets?
Even San Jose, our capital, is still safer than any major city in the U.S.A. We seldom take our visitors to San Jose. Common sense will keep you safe. As you get away from San Jose, it is even safer. In practice, cars have the right of way, therefore, walk defensively. Change money in your hotel´s front desk only. Never change money in the street nor flash it. Carry your purse on the front. Carry your wallet in your front pockets. Carry backpacks on your front. Again, common sense should keep you out of trouble, avoid seedy areas of town—ask your hotel. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry. If you are going out at night, take an authorized taxi called by the hotel’s bell boys. In general just take the normal precautions you would take anywhere in the world.
21) Is there a departure tax?
Yes, but it is already included in your international air ticket.
22) Is there a weight limitation on luggage for the local flights in Costa Rica?
Yes, normally 25 pounds of luggage per person on shared domestic flights. However, we only use private charter flights so the weight allowance is normally much bigger. Also, with a bigger airplane, the weight limit is much higher. We would be happy to safely keep your excess luggage in our offices and bring it to you later on your journey with us of course.
23) What is the best time to visit Costa Rica?
Please talk to us about it but in general, with the right combination of interests, destinations and logistics, Costa Rica can really be enjoyed during the whole year. We enjoy 64 micro-climates. This, wonderful weather is one of the big draws to this tropical paradise. We only have a rainy season and a dry season and the sun shines here nearly every day with an average annual temperature of between 71 degrees Fahrenheit in the central valley and 81 degrees Fahrenheit in some of the lower beach areas. The mountain areas are cooler since like anywhere throughout the tropics, temperature depends on elevation. The rainy or green season normally lasts from May through November, being September and October the heaviest rain period everywhere except for out Caribbean coast where if they have anything that resembles a dry season, it precisely happens during these 2 months. Our South Pacific in closed for maintenance during September and October. There are whale watching opportunities in September and October turtles laying their eggs as well and much less visitors. Our rain is warm during the green season daily showers can be expected for a few ours during the day but then the rest of the day is beautiful with sunshine and very active wildlife. The dry season runs from December through April. We also get a little summer season in July though Trade winds keep Costa Rica hot and humid most of the time, so there is never really a dry season. We at Team Tachiz feel that the second halves of April and November tend to be the best times to visit Costa Rica since they are transitions periods. This means that the rains aren’t really gone and the dry season not really here or the other way around and the crowds are not here so you end up with a green and sunny Costa Rica almost just for yourselves.
24) How many days do I need to enjoy Costa Rica?
From 7 nights for 2 destinations to 8 nights for 3 destinations and on and up to an entire month. There is so much to enjoy, see and do in Costa Rica. Many of our guests just keep coming back over and over again for more as well
25) Why Costa Rica?
If you are wondering why it is such an incredible destination and although we have our share of problems, after speaking with every one of our guests through the decades, we feel there are two main reasons why;
- The genuine friendliness of the Costa Rican people.
- And its amazing diversity in terms of nature and wildlife.
We at Tachiz Travel™, strongly believe that a trip to Costa Rica is a gift to yourself at the same time that you are helping to preserve nature and social peace. We are very grateful for that and you feel it.
While Costa Rica has set aside over 50% of its territory for National Parks and Private Reserves, it is subject to the same rule for National Parks and private reserves around the world; use ’m or lose ’m. Therefore, your visit to Costa Rica does make a difference to many forms of life in our planet, including our own. In many ways, our National Parks and Preserves belong to our fellow citizens of the world, although most of them have not even been born yet.
We have listed a few facts, which we hope will inspire you to plan a trip with us:
- Costa Rica has no Army. It was abolished in 1949.
- Over 50 % of its land set aside for conservation.
- Life expectancy is 79.52 females, 77.40 males.
- The literacy rate is above 92%.
- Education is free and compulsory up to high school.
- It is still the village that raises children.
- It is a country half the size of Cuba or about the size of West Virginia and approx. It fits inside Michigan Lake. 5 million citizens.
- Costa Rica has 64 micro-climates.
- Costa Rica holds almost 5 % of the different forms of life of the planet in only 0.003% of the world’s territory.
- If you wish, you can see tropical dry forest, tropical rain forest and tropical cloud forest in one day, you can do so here but again, why hurry.
- It has over 250 volcanoes, four of which are active.
- A quick and dirty on Costa Rica is the following: To the North east it is like the little amazons of Costa Rica, to the south east it is like the little Jamaica of Costa Rica, to the south west, it is like Tarzan’s movies, to the North West, it is like the little California of Costa Rica.
- There are almost 1000 species of birds, which is more than the continental US Mexico and Canada put together.
- There are more butterfly species than in all of Africa.
- From the capital you can drive to the Caribbean Sea and to the pacific ocean in one day but again, why hurry.
- Costa Rica is connected via satellite with other Central American countries, the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America, Asia and Africa.
- There is also an efficient system of post and courier services.
- The options to explore nature are more unique, creative and diverse every time.
26) Why travel with Tachiz Travel Costa Rica?
This is what we offer regarding your very precious vacation time; Unique Adventures of a Lifetime and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This is our work of a lifetime and we are really dedicated and grateful for your interest in Costa Rica. You will feel it:
We will personally always help you A to Z. We only work strictly selected strategic suppliers, (whose performance we constantly monitor).
Francisco and I have both served in the young Costa Rican Inbound Travel Industry since the late 80’s. We started working for the pioneers of ecotourism in Costa Rica and we worked extensively and passionately in truly all capacities and before starting our own Team Tachiz Travel Costa Rica in 2002. Through the decades, we have orchestrated vacations for the general interest visitors and for the most discerning high end special interest travelers and groups of all sizes. We are Costa Rican born and raised in Barva, the oldest settlement of the Central Valley. We were Foreign High School Exchange Students to the State of Oregon before earning our degrees in Business Administration. As you can imagine and more importantly, during the course of the last 5 decades and as a natural consequence of our working A to Z in this industry, we have become friends and developed profound and authentic personal connections with most of the current managers and owners of the hotels, tourism suppliers and communities’ members who are key for our crafted unique itineraries. They help us in making sure you enjoy a wonderful Costa Rica experience. They understand that we love to arrange for special surprises that are very rewarding to the visitor and to the visited. Francisco and I along with our Team Tachiz do understand and appreciate the fact that with your visit, you are helping us to preserve nature and social peace in Costa Rica.
We are confident that you, as it’s been the case with many dear visitors in the past, (See Testimonials), will be most rewarded by traveling to Costa Rica with us.