Costa Rica is a tropical country and experience only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is generally between late December and April, and the wet season lasts the rest of the year. The Caribbean coast tends to be wet all year. Temperatures vary little between seasons, the main influence on temperature is altitude. The coast are very hot and humid, with the Caribbean averaging 69 degrees Fahrenheit at night and over 86 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, the Pacific is a few degrees warmer still.
Pack light for your travels. The highland areas can be very cold, so pack a sweater if you are going there. For the lowland areas light, loose-fitting shirts and pants are essential. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are recommended for the beach. See our travel tips pages at the end of each section for more information.
Direct-dial telephone service, facsimile, telex, radio, internet service and cable television are available.
Bilingual operator assistance for international calls is -116
Local information -113
Long distance information -124.
Credit Cards and Travelers checks:
Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the county, but VISA seems to be the most commonly seen. Some smaller business will only accept cash. Travelers checks can be easily cashed but some banks will only accept a certain kind. Banks also usually require your passport in order to cash these checks.
The official currency is the Colon and is easier to use than dollars, although US dollars are accepted throughout the country. Currency can be exchanged at banks, although they often require your passport. Most hotels have an exchange counter. You can also exchange money at the International Airport.
Arrivals are allowed 500 cigarettes plus five filters of wine or spirits duty free.
110-volt AC is found nation wide. A few outlying areas use their own power source so check ahead before traveling.
Citizens from Canada, the U.S. ad Panama can enter with just a tourist card and other one piece of identification, such as a passport, driver's license or birth certificate. No passport is required. Citizens of all others countries require a valid passport to enter. Visas are needed by certain nationalities so check ahead before traveling.
Costa Rica is democratic republic. Elections are held every four years.
Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San Jose and some of the others largely populated areas.
Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in tourist areas throughout the country.
Costa Rica has a population of 4 million people. Over thirty percent live in the Central Valley which comprises only 4% of the entire country.
There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.
Direct-dial service is efficient and there are more telephones per capita than in any other Latin American country. Many international long distance services are available. Check with your hotel front desk for more information.
Costa Rica is the same as U.S. central standard time but does not observe daylight savings time (GMT -6:00).
A 10% tip in a restaurant is appropriate, but most restaurants add it directly to your bill, so check whether this the case before paying an additional tip. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip. Tour guides generally do.
Costa Rica is bordered to the north by Nicaragua and to the south by Panama. It has both a Caribbean and a Pacific coats. A series of volcanic mountain chains runs from the Nicaragua border in the northwest to the Panamanian border in the south east, splitting the country in two. In the center of these ranges is a high-altitude plain, with coastal lowlands on either side. Over half the population lives on this pain, which has fertile volcanic soils. The Caribbean coast is 132 miles long Pacific coast in 635 miles long.
Unless specified otherwise, the water is safe to drink in all areas of the country.
Other useful information:
Airport Info: 443-2942
Air France 280-0069 Alitalia 222-6138 American 257-1266 British Airways 223-5648 Continental 296-4911 COPA 222-6640 Cubana de Aviacion 290-5095 Delta 257-2992 Grupo Taca 257-9444 Iberia 257-8266 KLM 220-4119 LACSA 296-0909 Lufthansa 256-6161 LTU 234-9292 Mexicana 257-6334 SAM 233-3066 United 220-4844 Varig 290-5222
SANSA 257-0408 Travelair 232-7883 Taxi Aereo 441-1626 Veasa 232-1010 COPA 222-6640
Cruise Lines - Domestic
Bay Island Cruises 258-3536 Calypso Tours 256-2727 Costa Sol Cruises 661-2139 Cruseros del Sur 232-8487 Temptress Adventures 220-1679 Valeros del Sur 661-1320
Buses - Internacional
Tica Bus 221-9229