FAQ About Costa Rica, Guanacaste, Tamarindo
What are the entry requirements?
All visitors are required to have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the dates of the trip.
Visitors from the following countries are allowed to stay for 90 days without a visa:
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, United States and all European countries except from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republics, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Visitors from these countries are allowed to stay for 30 days without a visa:
Australia, Belice, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, The Philippines and Venezuela.:
What are the customs regulations?
No customs duties are charged on personal luggage, which includes an array of items for personal and professional use, as long as they do not appear in quantities that suggest commercial intent. Costa Rican law requires that baggage be examined and that
travelers submit customs declarations listing all articles acquired abroad, including fruit, vegetables, meat, meat products, biological products such as vaccinations, serums, etc. In the case of families, one declaration can be filled out by the family head.
When is the best time to travel?
The travel industry designates several business seasons during the year: High Season (related to the dry season, from December until April), Peak season (Christmas, New Year and Easter), and the Green Season (related to the rainy season, from May until November).
If you live in the Northern Climates, you will probably consider winter the only time to visit. However, persons from others areas of North America and Europe find the rest of the year equally pleasant. They also find it quite a bit more affordable. Other
vacationers just prefer the country when there are fewer tourists -during the Green Season.
What should I bring?
A pocket-size English/Spanish dictionary, a small first aid kit, binoculars - camera and film, walking shoes, sunscreen, traveler's checks - cash or/and credit cards, swim suits, casual clothes for nightlife and fine dining, insect repellent, copies of
your favorite Costa Rica travel guide, sandals - sunglasses & hat, necessary medications, rain jacket, passport/birth certificate & driver's license.
What is the time zone in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is the same as U.S. central standard time, but does not observe daylight savings time.
What are the business hours?
Most banks are open from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and do not close for lunch. Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, Dinners and American Express being the most popular. Government offices are open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Most
commercial business open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Stores and other businesses at commercial centers from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Most restaurants open from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. Hotels and some restaurants are open 24 hours.
Is there a good communication system?
Direct-dial telephone service, facsimile, telex, radio and cable television are all available. Bilingual operator assistance for international calls is: 116, local information: 113, long distance information: 124. Internet cafes are available in most towns
What taxes should I pay?
Travelers must be at the airport two hours before departure. There is a departure tax of US$26.00. There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.
Is driving a good idea?
Many people love driving and visiting the country at their own pace. Car Rentals are available from the major rental companies. To rent one you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver's license and a major credit card. Gasoline is available at
stations throughout Costa Rica, most are open 24 hours. Auto insurance is a MUST, which is included in your contract with the car rental because most insurance companies explicitly exclude foreign countries from their coverage. If you have a question, contact
your carrier. When the rented car is given to you, the contract will explain both parts responsibilities. If you are involved in a traffic accident: Do not loose your temper, do not leave the place of the accident, do not move the car, cooperate with the
legal authorities, do not sign any agreements nor accept any liability, and contact your rental car company immediately.
Is bus transportation available?
Costa Rica has a bus system that offers inexpensive, timely and convenient transportation in the Central Valley. It is the primary means of transportation to natives. On the countryside, sometimes buses do not run frequently, in some places they operate
only once a day. Another possibility is arranging transfers with tourism transportation agencies which would give you a first class service at reasonable rates.
What are the medical concerns and suggested vaccines?
Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San José and some of the other largely populated areas. Since long ago, diseases such as malaria, paludismo, and yellow fever were eradicated
in Costa Rica. There are no plagues like in other countries, and no special vaccine recommendations for travelers more than the influenza and the tetanus vaccines. Hospitals and the Red Cross will provide any medical treatment in case of emergency.
How much should I tip?
A 10% tip in a restaurant is appropriate but most restaurants will add it to your bill so read your bill before paying a tip. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip. If you are satisfied with the service you receive, private drivers, tourist guides,
maids and bell boys would be glad to receive a tip. The amount would be totally up to you.
Do I need to have any special precautions?
Please consider the following precautions during your trip, that are the same wherever you travel around the world:
Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport or with a stranger, do not carry any stranger´s luggage through customs or immigration, and always carry your money within an inside pocket or a body pouch, or money belt.
Daily spending money could be carried in your bag or front pocket. Credit cards and travelers´checks are good tools when you travel. Carry a separate package with the following information: a copy of the identifying pages of your passport, the number of your
credit cards, traveler checks, bank accounts, airplane tickets, and emergency phone numbers. Valuable items should be left in a safe box. Avoid crowds as well as dark and lonely places, and deal with well-known tourism agencies instead of unknown persons.
In other words, take the same precautions you would have when visiting any other country, but do not let that decrease your enjoyment of this experience.
Do I need a passport to go to Costa Rica?
A valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica. It should be valid during the following 6 months from the entry date to Costa Rica.
Is an international driver’s license required to drive in Costa Rica?
You are allowed to drive with your normal driver’s license for three months.
Can I enter Costa Rica with a one way ticket?
All visitors must have a round trip ticket as an entry requirement.
What is the currency in Costa Rica?
The Colon is the national currency; dollars can be exchanged at banks and hotels. The exchange rate fluctuates in small increments daily. Bills come in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 colones, and coins are minted in 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100 and
500 colon pieces. Traveler's checks in dollars can be changed at any bank and at most hotels.
Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?
Major international credit cards (Master Card/Visa/AMEX) are accepted at most hotels, stores, restaurants and car rental agencies -- at smaller businesses be prepared to pay in local currency.
Is Costa Rica a safe destination?
Costa Rica has been the most politically stable country in Central America for many years. Unlike many other countries in the region, Costa Rica has enjoyed over one hundred years of democracy.
In general Costa Rica is a safe destination, without the serious problems that plague poorer nations. However, it would be naive to th
ink that crime doesn’t exist and it’s always a good idea to exercise caution as anywhere in the world, especially in big cities.
Always remember the following recommendations:
- Keep your airline ticket, important documents, cash and traveler checks in the hotel safe.
- Do not wear valuable jewelry on the street and carry only the amount of money you will need for the day.
- Change your money at the bank or at the hotel, never on the street.
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and leave the original in the safe at the hotel.
- Guard valuable items you are carrying, such as cameras or video cameras.
- If you are going out at night, ask to the hotel bellboys to get you a taxi.
What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?
There are no required inoculations for Costa Rica, but it is a good idea to check with your physician for recommendations of optional inoculations and health precautions.
Is tap water drinkable in Costa Rica?
Tap water is drinkable, however some people may not be used to it, for this reason bottled water could be a good alternative.
Do I need an electric adapter for a hair drier?
Service is the same as in the U.S.: 110 volts; 60 cycles. European items need an adapter.
Is Costa Rica an island?
Costa Rica is not an island and is located in Central America. Its natural boundaries are: North-Nicaragua, South-Panama, East-Caribbean Sea, West-Pacific Ocean.
What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
Conditions are moderate all year round and the main influence on temperature is altitude. The average temperature is 70ºF (21ºC) in the highlands and from the high 70´s to the low 90´sºF (21ºC to 32ºC) in the lowlands. The rainy season or green season goes
from May to November, and the dry season from December to April. However, even during the green season, the mornings are likely to be bright and sunny. Temperatures vary little between seasons.
Are the national parks wheel chair accessible?
The Poas Volcano National Park is the only one that offers access for wheel chairs.
What should I bring when going to the rain forest?
All you need is insect repellent, a rain coat with a hood and hiking boots.
What is the dress code in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has a very casual dress code; formal attire is only used on special occasions, like receptions, dine-outs or cultural activities.
What should I pack in my suitcase?
You can leave behind your winter clothes and just pack a sweater if you are visiting a highland area, but don't forget your sunscreen, light, loose-fitting shirts and trousers or shorts, insect repellent, a raincoat with a hood and your hiking shoes.
What number should I dial in case of emergency?
Dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Are there English written newspapers?
The Tico Times. www.ticotimes.net (506) 2258-1558
What airport should we use?
The San Jose Airport should be used for San Jose based programs or if you are visiting the mid Pacific coast or various destinations within Costa Rica. If the program is on the north Pacific coast it is better to fly to Liberia Airport served by Continental,
Delta and American Airlines as well as by charter and private flights.