Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)



What are the entry requirements?
When is the best time to travel?
What should I pack and what kinds of clothes should I bring?
What are the business hours?
Am I supposed to tip or is it an insult?
What taxes should I pay?
How are the medical facilities?
Is Costa Rica safe?
Do you have final suggestions?
Money / Currency / Change / Credit Cards

1) 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. Visa requirements for Costa Rica change rapidly so check with your consulate before leaving. Currently 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, Belize, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, The Philippines and Venezuela.

2) 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 (also called the Low 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.

3) What should I pack and what kinds of clothes should I bring?
Pack light: Baggage carts are scarce at airports, and luggage restrictions are tight. Bring comfortable, hand-washable clothing. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable in San José (during the day, if planning to go out in the evening slacks are highly recommended as some restaurants won't admit you in shorts or sandals).  Bring a large hat to block the sun from your face and neck. Pack a light sweater or jacket for San José's cool nights and early mornings and for trips up volcanoes. Sturdy sneakers or hiking boots are essential if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing and hiking. Waterproof hiking sandals or other footwear that lets your feet breathe are good for strolling about town, and also for beach walking, fording streams, and navigating the myriad mud holes you'll find on rain and cloud forest trails.  Insect repellent and sun block is a good idea.  Extra film for cameras

4) 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 businesses 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.

5) Am I supposed to tip or is it an insult?
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.

6) What taxes should I pay?
Travelers must be at the airport two hours before departure. There is a departure tax of US$26.00 (only cash). There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.

7) How are the medical facilities?
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.

We are almost sure that you have already been informed well before your departure to Costa Rica about possible diseases and vaccinations. We would like to point out, that it is always your very own decision to consume medicine or a preventing medicament. Our information does not replace professional advice of a doctor or a vaccination institute and their information has priority always. We would just like to point out some possible dangers you might face on your Costa Rica trip. There is a very low but existing risk of malaria disease in Costa Rica, mainly near the border to Nicaragua and close to the Panama border. Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. You can protect yourself against mosquito bites by using appropriate cloths and mosquito repellent. Most doctors recommend buying an emergency medicament, which you only use in case of a malaria infection. There is another disease in Costa Rica, with very similar symptoms as malaria. It is called dengue fever and there are no vaccinations or medicines against this infection available to date. Dengue fever is transmitted by a mosquito bite as well and there are two types of the disease. The less dangerous, but more spread is the classic dengue type. Symptoms of the classic version are high fever for about 5-7 days, strong headache, pain on the whole body and eyes and sometimes vomits, diarrhea, bleedings and itching. The patients are prescribed a lot of bed rest and it is important do drink allot of water. Painkillers are also prescribed, but it is important to not use Aspirin, because they could cause more bleedings. The other and more dangerous type "dengue hemoragica" is very rare. The symptoms are similar to the classic version, but in addition to that, patients suffer of inner and external bleedings, swelling of the face, respiration problems, circulation problems, sweating, tiredness and loss of appetite. A doctor must attend the patient immediately. The second type is especially dangerous for those, who already have been infected once by the less dangerous classic dengue. Dengue fever mainly appears in poor and dirty city districts of Puntarenas, Limón, Siquirres, Guápiles, Santa Cruz, and very rarely in Alajuela and Heredia. As soon as dengue fever appears, the ministry of health takes immediate action against mosquito breading and the disease can be controlled within a very short time. Protect yourself against mosquitoes by using appropriate cloths and mosquito repellent. The possibility for infection is very low dough. 

8) Is Costa Rica safe?
If you feel safe in your own hometown, you should feel safe here. Costa Rica has lower crime rates than many cities around the world.  But, as with most cities there, are always places best to avoid.  Ask at your hotel desk and if an area exists they will let you know.  Taxis are everywhere, cheap and a good idea at night. 

9) Do you have final suggestions?
Plan your trip well in advance so you have more options to choose from.  Since your eating and drinking habits are often radically different during a trip, be sure to drink lots of fluids, especially the day before arriving. Try not to go overboard your first night giving your body a chance to acclimate. The water is safe to drink in all areas of the country except on the Caribbean and Puntarenas city nevertheless we suggest you to buy bottled water for drinking. If you want to be consequent, you should also renounce to ice cubes made of tab water. Many places prepare their ice with treated water that is without danger. At all the cozy and simple places on the Caribbean coast, we recommend to order meat well done only. Beside that, not many dangers exist and you can enjoy fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood without any worry. Costa Rica is a very hygienic country, and the health ministry applies very strict rules for restaurants.

10) Money / Currency / Change / Credit Cards
The local currency is Costa Rican Colones. Only checks and cash in US$ can be changed. If you arrive with currencies such as Euros or Pounds, you can change them only at a bank’s headquarter in San José or at Financiera de Londres. Both options take a significant amount of time. For changing money, you must present your passport (or a copy of it). We highly recommend never changing money on the street with a “flying agent”. Instead, we suggest changing your money at a private bank, such as “Bancrecen”, opened from 09h00 until 21h00. They offer a good and fast service. Changing your money at a state bank such as “Banco Nacional” or “Banco de Costa Rica” may take more time and they are opened from 08h00 till 15h00 only.  

Credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops all over the country. Though, few small businesses and those without phone line might not accept them. In smaller shops, you may be charged a 7% additional charge covering their credit card commission. VISA is preferred, while MASTERCARD might cause some problems. Therefore, if holding a MASTERCARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS or DINERS CLUB credit card, we recommend carrying always a cash reserve. Please ask before consuming, if credit cards were accepted.


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Address: 50mts North from Drs. Echandi Clinic, PO-Box: 10736-1000 San José, Costa Rica

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