Top 7 Don'ts You Need to Know When Traveling to Costa Rica

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Top 7 Don'ts You Need to Know When Traveling to Costa Rica
Fora’s Take

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, it’s important to know what NOT to do while you’re here. Understanding local customs and expectations will help you avoid any misunderstandings or unintentional offenses. In this guide, we’ll share some practical tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Costa Rica.

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1. Don’t Skimp on a Car Rental

If you’re planning on driving around Costa Rica, we've got an important tip for you. The roads here can be pretty rough, with potholes and bumps all over the place. So, to avoid any unexpected mishaps, it’s best to rent a 4x4 vehicle. Not only will it make your ride smoother, but you’ll also have the freedom to explore some of the more remote areas of the country. Trust us, it’s worth it!

2. Don’t Pay Only in Dollars

Did you know that the currency used in Costa Rica is called the Colon? While some places might show their prices in US dollars, it’s actually better to use Colones when you’re in the country. If you pay in dollars, the exchange rate will vary from day to day, which can lead to confusion. You can easily exchange your dollars for Colones at any bank.

3. Don’t Try to See Everything

Even though Costa Rica may seem small, traveling between towns can take quite a bit of time. Imagine planning your visit to Costa Rica with a sense of adventure and thrill. Consider exploring a few areas that are closer to each other and saving some for your next visit. Once you experience the beauty and excitement of Costa Rica, it’s easy to get hooked and keep coming back for more. Who knows what incredible discoveries await you on your next visit?

4. Don’t Worry About Tipping

When you receive your check, you will notice that it already includes a 13% tax and a 10% service charge. The government mandates the payment of the service charge, so you do not need to worry about tipping in Costa Rica. However, if you are exceptionally satisfied with your service, you are welcome to leave an additional tip. Locals in Costa Rica usually leave around 1000 colones, which is equivalent to $2, but the amount you choose to tip is ultimately up to you.

5. Don’t Forget to Get Your WhatsApp

WhatsApp is the go-to communication tool for almost everyone. You'll hardly ever receive an SMS or a regular call. WhatsApp is the fastest and easiest way to reach out to people down here. So, we suggest that you use WhatsApp instead of email or other methods.

6. Don’t Use Google Maps

Navigating through Costa Rica can be challenging, but with Waze, you have the best tools at your disposal. This app is a must-have for all drivers, as it provides real-time updates on accidents, traffic and the most efficient routes to take. With Waze, you can easily plan your trips and avoid any delays, making your journey much smoother and stress-free.

7. Don’t Forget to Plan for the Internet

To avoid relying on hotel wifi, you can purchase a Costa Rican chip for only $10. You will need this to use WhatsApp and Waze.

Need to Know

By following these tips, you can ensure a smoother trip to Costa Rica with fewer headaches.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Costa Rica. In need of further inspiration? Check out Lauren Keeton’s guide, Spring Break in Costa Rica.

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