Costa Rica is one of the most visited countries in Central America and is becoming ‘Americanised’ in places: it can be tough to avoid the numerous people and large-chain hotels that have sprung up.
However, our specialists have travelled extensively throughout the country to find the smaller individually-owned lodges and less travelled areas.
Even with the country’s advanced development the roads can be pretty rough so we ensure all our drivers are skilled and used to the road conditions, but be ready for an occasional bumpy ride. Despite the relatively small size of Costa Rica at times we may suggest internal flights for some journeys.
The official language is Spanish, although English is widely spoken.
Money and expense
The Colon is the national currency of Costa Rica. Travellers' cheques in dollars can be exchanged at any bank with a valid passport. We recommend not taking US$100 bills, as there is currently a problem with forgeries, meaning that many banks and Bureaus de Change will not accept them.
Food and drink
A wide range of cuisine can be sampled in Costa Rica from French to Chinese and local dishes. With two oceans as sources, seafood is a Costa Rican specialty, as are native dishes such as "Gallos" (open-faced tortillas with beef, chicken or ham) and uniquely spiced and seasoned mashed black beans. Other native specialties are palm hearts, tamales and ceviche. Guaro is the national liquor, while a variety of local rums, beers, and flavoured liquors are also available.
Social conventions and etiquette
Please remember to dress respectfully, covering shoulders and knees when visiting any catholic churches or monuments.
Tipping for good service is an accepted fact. A 10% service charge and 13% sales tax are always included in restaurant bills.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.
When to go to Costa Rica
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Costa Rica.