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Costa Rica Travel Information

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This section has general information about Travelling to Costa Rica. Scroll down to review information about:

ABOUT COSTA RICA
SIZE
POPULATION
CAPITAL CITY
LANGUAGE
GEOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
MAP
CURRENT
EXCHANGE RATE
EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES
GETTING AROUND
BANKING
SECURITY
HEALTH ISSUES
GETTING ONLINE BROCHURES ABOUT COSTA RICA

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1.Do I need a passport to go to Costa Rica?
2. Do I need a visa to go to Costa Rica?
3. Can I enter Costa Rica with a one way ticket?
4. Do I need an international driver’s license to drive in Costa Rica?
5. What is the difference between the rain forest and the cloud forest?
6. Is the water drinkable in Costa Rica?
7. Is there a train service in Costa Rica?
8. What is the currency in Costa Rica?
9. Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica.
10. What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?
11. Do I need an electric adapter for a hair drier?
12. How much is the departure tax?
13. Are the national parks wheel chair accessible?
14. What should I bring when going to the rain forest?
15. Are there domestic airlines that travel within the country?
16. What is the sales tax in Costa Rica?
17. What number should I dial in case of emergency?
18. Are there English written newspapers?
19. Where can I practice white water rafting?
20. Where can egg laying turtles be seen?
21. Which are Costa Rica natural boundaries?
22. How is Costa Rica politically divided?
 
ABOUT COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is characterized by an impressive scenic beauty, consolidated system of protected areas, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services. All these characteristics are available  in a territory of only 51 thousand square kilometers. Surrounded by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the list of outdoor activities is endless (hiking, surfing, kayaking, etc). Covering only 0.03% of the surface of our planet, Costa Rica has approximately 6% of the world's biodiversity. Costa Rica's approach to conservation has ensured that lush jungles are home to playful monkeys, languid sloths, crocodiles, countless lizards, poison-dart frogs and a mind-boggling assortment of exotic birds, insects and butterflies. Meanwhile, endangered sea turtles nest on both coasts and cloud forests protect elusive birds and wildlife.

SIZE
51,060 square KMs (19,714 square miles)

POPULATION
4.5 million, (source: World Bank).

CAPITAL CITY
San Jose (estimated population: 1,900,000)

LANGUAGES
Spanish is the official language, although English is widely spoken in the business community and at most tourist destinations.

GEOGRAPHY
Rugged highlands are found throughout most of the country, ranging from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level). The Guanacaste Mountain Range, Central Mountain Range, and Talamanca Mountain Range are the main mountain ranges extending the entire length of the country. There are several active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano, Irazu Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Turrialba Volcano) and the country’s highest mountain (Chirripo Hill) with a height of 3,819 m/12,530 ft. The country has a relatively long coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as a number of rivers and streams that attract kayakers and rafters from all over the world.
 
CLIMATE
Costa Rica’s year round climate is pleasant with naturally occurring breezes, cooling down most of the coastal areas. Temperatures in the highlands and mountains are moderate, especially during day, producing an 'eternal spring' feeling. The average annual temperatures range from 31.7°C (89°F) on the coast to 16.7°C (62°F) inland. The rainy or green season lasts from May to December with noticeably drier days during the rest of the year. A general Map of Costa Rica click here   

CURRENCY
Colon (¢)

EXCHANGE RATE
¢500 colones per US$ (July, 2011). 

EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES
You can find a list of Embassies and Consulates in the following site:
 Costa Rica embassies and Consulates
 
GETTING AROUND
Airport: Both car and eight person minibuses are available for hire at the airport for transport to hotels. Fare to downtown San Jose go from $20 to $35. In addition, most large hotels have a shuttle service to and from the airport.
Taxis: Within San Jose, you can travel by taxi. When taking taxis within the city limits, make sure the electronic meter is used. When traveling outside the city limits, checking fixed rate fares in advanced is highly recommended. Tipping is unnecessary. All taxis are red except those serving Juan Santamaria international airport, which are orange.
Car Rental: Many car rental agencies have offices at the airport, downtown and at some major tourist destinations. To rent a car, a valid driver’s license is required for the duration of a tourist visa.
Busses: Costa Rica has an extensive, relatively efficient and cheap bus system serving the metropolitan area and most of the country.
Air International: All major airlines fly to the San Jose International Airport (SJO) (United, Delta, Continental, American Airlines, American West, US Airways, Taca, Copa, KLM, etc). Several arilines provide international service to the Liberia Airport (LIR) as well.
Air travel domestic: SANSA and Nature Air are the domestic carriers with regular flights from San Jose to prime tourist destination. There are buses from the two airports in San Jose to the city center. A number of smaller airlines provide domestic charter flights as well.

COSTA RICA FOOD
You will hear about and be offered gallos (filled tortillas), with meat and vegetables. Two other common Costa Rica dish are “Gallo Pinto” and “casado” dishes including rice and beans. For seafood, “ceviche” fish marinated in lemon juice and spices is a very popular dish.
There are restaurants in all the major towns serving a variety of cuisines. Local food can be found in small 'sodas'. Popular restaurant dishes include: olla de carne (soup of beef, plantain, yuca, potatoes and chayote), sopa negra (black beans soup); and picadillo (meat and vegetable stew).

BANKING
Street corner foreign exchange transactions are technically illegal, and often risky. Always, use a bank or Currency Exchange Office. All ATMs are closed from 10 PM until 5 AM.
 
SECURITY
There are pickpockets in downtown San Jose and in many places throughout Costa Rica. Do not leave your personal items unattended even for a moment at beaches, restaurants, parks or businesses. Don’t carry your passport with you. Carry a copy of your photo/signature page, along with a copy of the page that shows the entry stamp from the Costa Rica customs office.

HEALTH FOR VISITORS
Drinking water is safe in all the major towns and cities. However, we recommend that you only use bottled water. Dengue fever has been showing up across Costa Rica Central Pacific Coast. Make sure that you use plenty of mosquito repellant while visiting the country side.
 
GETTING ONLINE BROCHURES ABOUT COSTA RICA
You can obtain online brochures from the Costa Rica Tourism Board (Costa Rica Institute of Tourism). The online brochures are organized by categories (Costa Rica General information, surfing, beaches, money moon, family oriented activities, golfing, fishing etc). Click here to visit the Tourism Board online brochure website.
 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Do I need a passport to go to Costa Rica?
A valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica.
  
 2. Do I need a visa to go to Costa Rica?
Depending on your country of origin you may enter Costa Rica without a visa. USA, Canada and most European countries have this privilege. The Costa Rica Embassy in Washington DC has a section devoted to visa requirements. You can check if you need a visa a the following link
http://www.costarica-embassy.org/consular/visa/country-selection.htm
For the visa application information you can check the following link
http://www.costarica-embassy.org/consular/visa/Authorized_Visa.htm
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your closest Costa Rica Consulate.

 3. Can I enter Costa Rica with a one way ticket?
All visitors must have proof of departure to enter Costa Rica. Please contact the Costa Rica Consultate in your are for updated information
  
 4. Do I need an international drivers license to drive in Costa Rica?
You are allowed to drive in Costa Rica with your normal driver's license for three months.
 
 5. What is the difference between the rain forest and the cloud forest?
The main difference is that in the cloud forest does not rain as much as in the rain forest. The species of flora and fauna that you might find differ from one to the other. 
  
 6. Is the water drinkable in Costa Rica?

The water is potable in most of the country. We recommend using bottled water, specially in areas around the coast. 
 
 7. Is there a train service in Costa Rica?
There is a train connecting Heredia and San Jose, and train tour that goes from San Jose to Caldera.
 
 8. What is the currency in Costa Rica?
The Costa Rican currency is called Colon. US dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
 
 9. Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica.
All major credit cards are widely accepted. However certain transactions require cash.  For example, smaller restaurants will generally not accept credit cards.  You will find ATM machine distributed throughout the country.

10. What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?
No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica. However, we recomend that ask your family doctor for any inoculation that may be recomended. Yellow Fever inoculation is now required for some South America country. Call your nearest Costa Rica Consulate to check on this new requirement.
 
11. Do I need an electric adapter for a hair drier?
Outlets are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs.
 
12. How much is the departure tax/fee?
The departure tax of US$26, can be paid in US Dollars, colones or a credit card. The procedures on how and where to pay for this fee change often. Make sure the check at the hotel for current information.
 
13. Are the national parks wheel chair accessible?
The Poas Volcano National Park is the only National Park that offers access for wheel chairs.
  
14. 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.
  
15. Are there domestic airlines that travel within the country?
You can contact SANSA at ww.flysansa.com (506)221-9414 or Nature Air at www.natureair.net (506) 220-3054. 
 
16. What is the sales tax in Costa Rica?
Sales tax is 13%. Hotels are subject to an additional transient tax.
 
17. What number should I dial in case of emergency?
Dial 911 for immediate assistance.
  
18. Are there English written newspapers?
AM Costa Rica www.amcostarica.com and  The Tico Times. www.ticotimes.net (506)258-1558
 
19. Where can I practice white water rafting?
It can be practiced at Pacuare, Reventazon, Corobici, Sarapiqui, Naranjo or Savegre.
 
20. Where can egg laying turtles be seen?
You can go to Tortuguero National Park in the Caribbean or to Las Baulas National Park in the Pacific coast.
  
21. Which are Costa Rica natural boundaries?
- North: Nicaragua - South:Panama - East:Caribbean Sea - West: Pacific Ocean 
  
22. How is Costa Rica politically divided?
Costa Rica is divided into 7 provinces: San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago, Limon, Puntarenas and Guanacaste.

Frequently asked questions Question were provided by the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism.

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