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Costa Rica Travel Information

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Hello Again Keirsten,

Below are some answers to your travel questions about Costa Rica. If you have any more questions feel free to send them in to Vagabond Journey Travel Help.

Costa Rica Travel Information

Were there parts of Costa Rica that you enjoyed? Parts that you would recommend? Parts that you would caution?

There are really three distinct areas of Costa Rica: the cities, which I would recommend avoiding at all cost, the highlands, which are beautiful and really laid back, and the coast, which varies between party beaches and pristine coastline. I would highly recommend traveling to the Osa Peninsula in the far southwest of the country on the Pacific Coast or anywhere in the highlands. Ostional on the northwest coast is also real beautiful. Santa Maria de Dota in the highlands is a great place for hiking and being in the mountains.

Whatever you do, stay out of San Jose, Heredia, and Limon, Puntarenas or any other city in Costa Rica.

Was traveling via train/bus/taxi difficult? Did you feel unsafe?

The main difficulty with public transport in Costa Rica is that most major roads lead straight to San Jose like the spokes of a wheel. This is good if you are traveling to the country’s capital, but bad if you want to get to places that are on different “spokes” from each other. Oftentimes, you need to travel all the way to San Jose in order to get a bus to a town that is relatively nearby your starting point. The roads in Costa Rica are also much worse than in neighboring Nicaragua or Panama.

It is my impression that traveling by bus in Costa Rica is not any more dangerous than anywhere else in Latin America. But it is not much safer either, so take the usual cautions.

I have not had any problems with taxi drivers in Costa Rica, but many woman that I have known report that it is common to have them try to take sexual advantages. But much of this is contextual: if a woman is going home late at night from a bar alone in a taxi there is a much better chance that the driver is going to try to do something than if she took a cab sober in the middle of the day.

Are there any major things that we should be aware of, in terms of culture changes?

I would just keep in mind that there are tourist areas and non tourist areas. Keep a mind for both.  It is far easier to trust people way out in the mountains than in a beach side party town. Ticos tend to be very friendly people, and the culture is pretty open to outsiders. All you basically need is your ingrained sense of politeness and you will make friends easily.

One final note: It is very common for foreigners (as well as Ticos) to be held up at knife and gun point in the streets even in the day time. Costa Rica is not a safe country by any means. Don’t think that just because there a alot of other foreigners that you will be safe. I have never had any problem in Costa Rica, but I have known of more people being robbed there than in any other country that I have traveled in.

So only carry small amounts of money on you and don’t flash anything expensive.

If you are robbed, just laugh it off. It happens to an incredibly large number of people who travel and live in Costa Rica. If fact, I would recommend that you expect to be robbed at knife or gun point at some time during your stay. This is just a right of passage to traveling in Central America.

In all, have a good time in Costa Rica and enjoy the mountains and the sea. It is a beautiful place.


Map of Costa Rica.


Map of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.

Links to additional information about Costa Rica
How to rent an apartment in Costa Rica

Tica Bus to Managua
Walking on up the Mountain
To the Beach in Costa Rica
Street Crime in Costa Rica
Bars, Girlfriends, and Culture in Costa Rica
Renting an Apartment in Costa Rica

Walk Slow,

Wade

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Questions about traveling in Costa Rica

Hello there. Thank you for responding! I have a ton of questions about traveling to Costa Rica, as that is where (hopefully) my “vagabonding” journey will begin. Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions? My significant other and I are planning to travel down at the end of June. We plan to stay for a few months before looking for jobs as teachers of ESL at the local schools and businesses. We want to get there and look for an apartment as soon as possible, as we plan to stay for a while!

Were there parts of Costa Rica that you enjoyed? Parts that you would recommend? Parts that you would caution?
Was traveling via train/bus/taxi difficult? Did you feel unsafe?
Are there any major things that we should be aware of, in terms of culture changes?

Anything you could add would be greatly appreciated. You’ve been a big help, already!

Thanks again,
Keirsten

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Filed under: Bus Travel, Central America, Costa Rica, Travel Help

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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