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Costa Rica: Three Things You Need to Know Before Visiting

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Costa Rica literally translates to “Rich Coast” and this country lives up to this name. Costa Rica has over 800 miles of coastline on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Costa Rica is a tropical paradise that attracts 1.7 million tourists per year. Tourists are drawn to the beaches, beautiful nature, wildlife, conservation efforts, and the welcoming culture of the Costa Ricans (“Ticos”). For those considering a visit, there are some things you need to know before visiting.


Here are three things you need to know before visiting.


Currency:

The Costa Rican national currency is the Costa Rican Colon (CRC). However, plenty of hotels, tour operators, restaurants, and stores accept US dollars to save you the pain of having to convert the currency. The best rule of thumb is to check what the current exchange rate is so you are aware of the conversion rate ahead of time. ATMs are available and you are able to withdraw cash in Colones or US dollars. The highest exchange rate is at the bank- there are two larger banks in Costa Rica: Banco Nacional (National Bank) and Banco de Costa Rica (Costa Rica Bank). The lowest exchange rate is at the airport.


Potable Water

The general consensus is that Costa Rica water is safe to drink. There are some areas where it is not safe to drink tap water, but it is typically clearly marked as non-potable. That being said, it is always a good idea to check with staff at your hotel or at a restaurant and lean on the side of caution. An upset stomach can ruin a vacation quite quickly!


Safety

When discussing travel, the question of safety will always come up. Luckily, Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Central America and is a popular tourist destination among couples, families with small children, and even solo travelers.

It is good to remember, like all countries, Costa Rica is not immune to criminal activity. Generally speaking, crime against tourists is non-violent, and “opportunistic thieves” have a hard time walking away from an unattended bag/backpack with smartphones and cameras left on the beach.

It is always a good idea to use common sense such as: not flashing expensive items, traveling in groups, keeping your valuables concealed if you’re not using them, or leaving items unattended on the beach while traveling.


**Bonus Tip: “Pura Vida” translates to “pure life”. This saying is used as a greeting, a farewell, a way to make peace, and expresses the relaxed lifestyle of the Costa Ricas. If you do not speak Spanish, use the saying and it will get you in with the locals quickly!


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