If your passport is issued in one of the EU countries, the USA or Canada, or if you already have a residence visa for the Schengen area or a visa for the USA, you are free to enter Costa Rica. Nothing will be asked of you. However, make sure your passport is valid 1 day after your return.
If your flight is via the USA or Canada, you’ll still need to apply for a visa online at least 72:00 before your trip. WARNING: pirate sites do exist!
You do not need an international permit. For permits with a validity date, you need a permit valid for 3 days after your departure from Costa Rica.
QUOTATIONS AND CHANGE
WE ADVISE YOU TO COME WITH 200/300 US dollars.
The local currency is the COLON or COLONES.
The use of the dollar is common and legal.
If you pay in dollars, the change will be returned to you in COLONES.
To make your life easier, there are currency delivery services available.
Here are just a few: PAYTOP (USD), MULTI CHANGE (USD), YES CHANGE (COLONS or USD).
In just a few clicks, have your currency delivered to your home within a few days.
Please note that you must be personally present at the time of delivery.
This service is one of the most economical for your currency exchange.
We recommend that you DO NOT CHANGE YOUR DOLLARS OR EUROS at the airport. It’s best to withdraw your currency (colones or dollars) from ATMs, or order it before you leave.
You can then withdraw cash from the many ATMs displaying the ATH logo.
You can also change at the BANCO NACIONAL bank counters on presentation of your passport and bank card, but be aware that the wait can be very long!
Credit cards are accepted in all hotels and the vast majority of shops and restaurants. Of course, for small sodas (in typical restaurants) and purchases in local grocery stores, cash is preferable.
Travellers cheques are strongly discouraged, as they are difficult to exchange at banks and take a very long time.
HEALTH AND VACCINATION
If you come from an EU country, the USA or CANADA, no vaccination is required unless you have recently traveled to or transited through one of the following countries, in which case you must present a yellow fever vaccination certificate at least 10 days old: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Venezuela for South America and Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan for African countries.
Malaria: the country is in zone 1 according to the WHO. Very low risk. We’ve been living here for many years without any treatment. Ask your GP for advice, who will provide you with the necessary information and recommendations.
Dengue fever: no existing vaccine. The only treatment is prevention, including long sleeves, long pants and repellent. We recommend buying repellent in Costa Rica, as it’s cheaper and more effective. Here are the ones we recommend, which you’ll find in many supermarkets and grocery stores – they contain no DEET and are biodegradable.
Hepathitis A virtually non-existent.
Wherever you travel, it’s best to keep your diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccinations up to date.
If you have paid for your trip with a Gold Mastercard or Visa Premier card, repatriation insurance is included. Ask your bank for details. Otherwise, we recommend that you take out travel insurance.
COVID MEASURES: From April 1, 2022:
As of April 1, measures to enter Costa Rica have been repealed. This eliminates the obligation to fill out the epidemiological form known as the Health Pass, and the requirement for medical insurance for unvaccinated foreigners.
All commercial establishments, activities and events can operate at 100% capacity.
Masks must no longer be worn. It is recommended to maintain the hand-washing and temperature-taking protocol, as well as compliance with sanitary protocols in every tourist activity.
If your luggage does not arrive on your flight, it will be sent the next day or two. We therefore recommend that you pack a carry-on bag measuring approximately 50 x 30 x 20, with all you need for 2/3 days. In this case, you’ll need to fill in a declaration at the airport, indicating our contact details so that we can arrange for your luggage to be forwarded to you: Costarica-Découverte: Tel: 2582 1782 – Santa Ana
If you have a domestic flight during your stay, your baggage must not exceed 30 lb per piece in the hold and 10 lb in the cabin. However, if you have excess baggage, you will be required to pay a surcharge of approximately $1/lb at the time of boarding.
Voltage in Costa Rica is 110 volts. You don’t need a transformer, just an adapter with a North American plug as shown in the photo …
Prepare your suitcase…
THE MUST HAVE
Here’s a little article to read for a well-packed suitcase…
North American plug adapter (Darty, Fnac, Expert,…)
Phone charger and phone holder for the car. No need for a transformer – However, appliances such as hair dryers and razors will not work properly without a transformer.
Original driving license (no international license required)
Photos of your passport and driving license to keep in your smartphone.
Plastic bags of various sizes to protect your cameras and isolate your wet items
Silica gel, if necessary, to protect your electronics from humidity
Walking shoes for hiking and trekking, or rubber boots that are easier to clean and dry
Poncho or raincoat
Electric torch. Ideally a headlamp.
Swiss Army knife (in checked luggage)
Paracetamol (avoid aspirin)
Antiseptic spray or individual sachets
Gauze, plasters, bandages
High-protection sunscreen and after-sun cream
Mosquito repellent: see above. All pharmacy items must travel in the hold.
At your arrival…
A Costa Rica Découverte driver will be waiting for you at the airport exit with a sign bearing your name, and will take you to your hotel, where a Costa Rica Découverte member will welcome you and give you your travel guide. During your stay, you can contact us at any time. We’ll give you all the numbers you need on arrival.
As everywhere else in the world, the basic rules apply here:
Don’t leave your belongings in the car.
Keep your passports and credit cards with you during your stops, and leave them at the hotel afterwards.
CARRY COPIES OF YOUR DRIVING LICENSE AND PASSPORTS – IT’S LEGAL!
If you have a telephone and/or GPS, keep them with you.
Remember to check that the trunk and all doors are locked.
Don’t leave anything in your vehicle, or park in a guarded parking lot.
Water is potable throughout the country, but to avoid any inconvenience caused by dietary changes, we recommend bottled water. You can brush your teeth with tap water without any problem, and eat raw vegetables or fruit washed in tap water.
In the event of injury, carefully disinfect the wound and monitor its progress. In the event of abnormal redness, go to the pharmacy..
If you need to consult a doctor, go to a pharmacy where a doctor will be happy to see you. If necessary, hotel or tour staff can advise you on the nearest doctor or pharmacy.
PHONE AND INTERNET
Remember to have your smartphone unlocked by your operator before you leave. We’ll give you a SIM card on the evening of your arrival, enabling you to call anywhere in the country, as well as accessing data (3G/4G) for Internet.
On site, you’ll be able to make free local calls from your hotels.
If you’d like to use your smartphone as a GPS, here’s our advice.
Most hotels offer Internet access, and in most cases Wi-Fi.
They remain at your discretion.
If you are satisfied with a service, here are some decent and usual indications:
At the restaurant: 10% of the bill.
The pump attendant who pumps and washes your car: 500/1000 colones.
To a parking attendant: 1000/1500 colones.
A 1/2-day guide: 5,000 to 10,000 colones, depending on the duration of the service.
Long-term guide: 5,000 to 10,000 colones/day, depending on quality.
Hotels often offer a laundry service, which can cost from $15 to $35, depending on the quantity of laundry. In towns, you’ll find laundromats where someone takes care of your laundry and returns it to you 3/4 hours later, washed and folded. 3$ to 10$. – Ask for a lavanderia or laundry.
For all your excursions into the forest or to the top of a volcano, take along a bottle of water. Dehydration here is very rapid, even in rainy weather. Always pack a small backpack with the essentials: cap, sweater, rain gear, closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
THE COUNTRY’S RHYTHM
Note that Costa Rica lives to the rhythm of nature and the sun. We get up early, between 5:00 and 6:00. 7:00 a.m. means sleeping in 🙂
Restaurants are generally open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. We dine early and after 8:30 pm, it will be difficult to find a restaurant outside the capital.
ON THE ROAD, BY CAR OR GPS
For trouble-free driving, we recommend Waze. Other applications are often not up to date for Costa Rica. Mapy, TomTom or even Google maps can be misleading.
If you don’t know which village you’re in, look for the phone booth, where the name is inscribed on a plaque above the handset. Often, the sign of a restaurant or small mini-market indicates the name of the village. Directions are not always well indicated, so we provide you with a SIM card to download your itinerary and guide you without worries.
In Costa Rica, the roads are always a surprise! You can drive for several kilometers on a freshly paved stretch, then continue on a track full of potholes. That’s why a 4×4 is essential, and why you need to be careful. Be aware that the speed limit is around 50mph on most roads, 24mph in town and 15mph near schools.
All vehicles are equipped with radio/cd
IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT
DO NOT MOVE THE VEHICLE(S).
Try to find out exactly where you are.
Call for help if necessary (injured people)
Call TRANSITO (traffic police)
Call Costa Rica Découverte
Call the insurance company whose number is on your travel documents.
If you find your vehicle damaged, call Costa Rica Découverte and the insurance company.
TRANSITO and insurance agents will come to the scene of the accident and give you the REPORTE number (file) required for your comprehensive insurance to work. You’ll give this report to the rental company on your return.
Costa Rica Découverte only offers fully comprehensive insurance (unless otherwise requested). This insurance covers all damage to the vehicle, third parties and persons, as well as the redemption of deductibles ($0).
To keep costs down, some agencies claim that comprehensive insurance is unnecessary. Here are some of the costs you can expect to incur: $400 for an electric rear-view mirror, $600 to change a fender on a Vitara-type vehicle, a windshield costing around $800…
JOIN US IN SUPPORTING SCHOOLS THAT TEACH FRENCH IN DISADVANTAGED NEIGHBORHOODS
For several years now, we have been supporting a group of 3 schools in Alajuelita, an underprivileged district near San José.
These schools are part of a program that teaches French. Natalia, who used to work for Costa Rica Découverte and is now their teacher, knows perfectly well the needs of both students and teachers.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what’s needed on a daily basis.
Some things will seem strange to you (train tickets, museum tickets…) but they are important to the teachers who use these items as teaching tools.
So, if you’d like to help us with this, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
– French / Spanish dictionary
– Children’s and teenage books in French (even used ones)
– Comic books
– Maps of France, even old ones
– CDs of children’s songs or nursery rhymes in French
– French flags of various sizes, even small ones – useful for their celebrations and performances
– Eiffel Tower, any size – useful for parties and performances
– Youth or general magazines: j’aime lire, Astrapi, Abricot, Géo, le monde des ados, Pirouette… In short, everything young and old like to read.
– Word board games: Scrabble, Who am I? Boggle, Totem, guessing games, children’s Trivial Pursuit,
– Tickets for trains, museums, buses, planes, subways…
Here’s a short video taken at the annual party for students from the three schools involved.