Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo


Costa Rica General Information
Population:4 Million people
Area:51,100 KM2
Capital City:San José
Literacy Rate:94.8%
Major Religion:Roman Catholicism
Infant Mortality:13.3
Life Expectancy:75,8
Government :Democratic
Official Language:SPANISH

Its Currency and Exchange

Costa Rica´s official currency is the colon. At present $1.00 U.S. dollar is equivalent to ¢315.00 cólones. The U.S. dollars, in cash or in travelers checks can be exchanged in almost all hotels and in the banks. The exchange rate in hotels and at the banks is almost always the same and in some cases, when there is a difference, it is minimal. It is recommended to exchange your money at the hotel, otherwise at the bank you will loose a lot of time waiting for your turn. All the hotels accept your U.S. dollars or your credit cards as a payment. In almost all the cases you will receive your change in local money and not in dollars. If you are staying in a small hotel or a lodge, the money exchange will depend upon the availability of money at the cashier at the moment. Due to this reason and some interesting purchases you can find in the street or any popular place where local money is accepted, it is recommended to exchange some money at your arrival to the country.

Almost all the restaurants accept credit cards. The most used are VISA ( on first place ), Mastercard and American Express. There is a black market in San José, where you can obtain a little more for your U.S. dollars, but the difference is minimal and the fraud and false bills risks are very high, therefore it is not recommended.

Obtaining cash with your credit card is possible in some banks or automatic cashiers in San José city. It is easier with VISA or Mastercard. This is an operation that may last between half an hour and an hour. You can also do this operation in some chief cities, but is easier doing it in San José.

Tips and Taxes

In restaurants an addicional 23% is found on your check: A 13% belong to a sales tax and a 10% for service. Both are law binding.

The 10%, at first, was considered as a tip for the waiter, but in many cases this tax is the salary of the service personnel, so people use to leave a tip if the service was good. This tip is not mandatory.

The bellboys at the airport and the hotels expect a tip for their service. They usually receive a dollar for each large bag.

It is also used to tip the tour guides and the drivers if they have done a good job and you receive what you have expected. The tip is also voluntarily.

At the airport you have to pay a departure tax of US$17.00 per person. You can pay for this tax in dollars or colones. At the airport you can find a state bank that receives your colones in exchange for dollars up to a maximum of US$50.00. The bank working hours are the same ones of the rest of the banks of the country.


Costa Rica abolished its army almost 50 years ago, and it has remained as the most stable democracy of Central America.

It is a safe country that has a peaceful atmosphere and lots of hospitality towards the tourist. The transfers and trips to the different attractions do not represent any danger. You can walk and visit San José city, without any problem, provided that you take the precautions of any big city. The use of jewelry is not recommended and you should keep your belongings at sight all the times. It is also recommended to leave your rented car at guarded parking lots and never to leave your luggage or personal things in the car. Even though criminality exists as in any other country of the world, you can still feel free to walk and travel around the country with all liberty and tranquility. This is one of the reasons that Costa Rica has, until today, good reputation and acceptance as a tourist destination. In almost all hotels you find safety boxes at your room or at reception desk.

Climate and Clothing

Costa Rica is located 10 degrees north from the Equator, and has no seasons as in the temperated zones. The temperatures maintain all year long with small variations. In the Central Valley, where the capital city San José is located, the temperatures average is 21 degrees centigrade ( 74 Fahrenheit ). In the coast the temperatures vary from 24 to 30 degrees. During the months of December, January and February the temperature may decrease 3 or 5 degrees centigrade due to a north breeze.The next things are recommended for your trip :
– Sweater or jacket for cold weather, depending on the places to visit
– Raingear
– Tennis shoes or hiking boots
– At least a pair of blue jeans
– Binoculars, if possible
– Mosquito repelent
– Sun screen
– Flashlight
– Alarm clock
– Camera and enough films ( Films are more expensive than in many other countries )

Electric Flow

The electricity flow is of 110 volts nation wide. All hotel and lodges have electricity. Not many hotels provide a hairdryer in the bathrooms.

Water and Food

Costa Rica is a montainous country, and it is full of forest. Water is one of the most abundant resources of the country. Drinking water is found almost everywhere in the country, including the Central Valley cities as San José and others. One the other hand, you can buy bottled mineral water in every supermarket or grocery store in the country.

This country is clearly agricultural and has very variated cuisine that includes meats, seafood, good quality fish, vegetables and many tropical fruits. We have typical food that is offered with international cuisine. It is easy to be satisfied with the quality and quantity in the different category restaurants in the country.

Telephone and Communication Services

Costa Rica has direct dial service to almost every country in the world. The population’s acces to the phone service is of a 93%. In almost all hotels you have the opportunity of making international calls and also fax services. The mail services are very efficient and you find post offices in almost any city and town around the country.


This country is very joyful and is very used to have fun, specially during weekends. Many places organize dances and events for everybody. Many hotels have bars and live music, or casinos. San José city has many discoteques, bars, restaurants, night clubs, theaters and museums of different types.

Different places at the beach and in hotels have events to have fun or just meet with friends. The predominant music is the international one, as well as the merengue, salsa, reggae, soca, calypso etc.


Costa Rica is the perfect place to buy leather and wood handcraft, as well as innumerable quantities of different souvenirs. The places that stand out are : the Moravia location in San José, and the Sarchí town with its arts and crafts and the manufacture of Costa Rican typical oxcarts. Besides, in every touristic place there are small stores for the visitors needs.

The country is not attractive for imported clothing, electronic appliances, etc, due to the high taxes on these things

Hospital Services and Medical Care

Costa Rica has the most efficient and developed medical services in the Central American area, having the Social Security in charge. The national level covering is country wide, with ambulance service and drugstores in almost every corner of the country.

The country has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Latin America and a life expectancy of 76 years for both, men and women. At the moment, the country has a very low risk of malarial diseases or any other type of diseases. So, vaccination is not needed, nor any other precautions.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is subsidized by the state, so it has an ample coverage around the country, offering a comfortable, frequent and low priced transportation. There are different bus stations depending on the place you are going to, and in some cases, you have to buy your bus ticket a day in advance.

Fligth Confirmation

For any departure from the country you need to confirm your flight with the airline at least 72 hours in advance. Our staff could help you confirm your flight, but Saint Germain Tours is exempted from all responsabilities for your airline actions concerning tickets, reservations, etc.

Airport and Flights

The country has its International Airport in the Province of Alajuela, the Juan Santamaria International Airport is located at 17 kilometers ( 10 miles ) from the capital city. The taxis have an established fare of US$12.00 to take you to downtown San José.

There are great flight connections to different places, specially to the United States of America.

At present, there is another international airport called Daniel Oduber Quirós in the city of Liberia, Guanacaste province. At this moment, it is only used for charter and a few international flights.

For local flights, the airports used are the Juan Santamaria and the Tobias Bolaños, the last one is located in San José. The two local airlines are called SANSA and TRAVELAIR.

The national airline is LACSA that belongs to the Grupo Taca.