Whether you’re buying souvenirs or groceries, your best bet in Costa Rica is to shop at local markets. Although Costa Rica has large, American-style grocery stores, they can be a little pricey. The best deals on fresh produce can be found at a feria (farmers’ market). Most towns have a weekly feria where you can buy fresh, tropical fruits and vegetables. And if you happen to miss the weekly market, you’ll often see street vendors selling select items (like avocados and mangoes) every day.
Studying in the San Jose area has many benefits. There is the luxury aspect of city life since it tends to be much more modern than the rustic beach locations. Host families and Spanish schools tend to have nicer facilities. San Jose also has fewer tourists so it is great from an immersion point of view as you can practice your Spanish in a setting where people are not automatically switching to English to accommodate your native language. It is much better that you struggle with your Spanish and force your brain to think in a different language so your communication becomes much smoother.
Costa Rica is ranked third in the world and first among the Americas in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. And the New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the happiest nation in the world, both in 2009 and in 2012. This same organization (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the "greenest" country in the world. Among budget travelers and increasingly among ordinary tourists Costa Rica is ranked as the most expensive country in Central America and perhaps in the whole of Latin America. Wine, chocolate, coffee, entrance fees for national parks, are expensive compared to prices in Western Europe and North America.
There’s not much to do in Tilaran itself, but the surrounding area has some highlights. For starters, Lake Arenal is less than 15 minutes away in good traffic conditions. Don’t miss Lake Arenal Hotel & Brewery, one of Costa Rica’s few homegrown microbreweries. (The beer isn’t bad at all – much better than your typical homebrew.) You can find hostel-style rooms there for less than $60 per night; the clientele is eclectic and largely non-Tico. For exercise, walk the steep jungle trail on the property – just watch overhead for roaring howler monkeys.
For a developing country, Costa Rica is an expensive destination, something that is particularly noticeable when compared to its neighbours, Nicaragua and Panama. Prices for hotel accommodation, restaurant meals, and private transportation are on par with what's found in the United States and Canada, and only slightly less than typical prices found in Western Europe.
Despite its small size, the country has more than 800 miles of coastline, and its tallest mountains rise more than 12,000 feet above sea level. In many cases, just a few miles separate dry tropical savannas and scrublands from montane grasslands, lush rainforests, and breathtakingly diverse marine ecosystems. The Costa Rican government protects much of this natural bounty from human development, having littered the countryside with national parks and wildlife reserves. Not surprisingly, Costa Rica has long been held in high regard as an ecotourism destination.
Pay Attention to Travel Advisories: Before you get too deep into the planning process, the check State Department’s travel advisories and adjust your itinerary accordingly. You shouldn’t have too much to worry about in Costa Rica. When we visited, only Liberia was on the State Department’s radar, and the advisory was pretty standard stuff: avoid certain areas at night, keep close watch on your valuables, and don’t expect the cops to help you. We took that advice to heart and encountered no trouble.
Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.
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The trip was amazing! We had such a great time. Gate1 had everything organized and ready to go down to the rest stops! Loved it! Our guide Ricardo was so fantastic! He had so much knowledge about all the places we visited, made jokes, and really just took an interest to his job and we could tell he wanted us to have a great experience. We enjoyed the optional excursions (we did all) and also the planned trips (coffee plantation and school visit). Amazing trip, met amazing people. Will travel with Gate1 again!
Judicial Process: Due to differences in legal systems and case backlogs, local criminal and civil judicial processes can move slower in comparison to their U.S. equivalents. Civil suits on average take over five years to resolve. Some U.S. firms and citizens have satisfactorily resolved their cases through the courts, while others have seen proceedings drawn out over a decade without a final ruling.
Magic Mountain Hotel and Spa is located on the northern end of Fortuna. All rooms have either a balcony or a terrace with a view of Arenal Volcano. Magic Mountain has a restaurant, sports bar, swimming pool with pool bar and two jacuzzis. The deluxe spa specializes in a variety of treatments including volcanic mud wraps, massages, facials, pedicures and manicures. Internet access is available in the Internet cafes for a fee in the nearby village of Fortuna.
Insurance on car rentals is mandatory in Costa Rica, but be aware that it’s not included in the price listed on many car rental websites online. Typically the additional cost is around $10/15 a day for mandatory third party insurance and unfortunately in 9 cases out of 10 it’s not something that can be covered by your travel insurance or your credit card insurance, so budget accordingly.
We’ll introduce you to the people of Costa Rica as well as its abundant wildlife. In the small town of San Isidro de Heredia, master chocolatier Julio Fernandez will welcome you into his home and chocolate workshop. You’ll learn about the history of chocolate production, before enjoying a tasting and an organic lunch made from local ingredients. In the village of Horquetas, you’ll visit a family palm plantation to learn about and taste the heart of palm – a vegetable harvested from palm trees. While in Sarapiqui, you'll visit an organic pineapple farm where you’ll learn about the eco-friendly growing methods used before sampling the juicy fruit.
Instead we paid about $35 each to stay at Heliconias, walk out the door of our cabin to the bridges whenever we wanted day and night, and used their private trail to cross the reserve to Tenorio National Park and continue up to Lago Danta (which you can’t even reach from the main paid park entrance). A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $0 for activities for the four of us.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It remained a peripheral colony of the empire until independence as part of the First Mexican Empire, followed by membership in the United Provinces of Central America, from which it formally declared independence in 1847. Since then, Costa Rica has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive[peacock term] nations in Latin America. Following the brief Costa Rican Civil War, it permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.