Travel Guide: Things to Know before Visiting Costa Rica

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when to come to costa ricaIf you are thinking about visiting Costa Rica, we recommend reading our definitive list of 7 things you should know before visiting Costa Rica from the United Kingdom.

Costa Rica is well known as a top holiday destination in Latin America. The small country is home to a huge number of paradisiacal beaches, never-ending outdoor and adventure activities, friendly people, some of the best waves for surfing, one of the top 5 white-water rafting rivers in the world, and 5% of the world’s flora and fauna.

Direct Flights

As of May 2016, British Airways is offering non-stop flights from Gatwick Airport in London, United Kingdom, to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. These direct flights take place twice a week, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, during the summer. During the winter, departures are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Average flying time can vary from 10 hours and 15 minutes to 11 hours and 20 minutes. Prices start at £498. To check availability, click here.

The second option for direct flights to Costa Rica is British charter airline Thomson Airways, which announced its first non-stop route to Costa Rica last year. The route takes you from Gatwick Airport in London to Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

What to pack for visitng Costa Rica?

what to pack to Costa RicaOne of the most common questions is what to pack for your Costa Rica Holiday. Choose versatile clothes you can mix and match. You’ll want clothes that dry quickly, sandals and beach outfits, and a light jumper or jacket, comfortable walking shoes, and trousers if you plan to visit the mountains, central valley, or rain/cloud forests.

Accessories such as a camera, mobile phone, small backpack, umbrella, sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellent are also indispensable.

Costa Rica Money

The Colon is the official currency of Costa Rica. You should take into consideration that US Dollars and Euros are thecosta rica coins most common currency exchanged, which is why we recommend changing your Pound Sterling to US Dollars or Euros prior to your trip. The average exchange rate for $1 USD is ₡535 Colones, while 1 Euro is approximately ₡612.

Colones come in paper denominations of 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, and 50.000. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 500. Cajeros Automáticos is the common name for cash dispensers. Visa and Master Card are the most accepted credit cards in Costa Rica, although American Express is also commonly accepted. Some shops or restaurants in smaller towns may only accept cash, but this is generally not the case.

Airport Hotels in San José

Near Juan Santamaria Airport in the capital of Costa Rica are some of the best hotels in the country. Here is a list of recommended airport hotels for you:

Public and Private Transport

Transport in Costa RicaPublic buses in Costa Rica are cheap and comfortable. Short trips of 2 hours or so are about $5 whilst longer trips are no more than $15. There are a number of private coach operators, transfers, rental cars, and local flights going directly between major cities and tourist attractions. Those private buses can be triple the price of the local public bus or more. The best two ways to get to Costa Rica destinations are renting a car and using public buses.

Lost Passport

What should you do if your passport is lost or stolen while travelling in Costa Rica?

First, file a police report immediately. A police report will also validate your information should someone try to use your passport illegally. The language should not be a barrier, as police services in Costa Rica can be offered in English.

Second, locate the nearest UK Embassy or consulate for further assistance. Check the UK Embassy website in Costa Rica here.

Costa Rica Directions and Driving

Living in the UK, you are likely familiar with an organised address system, based on street names and house numbers, but in Costa Rica, such a system does not exist. To give directions in Costa Rica, people use landmarks or reference points such as buildings or nearby shops and cardinal points. Generally, there are no street names or numbers to identify the place where you are going.

Traffic can be chaotic in the capital city and heavy during rush hour. Additionally, many routes to the most popular destinations in Costa Rica outside of the capital may have small animals, such as monkeys, coatis, snakes, iguanas, turtles, or sloths in and around the streets.

Bonus Tip: How to Use “Pura Vida”

Want to learn how to use one of the most common expressions in Costa Rica? “Pura Vida” can be used in many different contexts. Here are a couple:

-Hi Maria, How are you doing?
Pura Vida!

-See you tomorrow!
Pura Vida, bye!

Now that you’ve read our guide, you’re all set for your Costa Rica holiday.

Visit Costa Rica with Asuaire, a local travel agency specialising in family trips, adventure trips, summer holiday, luxury holiday, adventure holiday, honeymoons, all-inclusive holidays, yoga and wellness. Book your Costa Rica Holiday package by calling (506) 4052-300 or emailing


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Infographic Travel Help: From the United Kingdom to Costa Rica


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