Before You Come - Useful Information


Visa requirements

If you are a citizen of the U.S., Canada or Europe you do not need a visa to visit Costa Rica.

You must have a passport that is valid for at least another 6 months after arrival, and you can stay as a tourist for 90 days. Citizens from some Latin American countries, Asian, African and Eastern European countries may require a visa, we recommend that you inquire about this information at the Costa Rican embassy in your home-country. However, if your flight to Costa Rica has a stopover in the United States, make sure you apply for a visa online (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/).


Departure Tax

When leaving Costa Rica, an airport departure tax has to be paid. The departure tax is currently US $ 29.00 and can be paid in cash (US $ or Colones) or by Credit Card.


Vaccunations

All travellers are advised to ensure that their tetanus and polio vaccinations are kept up to date.

The risk of contracting malaria is low, but measures should always be taken to avoid mosquito bites, such as the use of nets and creams.

Travellers visiting the Caribbean lowlands, might wish to take the extra precaution of using a prophylactic medicine such as chloroquine.

We very strongly recommend making decisions about immunizations and anti-malarial medications on a personal basis after consultation with your personal doctor.


Climate

Costa Rica is a tropical country and the nation's climate is classically divided into two major seasons: rainy and dry. The dry season runs from December through April and the rainy season from May to November. During the rainy season you most probably will experience heavy rain showers during the afternoon, whereas the mornings are normally warm and dry.

On the Caribbean coast the climate is slightly different; the rainy season begins from mid to late April and continues through December and sometimes January. The wettest months are July and November, with a dry spell that occurs around August or September.


Electricity

Costa Rica’s electrical system is compatible with that of North America, 110 volts. European electrical appliances require a US travel adapter.


Money

The local currency is the Colón, however American dollars are also accepted in most parts of the country. You can exchange dollars for Colones at any bank and at almost all hotels.

Taking into consideration the long lines at banks, our tip is to change money at the front desk of your hotel. Please never change on the street!

The most popular Credit cards (Visa, Master,American Express) are widely accepted in San José and the main tourist spots, although at some places you might be charged a fee for a transaction paid by credit card.

ATMs can be found all over Costa Rica and in all main tourist places.

If your itinerary includes remote places and rural villages, be sure to take enough cash with you.


Current exchange rate (June 2016): 1 US $ = approx. 499 Colones , 1 EURO = approx. 616 Colones To view the most up to date exchange rates, please visit: www.xe.com/ucc


What to bring

Below you will find a list of items you might find useful during your stay in Costa Rica. Please note that the list is not exhaustive, and much depends on your personal needs. Here are some general guidelines:
• Sun block (as it is comparatively expensive in Costa Rican supermarkets)
• Sunglasses
• Hat or cap (to avoid a sunstroke, the sun is very intense!)
• Insect repellent (the local product „Off“ has shown good results)
• Swimsuit & beachtowel
• Sandals, flip-flops, comfortable walking shoes, hiking shoes (waterproof)
• Raincoat and umbrella
• Comfortable, lightweight clothing for the coastal areas (shorts, cotton t-shirts, light dresses)
• Comfortable, warm clothing for the mountain areas (jacket, trousers, long-sleeved shirts)
• Sanitary articles (tampons & shower gel are quite expensive at the supermarket)
• Personal medication
• Camera, plenty of films or memory cards for your camera, charger
• Laptop
• Adapter
• Binoculars
• A small back pack to carry your personal belongings during the day
• Your passport, driving license, Credit Cards (obligatory to rent a car!), foreign travel insurance documents (with emergency contact numbers!)
• A Spanish dictionary
• Little notebook, writing utensils, numbers of family members
• Travel guide


Safety Concerns

San José is a big city, and like any other capital in the world, there are places you should avoid and theft can happen. However, by following some basic rules we are sure you will enjoy your stay in the capital:
• Leave your passport, airline ticket, wallet and other valuables in your hotel safe.
• Carry with you a copy of your passport and the money you plan to spend in small bills.
• After 6 pm, always take a taxi to get around in town.
• Carry backpacks on your front.
• While walking around downtown, avoid wearing valuable jewellery or carrying expensive photo-equippmentwith you.
• Avoid the red-light district!

If you are travelling around Costa Rica by rental car, you might also want to consider the following:
• Never park your car on the streets, always look for a car park.
• Never leave valuables in sight in the car .
• Always lock your car and close all windows.
• Respect speed limits.

By making use of your common sense and being cautious, we are sure that your time in San José will be a good one!