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5 things to know before going to Costa Rica

Who wouldn’t be excited to the idea of flying to Costa Rica, the greenest and happiest country on earth ? As great as it might be to fly to Costa Rica, there are however things to be known. Things that will make the stay more enjoyable and memorable if they are well considered. So, in no particular order, here are 5 things that could possibly be lifesavers.

1. Communication

Of course, the official language is Spanish… it is a latin country. Fortunately, there are a lot of people who also speak English. However, it is obviously better to know a few Spanish words. You can also download a translation application or bring a little English-Spanish dictionary.

When addressing to people, especially stranger or people you’ve just met, always use the pronoun «usted» (You, 2nd form). Why ? Well, in Costa Rica it is incredibly impolite to use the «tu» (You, 1st form), while in some other latin countries it is ok to address people with the «tu» form.

Be ready to hear and use the aphorism «PURA VIDA» very often. It is probably the first expression you will hear as soon you’ll step foot in Costa Rican soil. What does it mean exactly ? Literally, PURA means PURE and VIDA means LIFE, so «PURE LIFE». Costa Ricans use these two little words for almost anything… to say thank you, greet each other, express their joy and welcome visitors in their country, etc. For Costa Ricans, it also means no stress, no worries.

2. Currency

The country’s official Currency is the Costa Rican’s Colon (CRC). However, the American dollar and most credit cards are accepted at stores and hotels. Concerning the ATMs, they aren’t available everywhere. Some places like Drake Bay (Osa Peninsula-Puntarenas) and Tortuguero (Limon) don’t have ATMs, but most popular places like Arenal (Alajuela), Monteverde (Puntarenas), Puerto Viejo (Limon) and Tamarindo (Guanacaste) have ATMs.

3. Transportation

Using the public buses to reach certain places is really convenient, because they come on time and are incredibly affordable. However, since nothing is «perfect», these buses are not the most confortable, but getting from point A to point B, they’re worth the try.

If you don’t want to be in a vehicle with too many people, Uber is definitely a better option than the public buses. As a matter of fact, it is even better than the taxi, and the difference between the prices is considerable. Depending on where you’re going, a taxi will cost you $20 or more, while a Uber will cost you a lot less.

If you want to be independent an be your own driver, it’s possible by renting a car. It is the best way to be more comfortable and to get around. However, renting a car can be expensive, but more affordable when bus and Uber prices are cumulated.

4. Where to eat

There are small local restaurants called «sodas» in every town, and even near some beaches in Guanacaste, Limon and Puntarenas. These restaurants will give you a basic plate of food which usually has rice, beans, salad, and a meat of the day. Some dishes that you can find are: Casado, Chifrijo, Chicharrones, etc. Very often, the sodas are cheaper than regular restaurants.

5. Using your cell phone

You can of course use your cell phone in Costa Rica without spending money on some fancy international plan from your cell phone provider. It is possible to get a prepaid SIM card. To do so, you have to go to the Kolbi store at the airport. It will only cost $4 and that money will be applied towards your account. If you need to add more money to your account during your stay, there are supermarkets and mini-markets that also sell cards. Make sure that your phone is unlocked and able to use an international SIM card.

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