Skip to main content

NC State Extension

What to Know Before You Go to Costa Rica

en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

Begin Preparing Now!

  • Begin saving now.
  • Begin getting in shape for walking up and down hills so you will enjoy opportunities for moderate hikes.
  • Be sure that your Passport will extend at least six months beyond the return date.

Resources to Prepare for the trip

book cover
  • Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora by Willow Zuchowski
book cover
  • Frutas Tropicales de Costa Rica – Tropical Fruits of Costa Rica (English and Spanish by Ellen Sancho, Marcia Baraona
Book Cover
  • Costarican Natural History:  detailed accounts of agricultural species, vegetation, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, and insects. Edited by Daniel Janzen
  • Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel
book cover
  • Monkeys are Made of Chocolate by Jack Ewing

What to Know Before You Go




  • Visit your doctor four to six weeks before your trip to ensure you have all the vaccines or medicines you may need.
  • Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Information for Travelers to Costa Rica
  • Routine Vaccinations:   Check with your Primary Care Physician to confirm you have received routine vaccinations:
    • measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine,
    • diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine,
    • varicella (chickenpox) vaccine,
    • polio vaccine, and
    • yearly flu shot

Your Primary Care Physician will advise you on which additional vaccinations are required. Most travelers receive the following vaccinations prior to traveling in Costa Rica.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

These are recommended to prevent illness from unlikely exposure to contaminated food or water. We do not anticipate visiting any places with unclean drinking water or exposure to contaminants.

Reminders: Ask a guide about the water conditions in each area before drinking tap water or eating raw vegetables or food from roadside vendors. Bottled water will be made available to you daily.

What To Pack

Stack of Suitcases


Clothes –

  • Comfortable Layers
  • Long sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Long Pants (lightweight, quick to dry)
  • Rain Gear (Umbrella, Jacket)
  • Sun Hat
  • Shoes that can be worn in wet places
  • Hiking Boots or other sturdy closed-toed shoes for walking
  • Money
    • 1 Credit Card (Master Card, or Visa- They do not take American Express)
    • 1 Debit Card
    • NO Travelers Checks
    • Notify your bank that you will be traveling in Costa Rica so they do not put a stop on your card when charges show up that are outside your normal range.
    • Save cash for the $40 Costa Rican export tax you will pay when you leave.
  • Passport
    • Leave a copy with a friend or relative
    • Bring your passport
  • Miscellaneous
    • Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
    • Small Flashlight
    • “Unlocked” cell phone
    • Sunscreen
    • Mosquito Repellent
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Anti-Diarrhea Medicine
    • Day Pack / Fanny Pack
    • Refillable water bottle
    • Portable clothesline, pins, and laundry soap
    • Washcloth
    • Journal

Be sure to leave a list of what you packed at home, in case your suitcase is stolen.

Preparing to Go

U.S. Passports & International Travel, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs

slgckgc CC-BY-2.0

  • Alerts & Warnings
  • Quick Facts
  • Assistance for US Citizens
  • Embassies and Consulates
  • County Description
  • Entry, Exit, and Visa Requirements
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws, Special Circumstances
  • Health
  • Travel & Transportation
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book – Costa Rica

  • Introduction
  • Geography
  • People and Society
  • Government
  • Economy
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Military
  • Transnational Issues

Things to Expect

  • Some places charge you to use the restroom ($0.80 – $3.00)
  • Sometimes the toilet paper is in the bathroom rather than in the individual stall.
  • Many places request that you put toilet paper in the trashcan rather than in the toilet.
  • Plan to tip the Guide and the Bus Driver at the end of the trip. Guideline for amount:
    • Driver:  $2.00  – $5.00/day/person
    • Guide:  $6.00 – $8.00/day/person

Many people speak English, but everyone appreciates it when you speak Spanish, here are a few useful phrases:

  • Please – Por Favor
  • Thank you – Gracias
  • You are welcome – Con Gusto or de nada or mucho gusto
  • Pleased to Meet you – Mucho Gusto
  • Where is the restroom? Donde esta el bano?

There are lots of online translators like google translate

Consider brushing up ahead of time with a class or computer program like Rosetta Stone.


  • Many of the places we stay will have WiFi.
  • There is no need to add international calling to your cell plan. Whatsapp:, is an example of a popular app for free wifi talk and text. Everyone you plan to call or text will need to download the app. All that is required to use it is a wifi connection.
  • If you bring an “unlocked” cell phone, for less than $15 you can purchase a sim card in Costa Rica and prepay minutes so you can make calls within Costa Rica (this does not allow you to make calls outside of Costa Rica).