Things You Must Know Before Traveling to Costa Rica

I have never been to Costa Rica. In fact, I have never been outside Asia. But Costa Rica is one of the places I marked on my bucket list as it looks magical and exciting to visit. I remember a friend telling me how hard it was for him to find ugly people in Latin America. I can just imagine! Besides that, Costa Rica almost has the same climate as the Philippines so they also have beautiful beaches and delicious tropical fruits.

So indulge me a little and let me dream about my dream Costa Rica beach house for a bit, even just online.

When to go to Costa Rica

I think that like in any travel destination, holidays would always be a peak season. When planning to take a vacation during the Christmas to New Year holiday season, you will always have to book months in advance. Take into consideration that there will be a lot of tourists from countries experiencing winter that will flock to warm countries like Costa Rica.

Image Credit: Mountain Leon

Booking Your Plane Ticket

Before you buy your plane tickets, I suggest that you check out first the list of visa requirements that you will need. Pinoys, rejoice! The country DOES NOT require a travel visa for Filipinos for trips with a maximum stay of 90 days. All you will need to bring is a valid passport and a return ticket exiting Costa Rica. For other nationalities, the requirements will depend on your country of origin. You may check the list HERE.

Now it’s time to book your plane tickets… Buy your plane tickets as early as possible so you can get the cheapest fare. Again, there will be a high demand for travel dates during the holidays. What I guarantee, though, is that when you book your flight midweek, it’s cheaper than having to leave on a weekend.

Finding a Home in Costa Rica

Whether you’re just staying for a few days or for a week or more, your experience in Costa Rica will be more unforgettable if you find the perfect place to stay in. The climate is tropical all year round, which is very much the same as the Philippines. So I suggest that you find a Costa Rica beach house as your home. That way, you get to enjoy the beach life, as well.

How Much To Spend

I read in most forums and blogs that you may spend around 40 to 150 USD a day in Costa Rica. This already includes estimates for food, recreation, and accommodation. That’s roughly 2,000 to 7,500 PHP a day so it’s kinda pricey IMHO. Still, Costa Rica is more than 8 thousand miles away from the Philippines so it’s better to over budget than sorry. I’m also the type of traveler who splurges on vacations. My point is I worked hard, I gotta play harder. Haha!

What to Bring to Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s climate is no different from the Philippines with only dry and wet seasons. As someone also living in a tropical country, I suggest bringing comfy clothes that let your skin breathe. Cotton is the best choice and shirts, shorts, and dresses are essentials. And for walking, may I suggest comfortable pairs as well such as rubber sneakers, sandals, and flip-flops.

Do not forget bringing along with you a DEET-free mosquito repellent lotion. If you’re also a fan of essential oils like me, make a blend citronella, peppermint and lemon mixed with water and witch hazel extract or vodka in a spray bottle. Mosquitoes thrive in tropical countries and they come out especially during the nighttime. Don’t let these pesky mosquitoes ruin your night in paradise.

Bring as much anti-UV rays essentials such as sunblock, shades, and a hat. The sun is strongest from 10am until 3pm so protect yourself if you can’t avoid going under the sun during these times.

Make yourself rain-proof, too! Take note that May to November are Costa Rica’s rainy months. Bring an umbrella and other rain gear if you’re arriving during these months.

Costa Rican Food You Must Not Miss

Gallo Pinto is a dish made of rice and beans and is typically eaten at breakfast. Spices like peppers, cilantro, and onions give this dish its distinct taste. The colors are also spectacular making the rice look speckled. In fact, that’s how it got it’s name. Gallo Pinto means “spotted rooster.”

By James Diggans from Washington, DC, USA - Gallo Pinto, CC BY 2.0, Link

Tamal is similar to the Mexican tamales except that it’s less spicy and is wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks. They can be eaten on it’s own or paired with other dishes.

Sopa Negra of Black Bean Soup is Costa Rica’s traditional soup. It is made of black beans, onions, peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, Tabasco sauce, and other spices. This is a good choice for vegetarians and people on a diet because it is already filling eaten on its own.

Some Other Things You Should Know

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish so a lot of Filipinos may not find it hard to understand. We do have some words that are similar since both countries were Spanish colonies in the past. The country also has a high literacy rate and more and more Costa Ricans have English as their second language so there should be little difficulty in conversing with them.

And speaking of being a former Spanish colony, the main religion of the country is Catholicism. Again, another similarity with the Philippines. When I travel, I always make sure to find a Catholic church that I can visit or hear mass in. I can imagine Costa Rica having an abundance of Catholic churches like how it is here in the Philippines.

Hope This Helps

It may still take years before I get to finally visit Costa Rica as I’m gunning a different country to visit this year. Still, for those of you who are planning to go there, I hope this collection of tips I made can help. For those who have already been to Costa Rica, I hope you can comment your additional tips!

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