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Castro
Platinum Contributor
Username: Castro

Post Number: 29
Registered: 12-2003

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0

Posted on Friday, June 05, 2009 - 9:51 pm:   

Basics:
Location: Central America
Status: UN Country
Capital City: San José
Main Cities: Alajuela, Cartago
Population: 3,347,000 Area [sq.km]: 51,100
Currency: 1 colón = 100 céntimos
Languages: Spanish
Religions: Roman Catholic

WEATHER
The best time to go weather wise is late-December to mid-April dry season is the most pleasant. But of course, this is when everyone else goes to Costa Rica, so prices are up and hotels are full. Although some roads are impassable in the wet season, it's still worthwhile to visit at this time, and things are much quieter. April, May and mid-October to mid-December should give you the best of both worlds.

Season Number One: The rainy season. It drizzles along from May to the middle of November, bringing sunny, summery mornings, splashed by bouts of warm afternoon rain. The wet season is punctuated by a "little summer" (el veranillo), a short dry season that visits the country in July and August. September and October, look for Los Torrenciales, dramatic cloudbursts that drench the hillsides and fill the rivers to the top. If you plan to drive the back roads during these months, bring your jeep and a cheese sandwich. You may be stuck back there for a while.
Season Number Two: The dry Season. This starts toward the end of November and continues through April. Dry, warm, sunny days march past in endless procession, tempered in January and February by winds cooled by the two seas. San Jose Weather

SHORT VISIT
If visiting for less than a week, focus on San Jose. Arrive on Thursday to catch the hottest action over the weekend. Sunday is the slowest day of the week. Vacations lasting a week or longer can include several nights in a rainforest resort, a beach on the Pacific or Atlantic, or beneath a towering volcano.

HOLIDAYS
Juan Santa Maria Day April 11th
Independence Day September 15th
Day of the Cultures
Easter The week before Easter Sunday is an unofficial vacation time. Much of the country shuts down. Thursday and Friday of this week only essential services function; even many of the public bus routes cease operation.

FLIGHTS
Flight fares vary according to season. The high season runs from December to May with the highest fare coming around Christmas time. Low-season fares (May to November), round-trip from the US to San Jose, are as follows:
From Los Angeles: $680 (about 6 hours)
From New York: $660 (about 7.5 hours)
From Miami to San Jose: $460 (about 1.5 hours)
From Houston: $460 (3.5 hours)
From New Orleans: $460 (5.5 hours)

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
U. S. citizens may enter Costa Rica without a tourist visa and can stay up to ninety (90) days.
Requirements for U. S. citizens - regardless of their age - vary depending on how long they are going to stay in Costa Rica. Whether U.S. citizens travel for a short or a long visit, they are required to have:
A pre-paid airline ticket to exit Costa Rica (either to return to your country or to go to another country)
And, the following required documents for:
A SHORT VISIT: If you are planning a short visit (no more than ninety (90) days) and you are:
1. A naturalized U.S. citizen (born outside of the United States of America), you may enter Costa Rica with a passport valid for at least six months.
2. A natural born U.S. citizen, you may enter Costa Rica with either a passport valid for at least six months or a photo Identification Card -driver's license or State I.D. card - issued by your State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), along with an original or a certified copy of your birth certificate.
If you enter the country with a photo Identification Card along with an original or a certified copy of your birth certificate, you will be required to purchase a tourist card at the immigration point of entry for $4.00 U.S. dollars in order to enter Costa Rica.
A $20.00 U.S. dollar fine will be charged upon departure from Costa Rica if you overstayed your permitted length in the country.
Documents For A Long Visit: If you are going to stay for more than ninety (90) days, you may enter Costa Rica with a passport valid for at least 6 months. If you are considering staying for more than 90 (ninety days), a valid passport will be required and you must file for a stay extension at the Immigration Department of Costa Rica. Or, you may exit Costa Rica and re-enter. Most tourists visit Nicaragua or Panama - Costa Rica's neighbor countries - for a day and come back into Costa Rica.
A $20.00 U.S. dollar fine will be charged upon departure from Costa Rica if you overstayed your permitted length in the country.

EXITING
When you leave Costa Rica you are required to pay an exit fee:
$46.00 U.S. dollars Costa Rican Citizens
$17.00 U.S. dollars Other Citizens

AIRPORT TO HOTEL
There are a number of taxis outside the airport and they will actively solicit your business. The price to any downtown hotel (Del Rey, Morazon, Ricos, etc.) is $10 and they accept American currency so you don’t need to exchange money at the airport if you don’t want to or forget to do so. The exchange rate is usually pretty good at the airport. Have a number of $1’s on hand as well. A man will handle your luggage and will consider a $1 tip as generous.

CURRENCY
Local Money: The local currency is Colones. There is $238 Colones. per dollar or roughly, a $1000 Colones.
Money Exchange: Exchanging money in the airport in foreign countries have always been known to give the pretty good rates, except the U.S.
Bringing money into Costa Rica. You do not pay Customs duty for bringing cash to Costa Rica. However, if you bring more than ten thousand U.S. dollars ($10,000.00 US), you will be required to declare the total amount of cash that you bring in the country at the Customs Office.
Tipping: You don't have to tip in restaurants in Costa Rica since a 10% service charge is added to your bill automatically. However, if the service was exceptional, you'll feel good about slipping the waiter a few dollars extra. Tour guides and Taxi guides can be tip from $3 to $20 US depending on the tour.

HOW MUCH
LODGING
Budget: US$3-10
Mid-range: US$10-20
Top-end: US$20 and upwards

MEALS
Budget: US$2-5
Mid-range: US$5-10
Top-end: US$10 and upwards

WOMEN
The price for sex varies from girl to girl, but the average cost for a hooker out of the bars is about $50 for a quick lay. This price can double or triple if you take a girl out of the strip clubs or higher class bars. A street girl may go with you for as little as $20 to $30.

CREDIT CARDS/TRAVELERS CHEQUES
Nearly all hotels, restaurants and shops in the major towns and tourist areas take all major credit cards. Street vendors and smaller establishments in remote areas may accept only cash or travelers checks. It's important to keep travelers checks in a waterproof pouch, as they are considered void if they get wet.

FOOD
Restaurants in towns and cities serve a variety of foods including French, Italian, Mexican, North American and Chinese. Food is good, from the most expensive to the cheapest eating places (which are generally found west of the city center). Food sodas (small restaurants) serve local food. Common dishes include Casado (rice, beans, stewed beef, fried plantain, salad and cabbage), olla de came (soup of beef, plantain, com, yucca, nampi and chayote), sopa negra (black beans with a poached egg) and picadillo (meat and vegetable stew). Snacks are popular and include gallos (filled tortillas), tortas (containing meat and vegetables), arreglados (bread filled with same) and pan de yuca (specialty from stalls in San José). There are many types of cold drink made from fresh fruit, milk or cereal flour, for example, cebada (barley flour), pinolillo (roasted corn) and horchata (corn meal with cinnamon). Imported alcoholic and soft drinks are widely available. Coffee is good value and has an excellent flavor.

WATER
While the water is said to be safe in most of Costa Rica, we recommend bottled water in most places. Do not eat fruit you have not pealed yourself, stay away from leafy vegetables like lettuce, and avoid ice cubes. These are common causes of amebic dysentery and giardia, both of which are unpleasant enough to be worth avoiding at all costs.

RESTAURANTS
Chango (Escazú, San Jose) Exquisite International restaurant.
Kings Garden Chinese Restaurant
Machu Pichu (San José) Excellent Costa Rican restaurant. Dexter and Horn dined there and it was great.!!

Hotels
Reservations are a must. Good hotel rooms are snapped up quickly during the high season, so make your reservations at least one month in advance. You can do this by fax if you include a credit card number. When you arrive to Costa Rica, call or fax the Hotel to confirm your reservations. Visitors who love the spontaneous life should restrict their travel to the low season when accommodations are easier to come by.

The Following list of hotels are in Costa Rica's capital city of San Jose, a perfect base for tours to volcanoes, white water rafting, rainforest tours and more!

Hotel Del Rey The Hotel & Casino Del Rey is located in the heart of San Jose, Costa Rica within walking distance of the city's museums, theatres, shops and night life. Located in a completely renovated neo-classic building, the Del Rey offers 104 rooms with all the amenities of a modern hotel including the 24 hour Casino Del Rey and San Jose's #1 meeting spot, The Blue Marlin Bar, also open 24 hours. **Featured in Dexter Horn's "Erotic Women Of Costa Rica" adult rated travel video. more hotel info

Hotel Costa Rica Morazan El Pequeño gran Hotel Costa Rica. It is located downtown near the historic Morazán Park, and is within walking distance to museums, and the National Theater. Single $47. more hotel info

Hotel Balmoral
The Hotel Balmoral, located on the main walking Boulevard enjoys the best location in the heart of San Jose Downtown. For business or pleasure, Balmoral is the perfect place. An authentic Costa Rican hospitality... Allow us and we will show you the best combination of location in San José and value for your next business gathering or holiday vacation. Single $80. more hotel info

Hotel Costa Rica Located in the heart of San Jose, with shops, restaurants, banks, public offices and the city's nightlife only steps away, the Gran Hotel is the obvious choice for business or vacation. Services include a tour desk, car rental agency, gift shop, bar, and 24 hour coffee shop. Our side-walk cafe facing the National Theater is one of the most popular gathering places in San Jose. You can listen to the marimba music and watch a colorful swirl of people go by. El Pequeño gran Hotel Costa Rica. It is located downtown near the historic Morazán Park, and is within walking distance to museums, and the National Theater. Single $47. more hotel info

Hotel Presidente ($60 per night) is a block from the Del Rey but less of a circus-and they don't charge a guest fee for taking a girl to the room (the Del Rey pops you for $12). The Hotel has 102 comfortable rooms, including 3 Full Suites & 7 Junior Suites. The room rates include: American Breakfast for our guests Color TV with 52 cable chanels (HBO, ESPN, CNN, NBC, FOX)
Electronic phone messaging service. Air conditioning in every room, safety deposit box, international calls access, and computer connection capability. more hotel info

Hotel la Mansion Just in the heart of San Jose, only a few steps of Costa Rica's pride, the Teatro Nacional. Small Hotel, with big customer service. Single $30-$35. more hotel info

Business Oriented Hotels in San José
Downtown San Jose Hotels
HOTEL LIST WITH ON LINE DISCOUNTS

ELECTRIC
110 volt AC is the standard in Costa Rica. This is the same as the States. However, the standard wall outlet here only has the two electrical inlets. That means that you could have a hard time with appliances that have the third piece on the plug which facilitates the ground. To be safe, you should go to a local electronics store and buy an inexpensive adapter piece. For anyone bringing a computer, you may have to go "unprotected" since ground connections are hard to come by, therefore surge protectors could be useless.

LANGUAGE
If you are a first time traveler to countries outside of your own, alert yourself to fact that many people in Costa Rica do not speak your language. The language of Costa Rica is Spanish – though you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that many people in this highly educated country speak more than one language, and, of course, people serving you at the better hotels and restaurants will almost always speak enough English to make themselves understood.

WHAT TO BRING
Batteries –especially unusual batteries for cameras, hearing aids, and the like. Film –cheaper at home than in Costa Rica; bring a bunch. Binoculars, Watch, Alarm Clock, Cassette tape, Insect Repellent, Contact lens supplies, Condoms, Combination lock, Shower gel, Towel, Electrical adapter, Sturdy umbrella (especially during the rainy season) Compass and Maps (if planning to go hiking to remote areas)

LAUNDRY
You're not going to find a lot of coin laundries in San Jose. There is nothing in a Costa Rican's genes that would permit him or her to lug a bundle of smelly laundry down to the corner for a wash and dry. Here, people hire people to wash their clothe s. Payment is generally by the kilo Some hotels offer a laundry services, but it is expensive.

BUSINESS HOURS
Banks: Monday - Friday 9 am to 3 pm.
Government offices: Monday - Friday 8 am to 5 pm
Retail Stores: Monday - Friday 9 am to 6 pm or 7 pm
Schedule your activities to accommodate the traditional Latin American Siesta. Almost everything shuts down between 12 and 2 pm for a sandwich and snooze. It is a noble tradition that should be emulated by sensible people everywhere. Saturdays most stores are open. Sundays almost everything is closed.

LAND ADVENTURES
Canopy Tour is a new adventure sport, invented ( patent pending ) and developed in Costa Rica by our founder Darren Rennick. By modifying techniques and equipment originally used by spelunkers (cavers) and canyon rappelers. THE original CANOPY TOUR® offers any adventurous tourist the opportunity to ascend into the reforest canopy from a perspective available previously to only a select few researchers and photographers. more canopy info , and even more info and more.

Mountain Biking Ascending and descending through the windy trails of mountainside tropical rainforest to emerge into a river valley teaming with wildlife...monkeys, macaws, piranhas and the like...carrying the bikes through a light river current to continue the journey on the rugged trail...to make it back to base with hearty appetite ready to satiate. more biking info

Horseback Riding
Just minutes away from San Jose, enjoy a memorable experience on this unique horseback riding expedition in San Jerónimo Mountains, adjacent to Braulio Carillo Rain Forest National Park. Ride over mountain trails to observe the magnificent scenery, on one side the Central Valley, and the other, impressive views of the cloud forest and volcanoes.

Paragliding
Have you ever dreamt of flying like a bird or to explore in the clouds? Check it out, you only live once.
Bungee Jumping
Unless you've got heart condition, or some serious problems with your back and neck, you should be able to bungee jump with no fear of injury. Jumps should always be supervised by a trained jump master, and all equipment must be up to international standards. In Costa Rica, jumps are done from the "viejo puente sobre el Rio Colorado," an old bridge that spans a 300-foot-deep gorge located about half an hour west of San Jose. Jumps are usually done Saturday and Sunday mornings, but they can be arranged at other times for small groups. The jumps are done with 100-foot bungees, which means jumpers have dropped about 200 feet when the chord stretches to its limit.

WATER ADVENTURES
Kayaking
Costa Rica offers unequaled opportunity to enjoy the rapidly growing sport of sea kayaking. Sea kayaking is a natural way to experience our beautiful Costa Rica. The sea kayak is a self propelled small craft devised by the ancient Eskimo tribes in the Arctic ocean region and has evolved into a stable, efficient and extremely sea worthy craft which makes wildlife observation excellent and totally unobtrusive.

Whitewater Rafting
Costa Rica offers some of the world's finest whitewater rafting and kayaking rivers. Wild and untamed, these big, brash rivers plunge through spectacularly beautiful, largely unexplored tropical wilderness. more rafting info, and even more.

Scuba Diving
Most dives are off pinnacle rock formations at 40 to 80 foot depths. Visibility can vary from 20 to 80 feet in the same day this is due to plankton and marine organism that thrive in the warm 75 to 85 degree waters. Although this may restrict visibility it is the reason the North Pacific waters are home to such a variety of pelagic marine life. more diving info

Wind Surfing
The Trade winds blow across Costa Rica with incredible force and consistency during the dry months, creating windsurfing conditions in the northwest part of the country. The western end of Lake Arenal is one of the world's premier windsurfing spots, having been compared to Italy's Lake Garda and the Columbia River Gorge. During the dry season, the wind speed averages 33 miles an hour, a velocity than only experienced windsurfers can handle. As the gale increases, the lake's surface becomes choppy, and expert surfers use the waves to jump high into the air.

Tortuga Island
Tortuga, a dream island and a little paradise in the Pacific Ocean, has something for everyone. More than just a beach, white sands and sun, Tortuga also offers luxuriant flora, fauna and adventure. more tortuga info

Cruises
Pacific Island
Punta Coral Reserve
Sailing Cruises

Tours
One-Day Packages
Sightseeing Tours
Arenal Volcano
Helicopter Tour
Costa Rica Highlights Tour
Coffee Plantation Tour

Fishing
Sportfishing#1
Sport Fishing#2

Tours Leaving From San José

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