Situated in between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is a hot spot of travelers from around the world. From wildlife to volcanos to modern cities, Costa Rica offers something for every tourist.
The ideal time to visit Costa Rica is January through May. This is the dry season, and temperatures are in the nineties. The rainy season is June through December, and the months with the most rain are July and August.
Rain in Costa Rica is predictable. The rain begins at a certain time of day depending on the area, continues through the night, and then stops. The mornings are dry and sunny. Even if you visit Costa Rica during the rainy season, you can still have an enjoyable vacation.
If you are planning for a vacation at Costa Rica get to know the whole guide weather to safety before leaving.
Here are some travel tips for Costa Rica San Jose. Get to know everything about Costa Rica from weather to safety before planning a vacation there.
What to eat in Costa Rica? Popular Dishes
Ticos (the people of Costa Rica) don’t eat a lot of meat, although it is available.
A popular dish in Costa Rica is gallo pinto. Gallo pinto is rice and beans (red or black) with diced onion and bell pepper and finely chopped garlic. It is seasoned with Lizano sauce, which is similar to Worcestershire sauce. You can top it with natilla, which is similar to sour cream.
The fruit is a staple in Costa Rica. Vendors sell fruit on street corners, at markets, and sometimes even in the middle of the streets. The availability of fruit depends on the season: Some fruit grows during the rainy season, and another fruit grows during the dry season.
A bowl of fruit is a common snack or breakfast. Freshly squeezed juice is a delicious addition to any meal.
When you eat at a restaurant, be prepared to wait. The food is not pre-cooked, so it takes time to prepare a meal. If you order a bowl of fruit, your server will chop the fresh fruit.
A “soda” is a restaurant in Costa Rica. Some sodas are small and family-owned.
How about people in Costa Rica?
The people of Costa Rica are, for the most part, friendly and helpful. They are religious and family-oriented. Some households consist of three generations.
Some people will go to any length to help you. You will never hear anybody say, “I’m busy” or “That’s not my job.” The people are friendly and enjoy helping visitors to their country.
Don’t be surprised (or offended) if somebody hugs you. That’s common in Costa Rica.
Also, be prepared to wait. The people are not in a hurry! They take their time. They are not being rude or trying to offend you.
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Language and Culture of Costa Rica
Costa Ricans are native Spanish speakers, although many people speak some English. Be patient if a person’s English isn’t perfect. People are happy to talk to you. In fact, most people won’t be offended if you correct their English. They want to learn!
If you stay in better hotels and eat at the nicer restaurants, you will always find somebody who speaks English. If you visit a family-owned restaurant, you can translate the menu with a pocket dictionary (or your phone) and point to the items you want.
Here are some key phrases that are helpful:
Que Es? (Pronounced K S) means “What is it?” This is useful when you see a bizarre fruit or anything else.
Donde Esta? (Pronounced Don-day es-ta) means “Where is?” You can use your phone or dictionary to find the name of the place you need, such as bathroom, hotel, or hospital.
Hola (pronounced Oh-La) means hello. People in Costa Rica are friendly and will return a greeting.
Ciao (pronounced Chow) means “Goodbye.”
Hotels range from the exquisite and expensive to the very basic and cheap. You can pick the type of hotel you want. Since you may be wandering the country and only staying in your hotel at night, a cheap hotel may be the best for you.
If the hotel offers breakfast, it is probably Gallo pinto or a bowl of fruit.
Where to find cheap places to shop in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has a variety of places to shop. San Pedro Mall, in San Jose, is a modern shopping area that will rival shopping malls in the United States. It has a variety of stores and a food court with plenty of options.
Many small shops are also around town. Some people have turned the lower floor of their house into a shop. They sell a variety of products, from staple foods to household products to kitchen items. Most stores sell freshly baked goods.
On Sundays in San Jose, the ferria takes place in the bull ring. This is a huge shopping experience and well worth a visit! At the ferria, you can buy plenty of fresh fruit, handmade crafts (such as wallets, jewelry, and bags), beans, rice, and freshly squeezed juice.
If you visit the ferria, bring a backpack or two so that you can carry all your items home! Feel free to take pictures. People won’t be offended.
The ferria is a good place to use the phrase “Que es?” You will see plenty of strange fruit to try. You’ll definitely want to know the name of it.
What to buy in Costa Rica? Souvenirs
As with any other vacation spot, Costa Rica has plenty of souvenirs to take home. Costa Rica is known for souvenirs. You can buy handmade ceramics, jewelry, and purses.
Your choice of souvenirs depends on your taste. No matter what you prefer, you can find it.
For the most part, days and nights are twelve hours each in Costa Rica. The sun rises around six a.m. and sets around six p.m. Costa Rica doesn’t have an evening. The transition from day to night takes just a few minutes. When the sun sets, the temperature drops.
Families in Costa Rica settle down in the evenings. Tourists, however, find entertainment during the night.
San Jose, the capital, has several night clubs available. This varies from place to place, so you will need to find out what’s available.
Find Food and Coffee in Costa Rica
Depending on where you visit, you can find a variety of food. As I stated before, rice and beans (gallo pinto) is a staple dish in Costa Rica.
The people do not eat a lot of meat, although meat is available. Alcohol is available, but due to the heat, you shouldn’t drink much. The people disapprove of public intoxication.
You can find food at grocery stores, small shops that are in people’s houses, on street corners, and at markets. You won’t need to walk far to find food in Costa Rica.
Coffee grows in Costa Rica, so the coffee you drink is fresh. Tea is also available.
Earthquakes in Costa Rica
Earthquakes are a regular occurrence in Costa Rica. The severity of the tremor depends on where the epicenter of the earthquake is.
Earthquakes in Costa Rica are not as dramatic as earthquakes in the movies. They last just a few seconds.
You can be standing in the same room with a friend. You may feel the ground shake, and your friend doesn’t. That’s typical.
Costa Rica is prepared for earthquakes. The buildings are built to sway with the earthquake rather than crash and crumble. Hills have chicken wire over them to keep the dirt from sliding. Areas, where landslides do occur, will have a warning sign.
Medical care in Costa Rica rivals that in the United States.
Costa Rica offers dental care (dental implants, dentures, etc.), cosmetic surgery, and orthopedic surgery. Other medical care is also available.
The cost of medical care in Costa Rica is competitive with that of other countries.
After a medical procedure, you can rest in a hotel before you return home.
Is Costa Rica safe for families?
Violent crime isn’t a common occurrence in Costa Rica. The most common crime is theft. By theft, I mean a pickpocket.
If you bring valuable items, keep them in the safe in your hotel room. When you leave your hotel, carry your money in your shoe or your underwear. If you want to shop, don’t carry a lot of money. The first thing you should buy in Costa Rica (or bring with you) is a fanny pack. Keep your money inside this. Don’t keep your money in your pockets!
Petty theft is very common in Costa Rica since many people are poor and just want to buy food.
When we were living in Costa Rica, my husband’s friend was robbed. A man held a knife to him and asked for money. His friend took his wallet out of his pocket and opened it to reveal several bills. He took one of the bills out and handed it to the robber. The robber left without harming the man or taking anything else.
If you are confronted by somebody who wants money, try to offer him something. He may just want to feed his family.
Violent crime is uncommon. The people of Costa Rica usually don’t resort to violence. Rape is rare.
The people of Costa Rica hold to traditional values. Most people disapprove of homosexuality/ LGBT.
Costa Rica has quality medical care. If you are just traveling for fun and need medical care, don’t worry.
Medical care is available.
Family Life in Costa Rica
The people of Costa Rica are family-oriented. They will cater to families and to children.
Don’t worry about bringing your children to a restaurant. The people enjoy them.
Transportation in Costa Rica
The people drive on the right side of the road. Due to the number of drivers, people are only allowed to drive half of the week.
Taxis are always driving around, and it’s easy to catch one. Watch the meter in the taxi, though. Not all taxi drivers are honest.
Some people in Costa Rica are not taxi drivers but will offer you a ride. Some are friendly and honest. Others, however, aren’t. To be safe, stick with the taxis.
Tours of different areas are available. Hotels have a variety of brochures on hand. You may change your plans when you visit Costa Rica and find a better attraction, so be prepared.
Costa Rica is at a high elevation. Some people may find it difficult to breathe until they become accustomed to the environment.
Water in Costa Rica is fresh and clean. The water from the faucet is as good as any bottled water.
Due to the heat, you need to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.
Alcohol is available, but people generally don’t drink much. Public drunkenness is not acceptable in Costa Rica. If you drink, try to remain sober.
Costa Rica is still a place with traditional families. Homosexuality is not readily accepted there.
If a homosexual couple visits Costa Rica, it’s best to keep relations private. People may disapprove of public displays of affection.
Depending on where you visit, remember that Costa Rica is at a high altitude. This can make breathing difficult.
San Jose is on a mountainside, so you rarely walk on a flat stretch. You walk either uphill or downhill. Walking can be a challenge if you aren’t in good shape.
Costa Rica is a fun and exciting place to visit. Tourists can see wildlife, volcanos, hot springs, cities, and much more. With beaches, fine dining, natural preserves, hot springs, volcanoes, and shopping, Costa Rica offers a little bit for everybody!
No matter when you visit, you will have fun there!
Are you planning for a vacation at San Jose Costa Rica?
If you didn’t plan yet, add it to your next travel destination.
If you already been there, love to know about your experiences.
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