Visiting Costa Rica

Just wanted to give you all a little advice if you are planning on visiting this beautiful country.  For starters, the customs agents really don’t speak English so be prepared.  When you come through the gate they are going to ask you how long you plan to stay here.  Learn how to say that in Spanish.  They may also ask to see proof of your return ticket.  If you don’t have it, they can very easily not let you in the country.  So print out a copy of your purchased ticket and have it ready just in case.  Getting through the screening process is very easy.  You just put everything on a conveyor belt and they send it through the x-ray machine.  They don’t use body scanners down here either, but everyone seem to have a small hand held metal detector.  There is a place right there by the baggage claim where you can exchange American dollars for Costa Rican Colones, but I don’t know what they charge there.  You will be better off finding a Banco National or Banco de Costa Rica (BCR).  You will have to have your passport ready to exchange money.  Not all American cell phones will work here either.  You will need to check with your provider and see what kind of fees they charge also for using your phone here.  I recommend renting a cheap pre-paid phone for your trip.  When renting a car, be sure to get one with GPS, roads aren’t always marked that well.  Also, rent something durable, the roads aren’t always in great shape.  Bring a pocket Spanish/English dictionary if you don’t know Spanish.  You will need it.  Mine is falling apart, but I still use it.  Always be polite and thank everyone you meet.  It is a very friendly country here.  Everyone is usually very patient as well and will do their best to help you if you need it and ask politely.  I know many of us who took Spanish in high  school learned to say thank you by saying de nada.  Well, they don’t use that here very often, they use the phrase, con gusto, which means with pleasure.   I like it better.  When you get out of the airport there will be a lot of taxis if you need one.  Only use the official taxis when in the big cities.  They are red with a yellow triangle on the side.  If they tell you the meter is not working they are lying and get a different taxi.  They will try to price gouge you.  Many of them will take American dollars if you don’t have any colones, just learn how to convert the money. It’s really easy, every 500 Colones is one dollar.  So, if something is marked 15,000 Colones, it’s about $30.  Just multiply the first two number by 2.  I hope this helps.  If you all have any questions just leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

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