Last updated: 11 May 2019

Costa Rica

About

Costa Rica's national parks are its greatest glory. The Costa Rican authorities have set aside one-third of the country as protected areas, and dozens of private wilderness reserves have helped elevate Costa Rica to star status for ecotourism. The country has a stunning variety of landscapes, microclimates, and flora and fauna, and nature lovers will not be disappointed by the superb wildlife viewing.

Relax in San José's numerous parks, including Parque Nacional, Parque Central and Parque Morazán. Avoid them at night, however. Tree-shaded Parque Nacional is the most interesting for its national monument, various busts and statues.

Be thrilled by a white-water raft trip. Two of the country's best rivers for rafting are the Reventazón and Pacuare. The best times to go are from May to November.
Capital:  San José (SJO)
Currency:  Costa Rican Colón (CRC). USD is widely accepted.
Language:  Spanish. English is widely spoken.
Dialling code from SA:  + 506
Time Zones: UTC / GMT – 6 (8 hours behind South Africa)
Public Holidays 2018: 

Jan 1; Mar 29, 30; Apr 11; May 1; Jul 25; Aug 15; Sep 15; Dec 25

Side of the Road: Right
Best Time to go: High season is late November to late April.
Best For: Rainforests, Eco-tourism, Adrenalin-activities, Pristine Beaches
Plugs: 120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated. Bottled water is available
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped private medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services in cash. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Beachwear should be reserved for the beach/poolside. Avoid being confrontational, Costa Ricans highly value the concept of saving face. Conservative and traditional values should be respected.
Travel Warnings / Tips: In rural towns, cash is the best form of currency.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Costa Rica without incurring customs duty:
• 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500g tobacco.
• 3L of alcoholic beverages (travellers aged over 18 only).
• Goods to the value of US$500.
Prohibited Imports: Food items are generally not allowed to be brought into Costa Rica, in particular fruit, vegetables, dairy products, seeds and plants. Firearms are not permitted.
Prohibited Exports: It is forbidden under the CITES treaty (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to remove orchids from Costa Rica, or indeed any wild flora and fauna. Removing animals, dead or alive, is also forbidden, and be very careful when buying carvings or antiques in Costa Rica. Most probably you’ll get freshly handcrafted art, but removing Aztec, Incan or Mayan cultural artefacts from the country is thoroughly illegal, and happens far too often.

Issuing Authorities

Honorary Consulate of Costa Rica:
14 Talton Road, Forest Town, Johannesburg
PO Box 1210, Parklands, 2121, Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 486 4716
Fax: (011) 646 7514
E-mail: paembassy@alphatravel.co.za

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SA Representative

SA Honorary Consul
Estación Ferrocarnil al Pacifico, 150 al norte de entrada Principal
Entre Calle 16y18 San José, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 222 1470 Fax: +506 223 8223
E-mail: consurafricacr@gmail.com

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Polio