Travelling to Costa Rica this year and want to find ways to make sure your money lasts longer? Look no further. Despite having a surprisingly high price tag compared to its Central American neighbors, there are lots of hacks to cut these costs. Regardless of whether you’re staying at one of the best Costa Rica luxury homes or renting a hammock at the hostel, getting the best value out of your money is vital. Here are a few tricks to cut the costs when you travel to Costa Rica.
Choose Your Activities Carefully
Being a savvy traveler often means being smart too. When you search for the best things to do in Costa Rica, hundreds of suggestions show up. Some of the must-see attractions like Arenal Volcano and Monteverde Cloud Forest might take several hours to reach. Be smart and plan your trip to visit these destinations and find accommodation nearby. If you stay near the beach, you might have to travel several hours to reach the attractions.
Don’t Rent a Car
Unfortunately in Costa Rica, renting a car often costs several hundred dollars. Having your own set of wheels is costly. The reason behind this steep price is the legal requirement for drivers to have insurance. Contrast this to the few dollars you would typically spend to get around the city using public transport. Long distance buses covering hundreds of kilometers rarely cost more than $20. Besides, the driving can be haphazard and a little dangerous. Ditch the car and get on the bus.
Take Advantage of Shared Transfers
A shared transfer is a ride share that connects passengers between popular destinations in Costa Rica. Rather than using the bus or hiring a private driver, split the cost with other tourists. This not only saves a little extra money but it gives you the chance to meet other like-minded people. Who knows, you may make a new friend!
Most tourists travel to Costa Rica with a suitcase. After all, you’re going to want a few changes of clothes for the hot and sticky climate. But you should take advantage of having checked luggage as well to bring sunscreen and insect repellent. The price back at home will be much, much lower than buying in Costa Rice. According to some, the price can be as high as $25 for a single bottle.
It will come as no surprise that Christmas is often the busiest time of the year. Thousands of Americans and Canadians head to the beaches in tropical Costa Rica. It’s not uncommon for hotels to be fully booked several months in advance. Whenever there’s a demand, the prices shoot up.
Eat in the Sodas and Snack at the Bakery
The local restaurants are called sodas. Typical meals cost a fraction compared to the eateries aimed at tourists. While you might not have a lot of choices and need to rely on your Spanish skills, it’s worth checking out. Having a local meal, which will probably include rice and beans inside a soda is an excellent insight into Costa Rican culture. Pastries and cakes often cost a dollar or two at the bakeries.
Buy Souvenirs at the Supermarket
If you buy your souvenirs from the stalls in the touristy parts of town, expect to pay almost twice if not three times the going rates. Costa Rican coffee is famous around the world, and visitors usually like to bring a few packets back home. But the ones you see sold to the tourists are much higher than in the supermarket. If you go to the supermarket, you’ll get the same product at the same quality at the local price.
Don’t Use Dollars
Most shops accept both the US dollar and the Costa Rican colon. This is very convenient for tourists and prevents the need to change large amounts of cash. However, you might end up losing a lot more by paying in dollars than exchanging at the money changer. Most locals give a rate of 500 colon to $1 to make it easy to calculate. But as the currency fluctuates, the actual value might be closer to 550 or higher, which means you’re paying 10% more! Change your money and insist on paying in colon.
Don’t Book Tours for Everything
There’s no doubt that having a tour guide can enhance the travel experience. Guides are experts who can point out the wildlife and explain the ecology, habitats and conservation efforts. But you probably don’t need one on every single excursion. If you’re heading deep into the national parks or nature reserves, by all means, get a guide. And in fact, it might be mandatory. But, when you’re visiting the waterfall, be realistic about if the cost is worth the money.
Drink Tap Water (Most of the Time)
A little-known fact is that most of the tap water in Costa Rica is drinkable. The authorities treat the water, and many locals just drink from the tap. Most tourists buy water from the shop, but it’s so expensive. Expect a 2-liter bottle to cost around $2. When you consider most people will drink at least two or three (perhaps even more on the long hikes), the cost adds up quickly.
Getting the Best Value for Money
It doesn’t matter what your budget is when you travel to Costa Rica, everyone wants to get the best value for their money. The few dollars saved here and there adds up and you could spend it better on a day trip or sunset cocktail.