Budget travel in Costa Rica: How much do you need

Last updated on March 17th, 2019 at 03:02 pm

Costa Rica feels different and familiar at the same time. The beautiful places are jam-packed with adventure and the locals are easy to communicate with. Because of its progress, there are lots of activities and things to do in Costa Rica. Also, because of the rain all year round, the country is very biodiverse. Indeed, the government had done an impressive job of maintaining and preserving its forestry and wonders.It is also one of the most touristic countries in Central America and the most expensive for backpacking.

We will tell you in this post the budget travel in Costa Rica and how much do you need per day best time to visit Costa Rica. We recommend you to allot 3-4 weeks in visiting Costa Rica.

Read here Full Travel Guide for Backpacking Costa Rica!

Is it safe/difficult to travel in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica prides itself for being one of the safest country in South and Central America. This is why this beautiful place is oftentimes is travelers’ first choice. Just don’t flaunt your belongings to attract criminals; it’s a safe place after all.

Petty Theft is still common just like at any other countries. Also, do not go out by yourself deep in the night because there are few illegal activities that are carried out in non-tourists areas. The statistics show that in general Costa Rica is a safe place for tourists.

Best time to visit Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, it almost always rains. For some, it ruins their trip and for some it makes their trip more exciting. So, base your visit to the season which you think will suit your travelling style. In their summer (December to April), there are fewer rains than normal. In their winter (May to November), rains are almost non-stop.

It is harder to move on vehicles when it rains constantly but the scenery of greens is amazing. It still depends on what you want. For most tourists best time to visit Costa Rica is  from December to April because of easier transport. 

Click here to know more about the weather in Costa Rica!

Visa in Costa Rica

All European Union Citizens, American and most Asian countries do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. However, they must have a current valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica proving they will leave the country within the tourist visa period, usually granted for 90 days upon arrival in Costa Rica. (Either to return to your country or to go to another country). US passport must be valid for a minimum of one day from the day you enter Costa Rica.

You could know more about Costa Rica’s Visa Policy here

Cash and ATM in Costa Rica

The currency of Costa Rica is called Colòn and as of now, 1 USD is worth 567 Colòn. It is wiser to exchange your currency after arriving at your hotel, avoiding to exchange so much money in the airport. But if you have larger amount of cash to exchange, you should go to a local bank if possible.

Do not exchange your currency at the airport because you’ll get less than what you’ll get with the city’s exchange. Estimate your budget for your list of things to do in Costa Rica often so that you won’t fall short. Anyway if you are bringing USD you can use them while traveling around Costa Rica no need to exchange them.

Bank or debit cards in an ATM are the recommended way to access your funds while traveling in Costa Rica. … The PLUS system is the most widely distributed international ATM (CIRRUS is available at many major tourist destinations). But be aware that many turn the machines off between 10pm – 5am for security reasons.

Know real-time currency exchange here!

Internet in Costa Rica

Wi-Fi is everywhere in Costa Rica and it has better internet mobile speed than other destinations. Restaurants and convenience stores often have free Wi-Fi in their places. We advise that you check the speed of the free wi-fi in the accommodation you’ll go to especially if you’re like us who needs internet for work. 

There are 4 major sim providers in Costa Rice; Movistar, Kolvi, Claro and Tuyo Movil. Most of the providers sell by day 1 USD and by week 5 USD but their data varies.  Claro gets the fastest speed while Kolvi gets the most geographical coverage. It’s better to have both.

Read here if you want to be connected online when traveling the world!

Food budget travel in Costa Rica

Budget travel in Costa Rica
Image courtesy of Cameron Woodworth

Breakfast will be the cheapest meal of the day and you can load up on Gallo Pinto, tortillas, eggs, fried plantains and some fresh fruit too for around $3-4 per person. At lunch you might want a chicken sandwich for $9, salad for $8, burger for $8 or personal pizza for $11 and a fresh fruit drink for $3. Overall, you can have a budget of $15-20 a day and it can already get you more then enough decent meals. Costa Rica is little bit pricey comparing to the other countries like Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America.

Accommodation budget travel in Costa Rica

There are dormitory rooms that you can rent the bed for as low as $8 a night if you want the cheapest option. AirBnb are also available, mostly for about $20-$25 a night. Click here if you want to get $30 credit on your first booking in AirBnb.

Double room hostels can costs up to $20 a night while mid-range hotels costs more or less $50 a night.

Click here if you want to find the best deals with Booking in Costa Rica.

Tours/ Entrance Fees in Costa Rica

To visit some attractions in Costa Rica, there are fees that needs to be paid first. In Costa Rica, it’s no different. The entrance fee for Agua Juan Castro Blanco National Park in in the northern part of Costa Rica costs $10 per person. While the entrance fee for the Arenal Volcano National Partk costs $15 per person. The most expensive entrance fee for a nation park in Costa Rica would be Manuel Antonio National Park with the entrance fee of $16/person. For wildlife refuge and biological reserve sites, the entrance fees plays around $5 to $10 per person.

Local Transportation in Costa Rica

Budget travel in Costa Rica
Image courtesy by Pj Duke

If you do not like to wait and be picked up to your hotel, you should ride Shuttle Buses. These are luxury mini-buses that has route to most major destinations but with a higher price, mostly $50 per person. Most the major destinations around Costa Rica can be reached by Public Bus for $8 or more depending on the destination.  The only downside is you’ll wait for the bus to arrived. For a tip, It would be easier for you to get a ticket in  advance. There are some roads that are accessible by bike only, walking, and cars so it’s best to plan first.

Budget travel in Costa Rica per day

If you’re already informed, it is true that Costa Rica is one of the most expensive countries to travel into. But, it’s possible to travel on Costa Rica with a low budget of $40 a day. You could check a lot of your “things to do in Costa Rica” bucket list even with that budget. Some hostels only cost about $5-6 and the food is $3 per mealPublic buses costs only about $3-15 depending on the destination.

The cheapest food for breakfast and the most popular is Costa Ricans Gallo Pinto. If you want some fresh tropical fruit juice, it would only cost you $3. Seafood costs for about $10-15 and chicken costs $8-12. If you’re craving for a pizza, $11 will help you get that craving off.

For backpackers, street restaurants are actually cheaper than branded restaurants. In my 2 Week Itinerary in Costa Rica, I came from Nicaragua by overland and I visited the Pacific Coast. From visiting the Pacific Coast, I found out that Montezuma is one of the most visited places for surfing in Costa Rica. Actually , you can spend a few days surfing or even a week if you have time because it is really fun.

We hope that this post helped you in noting down the things you might need to know before you go to Costa Rica. It is a beautiful and charming place and we had a nice time going there. 

Read here budget travel in Panama!

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Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has traveled more than 70+ countries around the world. He believes in travel without money. Recently, he finished a bicycle trip, 9500 km, from Madrid to North Cape.

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