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Do's & Dont's in the World, Asia, America, Australia, Africa, Europe | KFN Travel guide

Costa Rica

Costa Rica Don’ts

  • Do not visit Costa Rica on Christmas or Easter weeks, as the whole country shut down for local celebrations, not even to say the prices are sky high, and lodging is almost impossible to find.
  • Do not rent a car, the road signs are notoriously poor in the countryside and it’s easy to get lost. Take public transportation instead, they are cheap and reliable.
  • Do not be too affectionate in public. Excessive affection in public is frowned upon in Costa Rica.
  • Do not bathe nude at the beach! Also, Limit the beach wears at the beach only.
  • Do not be obliged to tip. A service charge of 10% is already included in your bill on top of the tax.
  • Do not damage trees or flowers, nor to litter or take things away from the rain-forest’s and beaches. It could be the equivalent of a felony if you are caught disturbing the flora and fauna.
  • Do not be surprised to see drugs and prostitution. Although frowned upon in respectable circles, prostitution is socially acceptable throughout most of the country.
  • Do not carry valuables around. Keep them in a safe and hidden place if possible to avoid attracting petty crime.
  • Do not take a taxi without negotiating a fare or having a meter on. Do not ever eat, drink, or smell anything a taxi driver offers. It could be laced.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.

Costa Rica Do’s

  • Do learn some basic Spanish before coming to Costa Rica. Use the phrase pura vida (pronounced POO-ra BEE-da) for hello and goodbye and to express happiness. It can also mean “no worries.”
  • Do break the ice with Costa Ricans by complimenting the splendor of the country and its progressive reputation.
  • Do address people with formal title. Christian names are preceded by Señor for a man and Señora for a woman, but Don is used to address a highly respected man and Doña for a female equivalent.
  • Do observe normal courtesies when visiting someone’s home and gifts are appreciated as a token of thanks, especially if invited for a meal.
  • Do bring and wear enough sunscreen and insect repellent, no matter where you’re traveling to, even if it is cloudy. The sun is very intense in Costa Rica and it is very easily got burned. It can also be very expensive in Costa Rica.
  • Do greet everyone in the room with a kiss and say good bye with everyone when leaving. Smile and say hello or “hola” to everyone, even in passing on the street.
  • Do wear casual dress for most occasions, but beachwear should be confined to the beach.
  • Do take a local bus which is comfortable and also considerably cheap. Do not take the Interbus shuttle, they are very expensive, and run around $35-40 to the destinations.
  • Do bring an umbrella and raincoat, which are always helpful in the wet season.
  • Do make a passport copy and the stamp page showing the entry into Costa Rica in case something happens.
  • Do exchange through authorized source. Street corner foreign exchange transactions are technically illegal, and often risky.