Language – Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica. While Spanish is spoken throughout the country, the slang can vary from region to region. In some of the more touristy destinations you will find many locals and expats who speak English.
Time Zone – Costa Rica falls under the US GMT time zone (GMT -6). Costa Rica does not observe daylight savings time. So in the summer months Costa Rica falls under the Mountain Time Zone.
Currency – The country’s currency is called the Colones. While the exchange rate varies, on average it is 400 Colones for 1 US Dollar. ( 400 Colones can buy one beer at a bar in most places ) US dollars aren’t used much outside of San Jose, but it is usually easy to find someone to exchange them for you.
Banks and ATMs – Banks and ATMs are easy to find all over the country. Some of the smaller cities or secluded resorts may not have a bank near buy, but they will certainly have an ATM or exchange. Banks are usually busy all day long, but ATMs rarely have a line. ATMs accept most major credit cards or debit card with a credit logo.
Credit Cards – Most places that accept credit cards as a form of payment either have a high minimum purchase amount or charge a high service fee. It is best to use credit cards only for withdrawing cash at ATMs. There are not enough places that accept credit cards to justify not carrying cash.
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Electricity – Costa Rica uses 120V, 60 Hz. This is the same as the United States and uses standard two and three prong US outlets.
Internet Access – High speed and wireless inter access can be found widely in San Jose. The rest of the country still works mostly off of dial up access. Some resorts and hotels may have their own wireless network. Many accommodations have their own internet/computer area or use the towns internet café. Internet cafes can be found in any area with telephone service.
Weather – Weather in Costa Rica has two distinct seasons. There is the dry season and the wet season. The wet season is from May to November and the dry season being December through April. September and October have the heaviest rain periods. There is about 12 hours of sunlight a day and no real summer or winter.
Entrance Requirements – To enter Costa Rica your passport must not have an expiration date within six months of your proposed date of entry. A free tourist visa is issued upon entering the country and is good for 90 days. You must also have proof of a departure ticket.
Export Tax – There is a departure tax of $26 per person to leave the country. This prices changes regularly, so check about it upon arrival.
Shots/Vaccinations – There are no shots or vaccines required for entry into Costa Rica.
Telephones – Most public phones do not take local currency. They use a special phone card specific to Costa Rica. Only these phone cards work in the country, any bought outside the country are useless.