Costa Rica specific questions

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Dec 31st, 2018, 01:33 PM
  #1
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Costa Rica specific questions

Hello. I would be grateful if you can help me with the following. Sadly I do not speak or read Spanish and this is my first time in Central America, but I have traveled by myself elsewhere in the world and my overall travel common sense should be far better than my language skills!

1. I understand that the best way to get local cash is to use ATMs. Are there ATMs at the SJO airport and would it be wise to use them or should I look for a bank once I get into town? Or is there a bank at the airport by some chance?

2. I have been told that certain ATMs in Costa Rica do not charge any fees. Can anyone tell me where to find/ how to distinguish those from ATMs that do charge a fee?

3. I am arriving at SJO at around 8am, and need to go to Hotel Ave del Paraiso, 50m Norte de la facultad de Derecho de la UCR, San Josť, San Pedro, Costa Rica. I was told to take Taxis Unidos (orange taxis) and purchase my taxi ticket just before I exit the airport. I was also told that I'd have to negotiate the cab fare with the driver in advance. I'm confused. If I am buying the taxi ticket before going to the driver, what would I be negotiating with the driver exactly? Also, is there any other option, other than taking the taxi? train? bus?

4. Should I assume that the hotel is safe enough to leave my bag there and go explore the town? Needless to say I'd be taking my money, phone and passport with me wherever I go.

5. When possible, is it wise to use credit card over cash to save money/ get a better rate?

6. What items would you recommend for bringing back a souvenirs? I am not a nick-knack person but deeply connected to learning and enjoying history and culture... I prefer non-edible souvenirs over edible ones, if possible. I would be bringing maybe 3-4 items max for myself and friends. In case it matters, I'll be in San Jose, Las Cruces and La Selva... but mostly at biological field stations in the latter two, so my only chance for shopping might be my one day in San Jose?

Many thanks in advance!!!

Last edited by soniasonia; Dec 31st, 2018 at 01:37 PM. Reason: clarity
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Dec 31st, 2018, 09:29 PM
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There are a lot of beautiful hand carved items you can bring back. One of our favorites is a gorgeous wooden salad bowl and tongs that we use.
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Dec 31st, 2018, 10:19 PM
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For ATMs, just use a bank ATM at the airport. There is no difference in exchange rate and fees between a bank ATM at the airport and at the same bank off-airport. For ATMs that don't change fees, check with your bank to see if it has any partner banks in CR.

Regarding luggage and safety in hotels, I am not familiar with that hotel, but I've never stayed at a hotel in CR where I wouldn't leave my luggage while I was out. If you have anything valuable, put it in the room safe.
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Jan 1st, 2019, 02:42 PM
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Regarding your credit card use, we do use credit cards, but make sure your card doesn't charge you a foreign transaction fee; some cards do, but we got a Capital One card specifically because they don't charge the extra fee. It's usually fine to leave your luggage at the hotel, but I agree to keep valuables with you or leave them in the room safe. Leave nice jewelry, etc. at home.
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Jan 17th, 2019, 07:26 PM
  #5
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Thank you very much for your responses everyone! Dear volcanogirl, do you have a suggestion as to where in San Jose might be best to purchase these items? Or is it perhaps best to shop at the airport on the way out? My whole trip (except for a half day in San Jose before going to the airport) places me in research field stations with no access to a vehicle to get into the nearest town. So no opportunities for exploring the shopping options outside of San Jose unfortunately. Dear november_moon I really appreciated the airport ATM recommendation, especially given that the Bank ATM machines outside the airport were turned off between 10pm and 5am on the day I arrived here in Costa Rica. Thank you both for your guidance!

Last edited by soniasonia; Jan 17th, 2019 at 07:40 PM.
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