Using US$ in Costa Rica & Panama

Aug 21st, 2004, 04:13 AM
  #1  
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Using US$ in Costa Rica & Panama

If my memory serves, and it doesn't well, I think we used US$ a lot in Latin America. We will be spending 2 days in San Jose before joining a tour group. We will be spending on meals & taxis & museum tickets.
Thank you for your knowledge.
janeg is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 05:00 AM
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Since the U.S. dollar is the official currency of Panama, you certainly can use it there. In Costa Rica, U.S. dollars are widely accepted, too, though it's better to use colones if possible.

--Lan Sluder
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Aug 21st, 2004, 05:48 AM
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We used dollars a lot in CR, but change is in colones. I used that for tips, small purchases etc. ATM's there sometimes give choice between the 2, other ATM's are colones only.
trevorjoyce is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 05:49 AM
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The Panama thing slipped my mind. Or I thought since it had been turned over maybe they had new currency.
Why is it better to use colones rather than USD? Respect for the host country or financially for me?
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Aug 21st, 2004, 06:08 AM
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janeg,
As Joyce mentioned, dollars are accepted well in Costa Rica, but you will receive all change back in colones. Lots of coins! You'll end up using colones anyway--it's easier. No need to do the mental conversion to dollars each time, etc. For example, if you buy a coca-cola and the price is quinientos (500) colones, it's much easier to give them a 500 colones coin or 5- 100 colones coins, or a 1000 colones bill. Although you could hand them a dollar and say keep the change!

If you make a larger purchase, for example a restaurant tab, 19,000 colones, it's much easier to hand them two 10,000 colones bills and leave the change for a tip (a little over $2). Wouldn't you rather do that than have to think about how much money 19,000 colones is so you could pay in dollars and then wonder if you got the right amount back? My brain doesn't like to do those types of things on vacation--at least not all the time!

By the way, bills over $20 are not convenient; neither are worn bills or those that have writing on them.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 06:22 AM
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Thanks all. I know about small, clean bills. We usually carry a big wad of $1, and smaller amounts of $5's & $10's when in the Americas.
Now, how do I wait until trip time in March? Go somewhere in October, maybe.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 06:40 AM
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LOL--March will arrive, and then it will be gone! About the $$, if you were going to be in the country longer, it would be more of an issue. For 2 days, it won't make a big difference which you use--dolares o colones. . .have you decided how you are going to spend your time while in San Jose?

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Aug 21st, 2004, 08:29 AM
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Arrive early afternoon, staying at Hotel Don Carlos (good reviews here). Want to see Gold Museum, Jade Museum, Mercado Central, cafe at Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Plaza de la Cultura, Teatro National. No zoo or nightlife. We are an older couple & my husband's walking abilities are limited.
Since you asked, I think you may have some input? Please do. Should we take some kind of short tour around city? Taxi? tour operator from hotel?
We are going with Lindblad Ex starting Saturday afternoon. The trip goes along the Pacific coast of CR on to Panama & ends in a canal trip.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 08:45 AM
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You will be very pleased with the Don Carlos. And very close to all the places you want to see. Do be careful crossing the streets. They are all one way, and pedestrians have no right of way. There were 56 fatalities of pedestrians the first 6 months of the year in San Jose alone. That said, don't be afraid to walk. . . There are always other people crossing. Stay with the group! The places you have mentioned in San Jose could easily take a day. Do a little in the a.m. and a little more in the p.m. The Jade Museum is just across the street from the Don Carlos. You could take a taxi for about $2 to the central area (5-10 minutes walk) near the Teatro, Gran Hotel de Costa Rica, and Plaza de la Cultura if you would prefer. From there you could walk the avenue west down to the Mercado Central. You might be more comfortable with that.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 08:57 AM
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Sounds like my plan. Any other suggestions for Saturday morning? We have to be at the airport early afternoon to meet with our group.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 12:10 PM
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Just returned from CR. Also used both US$ and colonnes without any problems.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 12:13 PM
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We also spent one day in San Jose sightseeinbg & shopping. We went to the gold museum & enjoyed it very much. Went to the Metropolitan Church. Central Market was a lot of fun. Did a lot of shoe shopping on the pedestrian mall. I have posted my trip report "Costa Rica Trip Report - Just Returned" & am still adding installments. We enjoyed our day in San Jose.
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Aug 21st, 2004, 09:41 PM
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There is enough is the area to keep you busy Saturday morning as well! Rather than just looking at the Teatro Nacional from the outside, take the time to go in. It's truly beautiful, admission is inexpensive to look around, and there is an excellent snack bar inside.
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