Costa Rica

Costa Rica, officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica, is located in Central America and shares border with Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. This country offers an astonishing diverse culture, different climates, flora, fauna and breathtaking landscapes. Rain forest, dry tropical and temperate forests, volcanos, Caribbean and Pacific beaches, high mountains, and muggy lowlands. You name it, Costa Rica has it!

SAFETY INDEX

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Is Costa Rica a Safe or Dangerous Country?

Petty theft is the most common threat to tourists in Costa Rica as well as pickpocketing and carjacking. Fraud, including credit card fraud and identity theft, is on the rise as criminals have become more tech-savvy. Credit card thieves usually steal credit card information without stealing the physical card.

Costa Rica has some of the best beaches in the world. Both coasts, The Atlantic and the Pacific coasts, are only five hours away from each other and offer completely different views and landscapes. Please not that there are no signs indicating if the beach is unsafe due to riptides, so take precautions and listen to the locals on where it is safe to swim. Moreover, the public beaches do not have life guards. You should learn how to swim out of a rip tide and not swim alone.

There are some active volcanoes in Costa Rica, so follow the warning signs posted. The slopes of the Arenal volcano may seem like you can climb closer to the summit, but there have been deaths in the past with unseen gas chambers. As in any country, there are areas that are recommended to avoid. Jacó, on the Pacific Coast, is becoming a more unsafe area to visit due to the increase in drug trade and prostitution. Limón, on the Caribbean Coast, remains a point of interest for many travellers because of its wild Carnival festival; however, the Costa Rican government has identified it as a zone where crime is on the rise. Costa Rica can be safe as long as you use common sense and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators. It is important to follow the news on television and radio closely. Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Standard safety precautions are recommended in Costa Rica. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other country. Watch out for petty crime in tourist areas and protect your valuables. Costa Rica has created the Policía Turística, a tourism police force dedicated to improving the security of foreigners.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

Pickpocketing and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

Muggings have happened in urban areas, especially at night. People walking alone are often the targets, especially at night. In case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you like a tap on the shoulder, spitting or getting something spilled on you. Credit card skimming is also common.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Make sure you book a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible as there have been reports of traveler being robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers. Only take taxis that are red (with a yellow triangle on the door), or orange. Public bus transportation is unreliable, yet relatively safe. Buses and bus stops (especially those that go to San Jose) are frequent locations for theft. Any bus rider who falls asleep has a good chance getting his baggage stolen. Don’t trust anyone on the buses to watch your things. Traffic in Costa Rica is dangerous, so be careful. Pedestrians in general do not have the right of way.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Flooding and landslides can happen during heavy rains and may result in public transportation disruptions. Costa Rica is located in an active seismic zone. The hurricane season extends from June to November. Monitor

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

There is no recent history of terrorism in Costa Rica. However, they should not be ruled out, so remain vigilant for suspicious activity.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Many women travel safely without any issues. However, there have been reports of sexual assault throughout the country. Avoid isolated locations and traveling alone after dark. Remain extra vigilant at bus terminals and in taxis.

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Useful Information

Most visitors do not need a Visa to enter Costa Rica and can stay in the country for 90 days. Make sure your passport is valid for more than 30 days after your arrival. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in Costa Rica is the colon, which hovers between 500 – 550 colones/ $1 USD. U.S. dollars are widely accepted, provided the bill is not too large ($50 and $100 bills are rarely accepted). Credit cards are accepted in main cities, but be careful of possible scamming and never leave your card out of sight.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate year-round. The year can be split into two seasons: the dry season known to the residents as summer (December-April), and the rainy season (May-November), which roughly overlaps with the List of Atlantic hurricane seasons, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.
Costa Rica has two international airports: Liberia (Daniel Oduber, LIR) and San José (Juan Santamaría, SJO). If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page