Various shops: Wooden items abound
In LaFortuna, there was plenty of shopping. Many small shopd and interesting items. Also in Sarchi, there were large shops with the general tourist items, but also some lovely handmade and handpainted items as well. San Jose had some nice artwork and ceramics
What to buy: Wooden items such as bowls, bread plates, etc. We were quite taken with the wooden puzzle boxes and feather art. Some of the jewelry is quite nice, but you need to do some looking to see what is well- made
What to pay: Depending on the wood you purchase, anywhere from $8.00-$60.00 The puzzle boxes averaged about $12.00 and feather art about the same.
Guaitil: Indian-style pottery
The little town of Guatitil is worth a stop for Chorotega style pottery.
Someone at the gift shop can tell you who is making pots the day you are there so you can see the process. Pots are sold in front of the potters houses.The best selection is near the soccer field.
I was very excited to find a turtle made of pottery there.Related to:
Many: Wildlife Guides
There's no particular shop., though there are many all over Costa Rica
What to buy: This is just a shopping tip to let you know there are many different laminated wildlife and floral guides that are relatively inexpensive. They're nice to carry with, as they're actually a type of fold-out card with names and brief descriptions of animals and vegetation in the area. They're quite handy when you spot a bird or reptile you're not familiar with. It's where I found the name for the attached picture!
What to pay: Most are between $8- $15
Costa Rican Rum
What to buy: When I leave a country I like to take home a bottle of the local fire water as a souvenir, a good typical Costa Rican spirit is this locally produced rum.
What to pay: 0.7 litres will cost you US$20.00 from a shop/supermarket but I'd advise you to get it from a duty free shop in the airport where it costs just half that.Related to:
- Food and Dining
The Town of Montezuma: shopping .............
The town of Montezuma has some interesting shops.
It is a very small town along the east coast of the bay.
Our guide told some interesting facts about the town.
At one point, he said this was the place that people come to hide from something, what ever it was,from owing taxes, hiding out, etc...
and started to laugh saying even there spouses...
If you shop here as in a lot of places, barttering is a way of life. Please don't pay full price. Some items may be worth it but not what there asking...
Please don't feel bad...You can all ways find a another product or one even better.
Just be willing to walk away and they will deal with you.....Just be fare.If they can do it for your price they will.
What to buy: Anything and everything.
Many local crafts, but you will see some items that are the same as other stores, so even if they tell you they hand made it , it is a possibility it's not...
lot's of items in many differnet stores.
Just remember that you may find the item you want in another town or store.There are many places to shop depending on were you are.
What to pay: as much as you want or as little......
One thing ... Books tend to be expensive everywhere. We saw one book in 4 different shops and there were four different prices ranging from $25-$50.
We actually found that the cafe britt store in the airport at San Jose had the best prices for books...
Mot Mot: Beautiful wood sculptures
We found this little shop almost by accident, walking around in Quepos. Around all those touristic gift shops, this one was somewhat special, offering higher quality goods (without being a real sophisticated art gallery).
They ship all over the world.
What to buy: They have beautiful woods, all kind of color. Really! Yellows, reds, greens, blacks and purples. So when you find a nice piece of these wood, it's pretty special.
We had a special place in our backpack for the little animals sculptures (turtles, hummingbirds, fishes, pelicans, toucans, ...), often in two tones (red and yellow) and the kitchen accessories and boxes made out of numerous kinds of wood, creating a pattern (cutting board, coasters, place mats...). The best we have seen (because you'll find them everywhere!) are here! Althought I think this was one of the more expensive place for them.
What to pay: Around 10$ each, but found them cheaper in other stores (but of lesser quality or a bit damaged)
Camino Verde: Inexpensive shopping
I already described this place in my restaurant tip, but wanted to make a point about their good price and availability. Everything is possible here, from buying a guided tour, a shuttle fare, the jeep-boat-jeep ride to Fortuna, a hotel room, a phone call, a meal, arts & crafts, coffee, cigars, exchanging currency.
The only thing that make you want to scratch out your eyes is the bureaucraty it takes to pay. Wether you are buying 100$ worth of guided tours or a 2$ bag of coffee, you have to first see a clerc who will thoroughly fill a receipt, answering phone calls and chating with other clercs at the same time. You can then take this receipt to the lady hidden in the cash box who will as thoroughly stamp your receipt and collect your paiement. You finally can go back to the first clerc and get your stuff.
What to buy: For the most part, this is where we found the best price for all those small gifts you want to take home: wood sculpture, wood jewelry, t-shirt, coffee... I bought bags of coffee, grounded or not, for 2$ each and wood bracelets for my brothers for 2$. A good price, and a real good price if you compare with touristic gift shops.
What to pay: Much less than anywhere elseRelated to:
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
Cafe Del Mar: Hand painted t-shirt
Upstairs Cafe Del Mar, Amy welcome us in her workshop. She's very friendly and takes the time to chat (she wanted to know how we say "hand painted" in french"!) and explain her work.
She has beautiful done t-shirts and she can make you one on demand in one afternoon if you find a design in her portfolio you like better. It took me a long time to choose the one I liked best and decided to ask her to paint it on a canvas (so I could frame it back home).
Since it's a bit bigger than a t-shirt, she wanted a longer delay, which I couldn't afford, leaving next morning. She offered to drop it at the front desk of my hotel the next morning and she did! It was a leap of fait, even tho she left me her name, phone number and the fact that her husband is the owner of the Cafe downstairs... But she kept her word! If you pass by, salute her form will you?
PS: I had the best salad of my trip at the Cafe Del Mar downstairs...!
What to buy: Hand painted t-shirt, beach bag or canvas
What to pay: I think the t-shirt were around 15$
I paid 25$ form my canvas ( a little bigger than 2'x2')
Britt Coffee Plantation: Awesome Coffee
I put this in the "gifts" category as opposed to the "food and drink" section because of the wonderful shop attached to the plantation. There are many different types of articles ranging from pottery, to videos and CD's, art, souveniers, textiles, clothing and more. There really is something for everyone, it's well-run, the employees are friendly and helpful, and check-out is efficient. And don't forget to take the tour, which is also an excercise in comic relief! All in all, a great place to stop and shop
What to buy: Of course, there's the coffee. Plenty of samples abound so that it makes it easy to choose. As a former owner of a gourmet coffee business, I can well attest to the quality of the coffee here. The organic shade grown is among the best I have had. They make coffee easy to purchase with many different shipping choices, and it's quite reasonable. I intend to keep purchasing over the internet, and they will e-mail you their specials as well. However, the packages are 12 oz each. When they say they will ship 20 lbs, that includes the weight of packaging! It's still a real bargain, so shop and enjoy! Definitely and A Plus in my book!
What to pay: At the shop, 89.00 to send 20 lbs to the states. Over the internet, 119.00-still a great price. Sometimes on sale for 109.00. There are various "outlets" as I understand, and their prices are a bit more.Related to:
- Family Travel
SkyTrek / SkyWalk, Chunches in Santa Elena: Monteverde Poster
Actually, we saw this poster in many shops. Two I can remember are the SkyWalk / SkyTrek shop in Santa Elena, just beside the bus stop and Chunches Library .
What to buy: I fell in love with the Monteverde poster. It makes an amazing souvenir and a beautiful and colorful art piece for my living-room. Plus, it helps the Cloud Forest school. All proceeds from the sale of the poster go to support the Cloud Forest School (Centro de Education Creativa) in Monteverde, an environmentally focused, bilingual school situated on 106 acres of pristine and protected land. It was founded in 1991 by local parents hoping to provide a new and unique opportunity for their children.
Wildlife artist Charley Harper captures the excitement, color and vibrant life of the Monteverde Cloud Forest in this unique poster. Charlie and his wife Edie had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica and now share with you the magic of the world's most ecologically diverse and fragile forest. If you have been to Monteverde, you can appreciate the beauty represented here; if you have never been, we hope this poster encourages you to visit.
What to pay: 20$ including a tube for travel
Possible to mail order poster or note cards with email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Many: Free Travel Guides
Again, not exactly a "shopping tip". but I didn't know where to place this. Many of the shops have a free Tourist Guide boooklet that lists motels, restaurants, nightlife, stores, etc. by area. It's spiral bound, and nice to have with you. It also has some useful maps.It's about 150 pages of useful information and ads, and can be of some help.
What to pay: FREE!
Costa Rican Coffee
What to buy: I'm definitely no coffee connoisseur. In fact, I only started drinking it about a year ago. Maybe I'm not the best person to judge java quality, but I do have to say that the coffee in CR is the best I've ever tasted.
My favorite place for coffee: CAFE MOKA. Store located in the Mercado Central. They will grind the fresh roasted beans right on site. They did a nice job of packing the coffee for our long journey home.
Best store-bought brands: 1820, Volio, Montana. Found these brands in stores all over the country; from large markets like Mas por Menos to small-town sundry stores.
Tourist coffee: Cafe Britt. This coffee is twice the price of the above mentioned brands. Local sources told us to stay away from Britt. Was waved off as overpriced coffee only for tourists.
banana & coffee paper...
in San José if you go to the Central Market don't stop into the external ring full of shops for tourist, the inner rings you can find local craft at local prices ;-)...
in Santa Elena (which is like to say Monteverde) if you reach the paved street , when it turns left, on the right there is a general store where among the everyday stuff, you can find ideas for presents at such a low price compared to souvenirs shops...
at Tamarindo my best liked shop was Galeria Paseo de las Estrellas on the main street...
What to buy: Speaking of small presents to bring back, what I found more typical were stuff made of banana or coffee paper and the most unusual were feathers which local artists had painted with images of tropical animals or lanscapes.
Then there are lots of wooden object from the most common souvenirs to nice little drawers (those to put on desktops) carved into a piece of tree trunk or big branch.
In the seaside places you can find little jewelry and other stuff made of shells and of course you can buy cigars made with the local tobacco.
As a snack try the dried bananas which are like chips.
a note: remember that if you buy already peeled and sliced fruit at a stall or by a pedlar, the white stuff which comes with is not sugar but salt ;-)Related to:
- Adventure Travel
What to buy: A great typical souvenir to buy is without doubt the Costa Rican rocking chair. They can easily be folded, put in a box an be taken home by air. As long as you do not have too much overall weight you don't need to pay extra. We brought home two chairs put in one big box. No problem at all.
What to pay: A good price is between 80 and 115 USD for one chair. However, there are places where you'll pay more.
Costa Rican Coffee
What to buy: If you like coffee, don't go home without buying the excellent Costa Rica coffee. Most hotels have free samples in the rooms to try. You can buy the coffee in the supermarket, but if you have the opportunity to visit Cafe Britt plantation, buy the coffee in their shop. There are several flavours that you can try first.
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