Safety Tips in Costa Rica

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Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Costa Rica

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    If you pay with American dollars...

    by monica71 Updated Apr 28, 2008

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    We took American dollars with us when we left for Costa Rica and we exchange $50 in colones, therefore there were several places where we ate or bought stuff and we paid in American dollars. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that the exchange rate varied from store to store and from restaurant to restaurant. There was one particular restaurant in La Fortuna (Soda Y Express Kristina) that we ate dinner at and we were charged $1 more just because we paid in American dollars. The owner of the restaurant and his wife were there and they told us that this was because we were paying in dollars and not in colones. Our waiter came to us to apologize for this incident, telling us that the owner had too much to drink and this is why he was behaving this way. I wanted to argue with the owner, but my husband stopped me from doing it since it was just a matter of $1. I explained to him that is not the amount that bothers me, but the gesture of the owner. I let it go, but I left the restaurant with a bitter taste in my mouth and I will surely avoid eating here next time we are in the area.
    I will consider exchanging about $200 in colones next time we visit Costa Rica, so we can avoid running into incidents like this one.

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    Challenging roads (part 2)

    by monica71 Written Apr 28, 2008

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    I am sure you read about the poor road signs in Costa Rica, but I really think that you have to experience it before really understanding this statement. Of course you will see good road signs while you are close to San Jose, but the further you go from the city, the worse the signs get. You can easily get lost on the roads. We got lost few times on the road from Alajuela to Manuel Antonio, but once we figured out what signs to look for, it was pretty easy to get there.

    The maps you are given when you rent a car are not very detailed, so do not be surprised if you have to stop several times and ask for directions. Ticos are friendly people and they do like to help if you ask them. Even if you do not speak Spanish, they will do their best to explain to you how to get back on the road that takes you in the direction you want to go. We do not speak Spanish at all and we were so grateful that Ticos were patient with us and made sure we really understood the directions they gave us.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    Challenging roads (part 1)

    by monica71 Updated Apr 28, 2008

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    In Costa Rica there are good roads, bad roads and very bad roads. I like to think that we drove on all of them and that there are no worse roads than some of the ones we drove on. If you have a car and you are the driver, make sure you feel comfortable driving a stick car on narrow roads, with lots of sharp turns. Do not attempt to pass the vehicle in front of you unless you have really good visibility on the opposite direction traffic. We have seen lots of cars in the ditch because the driver attempted to pass the vehicle in front and lost control of the car while doing it.

    Another challenge are the narrow bridges that you encounter while driving. They are wide enough to accommodate just 1 car, so when you come close to the bridge you have to make sure there is no other car coming from the opposite direction.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    Do not feed the animals

    by monica71 Written Apr 28, 2008

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    When you are vacationing in Costa Rica, you will most likely come close to some of the animals in the area you are visiting. You will see signs like this one in the picture in a lot of places. Try to stop the temptation to feed the animals. The latest reports issued show a lot of death in the animals due to heart failure triggered by human food. So the next time you come close to a monkey or any other kind of animals or birds, try to remember this report and do not feed them anything.

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  • Not safe

    by chels77 Written Apr 8, 2008

    I live in San Jose costa rica. It no longer is safe here for tourist or locales.
    Robberies and assaults are common place day or night.Anarchy reigns, security has decreased AT an incredible rate. You can NEVER leave your house alone any where in this country.
    People are robbed in their hotel rooms.Maybe 15% of the victims file police reports because they understand the futility of it.Crack is smoked openly. Thousand of street people sleep do drugs releave them selfs in the streets. Do not be fool my the internet adds . The beaches are even more dangous than the city.

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Women's Travel
    • Family Travel

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    Are There Snakes in Costa Rica?

    by grandmaR Written Mar 18, 2008

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    Yes there are, but sightings are pretty rare.

    We went to the serpentarium at 1st Ave., 9 & 11 Streets in San Jose so we would know what the snakes looked like, but other than that, we saw no snakes.

    We did see big iguanas and Jesus Christ lizards and poison arrow frogs and lots of birds, and monkeys and a couple of sloths and a coati mundi. And mosquitoes. And bats, hermit crabs and fish. But no snakes.

    The serpentarium however has moved from San Jose, so that it is no longer in the city. It is now about 1km (1/2 mile) outside of Grecia, on the old road to Alajuela (see photo #2 - the map) and is now called the World of Snakes.

    It had lots of other kinds of animals other than snakes, like crocodiles and other reptiles. It also featured boa constrictors, Jesus Christ lizards, poison dart frogs, iguanas, and an aquarium full of deadly sea snakes. There are also such exotic creatures as king cobras and Burmese pythons. Unless you have a severe phobia about snakes, I recommend it - I thought it was fun.

    Open daily from 8am to 4pm. Not only has it moved, but it apparently has also raised the rates. Although the $11 admission includes a guided tour.

    There's also one near Monteverde

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Mom or Dad worried?

    by melosh Updated Mar 8, 2008

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    Are you a parent with a child going to Costa Rica and perhaps even further into Central America? Or are you a young person with a worried parent?

    I could tell you stories, but what good would it do you? A parent will worry. Why make it worst?

    Rather, let me try to help by making two suggestions: 1) I suggest that the young traveler read the US consulate reports on the countries he/she will be visiting, but the parent refrain from this read. The reports are generally alarmist and present an extremely negative view. They might open a travelers eyes to possible dangers. Knowing that your child is aware of the dangers can help a parent worry less, but knowing the dangers generally will only fuel a parent's worry. 2) I suggest that the parent ask their offspring to let them pay for a room in an internationally recognized hotel for that first night. This is asked as a favor to you. If she/he agrees you (both of you) look for a hotel that will include airport pickup but is not located at the airport. Optimally this would safely get the traveler to a place where they can start experiencing Costa Rica but where the parent can feel comfortable "knowing" that they are safe.

    After that first night both traveler and parent are on their own.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

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  • Very friendly country but Thieves abound!

    by kaniva Written Jan 30, 2008

    Many con artists look for innocent tourists/ Such as the old lady who gets on the public bus and drops her bag. Behind her is her accomplis(s) waiting to pick something off your person.
    Beware of someone who spills something on you and tries to clean you off- but cleans your pocket out too!

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    Don't Get Too Comfortable

    by Sonny0155 Written Jan 20, 2008

    While in Nosara last year, we rented a house with a backyard that bordered what we thought was dense jungle. After a few nights of taking surfboards and bicycles in, (and a full two weeks of leaving everything in our front yard the year before without a problem) we figured it would be ok to leave them in the backyard. In the morning they were gone. After doing some investigating, we found a trail through the jungle about 10 yards in. After speaking with some locals, we were told that since tourism has increased so much in a short period of time, so has theft. An unfortunate side effect of growth. If you are renting a property, definitely ask the rental company about any information or past issues, and don't hesitate to tell them if you experience any problem, or need anything (we mentioned that the property needed better outdoor lighting). Nosara Travel was very accomodating, and I would recommend them to anyone.

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  • Credit Card Phone Calls

    by arawlin2 Written Jan 13, 2008

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    Don't fall for the same thing we did. We used the access code in the hotel room and a credit card to make a call. My girlfriend made two 10-minute phone calls to the US with her credit card and was charged $100 each. I have heard that these phones are all over the world.

    If you see these at your hotel or at the airport and you have a minute, leave a warning. Let's put these guys out of business. Also, any place you are staying know you do not appreciate them advertising for such an unsavory operation.

    (Picture from AMcostarica.com)

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  • ceesong's Profile Photo

    excessive dampness, mold allergy

    by ceesong Updated Jan 7, 2008

    Costa Rica has beautiful rainforrests, and naturally it rains a lot. So if you have certain allergy to mildew and mold, it is best to choose an accomodation that has good air circulation. Check to see if the windows can be open, are netted. Avoid places near rivers, streams, ditch, etc. The hostel rooms in low valley area can have unpleasant mildew odor that can trigger allergy.

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    beware of that cup of joe

    by JaQT Written Jan 3, 2008

    If you're like me and love to have your occassional cup of joe in the morning. Beware!! I was so quick to accept a cup of coffee from one of the locals in Monteverde unbeknownest to me to be careful with the drinking water in Costa Rica. I enjoyed that cup of joe for the first 30 minutes and then became very ill the rest of the day. Although Costa Rica is an absolutely beautiful country....take heed when it comes to their drinking water.

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  • colleengill's Profile Photo

    strong Caribbean currents

    by colleengill Written Nov 25, 2007

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    be very careful before entering the water as rip tides can be very strong. If you see red flags on certain areas of the beach you cannot enter there, only enter where green flags are in the sand. Keep in mind that there are few to no lifeguards on any of the beaches (on the Caribbean side at least).

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  • ArenJo's Profile Photo

    City buses and taxis

    by ArenJo Written Nov 16, 2007

    I myself didn't fall prey to the city bus, but I heard of a lot of other people getting stuff stolen on the bus, or getting robbed by a driver with a weapon in a taxi. Just be alert and only take taxis that are authorized to drive.

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  • phoenix210's Profile Photo

    PUNTA UVA-Thieves using SPOTTERS on the beach

    by phoenix210 Updated Nov 3, 2007

    THEFT of vehicle contents. There are a group of bandits using SPOTTERS in this location.

    They are targeting the contents of vehicles. Luggage, laptops, cameras, etc... After our encounter I found out this has been going on for awhile and still continues.

    We actually had a Tico Guide with a plain white, unmarked van with Costa Rica tags. We parked alongside several other parked vehicles. There were locals (Ticos and Rasta)fishing alongside the parking area.

    As long as the three of us were within sight of our van, no problems. We began to wander and seperated along the beach. We heard the car alarm go off and there they were. The bandits had their motor running and doors open on the get away vehicle. They were attempting to break into the back of the van and just snatch and grab anything they could get away with fast. ALL WITHIN 20 FEET AND PLAIN SIGHT OF THE LOCAL PEOPLE FISHING.
    Too bad for Punta Uva that they tolerate this.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Family Travel
    • Diving and Snorkeling

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