Costa Rica is a fantastic destination. From lively cities to quaint beach towns, you can find just about everything in this small country. The only downside is that Costa Rica has been discovered by tourists around the world and the prices within the country reflect its new popularity. The days of 3 USD dinners and 10 USD hotel rooms have passed. But that doesn’t mean Costa Rica can’t be a budget-friendly destination. Read on to learn how to travel through Costa Rica on a budget.
Public transportation is your friend
The road network in Costa Rica is mediocre, and that is being generous. Getting from point A to point B can seem impossible unless you are willing to spend upwards of 65 USD (35000 CRC) on a shuttle. But don’t be fooled. With a little bit of effort, you can get yourself there for only a few bucks. The key is to embrace the bus system. The bus system is complicated and often you will have to return to San Jose or Liberia before heading to another destination, but if you are willing to spend a few extra hours on a bus, your wallet will thank you. You can also check out the Costa Rica rideshare page below to see if anyone in the country is willing to offer you a ride.
Skip the tours and enjoy the views
Costa Rica is famous for its multiple national parks. This country tends to attract a lot of nature lovers and you cannot say you’ve experienced Costa Rica without visiting a few of the famous national parks. Taxi drivers, local tour companies, and the employees at the national parks will insist that the 50 USD (27000 CRC) a guide will cost is worth the price. A note to budget travelers: don’t listen. Do some research beforehand to determine which trails are the best, plan a route through the national park, and bring a pair of binoculars. While a guide will point out the wildlife and hand you a pair of binoculars through which to view the animals, their assistance is not necessary. When walking through the park you will spot tour groups hovering around a guide and gazing at some spot in the distance. Just ask someone what they are looking at (they are always willing to tell you) and use your binoculars to look for yourself. The only benefit of a guide is that you will learn a lot more about the plant and animal life in the park, but that’s just another example of why Google is a budget traveler’s best friend.
Eat in the local sodas
There is a lot of good food to be found in Costa Rica, but a lot of that food is unnecessarily expensive. If you are looking for a cheap meal, skip the tourist traps and head straight for the local sodas. These small restaurants don’t look like much, but for just 4 USD (2150 CRC) you can get a massive plate of food. The local Costa Rican dish is casados, a full plate of beans, rice, veggies, fish or meat, and plantains. Not only is casados delicious and filling, but it is the cheapest meal you will find in Costa Rica.
Save your money and still have an amazing experience
Costa Rica is an incredible country and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to have an amazing experience. Of course things like surf lessons, canopy tours, ATV rides, and diving are lots of fun, but if you cannot afford these excursions, don’t worry. Your time in Costa Rica will still be incredible. The nature, the people, and the personality of the country is so vibrant that you are guaranteed to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, regardless of your budget.
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