Travel guide

General information of Costa Rica

Area: 51,100 km2

Borders: North border with Nicaragua at the San Juan River, South border with Panamá at Paso Canoas, East with Caribbean Sea and West with the Pacific Ocean.

Language: Officially and mainly Catholicism.

Idiomas: Spanish. Dialects: Creol, Boruca, Bribri, Maleku among other.

Highest mountain: Cerro Chirripó with 3820 meters.

Largest Crater: Poás Volcano. 1 km. of diameter (one of the widest in the world)

Population: 4 600 000 habitants.

Administrative division: 7 provinces, 81 counties and 463 districts.

Time and Date: UTC-06:00  Universal Time Coordinate, antes Greenwich Mean Time.

Date format : day, month and year.

Holidays:

  •     January 1st (New year)
  •     April 11th (Day of the National Hero, Juan Santamaría),
  •     Thursday and Friday of the Holly Week or Easter Week (Third week of April),
  •     May 1st (International day of the Work),
  •     July 25th (Annexation of the Nicoya Party),
  •     August 2nd (Day of the Virgin of Los Angles, Patron of Costa Rica),
  •     August 15th (Mothers´ Day and ascension of the Virgin Mary)
  •     September 15th (Independence Day)
  •     October 12th (Day of Culture Encounter)
  •     December 25th, (Christmas Day)
  •     These are obligatory holidays, never the less there are places that work normally during these days.

Working hours:

    Public Area: 8:00 a.m.until 5:00 p.m.
    Private Area:  9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
    Banks: There are some with day hours from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The branches tend to be open from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and some in San José downtown until 7:00 p.m.
    Shopping Malls, stores, supermarkets, movie theatres, lunch and dinner places: open from 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00 a.m.

Currency:

The official currency is the Colón. Current denominations: ¢10, ¢20, ¢25, ¢50, ¢100, ¢500, ¢1000, ¢2000, ¢5000, ¢10000 & ¢20 000.

Dollars are well accepted, actually, some prices are presented in dollars. $100 bills are hard to be accepted even in hotels, restaurants and stores. It’s better if you go to the bank and change them before going out for shopping or eating. Don’t change money in the street, usually the exchange rate is not correct and you risk yourself to get false bills.

Credit and debit cards are well accepted, but you can be charged occasionally a 5% or 7% more. Travelers’ checks are well accepted, especially in hotels.

In San José downtown, you can find lots of cash machines, in the rural areas there are less, and sometimes there aren’t at all.