Many people speak English, but Spanish is Costa Rica’s official language.

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The official currency of Costa Rica is the colon, which is divided into 100 centimos. US dollars are widely accepted, and you can exchange both US cash and US traveler’s checks at banks and some hotels. It’s best to change money from US dollars, as changing other currencies often incurs fees. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are becoming increasingly easy to find. It’s still a good idea to carry some cash on you, especially away from major tourist attractions.

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Costa Rica’s international country code is 506. To call another country from Costa Rica, dial 00 followed by the appropriate country code. Phone cards offer the cheapest way to make an international phone call. Most of the main towns have internet cafés.

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In tourist areas and high-end restaurants, the customary tip is 10 percent. Pay attention to your bill though; some places include a 17 percent sales and service tax in the total. Restaurants frequented by locals rarely expect tips. Tip your tour guides, but not your taxi drivers. If you’ve had great service, a tip of 5 to 10 percent is much appreciated.

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Costa Rica occasionally has problems with violent crime. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly when you’re leaving the airport. Keep your belongings close in public areas like bus stations. Theft of and from cars is a common occurrence. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear jewelry. Strikes and protests occasionally disrupt the flow of traffic.

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You don’t need to get any vaccinations to enter Costa Rica, but immunizations against typhoid and Hepatitis A are recommended. You should also consult with your doctor about potential malaria prevention options, since malaria can be present year round.

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Costa Rica’s electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz, which takes two-pinned flat plugs.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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