A Quick Costa Rica Guide from a Tica

Given that our families are distributed between Nicaragua and the US, and we were going to have A LOT of out of country guests at our Costa Rican wedding, we created a website with tons of information, including an FAQs page with some general information about the country. Now that the wedding is behind us, I wanted to share some of these facts and tips that might help those planning on visiting my little paradise.

Quick Facts
• Capital: San José
• Airport code: SJO
• Dialing code: +506
• Population: 4,726,575
• Area: 19,730 sq miles
• Language: Spanish
• Currency: Colones
• Approximate Exchange Rate: ¢500 = $1
• Time Zone: UTC-6

Quick Tips
• To call Costa Rica from the US dial 011-506-[8-digit CR Number]
• To call the US from Costa Rica dial 00-1-[US Area Code + Phone #)
• US citizens don’t need a Visa but do need a passport.
• Costa Rican beers include Imperial, Pilsen, Rock Ice, and Bavaria.
• For all my southerners, bring your bourbon. Jack Daniels can be up to $18 more expensive in CR.
• Every service bill already includes a 10% service charge.
• An average tip for complimentary services (i.e. bellboys): $2-$3 or ¢1,000-¢1,500
• Drinking tap water is safe!
• Master Card and VISA are accepted everywhere. AMEX is sometimes accepted.
• Cashiers will swipe your credit/debit card for you.
• At gas stations you will not pump your own gas.
• Dollars are accepted everywhere, but $50 and $100 bills are generally not.
• If you are driving, keep in mind we have several tolls.
• Costa Rica requires everyone to pay a $27 departure tax at the airport. You can’t check-in at the counter without the tax receipt.
• Delta is the only airline that flights directly (at least from Atlanta).
• If you are taking public transportation from the airport, take an orange airport cab.
• If you are taking public transportation anywhere else, take a red cab.

Typical Dishes
• Gallo Pinto (mixed beans and rice)
• Chorreada (big corn savory pancake)
• Tamal (beef or chicken tamale during Christmas)
• Tortillas de Queso (tortillas with mixed in cheese)
• Olla de Carne (soup with beef, potatoes, carrots, plantains, and casava)
• Casado (beans, fried plantains, rice, cheese, tortilla, and meat/fish)
• Arroz con Pollo (shredded chicken mixed with rice and vegetables) served with refried beans.
• Gallos de Papa (potatoes and ground beef on a corn tortilla)
• Cajeta de leche (made with cookies, condensed milk, and butter)
• Tres Leches (three milks cake)
• Arroz con Leche (rice pudding)

Last but not least…”Pura Vida”: A very popular and well-known Costa Rican expression that can be interpreted as “great”. For example: “How are you?”…”Pura Vida!”

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