In this FAQ section, we want to provide our site visitors with some basic and general answers to the most common questions. We are also including a set of recommendations for General Safety we consider useful for any student, faculty, or researcher planning to come to Costa Rica
General Safety Information
- Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is generally very safe, but like anywhere in the world you should stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times: never leave personal belongings unattended and do not carry items which attract attention to you, such as designer bags or expensive jewelry and sunglasses.
- Remember that you are in a tropical location so there will be pesky bugs flying around which may carry diseases. We suggest the use of use insect repellent with 30%-50% DEET and may want to purchase bug repellent containing even more DEET for deep-woods activities. It may also be a good idea to wear long pants and sleeves during peak biting hours (dusk and dawn) when visiting forests and beaches.
- Don’t carry more than $ 20.00 in colones currency while you’re walking around in downtown San José and use a secure bag or pocket to place your money and personal belongings, pickpockets still exist in some areas of the city and may take advantage of careless visitors.
- Make a copy of your passport and entry stamp for identification and carry them with you at all times. Do not carry your passport everywhere you go, keep it safe in your lodging or home while in Costa Rica. Always take a taxi when it is too late and dark, do not know the area where you are at, or you are coming back home alone.
- Get advice from your university staff, group guides, or your host families before going to any new place.
- Generally speaking, the water in Costa Rica is safe to drink, unless you are traveling in a remote area. With this being said, everyone’s body is different, so you may choose to play it safe and drink only bottled water during your stay. If possible, use
- refilled bottles…in this way we keep helping the environment as well.
- It is not recommended to eat food purchased at street vendors. Even though most local vendors do have permits and follow health protocols, some may not necessarily be as responsible as expected.
- Memorize your homestay address and telephone number, in Spanish, and carry it written on paper at all times.
- Whenever planning to visit a new destination, research all information about it before you leave, inform a friend or your host family in Costa Rica, and keep in touch with your beloved ones.
- Have a plan of action and always bring copies of reservation numbers and directions to hotels/ hostels at which you are planning to stay.
- The buses are paid in cash at the time of use; the system does not offer monthly tickets or student bus tickets.
Q) 1. Do I need a visa?
A. You don’t need a visa if you are planning to study in our country for less than three months, the required maximum time. However, if you are planning to stay longer than three months you must process a student visa. For detailed information on this matter please access the following site http://www.migracion.go.cr/extranjeros/visas.html or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q? 2. What documents will i need to process my student visa?
A. The documents that you need are:
- Two passport-size photos.
- Birth certificate, issued by the corresponding office in the country of origin of the student or professor, properly authenticated by the respective consulate of Costa Rica in the country of the student’s origin, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Costa Rica.
- Proof of enrollment at the receiving university through a Student Certification form, which can be requested at the university’s registrar’s or international program office.
- Criminal record, issued by the corresponding office in the country of origin of the student or professor, properly authenticated by the respective consulate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica.
Proof of consular registration. This document is issued by the embassy or consulate of each country in Costa Rica.
- Photocopy of the entire passport (all the pages and the cover). It should be verified that the legal stay in the country has not expired.
Q? 3. What is the cost of living in Costa Rica
A. The national currency in the country is the Colón. One dollar is about 540 colones approximately.
Examples of living expenses are:
- A one-way bus ride: 320 to 450 colones
- A taxi ride of 3 miles: around 3000 colones, depending on the hour.
- A full meal at the University’s cafeteria with dessert and drink: 3,500 colones.
Photocopies: 20 colones each page.
Q? 4. What is the Costa Rica diet like?
A. Costa Rican cuisine is simple but heavy on oil and carbohydrates. Native dishes, rely heavily on rice and beans, the basis of many Costa Rican meals. Gallo Pinto, the national dish of fried rice and black beans is particularly served for breakfast. Vegetables and fruits form a large part of the diet.
Costa Rican home cuisine has an inordinately amount of fried foods. Although Costa Rica is surrounded by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, seafood is a bit expensive as the country exports the bulk of its seafood. Chicken, pork, and beef are the most popular meats
Q? 7. Activities and atracctions to visit in the capaital, San José?
A. Costa Rica has approximately 6% of the world’s biodiversity and it is characterized by impressive scenic beauty, a consolidated system of protected areas, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services; for all that Costa Rica has become a premiere travel destination. Costa Rica was a pioneer in eco-tourism and continues to draw tourists from all over the world to visit its numerous national parks, marvel in its rich variety of plants and animals, and bask in the sun along its beautiful coastal beaches.
In the capital, San José, there are many tourism and recreational attractions such as:
- “El Pueblo” Tourism Center
- Butterfly Garden Spirogyra
- Children’s Museum National Theater
- Precolumbian Gold Museum
- Plaza de la Cultura National Museum of Costa Rica
- Contemporary Art and Design Museum
- Jade Museum
- Costa Rican Art Museum
- National Park Braulio Carrillo
- Poás Volcano
There is a variety of options if you wish to go shopping or to see a movie at the cinema:
- Mall San Pedro
- Guadalupe Shopping Center
- Mall Multiplaza del Este
- Mall Multiplaza de Escazú
- San José downtown
- Plaza Mayor
Q? 8. How is the value of the money in Costa rica?
A. The value of the money in Costa Rica according to date, is stated to be in:
It is recommended to check this link to be accurate with the date of values of the coins:
Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR)
Q? How is the transportation System in Costa Rica
A. Bus system
In Costa Rica, there are various of options to get around San José. The most common and inexpensive means of transportation is the bus system. The fees in the city range between 185 colones (USD $0.37) and 450 colones (USD $0.91) each way and generally run to each location every 15-30 minutes approximately.
Most terminals for out-of-San José trips are located downtown, but several bus stops are located along any well-traveled road in the country. The buses are paid in cash at the time of use; the system does not offer monthly tickets or student bus tickets. Only senior citizens can receive special discount tickets.
Taxis are also very affordable with rates generally ranging from ¢2,000 ($4USD) to¢ 3,500 colones ($7USD) each way, depending on the distance traveled. However is recommended to be careful with taxi services since they may charge you more than expected. To avoid such situation ask the driver to use the taximeter at all times.
6 Health system in costa Rica?
A. There are two types of systems; the government-run-universal healthcare system “Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social”, known as La Caja, and the private system. Both can be accessed by international or national citizens. Private healthcare, which is affordable and high quality, is wide spread around the capital area. There are three large, private hospitals that most international visitors use: CIMA hospital, Clínica Bíblica, and Hospital La Católica.
Q? 9. How is the weather in Costa Rica?
A. The climate in Costa Rica can be different depending on the season and the location. Though generally classified as a tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, it has no real winter period, and the sun shines here throughout the year. In general the weather can be classified as a dry or high season and a wet or green season. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5:45 am and sets at about 5:45 pm consistently throughout the year.
Q? 10. How is the Costa Rica Geography?
A. Costa Rica is located in Central America; it has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. The tropical coastal plains rise to mountains, active volcanoes, and a temperate central plateau where most people live (San José, the capital).
Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, each of which has its own characteristics and attractions: