San José time
and temperature

E-Mail:

forester@racsa.co.cr

US and Canada Call:
1-727-230-0563
 
 
 
BEFORE YOUR TRIP STARTS
 
 
playa
 
Climate:
 
The temperature varies little throughout the year. It is cooler in the higher, mountainous areas like San José (60º - 75º) and warmer in the lowlands and at the beaches. The dry season runs from December to April; the rainy season from May to November. During the rainy season, mornings are usually bright and sunny. It rains early in the afternoons but ordinarily does not last long.
 
iguana
 
 
Suggested wardrobe:
 

Costa Ricans dress informally. They are aware of fashion but very seldom go to extremes. It is a good idea to wear lightweight clothing and a jacket or sweater so these can be removed when the temperature rises. An umbrella may also come in handy. Comfortable walking shoes, tennis shoes or thongs are suggested. You might need a bathrobe for your home stay. During the dry season, it usually gets chilly in the evenings, so bring an extra sweater or jacket. Bathing suits are a must, of course! A small knapsack or bag will come in handy.

Women: Jeans and T-shirts, slacks and blouses, a jacket. A dress or two for special occasions and/or evening wear.

Men: Jeans and T-shirts, slacks and sports shirts, a jacket. A sports jacket and a tie are handy.

Toiletries can be bought in San José. Drugstores have a good supply of imported goods but they are expensive, e.g. cosmetics, suntan lotion, film, tennis balls, etc.

 
 
Finances:
 
The Costa Rican monetary unit is the colón. It is best to bring money in the form of travelers' checks (U.S. dollars). It is always a good idea to bring some dollars to tide you over until you can go to the bank. Do not expect to be able to cash a personal check. Major credit cards are accepted in most large stores in the main cities. ATM's are available.
See the exchange rate in colones for one dollar.
 
      
       
 
                 
 
Health:
 

Public health in Costa Rica compares favorably with that of many developed countries. No shots are necessary to come to the country. Medical facilities are numerous and dependable. Many English speaking doctors and dentists practice in San José. Unlike other developing countries, the water is safe to drink in most areas.

It is strongly recommended that students take medical insurance before coming to Costa Rica. Most plans include an essential 24-hour, multilingual travel emergency service, providing help during medical situations, replacement of prescriptions, pre-travel advice and more. Travel agents or an Internet search can provide different options.

 
Hospital Cima
 
 
Crime:
 
Costa Rica, in general, is a safe place. Women need to be careful with purses, as most crime is of the petty type...pickpockets and purse-snatching. Be careful on buses and in crowded areas. Do not leave valuables or personal documents in a parked car.

   
   
Transportation:
 
Buses are widely used and economical. Most taxi fares within San José cost from $3-$5. Travel by air within the country is adequate and inexpensive. You can drive for 3 months with a valid driver's license issued in your own country.
 
 
Directions:
 
Costa Ricans rarely use street numbers when giving directions. Familiar reference points are used instead. Usually an address is given by indicating the distance in meters to the north, south, east or west from a more or less well known reference point. In the case of our Institute, the reference point is the Automercado, a supermarket in the Los Yoses neighborhood.

Visitors often find this system somewhat confusing, especially during the first days of their stay. However, with a little dose of patience and sense of humor they get the hang of it pretty quickly.
 
 
 
Entertainment:
 
Night life in San José is varied and will satisfy almost everyone. Theaters, movies, restaurants, bars and discotheques with live tropical music are abundant and lively, even on weekdays. The National Theater offers fine concerts and recitals. 
 
Entertainment
 
 
Weekend travel plans and tourist information:
 
The Institute can recommend travel agencies that can give students information about different places to go and help them with hotel reservations, car rentals, tours, etc. Please access our Weekend Trip Options section.
 
 
 
Tipping:
 
At restaurants, a 10% service charge is included in the bill, so no extra tipping is necessary. Taxi drivers are usually not tipped. 
 
 
Personal expenses / pocket money:
 

It is difficult to suggest a precise amount, as each student has his/her own lifestyle and preferences. For an informal lunch, $5-$7   would be enough (fast food or typical "tico" food in an inexpensive place).   A beer costs around $2. There are many fine restaurants in San José that are, of course, more expensive. Going to the movies costs around $5-$6. For daily transportation by public bus, the student would need around $1.

In regards to lodging on weekend trips to the beaches and rain forests, there are plenty of options, from inexpensive "cabinas" to luxury hotels and resorts.

One day white water rafting trips cost $60-$85. They are very popular among visitors.
 
 
Electricity:
 
110 volts.
 
 
Mail:
 
Allow 8-10 days to receive mail from the U.S. or Europe, and the same amount of time for your letters to get there. If it is convenient, you may have your mail sent to the Institute's box number during your stay. 
 
 
Airport taxi service:
 
Taxis serving San José's airport are convenient and readily available at all hours. Please make sure to take a cab from "TAXI AEROPUERTO," the company that officially serves the airport. Its cars are orange colored. The ride from the airport to the school or most host families takes about half an hour and costs around US$30-40. The ride is paid in advance at the airport either in US$ or colones.
 
 
 
Home addresses:
 
The Institute will provide the addresses and telephone numbers of the host families two weeks in advance so that students can take a taxi and go there directly after arriving at the airport. Students who do not want to go directly to their host families should come with their luggage to the Institute on the first day of class. Their families will meet them here after classes and take them home.
 
 
Homestay arrival time:
 
The homestay begins on the Sunday prior to the week when classes start. Students should make their flight arrangements so that they can arrive to their host families before 9:00 p.m. Students whose flight schedules do not allow this or those whose flights are late -arriving after 8:00 p.m.- will have to spend the first night in a hotel. All hotel costs which the students might incur are at their own expense. Students must provide their flight information one week in advance either to the families or the Institute.
 
familia
 
 
A gift for the host family:
 
Some students ask about a little present to bring to their host families. This is not necessary. However, some students insist in bringing a small gift. In these cases, a bottle of wine, chocolates or a souvenir from their country would be adequate.
 
chocolates
 
 
Check-in time at the Institute:
 
Students should come to the Institute at 8:00 a.m. the Monday their program begins. 
 
check in
 
 
Airport exit tax:
 
There is an exit tax of US$27 payable at the airport either in dollars or colones.
 
aeropuerto
 
 
Travel guides:
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

© 2013. Forester Instituto Internacional.