Costa Rican FAQ

ABOUT STAY WITH US

Any time is a good time to visit Las Cumbres. Our hotel accommodations are available year-round; just be sure to confirm your booking with enough time, in order to be sure you get the room you want.

Most visitors come during the dry season (December to March). The dry season offers consistently sunny weather, although there are occasionally bouts of rain. Nevertheless, the green season (June to October) boasts beautiful natural landscapes and isn’t to be dismissed lightly.

The green season throughout Costa Rica is usually characterized by morning sun and afternoon rain. However, Costa Rica’s tropical climate and varied terrain does create unpredictable weather patterns throughout the year.

Although there is more rain in the afternoon, during the rainy or “green” season, the areas of Escazú and downtown San Jose are not dramatically affected. Some rain and lightning can be expected, though there are rarely any floods or other rain related disasters to be concerned about.

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed. Unlike a tourist hotel, we work under antibacterial conditions with post-operative medicine and medical/hypoallergenic supplies. Our guests here are post-surgery patients recovering from dental procedures or surgical procedures such as tummy tucks, breast augmentation, facelifts, liposuction, etc. and pets do not fit in well.

INFORMATION ABOUT TRAVELING TO COSTA RICA

Most major airlines now include this fee in the price of the ticket, though you should check ahead of time. This fee can be paid at the airport, if not included in the flight purchase.

The departure tax counter is always open and can be paid in U.S. Dollars, Costa Rican Colones, or Visa debit/credit cards. Paying at either airport usually takes about 10 minutes.

To visit Costa Rica, all you need is a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the entry date to Costa Rica. In most cases, a return airline ticket to leave Costa Rica within 90 days of your arrival is also requested.

Citizens from the United States, Canada, and most European countries don’t need a visa to enter Costa Rica.

To find specific visa requirements or restrictions on your home country, visit the Costa Rican embassy page.

There are two international airports in Costa Rica: the Juan Santa María International Airport (SJO), which is in Alajuela, and the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR), which is located in Liberia.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please choose the SJO airport as your place of arrival if you are planning on traveling directly to Las Cumbres. Liberia is located approximately 5 hours away from San Jose.

Passing through immigration at the international airports is usually stress-free. Once you arrive, our VIP welcoming service will greet you as soon as you enter the main lobby. This person will help you collect your luggage, after which you will pass through a checkpoint where officials X-ray baggage and collect customs forms. After this, you’ll be able to leave the terminal and meet our driver outside.

Usually travelers can expect it to take about 45 minutes to exit the airport after they land.

INFORMATION ABOUT STAYING IN COSTA RICA

The voltage in Costa Rica is 110 volts – the same as in the United States. Simply plug your device into the wall outlet. You may find adapters that change outlets from two to three-pronged outlets useful for travelers from outside the United States.

You will only need to bring an adapter if you have devices that require European outlets.

We recommend you use sunscreen if going on a walk around Escazu or San Jose. We can also provide you with wide-brimmed hats if you cannot use sunscreen or want extra protection. However, the sun is not as strong in the Central Valley as it is on the coasts. 

As a tropical location, mosquitoes are common in Costa Rica, though mostly during the green season (June to October). Mosquitoes are more common in the Caribbean because of the warm, humid climate.

Escazú is located in San Jose’s Central Highlands, therefore you won’t have to worry about swarms of mosquitos.

In Costa Rica, you’ll find amazing coffee, hand-crafted wooden bowls, figurines, jewelry boxes, T-shirts, colorful beach towels, sheets, paintings and more.

You can go to several gift shops in Escazú or take a day trip to San Jose where you will have access to an even larger number of stores that specifically cater to souvenirs and crafts. The SJO airport also has a wide selection of shops, however, the prices are significantly higher.

There is one called The Tico Times. You can find the digital version at http://www.ticotimes.net/

If you have an unlocked smart phone, you can purchase a Costa Rican SIM card with a local number.

You can also arrange your phone for international calls through your home carrier. Cell service is usually good in San Jose and decent outside of the major cities.

If you don’t have an international plan, be sure to check with your provider about roaming charges before you arrive, as it can be expensive if turned on while overseas.

panish is the official language of Costa Rica, however, you will notice that many Costa Rican speak some level of English, from the basics to near fluency.

It is very easy to find doctors and medical staff who speak English. Las Cumbres has a fully bilingual staff as far as the manager, receptionist, nurses, and drivers. Cleaning and kitchen staff are not fluent, but will understand your requests.

Costa Rica does not use daylight savings time. It operates at GMT-6 year-round. From mid-March through early November, Costa Rica is in the Mountain Standard (MST) time zone. The rest of the year, Costa Rica is in the U.S. Central Standard (CST) time zone.

TRANSPORTATION IN COSTA RICA

Public buses are the most common means of transportation for Costa Ricans and connect nearly every city and town. Public buses are economical, but are less comfortable, slower, and less secure for your belongings.

Renting a car in Costa Rica will give you the freedom and flexibility to travel wherever  you please. Price ranges can differ greatly from one company to another. Please do not hesitate to ask us for help with finding the best option for car rentals.

You should note that both road infrastructure and laws differ greatly from American, Canadian, and European standards. Our roads are not commonly marked with streets names. We recommend getting a GPS system (Google Maps) with the car so you can avoid navigation difficulties.

Also, due to rugged terrain, curvy single lane roads, and slow moving trucks, it will take you longer to get most places than the actual distance would seem to indicate. Be prepared to stay focused on the road and drive defensively.

If you are thinking of doing some sightseeing or going on tours, there are plenty of tourism companies that provide pick up / drop off service here at Las Cumbres. You can also consider getting a private driver for the day.

Our receptionist can help you with either of the above options.

ABOUT SAFETY IN COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is quite safe. You will feel welcomed by the “pura vida“ culture that Costa Ricans (or Ticos) are famous for, as soon as you arrive.

There are, however, a few precautions that are recommended:

– Only use licensed taxis or transportation we arrange.

– Carry a copy of your passport, rather than the original. Keep your important documents and other valuable objects in the in-room safe.

– If you are going out, especially at night, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry.

– Don’t go out with large amounts of cash if you don’t really need to. Most places of interest, including physician’s and dentist’s offices, accept credit or debit cards.

– Although people can be the friendliest and nicest, always use common sense. Don’t let yourself be a victim of a street scam.

– Avoid leaving the hotel premises for walks after dark.

Overall, crime is not a critical problem around here. However, it’s best to be safe and avoid placing yourself in dangerous situations. Please visit the reception to ask about the best places and times to go sightseeing or to get a taxi. We are always happy to help.

It is very safe to eat the fruits and vegetables in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is an agricultural country. There are many small farms throughout the country that grow products to sell at farmers markets, along the side of the road, or to local supermarkets. We recommend exploring local markets around San Jose downtown or in Escazú to see and sample the diversity of Costa Rica’s bounty.

Yes. Tap water is safe to drink here, however, chlorine and other chemicals are put in it and can make the taste less than appetizing. We recommend buying bottled water to ensure appealing water.

We provide bottled water tanks at the common areas that can be used to refill your water bottle for no extra charge. 

Costa Rica has a good reputation for safe travel. Women traveling alone rarely encounter problems.

In any case, remember that Las Cumbres will always arrange your transportation to appointments, sightseeing, or errands so that you don’t have to worry about finding the right taxis or getting lost.  

We can also help you out if you are going on a city tour, or simply walking around the neighborhood. We give careful directions and a way to contact us so that you know where you’re going and feel safe.

One thing we can assure is, you will never feel lonely or bored. There are always plenty of other guests to meet and socialize with, while you are here.

MONEY AND PAYING IN COSTA RICA

Most of the time a tip it is not expected by drivers or service workers, but is certainly appreciated.

For transactions involving service, a 10% service tax is added to your bill, especially in restaurants. Check to see if this service tax is included in the prices listed. The service tax takes the place of tips in Costa Rica. You are not expected to tip additionally in restaurants or taxis, though they are appreciated.

Credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica, in all established businesses.

If you plan on using your credit card or debit card frequently, it is very important to tell your bank that you will be in Costa Rica, before you leave. Banks often automatically block transactions in foreign countries in order to protect your account.

Also, be sure to check with your credit card company to see if there are additional fees for international transactions. Many credit cards do not charge an additional fee for purchases in foreign countries, while others do add additional transaction fees. Often, it’s about 1-2% of the total transaction cost.

The sales tax is 13%.

The service tax is 10%.

Always check in stores and restaurants whether the sales tax is included in their pricing. Otherwise, it will be added to your bill when you pay.

HEALTH IN COSTA RICA

We always suggest following your doctor’s suggestions. If you have any doubt, we recommend ask in your travel agency or airline. 

Yes. We are located near many pharmacies and some even offer express delivery for your commodity at no extra cost. 

The majority of medications – with the exception of antibiotics and heavy pain killers – can usually be purchased without a prescription. Your doctor or dentist will provide you with a prescription note if necessary.

Yes, combining your medical needs with the pleasure of a vacation is convenient and safe. We encourage you to visit some of the beautiful places in the country and have a wonderful time. You can plan your vacation before or after your medical procedure, depending on the need and scope of the medical work that will be done.