COSTA RICA FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GETTING TO COSTA RICA

Direct flights are available from most major eastern US cities.

Airlines that fly to San Jose (Juan Santamaría International Airport, Alajuela):

– US Airways
– American Airlines
– Delta Airlines
– United Airlines
– Jet Blue
– Spirit Airlines
– Frontier Airlines
– Interjet
– Air Canada
– Iberia
– Air Transat
– Aeromexico
– Copa Airlines
– Avianca
– Condor

Airlines that fly to Liberia (Daniel Oduber International Airport, Liberia, Guanacaste):

– US Airways
– American Airlines
– Delta Airlines
– United Airlines
– Jet Blue
– Frontier Airlines
– WestJet
– Air Canada
– Copa Airlines
– Avianca

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN COSTA RICA

Although Costa Rica is a small country in terms of area, there is a lot going on here in terms of weather in Costa Rica. With a climate that is diverse and varied, Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which are distinct and individual. Though generally classified as a tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica 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.

The main reason for the diversity in Costa Rica lies in the fact that Costa Rica has an ocean and a sea relatively close to each other, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Of course elevation does also take part in the diversity of weather as well. For example Guanacaste which is next to the Pacific Ocean has a dry climate where there are many tropical dry forests, while Tortuguero which is on the Caribbean Ocean that is only about 130 miles or 210 km away (as the crow flies) has very humid and wet weather with rain throughout much of the year.

The Central Valley with San Jose enjoys the best climate in the country as the weather here has an average of 22 degrees Celsius or 72 degrees Fahrenheit and is tempered with a cool coastal breeze. In the highlands the temperature averages 13 degree Celsius, while in the lowlands or at sea level the temperature stays at around 26 degrees Celsius or 79 degrees Fahrenheit, with hot days and sultry evenings.

In Costa Rica the average annual temperature is around 21 to 27 degrees Celsius or 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit and the coolest months of the year are November, December and January. The months March through May are the hottest months of the year, so make sure you protect yourself from the sun.

There is no real summer or winter in Costa Rica and the rainy season here lasts from May to November, with the months of December through April having little to no rain and September and October being the heaviest rain period. While the average rainfall in the country is around 100 inches, some mountainous areas get as much as 25 feet of rainfall on a yearly basis. Also remember to keep in mind that Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is rather unique and has its own microclimate. With tradewinds keeping the weather hot and humid most of the year, there is no real dry season out here and it rains very often.

WHAT ARE THE VISA AND PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS

US CITIZENS:

1. Check the current validity of your passport.
All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Costa Rica. However, we strongly recommend traveling with 6 months validity on your passport at all times.

2. Make sure your passport has blank Visa pages.
Most destinations, including Costa Rica, require that you have adequate un-used pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure. We recommend that you have at least two free pages in Visas section of your passport before any international travel. U.S. citizens can get extra passport pages added to their passports as fast as within 24 hours.

3. Confirm if transit visa is required for any connections.
Check with your airline in case you have connecting flights overseas as part of your journey to Costa Rica. It may be the case that countries you pass through en route to your destination may require a separate transit visa. Please refer to visa requirements of the specific country.

Non-US or Canadian citizens will need to contact the Costa Rican Embassy for the visa requirements for your country.

WILL I REQUIRE ANY VACCINES

Visitors from the USA do not require any inoculations to visit Costa Rica.

The only requirement is for visitors from the following countries to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador as well as the Republic of Guyana.

IS THE WATER DRINKABLE

The water is potable in most of the country. We do however recommend using bottled water, specially in areas around the coast.

CAN I USE MY APPLIANCES FROM THE USA

Outlets are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs.

WHAT TIME ZONE IS COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time (-6 GMT) and Daylight Savings Time is not observed. This means the time difference between Costa Rica and U.S. cities varies throughout the year. For example: during the Summer time in the U.S., Costa Rica is 2 hours behind the East Coast. After the East Coast observes Daylight Savings Time and “falls back” an hour, Costa Rica is only 1 hour behind the East Coast.

WHAT IS THE CURRENCY

Costa Rica’s currency is the colon (CRC). The symbol for the colon is a c with two forward slashes (₡) Bills are issued in the following denominations: ₡1,000, ₡2,000, ₡5,000, ₡10,000, ₡20,000 and ₡50,000 colon note. Each colorful bill features a unique design, highlighting local wildlife, an historical figure, and a Costa Rican ecosystem. The notes range in size from smaller to larger depending on denomination; coins are available in ₡5, ₡10, ₡25, ₡50, ₡100 and ₡500 colones.

Exchange Rate
Buy: ₡498.35 per U.S. dollar
Sell: ₡509.49 per U.S. dollar

Changing Money
You can exchange money just about anywhere in Costa Rica. Many small stores, known as pulperias, will allow you to purchase a pack of gum or a soda with a $5, $10 or $20 bill, giving you colones in return. Most stores, taxi drivers and street corner money-changers will also accept U.S. dollars, as long as they do not have to give you too much change back. You can pay for park entrance fees, hotel rooms, tours and meals at tourist restaurants with dollars as well. Public bus fares, meals in local markets, and small ticket items are best paid with colones.

PANAMA FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GETTING TO PANAMA

Direct from United States:

United Airlines
Spirit Airlines
American Airlines
Delta Airlines
Copa

Other airlines flying to Panama City:

US Airways
Aeromexico
TAME
TACA
Avianca
KLM
Condor
Air France
Cayman Airways
Air Canada
Santa Barbara Airlines

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN PANAMA

Panama has two climates-the lowlands including Panama City which are tropical and humid and the highlands which have spring-like temperatures year round.

In the lowlands, temperatures during the day range between 80 F and 90 degrees Fareinheit (25-30 degrees Celsius). It cools off in the evenings which are invariably pleasant. In the highlands the day range is between 45F and 85F.

There’s two seasons – the “dry” season and the “green” season. The dry season is from mid-December until May and green season from May until December. “Dry” means it rarely rains and the green season means typically a refreshing tropical shower late each afternoon. It rarely rains all day, which means that rain is no obstacle to tourism activities. The exception to this rule is Bocas del Toro and Boquete. In Bocas, it can rain all day from time to time. In Boquete September and October are the rainiest months, so not the best time to visit.

WHAT ARE THE VISA AND PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS

US CITIZENS:

1. Check the current validity of your passport.
All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Panama. However, we strongly recommend traveling with 6 months validity on your passport at all times.

2. Make sure your passport has blank Visa pages.
Most destinations, including Panama, require that you have adequate un-used pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure. We recommend that you have at least two free pages in Visas section of your passport before any international travel. U.S. citizens can get extra passport pages added to their passports as fast as within 24 hours.

3. Confirm if transit visa is required for any connections.
Check with your airline in case you have connecting flights overseas as part of your journey to Panama. It may be the case that countries you pass through en route to your destination may require a separate transit visa. Please refer to visa requirements of the specific country.

Non-US or Canadian citizens should contact the Panamanian Embassy to check the visa requirements for your country.

WILL I REQUIRE ANY VACCINES

There are no required vaccines or shots. You’re unlikely to see a mosquito your whole trip. Panama may be a tropical country but mosquito control is effective. Exceptions would be if you are in the rainforest after dusk or hiking or overnight in the jungle, in which case insect repellant is advised.

WHAT TIME ZONE IS PANAMA

Panama is on EST from October to April and CST from April to October when daylight savings goes into effect in the States.

WHAT CLOTHING SHOULD I BRING

For the tropical climate, light colored, loose fitting cotton clothes are the most comfortable. Panama is near the equator the sun is strong- you”ll need good sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
Do plan on being dressed neatly. Panamanians will treat you better if you are dressed neatly. Panamanians themselves, especially the women of Panama City are beautifully groomed. Panama City is a dress-up city, but as a tourist casual dress is fine.
The highlands can be cool in the evenings so a warm sweater or light jacket is necessary. If you plan to hike, bring long pants, boots, a hat and insect repellant.

CAN I USE MY APPLIANCES FROM THE USA

The voltage is the same as the United States and Canada: 110V.

CAN I DRINK THE WATER

Panama is one of the only countries in Latin America where you can drink water straight from the tap.

WHAT IS THE CURRENCY

The national currency is the U.S dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are available in Panama City and larger towns. For more “off the beaten track” destinations and islands we recommend having cash.

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