Transportation Costa Rica - The Traveller


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Friday, July 6, 2012

Transportation Costa Rica

Road network

The road network in Costa Rica is well developed, although there is little highway. The country is crossed from north to south by the Inter-American Highway (Carretera Interamericana), also known as Pan American, which is widely used and generally well maintained, which does not exclude some potholes! The roads are generally composed of two relatively narrow channels, which often choke when crossing a stream or a difficult passage.

In general, outside of the Panamericana, the roads are often damaged. Secondary roads lead you on an adventure: they are not always covered throughout their length (they can not rely on the first kilometers of bitumen) and are often much damaged in particular by the dripping water and mud the rainy season. Holes of all sizes, obstacles and vehicles of all kinds (cattle, horse riders, cyclists ...) are legion. On these roads, the 4x4 is recommended.

So prudence and patience travel times are sometimes disconcerting. Feel free to count 2 to 3 hours to complete 100 km on a large (and beautiful) road. The same time will be needed to cross twenty miles on a rutted road....

Avoid driving at night outside urban areas on unlit roads (some are), especially during the rainy season.

Also, expect to see at any time to stop the vehicle in front you: coaches, for example, are allowed to stop to pick up passengers, even on motorways! As for the aisles, they are not stabilized and pause there can be dangerous. Finally, note that it is sometimes difficult to find in some villages of the essence, so plan ahead!

Caution: during the rainy season, some roads are closed to traffic.

Highway Code

The signs are numerous, varied and sometimes confusing. The arrows in all shapes indicating dangerous bends are impressive. Remember and note especially the following panels: "Puente angosto adelante" (further narrow bridge), "Ceda el paso" (give way), "No hay paso" (forbidden transition), "escuela" (school) and " despacio "(slow).

In cities, look at both the top of your head, because the lights are usually suspended, but also the ground where the marking indicates the flow direction. There are few road signs, and it is often very difficult to identify the name of the village which is crossed. Train yourself to watch the billboards or administrative (stations, cafes, telephones) that will tell you (sometimes) the name of the locality.


Thefts from cars remains high, so be careful. Usual advice: to avoid problems, park in lit areas or busy, lock all the doors of your vehicle, do not leave anything lying around that is tempting. In large cities, park in the parks guarded hotels and restaurants or the many parqueos publicos (public parking). Be careful, however: some are open 24h/24, and no other prices by as much as tenfold waltz a few hundred meters.

Car rental

Rent a car is possible on arrival at the airport if you are aged over 21 and have an international driving license. The rental car agencies are numerous: shop around!

You will need to be equipped with a credit card which will be retained on a deposit of about € 1 500. You must also purchase insurance daily minimum. Finally, make sure that a sticker stating the registration number of the vehicle is stuck on the front windshield. To avoid corruption or embezzlement, it is this issue that the police are required to indicate whether they stand a ticket ... you will pay more lately to the rental agency. Starting around 25/30 U.S. $ per day for a small car and more like 60 to 80 U.S. $ per day for a 4x4.

The 4x4 is required during the wet season or visiting remote, less accessible or relatively wild. Otherwise, renting a car is perhaps not the ideal solution given the excellent network of buses and taxis low prices!

Beware of refund, if not automatic that you might think.

By taxi

Taxis are very easy to spot since they are all red. There are many, even in small towns. You will find them easily on the street without having to call them by phone, including the taxi arranged in or near downtown hotels.

For a trip within a city, drivers are required to counter the (married). Count from 1 to 2 U.S. $ for a run up in San Jose.

You can also hire a taxi for the day or half day. When you come out of a city, the fare is fixed beforehand, and the driver is not required to put the counter. Count from 60 to 70 U.S. $ for a day. The law regarding the additional 20% at night is no longer valid.

By train

The earthquake of 1991 and had financial problems because of this means of locomotion, but the inter-city rail service was reactivated in 2005.

By bus

The Costa Rican network transport is highly developed and buses, but many slow, serving the smallest village. They are quite comfortable and very used. This is also the means of locomotion cheaper: you can travel from one village to another in the country for pennies. About 10 U.S. $ for a long distance from San Jose to the Osa Peninsula, for example. In principle, you do not need to purchase tickets in advance you can pay your up to the driver. Between the villages there are no really stop (neither rising nor to get off the bus). Simply sign the driver to stop it.

By plane

Costa Rica has lots of airstrips, mainly for domestic flights, is near the cities of regional service (Golfito airport in the south for example) or near major resorts (Tortuguero, Barra del Colorado, etc..).

Two major airlines share the sky Costa Rica: Sansa Regional Airlines, a state enterprise, and Nature Air, a private company. While the former uses the international airport, the second uses the airport Tobias Bolanos, a suburb west of the capital.

These two companies usually offer attractive fares for travel across the country. Beyond the time saved, the overview of Costa Rican landscape is a marvel not to be missed. The journey that takes you from San Jose to Tortuguero by air offers a truly unforgettable show!

Allow about U.S. $ 153 round trip San Jose-Tortuguero Nature Air. As always, the higher the ticket is purchased in advance, it is less expensive.

However, beware: the aircraft that perform these domestic flights are usually quite small, and the maximum weight of luggage you can carry is normally 20 kg.


In town, the fate of the pedestrian is not always enviable. The sidewalks are not always made for walking and traps (holes, obstacles, steps excessive ...) are as numerous as on the floor. Watch where you step!

Also, join an address can sometimes be difficult: the country works with an address system based on the geographical focus from locating elements such as intersection, a landmark building or a central park public. Thus, the mailing address of a hotel might read as follows: 100 m south and 300 m west of Central Park. In cities, you can also read addresses as 4 calle, avenida 3/4 or 4 avenida, calle 2. This means that the place you are looking for is in the 4th Street between 3rd and 4th avenues or on 4th Avenue near 2nd Street....

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