Located between Panama (to the south) and Nicaragua (to the north), and nestled
between the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the North Pacific Ocean (to the west),
Costa Rica is a short 2.5 hours flight from Miami, Florida and is a convenient location
for eco and medical tourism. It is slightly smaller than West Virginia so exploring
the country is not of epic proportions. Costa Rica boasts a long history of peaceful
democratic rule as well as a high standard of living compared to its Central American
neighbors, and with 802 miles (1,290 km) of coastline, Costa Rica offers a range
of maritime leisure activities including sunbathing, boating, surfing, scuba diving,
Costa Rica´s proximity to the United States, political stability, highly ranked
healthcare system (ranked higher than the U.S.), top notch private health facilities,
and high standard of living compared to other Latin American countries make it a
prime destination for medical tourists.
The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited three hospitals in Costa
Rica, all located in San Jose. Popular procedures sought by medical tourists include
cosmetic surgery, orthopedics, weight loss surgery, gynecology, and dental.
Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, however, English is widely understood
by most Costa Ricans, especially in capital of San Jose and popular tourist areas.
Costa Rica is a tropical country, which means that much of what you imagine about
a Costa Rica vacation is true: dense rainforests, palm tree-lined beaches, warm
weather and comfortable waters. There are two distinct seasons, rainy and dry. The
rainy season begins in May and lasts until November, and the dry season begins at
the end of November and ends in April.
However, in spite of the two generally distinct
seasons, Costa Rica's varied topography makes for a wide variety of microclimates.
Daytime temps in the Central Valley, where San Jose is located, range from 60oF to 85oF (16oC
to 29oC), which
leads many to call the capital's climate "eternal spring." Evening
can get chilly so it is recommended that you wear a sweater or light jacket. In
the rainy season, sunny mornings are typically followed up by a cloudy mid-day and
an afternoon shower, usually clearing up in time to go out in the evening. On
the contrary, the Atlantic coast tends to be very hot and humid, while the
Pacific coast is hot and dry.
The currency of Costa Rica is the Colon (CRC).
The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Costa Rican colones (plural) is $1 USD to 572
CRC (exchange rate subject to change).
Visa / Entrance Requirements
U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a valid passport (valid at least 6 months from
the date of entry) in order to enter Costa Rica, however a visa is not required
for stays less than 90 days. You can extend your stay past 90 days by leaving
the country (by the 90th
day) for 72 hours then returning. If you stay past the 90 day limit then you
will have to pay a fine.
Airlines Servicing this Destination
Costa Rica has two International Airports that are pertinent to medical tourists:
Juan Santamaria (SJO) located in San Jose and Daniel Oduber Quiros (LIR) located
in Liberia near the Pacific coast.
The following airlines service Costa Rica:
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
- Grupo TACA
- Air Canada
- America West
Since Costa Rica has tourist attractions scattered throughout the country, there
are a range of accommodations that are not simply localized in the capital city.
Budget dwellings in a private room at a hostel or guest house range from $8-$20
USD per person per night, while mid range, 3 star hotels start at $30 per night.
On the luxurious end of the spectrum, Costa Rica offers 4 and 5 star accommodation
at a fraction of the cost compared to the U.S. and Western Europe. Your own private
cabin overlooking the rainforest, a chic apartment style room, and beach resorts
and spas range from $99-$400. Rainforest and beach villas cost $800 to $2800 USD
per week. Note that the price is substantially higher during the high season, Christmas
and New Years. For example, the same villa for $2,800 during the green season shoots
up to $7,500 per week during Christmas and New Years.
The international access code for Costa Rica is 506.
In order to call Costa Rica from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code)
then 506 (country code for Costa Rica), and then the phone number (8 digits, usually
begins with the number 2).
To call a cell phone in Costa Rica from the U.S. and Canada you must dial 011 +
506 + the eight digit phone number (usually begins with the number 8).
In order to call the U.S. from Costa Rica you must dial 00 + 1 + area code + phone
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Larger hotels and most
private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
U.S. Embassy in San Jose: 2519-2000 day; 2519-2280 or 2519-2279 evenings/emergencies
Costa Rica is renowned for its ecotourism. With over 27% of Costa Rica land protected
by law, it is a haven for biodiversity. Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo offers
high altitude cloud forests and the Nacional Corcovado has entertaining howler monkeys.
From emerald rain forests and sun-swept beaches to towering volcanoes and the Afro
Caribbean enclave of Limon, Costa Rica offers a range of activities for tourists.
San Jose has several artisan fairs where you can purchase crafts typical of Costa
Rica, Central and South America. Large Modern malls, department stores, and boutiques
are also available that boast well-known North American and European brand merchandise.
Nightlife and the Arts
Daily events, such as theaters, art galleries, and live shows can be found in the
English-language paper, The Tico Times. Although not a hot-seat of culture, theater
productions are available nightly and symphony concerts are regularly scheduled
at the national theater.
If partying is more your style then El Pueblo is for you. It is a shopping center
style complex with many bars and clubs that play a wide range of musical genres
from reggae to reggaeton to techno, and it is only a few minutes north of downtown.
Castro in Barrio Mexico is a popular salsa club with multilevel dance floors.
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