Costa Rica is a vacationer’s wonderland. I’ve had several visitors and everyone is wowed as we were! So fun to show "new" (like we are "old") visitors around! On the forums and on the blog, future visitors write asking about Places to Stay and Visit, hence "Travel Tips" was born. Following are my answers to questions asked by a future visitor on the CRLGroup forum:
Q: Looking for some info concerning a 3 week trip. Is it easy to cash $100 dollar bills there? What about travelers checks? Is one type of travelers check more easily cashed than another? Is it worth bringing my laptop computer? I’ll be fishing for 4 days, then taking George Lundquist’s tour for 4 days, attending the ARCR seminar, and spending several days in San Jose sightseeing. I have several days currently unscheduled. Any ideas? I’m hoping to retire in Costa Rica in April. I would appreciate any help or suggestions.
A: Do NOT bring $100 bills. Half of ours, they would not take at the bank… they read each serial number. At that time, if it started with “C” they wouldn’t take it. Now, I wouldn’t bring anything larger than a $20. I also wouldn’t bring travelers checks, lots of places won’t take them. Bring some cash and an ATM card/credit card. (They can charge high fees so use the cheapest ones, but at least you have money, and it’s safe.) Get your cash changed to colones when you get here. Colones are pretty easy: if something is 500 colones, that’s $1 basically. If something is 100,000 colones, that’s $200. It’s just simpler to carry colones.
There are internet cafes everywhere. I’d bring my laptop, but that’s me.
Don’t miss Volcán Arenal. Everything is beautiful here, but Volcán Arenal took our breath away. Even my teenage boys were impressed. We stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge at the foot of the mountain. Get a “volcano view” room no matter where you stay (if they don’t have one, don’t stay there). Arenal Lodge sold us half price tix to the hot springs at another hotel, the Tabacon Resort. Tabacon is hugely expensive, but my friends stayed there and loved it. So if you want pampering in the jungle AT the hotsprings with volcano view… Tabacon.
The site I use to find recommendations on a new spot is TripAdvisor. Travelers write reviews on places they’ve visited, so you get first hand accounts. This is an excellent resource when planning a trip to anywhere.
Most tourist places do take American dollars (20’s). Don’t exchange all of your money at once and don’t exchange it at the airport (high premium). Our largest Colones bill is c10,000 so keep this in mind if you need a few hundred dollars changed. It’s a big wad of bills! Just use one credit card and be sure to have contact info in case it is stolen. Same goes for i.d.