Of the Central American countries, Costa Rica is one of the most pricey to visit. Wages here are high and the average tourist to Costa Rica tends to be on the wealthier side. There are some incredibly expensive hotels and tour companies offering luxurious transport options and action packed itineraries. But, sticking to a sensible budget in Costa Rica is possible. Here are my top tips for Costa Rica on a budget.
1. Book accommodation in advance
Booking accmmodation in advance particularly if you plan to visit during peak season (around Christmas or Thanksgiving), is important. Deals can be had on booking.com and airbnb, but I’d recommend securing your accommodation at least 4 months in advance to get the best rates. Consider basic accommodation and choose location over luxury.
2. Use public transport to reduce cost
Buses are a great option in for getting around Costa Rica on a budget. Book in advance for longer journeys, you can often do this at the bus station or on the phone. Local buses are pretty reliable and websites generally up to date with times. Buses in Costa Rica can be booked through the booking agent Book Away – link here.
3. Walk when you can in Costa Rica for budget movement
This may not be suitable for everyone, but I chose to walk between towns quite frequently. Taxi costs are expensive and where public transport isn’t available, this can be a great option.
4. Get off the beaten track for some budget adventure
The main tourist towns and attractions are clearly going to be more expensive. But picking towns that are less visited (Dominical is a great example) can cut costs and still offer a great experience. You can also go to out of town beaches, such as Biesanz Beach (near to Manuel Antonio) for a day out with cheaper places to buy drinks and snacks than the main town. Better for doing Costa Rica on a budget.
5. Shop in supermarkets – grab a bargain
Costa Rica on a budget, supermarkets are generally pretty good value and you could pack a picnic or cook in your accommodation if you find some self catered options. I learnt to make a decent Costa Rica breakfast (Rice, Beans, Eggs and Plantain with Tortilla breads) which is cost effective, delicious and filling!
6. Eat in Sodas – Costa Rica budget eateries
Sodas are low cost traditional Costa Rican eateries and can be found all around the country. They generally serve beer and soft drinks, alongside delicious and substantial food. There are healthy options, as well as the more hearty and I honestly think the food you can get in a Soda can’t be beaten by expensive alternatives.
7. Avoid buying wine – beer is cheaper
Costa Rica is not a country for wine lovers. Wine is generally really expensive in bars and supermarkets. Opt for beer (Imperial is the local one) or spirits, if you want an alcoholic drink. A bottle of Costa Rican rum will go a long way! A great way to drink in Costa on a budget.
8. Choose tours carefully and book ahead for lower prices
Read reviews and make sure the tours you choose are worth the money you spend. Also remember to book ahead for the best deals.
9. Find nature all around you for budget sightseeing
The nature parks and tours are amazing. But Costa Rica is surrounded by nature and it’s completely free! Look out for Sloths and Monkeys hanging around in towns and trees – you don’t have to be on an expensive tour to see them! A great way to see Costa Rica on a budget.
10. Haggle and negotiate to get Costa Rica goods on a budget
If you don’t think the price is right, then negotiate. As long as you are polite, you can’t go wrong with this approach.