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Costa Rica - Facts for Tourists
Entry requirements: Proof of citizenship is required. No visas are required for US citizens for stays of less than 90 days. There is a departure tax payable at the airport.

Climate: The dry season is December-April, the wet season is May-November. The Atlantic Coast has no well-defined dry season. The Pacific Coast is the driest, and the hottest. The wet season brings daily afternoon rains. The temperature remains nearly constant all year-round with variations primarily related to altitude. San Jose temperatures can be hot during the day, but cool off to sweater wearing in the evening. The coastal waters are almost a constant 74 degrees on both coasts,

Language: Spanish, but English is spoken in tourist areas,

Nickname: Costa Ricans refer to themselves at "Ticos".

Tipping: Most restaurants include 10% for service. No obligation to add more if this is added, but it is appreciated if you add more for especially good service. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, although it's customary to add a little to round out the fare. If the driver refuses to use the meter, his quoted fare will include a tip. Do not add more. Tips for bellboys are 100 colones per bag. Tour guides expect around $1.00 per day. Also, don't forget the bus driver.

Bank hours: Weekdays 9-3PM, some are open 9-12 on Saturday.

Things to buy: Ceramics, wood, leather, jewelry, Pre-Columbian designed pots, painted boxes, masks, carved birds... and much folk art.

Food: A veritable garden of fresh vegetables and fruit. Bocas are served as appetizers in bars - either free or very cheap. Casado is the typical Costa Rican main course - a plate of rice, black beans, shredded raw cabbage and tomato salad, meat or egg. The national breakfast dish is Gallo pinto - fried rice and beans, with optional fried or scrambled egg. Maize is another staple especially for snacks. Sopa negra is a black broth made from beans, vegetables and eggs. Olla de carne is a hearty beef stew with vegetables. Expect lots of raw cabbage, carrots and tomatoes.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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