Is it safe to go backpacking in Costa Rica?

14 November 2016

Costa Rica is currently one of the top countries backpackers and Eco-tourists love to visit. Many travelers often wonder if it is safe to visit Costa Rica. What country is exactly safe to visit? Costa Rica is definitely not a problem-free place, but it is much better than many people have been led to believe. Costa Rica is undoubtedly a progressive second-world country, one we recommend to travel groups, families with children, senior travelers, and independent backpackers. Nevertheless, when backpacking Costa Rica, there are some things you should know, which will help you be aware of this country’s characteristics and culture.

  1. Avoid driving after dark 

Sunset in Costa Rica typically occurs at 6:00pm, although the exact time could vary. Many roads do not have sidewalks, so persons walking along the side of the road tend to be difficult to spot, thus it is better to avoid driving after dark. Moreover, roads in Costa Rica can be quite unfavorable, many are characterized by steep cut-off or riddled with potholes. It is better to take a shuttle service than to drive your rented car, to prevent accidents.

  1. Avoid visiting an ATM machine after dark

Every country has its good and bad guys. It is expected that back in your own home country, using the ATM in the dark, would probably pose some risk of theft. Hence,  It is wise to conduct all financial transactions before dark.

  1. Do not swim when the waves are rough

Every now and then, there are stories of persons who drowned due to dangerous sea situations. No matter the beach you visit, no matter the country, the risks involved at sea should always be at the back of your mind. Caution is key.

  1. Avoid boarding illegal taxis

Every country has its official taxi color. In Costa Rica, official taxis have the color red with a yellow triangle on the door, except airport taxis, which are colored orange. Illegal drivers use their personal vehicles in Costa Rica, although many might mean no harm, it is advisable to use the official taxis.

  1. Costa Rica is the greenest place in the world

Costa Rica is considered to be the greenest country in the world. Despite this, it is still characterized by intense heat. It is advisable to always wear a sun protector and stay hydrated at all times, as the midday sun can be extreme, such that you get an instant tan.

  1. Beware of pickpockets

Ensure to never leave your bag unattended to, and when in a public place, ensure to have a grip on your backpack. This is because you are very likely to experience petty theft like pick pocketing, and scamming even right from the airport. It is also wise to hide your passport in a safe pocket and not carry it about with you. A copy of the front page and entry stamp could suffice as a valid ID for the police.

  1. Be familiar with the phrase “Pura Vida”

Pura Vida has several meanings. Costa Ricans like to use it in greeting and bidding farewell, to express gratitude or acknowledgement of something. Although it literally means “pure life”, Costa Ricans give it other meanings like: full of life, purified life, this is living, going great, or cool.

  1. Plan carefully for your tours

When packing up a backpack, consider the tropical environment Costa Rica offers, its nature and adventure activities. It is essential to bring the right equipment, for instance, if you intend to hike, bring socks, band aids, comfy shoes and long pants. If you plan going canyoning, bring strap-on shoes and comfy clothing. Bring along insect repellents and sunscreen. A little first aid box would be most useful, in the occurrence of cuts or blisters.

  1. Take a language guide

It is very advisable to practice with and take along a Spanish language guide with emergency phrases, which you might need to use during your stay in Costa Rica.

You have to be rest assured that despite the above mentioned things to be cautious about, there is little or nothing else to worry about out of the ordinary, as touring Costa Rica promises to be a highly fulfilling experience.

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