You will find here some advises on :
Visit during the low season ! Visit during the low season ! Visit during the low season ! Clear enough ? By the way, this advise is only directed to people on a budget : if tourists start following it as well, Costa Rica will soon get out of the backpacking map !
If you have a special interest, like lying on beaches, surfing or wind-surfing, get a copy of the related leaflet distributed by the tourist offices. Those should point you toward a few directions...
Become familiar with Musmanni : those good bakeries can be found in nearly every town and offers the best selection of breads and pastries. As they also serve coffee, those are excellent places for breakfast.
Drink the tap water where drinkable : Costa Rica is expensive enough without the need to buy purified water...
Use your student card : Although it won't make the entrance "cheap", discounts are offered in most national parks and for most attractions or adventures.
Eat fruits or snacks for breakfast and lunch : Personally, I have been on Musmanni's pudding diet and I saved a lot !
Eat in small "soda" rather than in restaurants : you will meet local people and usually avoid the service & government extra taxes. "Comida Tipica" is the stuff to ask for in the ladino world, "rice & beans" on the Caribbean coast.
Select your national parks carefully : At US$6 minimum a walk, plus the cost to reach it, you do not wish to be wrong ! Two national parks get the best ratings with backpackers and would definitively be worth some time & spending : Corcovado in the South (a real expedition of a few days) and Tortuguero in the North (very remote and costly to visit, by boat or kayak, from the North Coast). In addition, Manuel Antonio arguably offers the nicest beaches (unfortunately very crowded in high season as easy access) and Cahuita is working on donation only. Of course, all the other parks would be interesting as well but some are tricky & costly to reach while others offer little more inside than outside. Bear in mind also that the neighboring countries offer national parks that are as good, less touristy and often cheaper (or free) to walk...
Shop for banks carefully and get some cash before heading to remote areas. Change's commissions can indeed be ridiculously high !
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