Why go to Costa Rica ?


You will find here the results of our backpackers' survey as well as comments on some aspects of Costa Rica.

We asked backpackers who had traveled in Costa Rica for at least two weeks already to answer the followings.

Do you like Costa Rica ?  98% of the backpackers surveyed (45) say yes !

Of course, everybody like Costa Rica ! Those not interested by nature just do not show up...

Would you happily come back ? 78% of the backpackers surveyed (45) say yes !

Considering the cost, Costa Rica is sometimes considered as a country to visit one time only. At least from a backpackers point of view : coming back with lots of money or on holidays with your loving one would not be such a bad move... Costa Rica has a lot more to offer !


Would you recommend Costa Rica ?  91% of the backpackers surveyed (45) say yes !

Nearly everybody would tell their friends about it. And those who don't probably have friends that are too budget conscious... Just tell them to avoid the high season !

We also asked them to rate the followings :

The tourists attractions        Backpackers (45) : 16.44 /20
Natural attractions in the form of national parks are scattered all over the place ! Beaches & Garifuna villages complete the offering. 

The city scenery       Backpackers (45) : 11.11 /20
From this point of view, there is really nothing to write home about. Most of the cities are an eye-bore in the luxuriant panorama and very few offers the colonial charm found in the other countries. They are usually not unpleasant however .

The natural scenery         Backpackers (45) : 18.49 /20
If nature is high on your list, Costa Rica is the place to go ! Not many countries in the world offers as many opportunities for spotting wildlife. The volcanoes, forests and infinite beaches with powerful waves complete the picture.

The cultural opportunities        Backpackers (44) : 7.91 /20
The lowest rate ever as Costa Rica is probably the less interesting country to visit from a cultural point of view. OK, you have a few museums in San Jose ! But that's about it . And it is not improving : the Santa Rosa's Casona, one of the few historical site, was burned down in May 2001. As for learning from the locals, forget it : they live at the rhythm of the tourists !

The food         Backpackers (45) : 12.36 /20
You can eat pretty well if you can afford it ! On a budget, you certainly won't starve but culinary experiences will be scarce. Meat, rice & beans as usual ! The only great thing about Costa Rica for budget minders are the numerous bakeries. Musmanni is a sign that you will get accustomed to very fast : they are in nearly every town and offers the best selection of breads and pastries. It is not too cheap but it is the cheapest in Costa Rica and there are a few good deals.

The infrastructures         Backpackers (45) : 12.80 /20
You can usually tell people who have been to Monteverde area from people who haven't : their rating is a couple of points lower. The most touristy area of Costa Rica is indeed connected to the rest of the country by one of the worst road found in Central America. And a couple of others are also probably in Costa Rica ! You survive the experience of course and, in a sense, it is good as they keep the crowd away... Much more annoying is the lack of public transport : you do not have buses every 30mn like in the other countries but maybe a couple only each day. Spending hours at a bus station is not unusual...

The cost of living and traveling        Backpackers (45) : 11.02 /20
Your appreciation will of course depend of where you are coming from : straight from your country, Costa Rica will look fairly cheap. Coming from Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua, some people however have an heart attack. Especially during the high season ! Actually, the traveling cost is fairly reasonable and only marginally more expensive than the neighboring countries in the low season. It is the entrance fees that are budget killers ! 

The safety        Backpackers (45) : 15.47 /20
A good news after a while in the area : you can relax a bit more here ! It is a fairly safe place to visit ! Do not relax too much however : if you fall asleep, there is a good chance that you bag will be gone when you wake up. Common sense and vigilance are still very important. Violent aggressions are however a rarity. The capital and the North Coast however requires to get back on the old habits : do not walk alone at night, carry valuables, etc. 

The cleanliness        Backpackers (45) : 13.24 /20
For a country that boost itself as being the eco-tourism destination of the Americas, I personally found it disappointingly dirty : the beaches, even in the remote places, are scattered with rubbish and the countryside full of paper. The National Parks however are clean and, as a whole, it is still cleaner than its neighbors.

The pollution        Backpackers (45) : 11.82 /20
Here also, my personal experience contradict what most people think : Costa Rica is a green country and visiting any park is certainly a very healthy experience. The problem is getting to those parks : most roads are busy with traffic and most vehicles emit black smokes... 

The Shopkeepers' attitude        Backpackers (45) : 13.33 /20
Not much to say actually : shopkeepers are used to tourists and tourists usually pay the high price. The smile usually come with the price tag but not always and, as quite a few shopkeepers are westerners, do not expect too much courtesy. You are just another tourist !

The Costa Rica people's attitude        Backpackers (45) : 14.67 /20
I personally found the local people to be among the most helpful in the area : they will not only answer your question but will repeat it until they are sure that you have understood. You will usually have to initiate the contact however as they are less prone to salute than in other places. With so many tourists around, it is easy to understand why...

Entertainment        Backpackers (28) : 13.86 /20
Where you have tourists, you logically have distractions for the tourists : bars and lively restaurants are plentiful. Some even boost adult entertainment ! You also have a few traveler's places that are resonant with parties at night. But for the local offering, things are fairly quiet : you do not even get the usual local cinema. Going out in Costa Rica is basically having a drink while watching the cable TV...

Shopping        Backpackers (45) : 12.27 /20
There are plenty of souvenir shops in Costa Rica and some of the stuff is original and colorful enough. Look at the price tag however and you soon loose your interest : it is expensive ! Things do not improve in the supermarkets : most of the goods are imported and therefore much more expensive than in your country, as usual in the area.

Generally, the country        Backpackers (45) : 13.87 /20
As a place to backpack, Costa Rica does not rate too high : it is a much better idea to be a tourist around here ! Still, it would be a mistake to skip it just because you are on a budget : its natural attractions are worth a bit of your time and money. Visiting during the low season will also improve things greatly...

Value for money        Backpackers (45) : 12.44 /20
A fair rate, considering the fact that the great attractions are fairly expensive to visit. Quite a few tours, excursions or adventures are also clearly overpriced ! But then again : what is the right price for spotting monkeys or a toucan in a natural surrounding ? The wildlife and natural beauties of Costa Rica are priceless !

Give your opinion !  If you have traveled in Costa Rica for at least 2 weeks, please participate to our surveys !

Compare Costa Rica with other countries in the Central America Section


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