Surviving Public Transportation in Costa Rica

  • by crv.staff
  • 29.01.10
  • 8:00 AM UTC

By: Kim and Elizabeth Mann

When Elizabeth Mann, age 15, and her mom started researching how to travel alone in Costa Rica, no travel book could prepare them for what they were about to encounter. Elizabeth’s mom, Kim, had traveled through Costa Rica last year, but with her husband as a guide driving a rental car. So when these two women started to plan a tour alone, without a guide, the trip took on a different dynamic.

First, transportation on their tour took all forms, from walking, taxi, a private truck, and mostly public buses. For Elizabeth, this was her first ride on a public bus or any bus for that matter. Their first ride was 2 ½ hours down and across mountains on a dirt road. Windows were open and a Tico family of four was car (or bus sick) beside them. (Note: bring water, hard candy, wipes, and plastic bags if riding a public bus!)

You need colones for the bus. The price for the bus is printed in the front window as well as the destination of the bus. Make sure you are standing on the side of the road in the direction you wish to travel. To find where a bus stop is you must ask a local. There are no fancy signs with a bus photo to show you where the bus stop is. Bus stops are land marks, bars, restaurants, hotels, or major intersections!

When you are traveling with a roll on or suitcase, do not enter the bus without first placing it in the storage area under the bus. If you have valuables, a laptop, or cameras, carry them in a backpack and never leave them unattended. Carry large bills and credit cards in a travel pouch under your clothing. They can be purchased at Target in the traveling section.

Bus fares range from around 250 colones (50 cents) to 2000 colones ($4) for long distance. A taxi ride ranges from $3 to $60 for the same distance. To also help cut done on transportation expenses, fly to the nearest location you wish to visit first. After you arrive, have a local or hotel, place a call for transportation and preset the cost before the car or shuttle arrives. Pay the driver in advance so the fare will not change after you arrive. To ensure communication between you and the driver, carry print offs with all the locations, phone numbers, and namesof each stop you will be making. All reservations in Costa Rica can be made by e-mail. Ask the hotel to send in Spanish, what you would say or show to the driver of a taxi or bus, where to let you off. The bus driver will stop at your location if you tell him your stop when you board the bus. You may exchange American money for colones at the local grocery store.

Surviving public transportation in Costa Rica can be intimidating the first few times, but it is the most economical and eco friendly. To read more about Elizabeth’s Costa Rica Tour, go to her blog, “Elizabeth’s Secret Garden”. or visit her column on The Costa Rica News

Rating 2.50 out of 5

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One Response to “Surviving Public Transportation in Costa Rica”

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bret Dudl

    When we received our first article from Elizabeth Mann, we were so impressed at this 15 year-old’s travel experience and writing skills that we had to publish this. Please keep up the traveling and writing Elizabeth!

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