Safe travel tips in Costa Rica

photo by Fred Hsu

Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations in Central America, and this is proved by facts: more than 1.9 million people visit Costa Rica every year, more than any other country in Latin America! With so many tourists in a relatively small country, travelers are common and welcome everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw caution out of the window when visiting this tropical paradise. While in the cloud forests, the most you have to worry about is some critter stealing your lunch or tripping over parts of the landscape (assuming that you don’t come face to face with any of the more hostile denizens of the wild), in cities there are some safety tips that you should keep in mind. So if you want to make sure that nothing ruins your trip, here are some safe travel tips in Costa Rica.

Keep your belongings safe

Violent crime is extremely rare in Costa Rica, and unless you make an effort to look for trouble, the worst that can happen to you is petty crime. Theft, pickpocketing and muggings can happen, but only if you are not careful. Common sense safety tips apply: don’t leave your luggage unguarded without keeping an eye on it, don’t walk around at  night in abandoned areas, and keep your purse or bag close to you when you are in a crowd.

Keep your documents safe

photo by Richard Kelland

Always make copies of your IDs, passport and other important information, and keep it in your room or in a safe place that is not your wallet. If you lose your passport, or if it is stolen, the formalities for getting a provisional passport are long and tedious, and it might take more than a week to put everything in order.If you are out swimming, beach bumming or exploring the forests, it’s better to keep your valuable documents in a hotel lock box.

Be careful when driving

If you plan on renting a car and exploring the country, a good map is a must. Roads can often be in less than good repair, and signage might be a lot less detailed than in your home country. Guiding yourself exclusively with the help of road signs will get you lost in no time if you are in an unknown area. Even if you have to pay extra for it,  GPS in a rental car is a huge help. In rainy season, it a 4WD vehicle is the best way to tackle the possibly muddy roads.

Be safe at the beach

photo by manalahmadkhan on Flickr

Riptides and strong currents are common on Costa Rican beaches, and the locals can more often than not tell you about them. It’s very important to know whether a beach is prone to riptides, because often there are no lifeguards at hands. If you are not a very good swimmer, it’s better to keep to the shallow water.

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