How to Travel Costa Rica on a Budget & Where to Stay

  • by Ari Travels
How to Travel Costa Rica on a Budget & Where to Stay

Costa Rica is one of the most expensive countries in Latin America to travel to, although the US dollar still goes a long way. Traveling Costa Rica on a budget is pretty easy and the country is beautiful. I highly recommend you go to Costa Rica for your next trip. 

8 tips on how to travel to Costa Rica on a Budget

Tip #1 if you aren’t going to stay at a hostel, use 

To get the best rate on hotels, is your best option to find cheap accommodation if you do not want to stay at a hostel dorm. They always have sales going on. Although I find hostels much more fun because you’ll make new friends and have people to enjoy activities with 

Hostels in La Fortuna

Hostels in Jaco

Hostels in Tamarindo 

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Hotels in La Fortuna

Hotels in Jaco

Hotels in Tamarindo

The specific hotel that I stayed in during my time in Costa Rica was $60/night for two people ($30 per person). It was in the perfect location, had free parking, had a great breakfast included, and was clean/well kept. 

If you have a large group, I also stayed at this air bnb in Jacó and split between 10 people, it's only $25/person per night. 


Tip #2 Shuttle to your desired destination and then take the local bus 

The country is easily accessible by bus when you are going places within about 1-2 hours from each other such as Jaco to Manuel Antonio National Park. I would pick a tourist hot spot such as La Fortuna, Jaco, Liberia, or Tamarindo and take a taxi or shuttle from the airport, and from there you can pretty much bus to anything within 1-2 hours from there easily for a VERY low cost. Costa Rica is a pretty safe country as well. Use Rome2Rio for the ideal bus routes! 

Tip #3 Rent a car if you want to see more of the country 

Personally if you have a little more money to budget, splurge on renting a car. My car rental only costs about $360 with unlimited miles for 7 days and I split that with my one friend making it about $180 per person. If you have more people, it can be even cheaper. Renting a car ends up being a lot cheaper than taking shuttles everywhere in order to see more of the country rather than just a small section. Costa Rica has a lot to offer! See my whole blog post about renting a car in Costa Rica by clicking here.

Tip #4 Eat at Sodas & avoid restaurants near any popular tourist area (example, the beach) 

Sodas are known as Costa Rica’s local restaurants. Anything with soda is going to be a sign that it is local, and local means cheap. A hardy plate that fills you up will cost about $4-$5 USD in tourist hot spots. Sometimes a plate can be even cheaper, plus eating here helps local people make money to support their families. 

save money by eating a local casado in costa rica

Tip #5 Bring a reusable water bottle

The water is generally safe in Costa Rica to drink from the tap. Bring a water bottle to save money on purchasing plastic ones, plus you help the environment so it’s a win-win. 

Tip #6 Fly into SJO and go from there

There is another airport in Costa Rica but it is a lot smaller and most likely more expensive. Your cheapest bet is to fly into San Jose and shuttle with the company Interbus or pick up a rental car from there.

Tip #7 Go in November or April-Early May 

The peak season is December-April, so if you travel during the shoulder season prices will decrease but the weather should still be good! You might get a little more rain here and there but it shouldn’t be too bad.

two girls at la fortuna waterfall in costa rica

Tip #8 You don't need a tour to go to the waterfalls, beaches, or most Hikes 

Tours in Costa Rica are awesome and I do recommend you do at least one. Although you do not need to pay someone to take you to a waterfall, the beach, or on a hike. Spend your money on something such as a Zipline Tour, white water rafting, ATVing, etc. 

I hope this article was helpful! Please feel free to comment or ask me any questions regarding your upcoming trip. For more information about traveling to Costa Rica, you can book a consultation call with me or request a custom itinerary by heading to this page. Happy traveling!

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