Shopping in Costa Rica
This is not the country you go to for shopping. Most imported products, such
as electronics and fashion clothing, are just as affordable in Europe, and with
much better selection and opportunity to return any defective goods. But on
other items you can make some bargains in Costa Rica. The leather products are
generally of high quality and everything from belts, bags, suitcases and shoes
are easily accessible. You also get very good prices for clothes that are
manufactured locally or in neighboring countries, although that is not exactly
the case for the catwalk.
Costa Rica's largest export items are bananas and coffee. Banana clusters may
not be the ideal souvenir to take home in your suitcase, but the local coffee is
world class and affordable. This one will certainly offer you the purchase of
coffee plantations that you visit, but it is often cheaper at supermarkets. Be
sure to buy Puro, and not the blended, sugary Tradicional.
The craftsmanship that you will come across is both fine and colorful.
Normally this is of high quality, but not infrequently the art of craftsmanship
is imported from cheaper countries such as Panama and Guatemala, and is not
really Costa Rican.
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It may be tempting to buy a box of genuine Cuban cigars, which are sold all
over Costa Rica at a fraction of the price in Europe. But keep in mind that if
you fly home via the United States, you risk getting confiscated. Cuban products
are illegal to bring into the United States, even if you only change plans
And by all means do not go into the trap of buying any plant or animal
products, even though it is obviously for sale. You get stopped in customs with
products of eg snake skin, lizard skin, protected plants, turtle or coral, so
not only do you risk it, but you also deserve a juicy cure. Even small earrings
or necklaces of the wrong material can get you in trouble. You also help to
continue the hunt for endangered species.
Most stores in Costa Rica are open from 08:00 or 09:00 to 18:00 or 19:00 on
weekdays and Saturdays. Sundays are mostly closed everywhere, except for some
grocery stores in the larger cities. Even if you pay a 13% sales tax on all
goods and services, there is no tax-free system to refund this upon departure.
Eating in Costa Rica
Don't expect the great culinary experiences during your Costa Rica visit. The
typical local dishes consist mostly of black beans and rice, often with various
vegetables and some spices, with tortillas added. But in return, this food is
both reasonably priced and available virtually anywhere.
However, the lowlands on the Caribbean coast have adopted the food culture of
the Caribbean, primarily Jamaica, and here you can expect to serve several more
exotic and tasty dishes. Naturally, seafood is more common here than in the
If you do not want to experiment in the food when traveling, you will find in
Costa Rica the same international chains as in the rest of the world. Both
McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC and TGI Fridays have found their way to the big
cities, and you will always find a Chinese or Indian restaurant.
The country's best restaurants can be found in the capital, San Jose, and
it's not particularly expensive, not even the most exclusive. You should be
pretty extravagant to manage to spend over $ 300 on a meal if you avoid
loosening imported wine bottles.
Coffee and other drinks in Costa Rica
Costa Rica coffee is world class and one of the country's most important
export products next to bananas. Almost everyone drinks coffee, including the
kids. The coffee is usually served with milk and sugar, so ask for cafe negro
its azucar (black coffee without sugar) if you prefer it black. Coffee is
usually served only for breakfast and lunch, with hardly anyone drinking coffee
late in the day.
Wine has no traditions in Costa Rica, but the local beer is light and tasty
and is often drunk for food. The most common brands are Pilsen, Imperial and
Bavaria. And watch out for the strong, glossy sugar liquor guaro.
There is often a very good selection of juices from tropical fruits that it
may be long until the next time you have the opportunity to drink in freshly
squeezed form, so go for it! Passion fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple and guava
are just some of the tasty and healthy varieties that await.