Important Safety Tips for Tourist to Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a wonderful country to visit and enjoy the natural wonders of this small tropical country. But one needs to be aware of his surroundings and know that in Costa Rica as well as many places around the world petty theft is common. But is Costa Rica safe for travel? Violent crimes are not common here in Costa Rica but as in the rest of the world, they do sometimes occur. One simply needs to be “street smart” and be aware.
Safety tips for tourist to Costa Rica:
If you are staying in a hotel room make use of the safety deposit box for your passport and extra larger amounts of money. Carry a copy of your passport around with you. However, if you want to change money at a bank or at hotel front desk you will need your original passport.
Leave your valuable jewelry at home. Dress casual as not to draw attention.
As for cameras, video cameras, binoculars, ipods, laptop computers, cell phones, etc. You must be extremely careful with these. These are the most commonly stolen items. Do not lay them down, turn your back, or get distracted- these are hot items for petty thieves. ALSO do not leave them unattended in your hotel room. Do not let anyone “watch” these items for you while you do anything else.
Don’t let anyone distract you in a public park..this is a common tactic of thieves..while you are being distracted someone else steals your stuff. This happened to my husband in the public park in La Fortuna but he was very much “on to what they were up to” and shewed them off. He had a video camera with him.
When using ATM machines, do so only in very well lighted areas where there are other people around and not at night! Don’t count money near by the ATM machine.
Carry your purse in front of you, if someone bumps you then “hang onto the purse and get quickly out of their way.” Common tactic of thieves, one will spill a liquid on your shirt and then offer to help wipe it off….their accomplice will meanwhile steal your purse or pick your pocket.
Don’t walk alone in alleys or unlighted areas-even during the day time.
In a restaurant do not hang your purse or backpack on the back of your chair or put your camera, etc on the floor beside you. Keep it near you and where you can protect it at all times.
It’s better to carry your money and credit cards, passport, etc in a money pouch (money belt) beneath your clothes.
A fanny pack is better than a purse. It stay on you at all times.
Use only taxis that are easily identified as the government approved taxis..in Costa Rica they are red taxis.
If you rent a car:
1. Try not to drive at night.
2. Keep doors locked when you are inside the car. And the windows up.
3. Don’t leave valuables visible inside the car when you are not in it. Also keep you purse in a nonvisible place while driving.
4. If you stop at a restaurant, park the car where you can see it and keep an eye on it, make sure all the doors are locked.
5. Park only in guarded parking lots, not on side of road, etc. Make sure at night they are well lighted.
6. If you have to stop and change a tire have someone watch the valuables in the car and the ladies should take their purse out of the car and have it with them. Beware of friendly people offering to help change the tire, they could be “up to taking your valuables” This happened to a friend of mine coming home from the San Jose International Airport. Her purse was stolen.
7. Do not pick up hitchhikers.
8. When stopped at a traffic light do not open your window for anyone wanting to talk to you.
9. In crowded areas, such as central markets always have you guard up against pickpockets.
10. Don’t leave your car running and get out of it to do an errand…not for even a few minutes.
11. In case you get lost stop at a place where there is a lot of people, like a gas station.
Dealing in colones : (the monetary unit in Costa Rica) It’s best to get colones in small denominations. That way it is easier to figure the exchange rate (quickly) Think about the exchange rate a head of time so you don’t make mistakes when you pay or when you receive change.
The number to call for emergency is 911 But you may or may not get an English speaking person.
One of my girlfriends who did a tour of Costa Rica took a whistle with her and had it on a chain around her neck…sounds like a very good idea.
Here at costaricalearn.com we like to hear from you..any experience you have-good or bad-while visiting Costa Rica. WE love to share it with our readers. Simply click comment or reply at the end of this post.