Traveling to Costa Rica Rent a Car? or Take a Tour Bus?
We are traveling to Costa Rica and want to see the countryside, not stay around the bigger cities. We thought about getting a fixed itinerary tour where we are driven in a tour bus with lots other people. However: we would like to know if the other option of renting a car in Costa Rica would be a good idea?
Answer: Yes, in your situation (considering what you want to do while you are in Costa Rica) renting a car in Costa Rica would be a good decision. The main roads in Costa Rica are in good repair and have directional signs. Gas is not so expensive (compared to Europe). It’s around $3.50 a gallon. If you are planning to drive “off the beaten path” a 4×4 vehicle is what you should rent. Because some of these roads, esp in the rainy season have rough spots in them. A good road map (given to you by your car rental company) shows very well the main roads. And Costa Ricans are very kind and helpful, just stop and ask if you need additional directions.
Keep in mind: Costa Rica is a mountainous country. Distances as you see them on the map are deceiving and takes longer than it looks on the map. Many of the roads wind around and around the mountains and require slow driving. Drive during day light hours only, not at night, and fill your tank with gas when you are in a town. Distances between some gas stations are long.
A car gives you freedom to stop when you want and stay as long as you want. You get to know the country better this way. The small villages and rural farms are some of the prettiest parts of Costa Rica.
There are many many car rental agencies in Costa Rica. You can find them by searching google. Many of the main tourist areas outside the central valley of San Jose and Alajuela have car rental agencies. When inquiring about the cost of rentals be sure to ask them to specify exactly what insurance coverage you are getting.
The rental car agencies also rent cell phone by the day (around $10 per day) to make calls within Costa Rica only.
I have 2 different blog post that teach you about renting a car and driving in Costa Rica. I invite you to read these. posted 3-6-09 category travel “Renting a Car in Costa Rica: Things You Should Know.” and posted 3-24-09 category travel “Renting a Car in Costa Rica: Tips for Saving Time and Money”.
Disadvantage of bus tours: If you take a tour bus you probably would be with a lot of other tourist, make a lot of stops along the way, and take longer to get there. You would not be able to stop exactly where you want and stay as long as you want.
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