There are many opportunities to travel in between classes and it is great to take advantage of them. Be sure to check the weather before you leave as rainy season differs depending on which Coast and what time of year you travel.
Getting to San Jose
If you need to go into San Jose early in the morning (like between 4 and 5AM) you can just go on the main road in Ciudad Colon near the bus stop and share a collective taxi with random people (the taxi driver will just keep picking people up until it is full) and they will only charge you about 500 or 1000 colones to cab up to San Jose because the taxi’s need to go up there anyways. Normally a trip to San Jose is A LOT more expensive than that so it saves you A LOT of money! You could wait for the bus at 5 am but you will probably arrive in San Jose with very little time to catch your connecting bus. The other option is to share a pirate taxi and pre arrange the night before, however this still can be quite expensive so it is better if you know you will fill the taxi.
Trips within Costa Rica
It is best to try to get to the bus terminals early (read above regarding what time a bus will get you into San Jose) as the bus currently departs for the Caribbean Coast at 6 am. Once you get to San Jose Coca Cola station you NEED to take a taxi to the Caribbean terminal. I have had to stand for 5 hours as I didn’t get a seat. The buses will continue to sell tickets even when there are no seats so beware. Similarly, if you know your return date I suggest you buy the ticket upon arrival for the above reason of getting a seat. Generally, the buses are coaches and have room for luggage underneath. They tend to stop about halfway through your journey (usually after 3/ 4 hours) at a rest stop that sells food and has facilities.
Trips outside Costa Rica
(Read Plane Ticket Required)
Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and those holding an American VISA are able to leave the country before their student VISA arrives. Those from other countries, especially Africa, it is wise to not book tickets home during the winter break until you ensure you can leave the country without your temporary VISA. All students are required to have a Costa Rica student's visa however, in most cases, this takes almost a full 10 months to get so if you plan to travel to other countries, depending on what national passport you hold, you should be prepared to stay the full duration of the academic year in Costa Rica.
It is highly recommended to pre buy these tickets before you leave for San Jose as these buses tend to fill up especially around the holidays or festivals going on in the location you are trying to get to. Buses to remote location in Costa Rica or the bordering countries are also available at a low cost through Tica Bus and Transnica among others. You can book online or go directly to their office in San Jose. If you go you need your passport to buy the ticket. Tica bus is usually the most expensive but is the nicest. These buses will drop you off at the border and pick you up at the other side. Sometimes the bus drivers have connections and you may have to give them your passports so you can speed up the immigration process instead of waiting in long lines. To get to Bocas Del Torro in Panama, you will have to take a bus from the Caribbean bus terminal and then walk over the bridge into Panama and you will find pirate taxis or the public bus on the other side.
There is a process to leave the country which requires paying an exit cost about $26 U.S.D.
Plane Ticket Required
In the general information PDF that was sent to me after I was admitted to UPEACE it said that students need to have a return flight when traveling to Costa Rica and would be forced to purchase an expensive ticket if caught by the airline or immigration officials traveling on a one way flight. I tested this hypothesis thrice.
First I flew to San Jose on US airways. I was not questioned when boarding my flight from Houston whether I had a return flight. When arriving in Costa Rica I was greeted with a smile and no question asked.
I subsequently traveled to Costa Rica on a one way flight from Habana, Cuba and from Miami, USA without any problems.
On all three flights I was not
questioned by the airline nor by the immigration officials. I don't know
whether it had something to do with being a German passport holder.
Cost of Travel