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How safe is Costa Rica for visitors? Dave Seminara shares his travel security tips, from places to stop to violent crime, typical travel scams and an individual safety in Costa Rica.


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How safe is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a beautiful country that essentially invented the eco-tourism holiday. Nestled in between Nicaragua and also Panama, Costa Rica is distinct in the region because it has no stand army and also has had actually no civil wars. That boasts a great climate, trusted people, beaches, wildlife and also enough adventure travel methods to to fill a month-long holiday.

But, that can additionally be a deceptively risky location to visit, particularly for travelers who have no endure of traveling in Latin America.

It’s a major transit nation for medicine trafficking, and in current years, thousands of thousands the migrants indigenous poorer neighboring central American nations have flooded right into Costa Rica seek work. While some have discovered it, many others carry out not have constant employment and are desperate sufficient to commit crime.

Here space a few tips to assist you stay safe in beautiful Costa Rica.

How poor is crime in Costa Rica?

In the2020 global Peace Index, Costa Rica is ranked 32 out of 163 countries when it comes to all at once peace. This isan boost of two positions indigenous 2019. In central America and also The Caribbean overall, Costa Rica is ranked the numberone many peaceful country in the region out that 12.

However, the homicide rate enhanced from 11.9 homicides per 100,000 people to 12.3 in the critical year, and crime is quiet a far-reaching threat to travelers in Costa Rica.

While many visitors carry out not endure trouble, you should exercise usual sense safety and security tips come avoid ending up being a potential target because that criminals.

Tourists stand the end from locals, however it’s straightforward to minimize your risk of significant crime. Here’s exactly how to stop trouble (that friend could use to anywhere you travel):

Travelers should think about traveling only in teams when relocating about an extremely early in the morning and also late at nightWhen travel by bus, avoid placing luggage in the overhead bins, together theft from them is on the rise.Solo travelers, an especially women, are delicate on beaches in ~ times once there are couple of others are around, the same applies to national parks and also other wild placesHand over cash and also valuables if you’re robbed; they’re no worth risking injury forDon"t it is in flashy with your belongings or the way you dressAvoid transferring your passport or too much money through you if you"re out and aboutKeep her valuables locked increase safely in her accommodation, and never leave anything of value out in the open, also if it’s inside your hotel roomDon"t leave anything under her towel when you"re out surfingProtect yourself from mosquito bites at dawn and also duskDon"t speak yes come drugs, don’t obtain drunk and also keep her wits around you at all timesSnatch and grabs are quite common, with thieves grabbing just around anything they can acquire their hands on. A typical crime is pulling watches indigenous unsuspecting tourists as castle casually cave an eight out a car window, or snatching sunglasses the are relaxing on someone’s headTheft indigenous parked and also unattended vehicles is likewise on the rise. Shot to park in well-lit or guarded areas, always keep the doors locked and windows rolled up, and also never leave anything of value in level sight the passersbyPay close attention to her surroundings in overfilled locations, specifically when making use of public transfer throughout Costa RicaThieves have tendency to strike in an ext touristy locations like beaches, nationwide parks and in and also around downtown mountain Jose – so be aware.

Is Costa Rica safe for families?

Yes, Costa Rica is a great destination for family holidays and also most families who visit experience no safety and security concerns.

Families probably have actually fewer difficulties than other categories the travelers in Costa Rica because there’s toughness in number and, for the many part, households aren’t engaging in tough partying.

Is Costa Rica safe for LGBTQ+ travelers?

Many LGBTQ+travelers visit Costa Rica and also report couple of problems. Compared to various other Latin American countries, Costa Ricans space considerably more tolerant than many other countries in the region. On 26 might 2020, Costa Rica ended up being the an initial country in central America where same-sex couples can obtain civil marriage licenses.

That said, in its entirety levels the tolerance possibly a touch reduced than what travelers from phibìc America, Europe and Australia might be accustomed to.

LGBTQ+couples could encounter unwelcome attention if they interact in public displays of affection in tiny towns where locals aren’t offered to visitors. Prevent public screens of affection in more rural locations to be on the for sure side.

Is Costa Rica safe for women travelers?

Women, an especially those traveling alone, have to exercise a high degree of caution in Costa Rica as females visitors have been the victims of sexual assault and also murder in recent years and the all at once sexual attack rate has increased.

Solo female travelers have to strongly consider staying in locations where castle can fulfill other travelers, specifically if planning to go on hikes, remain out so late or visit remote places.

Places to avoid in Costa Rica

Here room some places to protect against or visit only if friend absolutely have actually to, only throughout daylight hours and preferably attach by a local.

Be careful in Quepos, i beg your pardon is the gateway city just external Manuel Antonio nationwide Park. The exact same goes because that Tamarindo and Jaco as result of incidents that crime (mostly robberies) targeting visitors.

Other high-risk locations with violent crime rates significantly greater than the national average include Matina, a small rural ar along the Matina flow in Limón province, Limón, Liberia, Pococí, Talamanca, the Desamparados ar in san Rafael, Santa Rosa de Pocosol, San Carlos, a rural region bordering Nicaragua, and the district of Barranca, top top the Pacific coastline in the district of Puntarenas. The Caribbean shore has historically had much more crime than the Pacific coast.

San Jose, like many big cities, can be riskier because that travelers, particularly after dark and especially in the downtown area. That is advised the you avoid any of the parks in san Jose in ~ night, as they are considered really dangerous, and also stay away from the following communities in and also around mountain Jose: Los Guido, Desamparados, Pavas, La Carpio, Leon XIII, the El Carmen neighborhood in Cartago, and also the “El Infiernillo,” ar of Alajuela.

Avoid camping on any kind of of the beaches for safety factors – it’s finest to discover secure house at a lodge or hostel. A great rule of thumb is that almost everywhere visitors visit commonly will it is in a target because that crime – don"t it is in alarmed, simply be alert.Find out exactly how to get approximately Costa Rica safely v these travel security tips.

Safety tips for travelers to Costa Rica

When to visit Costa Rica

December v April is the dried season. This is also Costa Rica’s high season. Might through November is the rainy season, euphemistically dubbed the “green season.” Afternoon showers are common during the environment-friendly season and it’s slightly cooler than the dry season.

There are regular hurricanes in September and also October, which space by much the quietest months because that tourism and likewise when prices room lowest, yet Costa Rica is rarely severely affected by them.Read about natural dangers and how to continue to be safe in Costa Rica.

Is it for sure to drink the water in Costa Rica?

Yes, other than in Limón and Puntarenas, though countless visitors choose to drink purified or bottled water to it is in extra safe.

Methanol poisoning in Costa Rica

In 2019, there to be dozens the deaths and many instances of serious condition in Costa Rica resulted in by alcoholic drink containing methanol. Be very careful buying spirit-based drinks, particularly if the price seems on the low side. Methanol can reason headaches, dizziness, nausea and also vomiting. High sheep can reason blindness or vision loss. Be mindful while drink in Costa Rica, particularly in hole-in-the-wall type establishments.

Food security in Costa Rica

Food hygiene requirements in Costa Rica room in the middle of the scale. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants with unsanitary bathrooms and food stands could have good food in ~ even much better prices, yet your meal might not it is in that great a deal if you spend fifty percent your vacation on the toilet.

Select clean restaurants and avoid buffets, particularly where food is sitting out.

Travelers need to be up-to-date on your vaccines. Check with your physician to see what you need based on your situation. Inspect out our substantial guide to inoculations here.

Hiking and wilderness security in Costa Rica

Many travelers have actually gone absent and/or passed away in Costa Rica while hiking or camping in countryside areas and also national parks.

Don’t hike, trek or camp alone in Costa Rica. Instead, hire a neighborhood guide, or hike through others and also let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to it is in back. Ask them come seek assist if girlfriend don’t return at the appointed hour.

Is it safe to go on a zip line tourism in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a well-known adventure travel destination with numerous zip heat tours and also bungee jumping opportunities. There have been reports of visitors being seriously injured or worse in zip line accidents. Choose companies through the longest and best track record, not simply the cheapest operator you deserve to find.

Common travel scams in Costa Rica

Slashing tires: one common scheme involves criminals puncturing or slashing the tires of a visitor"s rental vehicle. As shortly as the tires goes flat, a "good Samaritan" conveniently shows up offering come help readjust it. Then, if you"re out of the car trying to change the tire, the thief"s accomplice sneaks in and also steals something of worth from the vehicle.

If friend do get a level while driving, it"s recommended the you proceed to drive until you reach a safe, well-lit area wherein you can change it yourself safely. Reputable car rental agencies in Costa Rica will certainly not hold you accountable because that a damaged rim if they think your security was in question.

Mandatory vehicle rental insurance: this might not be considered a scam however many automobile rental companies, including familiar international chains, regularly advertise low prices however then once travelers choose the automobile up, they space told that the price doesn’t include Costa Rica’s mandatory automobile rental insurance. The insurance allowance is required but it’s a scam the they don’t disclose the price the in advance. This taken place to me in Costa Rica. The carriers with the lowest advertised prices have tendency to also charge the mostfor obligated insurance. As soon as booking, asking for the total price through a detailed malfunction of the rental expense plus the mandatory insurance for this reason you deserve to make an notified decision.

Money scams: avoid transforming money all over other 보다 at a dependable bank. Scammers top top the street often offer an excellent rates, but you"ll end up through counterfeit cash. One more popular entails a person dropping adjust in a liven or crowded area. As soon as the victim bends under to aid pick up the coins his wallet is lifted.

Passport theft: this is a growing problem in Costa Rica. It"s recommended the you do photocopies to lug while traveling, but keep the actual thing locked safe in your hotel safe.

A final caution: as soon as you travel, you’re an ext open to meeting brand-new friends 보다 you are at home. This also makes friend vulnerable. Certainly get to recognize locals yet be wary of too many friendly world who strategy you out of the blue with supplies to take you places, provide you free weed or buy friend drinks.

Don"t rest the regulation in Costa Rica

Find out around local laws to avoid getting into trouble prior to you travel.

Police corruption

There have actually been situations of police mistreating and/or extorting money native visitors. In any kind of case, here’s a snapshot of your legal rights if you’re detained by legislation enforcement public official in Costa Rica.

You have actually a best to know the cause of your detention, the surname of the officer that asked for it, and to be presented the warrant issued against you if over there is oneYou have a best to immediately inform her country’s embassy that you have actually been arrested and also detainedYou have actually a best to consult v the lawyer of your choice, otherwise by a windy defenderYou have a appropriate to know what legislation you’ve supposedly violatedYou can remain silentYou can be treated through dignity and also to exercise cost-free will (i.e. Not be coerced into giving testimony.)

Photography laws

Ask first, take photos later. That is illegal to take it photographs of any type of official buildings in Costa Rica. If you space uncertain, inspect with a neighborhood or someone in authority.

Do not take picture of women and children. Return it"s not illegal, doing for this reason is irresponsible, and also may be viewed as suspicious or met v violence.

Drug laws and also crime in Costa Rica

Buying, marketing or possessing any kind of illegal medicine is a significant offense in Costa Rica. If you room caught, you will be arrested and could face either a hefty good or a lengthy prison sentence.

You may meet locals that will sell to offer you drugs, normally marijuana. If girlfriend buy it, perform so in ~ your own risk; marijuana is illegal in Costa Rica but personal possession has been decriminalized.

Sex crimes

Prostitution is legal, however, "sex tourism" is a crime, and also brothels and pimping space illegal.

Always lug your identification papers

All visitors to Costa Rica are compelled to bring identification, however not necessarily a passport, through them at all times. There is raising problem with passport theft, therefore it"s safest come leave your passport locked up at your accommodation. Bring a photocopy of the bio-data page with you, along with the page that shows your entrance stamp right into Costa Rica.

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What travel safety tips execute you have to share v others? Tell united state in the comments below.