Costa Rica is not the cheapest Central American country to travel in, but it's such an amazing country and definitely worth your time and money!
We'd encourage you to DIY your vacation rather than live in a resort, so skip the tours and plan your own trip, and you're bound to save money.
Here are our top money-saving tips for traveling in Costa Rica:
1) PuraVidaEh discounts are free and their blog is an amazing Canadian resource!
The people behind the scenes are extremely responsive and accommodating. When something came up and we were late for our Mistico Hanging Bridges appointment (which we booked through them at a discount), they quickly helped us change the timing of our booking on the day of.
2) Bring your student ID if you have one. We used it for the Bogarin Sloth Trail and Rainforest Chocolate Tour. Even if it's not advertised, tour companies may give you the student discount if you ask.
3) Be careful where you rent a car.
As mentioned, we prefer to DIY our vacations and having the freedom to go whenever we please, so we opted for a car rather than booking hotels with transportation included.
- Rent a car with the appropriate insurance package. Accidents can happen (either dents in cars because the roads are in terrible shape, or people are reckless drivers). Rental companies in Costa Rica are known to charge a huge fee for the tiniest scratch upon the rental return. As always, take pictures of every defect in the car before you drive it off the rental lot.
- Be wary about renting through companies that appear cheap online. We rented through Adobe Rent-a-car which was rated highly and not sketchy. Online, it appeared to cost more at the outset but ended up being the better plan. I emailed back and forth with the rental car manager before arriving, and he was very transparent and tried to get us the car we wanted.
- Rent your car through a blog discount which gives you a free second driver (ie. MyTanFeet).
4) Eat at Sodas (small restaurants on the side of the street). Ensure you check ratings on Google maps before dining as not all are worth your money.
5) Buy souvenirs at local grocery stores. Some great options are Costa Rican snacks (ie. lemon oreos), chocolate and coffee. Your friends will love the authenticity!
6) Travel during low season. August to September are known to be the rainiest months in Costa Rica. Our trip dates were Aug 11-18 and we realized the rain brings so many advantages! The rapids run faster after it rains which will enhance your white water rafting experience, and the green foliage is so green!! The sloths also come out to eat after it rains so we saw these nocturnal animals awake in the daytime.
Let us know if you have any questions below!