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Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

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Calgary, Canada
posts: 35
reviews: 41
Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

For travel in mid July to Aug 21 going to central Pacific coast areas (Manuel Antonio then north from there), then into Central Highlands, then over to Northern Caribbean side like Tortorguero area....will it be difficult to find budget accomodation with a few days in advance of booking? I want to keep our 5 week trip as flexible as we can. Also, how far in advance do you have to book busses etc. in general? Suggestions?

13 replies to this topic
San Jose, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 39,299
1. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

Do not book any thing ahead or pay anything to anybody...shop around once you are here in Costa Rica..you really do not need any middle person...some of them as far as china or even Guatemala...trying to get your booking commisions...

roadadvisor

Calgary, Canada
posts: 35
reviews: 41
2. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

Thanks for that!!! Yes, I will wait.

3. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

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Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 461
reviews: 9
4. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

I think of high season (see commenter above) in Costa Rica as more like December to April, at least on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. See govisitcostarica.com/travelInfo/climate.asp

Unless it's a Costa Rican holiday, I wouldn't worry about it. If it's something where they get a few days off and it connects to a holiday, the locals flock to their beaches (Christmas and Easter is kind of cRaZy). But I've never been there in July or early August. See costarica.com/culture/holidays-festivals/

Personally, I like having my first night or two in a different country booked to give me a chance to get oriented. But I wouldn't think you'd have much problems just showing up at hotels (at least along the Pacific Coast). Make it clear when you check in at a hotel you're getting prices from a few places and not just asking them their price.

If by busses, you mean shuttle busses (like a company like Montezuma Expeditions), when they're full they're full and you're stuck going a different day. So once you know your date, I'd book the shuttle bus (I'd book as soon as I bought my plane tickets). Usually a few days is fine and I've done it the day before too, but I've also asked two days in advance and not gotten on the shuttle I wanted and had to go a day or two earlier. Now if you're a family of 8 and you're booking a whole bus by yourselves that's different, but if you're just two people you want to get on the already running buses.

Gary

Edited: 8:38 pm, May 19, 2013
Calgary, Canada
posts: 35
reviews: 41
5. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

Thanks Gary

Yes, we are going to stay in Alejeula area for 3-4 days so I am hoping to get on a bus to Manuel Antonio after that. We will try to take local busses I think to keep costs down but again I will have to see...maybe there will be other travellers going in the same direction from the hotel that I can share the shuttle bus cost with? Good to book in advance on the way back to Alejeula I am sure for when we depart in August.

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 461
reviews: 9
6. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

If you book with a company like Interbus or Montezuma Expeditions, you are sharing the 12-15 person bus/van with others. They generally pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. It's pretty rare that I've been in a half empty van (they won't run it if they have less than 4, I think) they usually get it pretty full.

The public busses work, I've taken them for short trips, the direct bus from San Jose to Montezuma is a great value at $14-ish. There are other directo busses to various places, but I think most (all?) are in San Jose: but if you're in Alejeula (SJ airport) you have to go 25-35 minutes east (wrong way) and pay $25-$30 for a cab, seems kind of a waste when they'll pick me up at my hotel for $45-ish (and that saves me an hour of drive time).

I mentioned Montezuma Expeditions (my favorite), they do go to Arenal and Manuel Antonio too. I think the name looses them some potential business...

How many of you are traveling?

Gary

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 461
reviews: 9
7. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

Since you'll be in Alajuela for a few days you can ask around a bit for info. Downtown Alajuela is a pretty typical busy town, main park with church (BEAUTIFUL ceilings in Alajuela main church). I like it. Check it out during the day so you don't wander into the potentially bad parts at night (just like any town in the world).

There is a direct bus to San Jose from Alajuela every 15 minutes or so (as for directions); I think directo is very few stops (or only if passengers ask to get off) they might actually cost a little more (at least the long rides), but still super super cheap. What's nice is it dead ends near the shopping district so you know when to get off, here's a map http://goo.gl/maps/CTZmt . I know I've gotten off the Alajuela/SJ directo on Paseo Colon (near La Sabana Park) with no problem.

I like that shopping/business area (where the directo dead ends), great for getting a better idea of what people living there experience daily (vs. the beach and tourist areas); relatively large area and it seems pretty safe (I've never done it at night). FYI, A few of the different bus stations (that have directos) are around there, 3-6 blocks away (north or nw).

The bus stations (especially downtown) are a good place to be mindful of your belongings. I've been there at 6am (departing) and 10pm arriving. Not my favorite place to hang out while traveling alone but it seems safe enough if you're paying attention. Again, probably the same rules as anywhere else...

Gary

Miami, Florida
posts: 61
8. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

You can do it either way. I personally would not want to waste time during my vacation looking for a place to stay.

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 538
9. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

Much depends upon your travel style. Many folks like to have everything pre-arranged and they love it. Others like to play the whole thing by ear and see where the wind takes them. I often recommend that if someone's arriving in Monteverde or Arenal or Manuel Antonio for a few days to have something set for the first morning (either a guided hike of the National Park, or an adventure tour) and then play it by ear from there... To each his/her own...

Toronto, Canada
posts: 743
reviews: 74
10. Re: Plan as you go or prebook as much as possible for CR?

I always pre-book shuttles a few weeks before just because I'm more comfortable with that. I have never been on a shuttle that had 12-15 people - (interbus mostly) Only once returning from MA to SJ there were 9 of us by the time we end up in SJ. That was the most I ever experienced. Most of the time 4 - 6. Maybe just lucked out??? It's not an uncomfortable choice.

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