Please what would you recommed to a 1st time visitor to Costa Rica for 13 days?
That would depend on the month of your arrival and your preferences re.activities, transports and accommodations.
Any ideas what kind of palces or tours you are looking for...also budget per night if possible!
A beach, a forest and a volcano, for the first time and 13 days thats enough.
I would recommend Arenal Volcano- because there are many things to do around, hot springs, hiking, rainforest and adventure and other attractions such as Rio Celeste and Monteverde are not too far away and could be included in the itinerary. I love the caribbean coast so I would recommend to visit Puerto Viejo/Cocles beach and Manzanillo for the beach experience, caribbean feeling and delicious food. If you have the chance, go also to Tortuguero. Arenal/La Fortuna: 2 nights, 1 night Monteverde or Bijagua/Rio Celeste and 2 or 3 nights south caribbean.
1 day to visit San Jose and to do a half day trip to see the crater of Poas Volcano.
Arenal is a Costa Rican must-see (pretty good for starters).
It really has about anything (except for a beach, of course xD ): Sky Trek offers a cable car ride, zip lining and hanging bridges for sight-seeing. There's also Arenal lake, where you can you do some kayaking, windsurfing (in the summer), boat and fishing tours. There are many more "adventurous" activities for an adrenaline-filled vacation :)
There is also a wide variety of hot springs (prices can go from $10 to $60, there's even free ones, but most people don't find them "fancy" xP ), Spas, waterfall sightseeing, horseback riding, river safari tour, farms and many other activities for a relaxing type of vacation.
Accommodation is never a problem, there are over a hundred hotels in the area (not exaggerating!) Most people don't know about most of them because of the few the over-rated hotels... But seriously, give it a try to the small hotels, each has its unique feel :)
It may be a secret to newcomers that Costa Rican roads aren't, well, "top class" (to call them something...). If it's your first time visiting, I'd recommend hiring a private driver. I've used Carlos Bogarin's transportation services in the past, here's very well known in the country and he can always point you to many small activities along the way. He's a very professional driver and has been around the business for quite a long time.
You can contact him at encantados[at]ice.co.cr . Send him an e-mail and maybe he will be able to provide further help for your plans :)
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