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Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

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3 posts
12 reviews
Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

I am going on a nature tour beginning Jan 11, 2014. I made incorrect flight and will be getting to San Jose Santamaria airport on Jan 8. I have 3 days on my own, not a bad idea but I am a novice, older traveler never been outside North America. The tour is a once in a lifetime trip and costly. My budget is VERY limited at this point and changing flights will cost over $400 so staying in CR is my best choice. Meeting group at Wyndham San Jose - Herradura the 11th. Would like to see some of San Jose on these days. I am trying to find a safe, inexpensive spot to bunk down for the 3 days I will be on my own. Please suggest safe, inexpensive ideas for hotel/hostel/couchsurfing. Thank you all very much.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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6,180 posts
22 reviews
1. Re: Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

First of all I'm glad to hear you're checking expanding your horizons and hope you have a great trip to Costa Rica. The good news is that you have options. You can stay in San Jose and check out the parks and museums for 3 days or you could be just a hair more adventurous and stay somewhere near San Jose but outside the big city and see a little more of the Central Valley or you could even explore a little farther afield staying at a bed and breakfast and hiring a driver to meet you at the airport.

For the San Jose option I'd suggest you check out Casa 69 just east of downtown with rate from $50 or Casa Abierto, a tripadvisor award winner with rooms from $80/nite. Air B&B lists other options from $59/nite. Or you could check out a hostel at http://www.hostels.com/san-jose/costa-rica.

You could also check Air B&B for a room in Alajuela where the airport is actually located, just west of San Jose. You could take a publci bus right into dowtown San Jose for a day, but spend most of your time in a smaller city with a great central plaza and lots of affordable restaurants.

Or you could take a look at staying in a B&B like Posada Andrea Cristina http://www.andreacristina.com/ in Sarapiqui, an area roughly 1.5 hours from San Jose that is famous for wildlife. Rates from $38/nite. Ask Alex Rodriguez if he could provide pickup at airport and dropoff in San Jose on the 11th. Sarapiqui is a very small town so you'd get a great feel for local life and Alex is a fabulous English speaking host.

Edited: 3:15 pm, October 29, 2013
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
8,811 posts
58 reviews
2. Re: Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

Just a quick amend to above info. Host and owner of Posada Andrea Cristina (which I am also recommending) is Alex (Alexander) Martinez. And yes, staying three days at Posada will give you a head start to your later Costa Rica adventures.

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3 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

Well it's been quite an adventure thus far. ;) For three days now I have been trying to find you again! There is nothing in my email/s. Today I am on another computer and here you are.

I really want to thank you for your advise. It seemed clearer than the ?300? sites I went to. I decided to stay in San Jose and check out the museums and possibly the theater. . .depending on how money holds up (the tourist site/gifts money). The trip is paid for which is nice and I have been in contact with a couple of people who are going on the tour also. They are not arriving early so won't see them until the tour welcome.

Although I have not been to CR yet I have the premonition that I will go back next year then I will try the Posada Andrea and reach out further. Thank you again for the information it is really appreciated. Sorry I have been so lax in responding.

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4. Re: Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

Hi - Thank you for agreeing with CRFan about the Posada Andrea. I have decided to stay in San Jose this time checking museums and theater. I expect I will be in CR again since all I hear about it is absolutely wonderful and breathtaking.

Thanks and sorry to be so lax in replying to your message.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,682 posts
26 reviews
5. Re: Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

For San Jose - you might check both Tranquilo Backpackers and Gaudy's Backpackers. I have stayed at both of these and they are both within walking distance of museums and the Central Market. Both have inexpensive private rooms with a private bath. In general, Gaudy's was a bit quieter - but neither of them have a "party" atmosphere.

Some tips: When you are walking about San Jose, put your backpack in front. One of the favorite thing of thieves is to walk behind someone and just start taking things out of a backpack as you walk. You will see lots of people in San Jose doing this. Also - if you go out after dark, take a taxi even if it is just a few blocks. If you go to the Central Market, be very aware of pickpockets. I always wear pants or capris that have a pocket with a zipper and then put my cash in there. The local currency is the "colon" - plural "colones" and you will need to get some colones to use here and there. Many places accept US dollars, but lots of places don't and your taxi fare will be in colones, restaurants prices will be in colones and you will need colones to ride the public bus. You can get colones from an ATM at the airport and then ride the public bus into San Jose for around 500 colones (about $1).

Make a copy of your passport and leave the original either in a locker at your hostel or with the staff. (Put it in an envelope and ask them to sign a receipt.) Bring your own lock for a locker or whatever. When you are "out and about," take only the amount of money that you need for that excursion. Be really careful with your "stuff" and don't walk around San Jose with a camera slung around your neck. Petty theft is a problem so just use your good common sense.

Spending several days in San Jose is not really ideal. Alajuela is a much better choice, actually. But if you are determined to stay there, then just be careful. If your budget were more, you could do some excellent "day trips" and excursions, but you will just have to enjoy the cultural immersion. If you can learn some Spanish, it will help you immensely. Take one of the small Latin American phrase books with you. That way, if you can't say what you want/need, you can at least point to it! I use the Berlitz one and it is small but packed full of useful stuff.

You can also just take the public bus here and there around San Jose to get a real "flavor" for the place. It's very inexpensive.

6. Re: Novice traveler w/limited budget thinking of staying@ Hostel

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