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shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Orlando, Florida
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shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

How is the shopping in this area and does anyone know of the Melrost B&B?

How difficult or easy is it to find the road to Manuel Antonio?

Paris, France
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1. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

This really depends on what you are shopping for. Generally speaking, you will have a greater selection of things, and at a lower cost, in the U.S.

Orlando, Florida
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2. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

OK, thanks, understood. How about shopping for uniquely Costa Rican items?

Alajuela
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3. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Like gallo pinto :-)

Alajuela is neither a tourist town nor a shopping town. There are one or two gift shops - one near Cariari and another downtown Alajuela and another on the Heredia road.

There are very few uniquely Costa Rican items anywhere in the country . . . the major chain of gift shops will not be your best bet for locally made stuff that supports the local economy. That said there are some hot spots where you will find some interesting things going on - and you'll likely need to go out of your way.

In San Jose just north of the center you'll find a lovely shop called the Namu gallery 2256-3412. They collect and sell only indigenous art from groups like the Borucans and the Maleku. Their sales help support these indigenous communities. Namu is a one of a kind in Costa Rica doing the right thing.

You can also visit Boruca - about 5 hours south of Alajuela and a spectacular visit in a beautiful village where most of the folk are somehow connected to the selling of intricately carved and painted masks. You need a 4*4 to get to the village but worth the effort.

You can visit the Maleku if you travel to Arenal as do 80% of our visitors but nearly nobody goes another few km to the Maleku reserve. They will organize tours for you that your hotel can hook you up with to visit things like poison dart frog farms, medicinal plants and a "museum" (really a twig hut but a great visit). The people are wonderful and need your support . . . they make some art such as rain sticks, drums etc.

You can visit the Bribri in the Cribbean zone . . . take a day trip to Yorkin, a delightful indigenous group - and the largest in Costa Rica . . . by dugout and they make chocolate, bows and arrows and such as well as the occasional painting (which you should snap up because their output in nearly zero.

Many tourists also visit Sarchi, the home of the woodworkers of Costa Rica. You'll find all kinds of local wood stuff and things like our famous rocking chairs (very good for pondering about peace) and ox carts and such. If you go tray and visit the last authentic waterwheel driven oxcart factory still run by the nearly octogenarian Alfaro brothers - find the big church/giant oxcart and wander around about 300 meters north and west of the church and you'll see their ancient factory. Make sure to leave a small donation in the box for using up their time showing you their wonderful ancient contraptions.

Finally, there are more but you'll also find interesting things in some hotel gift shops - look for locally produced items - often wood but sometimes some nice ceramics - in particular the famous PEFI ceramics made by the daughter in law of Don Pepe Figueres (the guy who established modern Costa Rica and no doubt pondered peace in our time after he abolished the army in 1948 while sitting in a famous Sarchi rocking chair).

You may have to work on these things but they'll be worth it :-)

Berni

Alajuela

Punta Uva, Costa...
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4. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Great stuff Breni!

Punta Uva, Costa...
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5. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Sorry, Berni

Antigua, Guatemala
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6. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Hi,

The best place for unique Costa Rica shopping would be the Central Market in San Jose. This is the place to be. However, when you visit MA (Which is easy to find from Alajuela) you'll find tons of good shops in Quepos as well.

Central Market will have the best choices and prices, in my opinion. You can easily catch a cab from your hotel there.

Hope this helps,

Marina K. Villatoro

Orlando, Florida
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7. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Berni, this is the info I have been unable to find on any of the forums I have searched. This is great stuff.......We will go to Namu Gallery and the Maleku sounds interesting, I will research that further.

The other will require more thought and planning. You have been very helpful and I thank you.

Orlando, Florida
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8. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Marina we plan to visit the Central market in San Jose, thanks for your advice and I appreciate the reassurance of finding M A.

I also am looking into one of your other posts about the b & b you favor.

Antigua, Guatemala
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9. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Hi,

Do you mean Casa Bella Rita? That's actually 10 minutes from San Jose downtown and is much more convenient in my opinion.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

North Carolina
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10. Re: shopping and sleeping in Alajuela

Alajuela has a central market as well. It's small, and can be navigated very easily - there's very little by way of souveniers, it's mostly a market for the locals. If you are looking for a town sized market instead of the big city, this is a great place to look around. Its a pretty facinating place to be in the morning (before 8) as you see all the farmers and butchers unload their trucks.

If you want to shop like you would in the USA, San Jose is indeed much larger and more modern. If you want a typico cultural experience, visit Alajuela's market.

PVR