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“THE place to get your souvenirs, and not as dangerous as made out”

Central Market (Mercado Central)
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San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and...
Ranked #23 of 125 things to do in San Jose
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Owner description: This collection of stalls and restaurants contains the country's first ice cream vendor.
Reviewed September 11, 2012

This was the first place we seen when we got to Costa Rica, and we're glad we did. This market is full of little shops selling everything from food to souvenirs. And that at much lower prices than at most other shops (and there's room to haggle). Bought some t-shirts here, fridge magnets, and loads of wooden stuff, stuff that sold for at least double the prices in most tourists shops. And the best place of the market is a little coffee seller in a corner, where you can have fresh coffee wrapped in a nice package, best souvenir from Costa Rica.

I saw a lot of people suggesting this was a dangerous place, but I didn't think it felt unsafe at all. Yes, I'm sure there's pick pockets around, but you'll find them everywhere, just use your common sense. The most likely person to empty your wallet is yourself, cos you will want to buy everything in here!

5  Thank Mikeynl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"pet store"
in 8 reviews
"locals shop"
in 7 reviews
"flea market"
in 11 reviews
"meat and fish"
in 6 reviews
"shops selling"
in 5 reviews
"local shopping"
in 5 reviews
"local life"
in 9 reviews
in 4 reviews
"great market"
in 9 reviews
"indoor market"
in 4 reviews
"several blocks"
in 4 reviews
"for sale"
in 9 reviews
"costa rica"
in 39 reviews
"leather goods"
in 4 reviews
in 5 reviews
"walk around"
in 7 reviews
"great coffee"
in 4 reviews

296 - 300 of 487 reviews

Reviewed August 19, 2012

Mercado Central was on my (admittedly short) to-do list for San Jose and it certainly did not disappoint! This place is a crowded labyrinth of stalls, so I got lost a few times. I would recommend getting your fill to eat at one of the sodas first (~$5-6), then making a circle to scan/price out the goods before making any purchase.

You can definitely bargain, as some things, like postcards are overpriced from the get-go. Sadly I couldn't get ahold of the $5 leather sandals mentioned in earlier posts but I did manage to get a few dollars off a pair in my broken Spanglish. Stop by the tiny Moka coffee stall for some goodies to bring home. Wonderful customer service--they will even seal up your purchases in air-tight foil bags so they survive the trip home to your friends and loved ones.

Obviously, you're still in San Jose so keep your belongings close and be careful when opening your bag. Take pictures, but stow your camera safely away or keep it in your hand, not dangling from the cord. Men, you do NOT want to keep your wallet in your back pocket! Even the shop owners all warned me to be careful when taking out my money to pay.

3  Thank Nah0Nah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 15, 2012

A good place to get a feel for the products of the country if you are very careful and are conscious of your surroundings. Never carry your backpack or fanny pack on your back or where you cannot see it. Watch your purse and your camera. Make sure your wallet is where it cannot be stolen. The place is full of pickpockets that take advantage of the crowded conditions to lighten your load. Never go to this area at night. It just is not safe. During the day it is usually fine, although there have been times in the 21 years that we have lived here that there have been some stabbings among the locals.
Chose a place to eat carefully if you are prone to stomach upsets and never drink any of the juices that are sitting in large jars of the counters. They have been cited many times for unsanitary storage conditions. The blue and yellow Columbian restaurant on the southeast corner of the market is usually a pretty good place to eat, and they have the only restrooms there.
If you are a sensitive soul, stay out of the pet store. Twenty years ago, I went in there and wound up buying a cute little dachshund puppy because I couldn’t stand the way they had him in a dark, dirty cage. They handed him to me in a plastic garbage bag.
It is very easy to get lost inside so the best way to find your way back to where you want to go, is to walk around all 4 sides of the market (outside) so that when you do get back outside, you can tell where you are.
The best time to go is in the morning before it gets too crowded and odiferous. Make sure that you check out the flower section. They have some beauties.
That said, even with all the warnings, it is a good place to visit. Just remember, you are a target and take precautions.

7  Thank crafterincr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Bough nice T-Shirts and souvenirs in the market. Lunch was also delicious and at very low cost. Worth visiting it. Be aware of the opening hours, from early morning until 6pm.

1  Thank Traveler4Fun_99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 9, 2012

Fun to walk around and explore, but my highlights were grabbing a humble but delicious meal at one of the small sodas inside and grabbing some fresh fruit to snack on for the day ahead

1  Thank Al J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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