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Car Rental in Costa Rica: The Pioneer in Ecotourism
Though a relatively small country, Costa Rica offers travelers an incredible range of ecosystems from its position in tropical Central America. Be sure to see them all by staying mobile via rental car! Here is a brief guide to finding the cheapest rental cars in Costa Rica and enjoying your self-drive tour of this incredible country.
Important Facts about Costa Rica
- Language: While Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, English is the primary language of tourism, and you can expect to find bilingual signs in most tourist areas.
- Currency: The currency of Costa Rica is the colón, though the American dollar is also widely accepted. Visa and MasterCard are major forms of payment, even for small transactions, though you may find that you can get a discount if you pay cash. If it is necessary for you to exchange money, do so at state banks, where the exchange rate is often lower. Otherwise, ATMs are widely available throughout Costa Rica.
Driver’s License Requirements to Hire a Car in Costa Rica
Tourists are permitted to drive in Costa Rica with their domestic driver’s licenses for a period of up to three months. If you plan on staying in Costa Rica longer than three months, it will be necessary for you to apply for a Costa Rican driver’s license.
Get the Best Deal on Costa Rica Auto Rentals at EconomyBookings.com
Costa Rica rental cars are available in over 35 cities, towns, and beaches throughout the country. Costa Rican car hire starts as low as $15 a day!
Tips for Finding Cheap Car Hire in Costa Rica
Some of the cheapest locations from which to rent your car in Costa Rica are airports, particularly the Liberia International Airport (also called the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, LIR), the Puerto Jiménez Airport (PJM), and the Juan Santamaría International Airport (also called the San José Airport, SJO).
At each of these airports, 7 or more rental car companies compete to offer customers the cheapest daily rates on Costa Rican rental cars. Rental cars are understandably cheaper during the rainy season, which stretches from May through October, but especially if you can shop around from location to location, you can often find great deals on Costa Rican rental cars by booking your rental car just one or two months in advance of you arrival!
Tips for Driving: Car Rentals in Costa Rica
Driving Your Rental Car in Costa Rica
- While most roads are paved, not all of them are well maintained, so be sure to purchase additional insurance as needed and to keep an eye out for potholes and other dangerous road conditions.
- The rainy season extends from May through October, and the significant amount of rain received in this tropical country often damages roads and contributes to dangerous road conditions. Have an idea of alternative routes in advance of any road trips you take when driving from city to city in Costa Rica during the summer rainy season.
Driving internationally in your Costa Rica rental car
- If you are interested in travelling along the Inter-American Highway north to Nicaragua or south to Panama, be sure to talk to your rental car company. Additional charges may apply for international travel and you will likely need specific documents in order to cross international borders in your rental car.
Check your rental car thoroughly before signing paperwork
- In order to avoid being charged extra for damages to your rental car, be sure to check your car’s div, liquids (oil, fuel, etc.), and emergency tools (particularly a car jack and spare tire with good air pressure) before you sign paperwork.
- Taking the maximum insurance offered by your rental company is highly recommended.
Speed limits in Costa Rica:
- On highways: typically 120 km/h, with a minimum of 40 km/h
- On rural roads: 60 km/h
- In towns and cities: 40 km/h
Parking in Costa Rica:
- While there are paid parking lots throughout the country, you can also often simply park on the street. Keep some cash on hand to tip the Guachiman, who are informal car guards that help you exit your parking spot and ensure that your car isn’t damaged while it is parked.
Toll roads in Costa Rica:
- Many highways are tolled throughout Costa Rica, such as the San Jose Caldera Toll Road. Tolls are payable by cash at toll booths along all of these highways, which are typically significantly better maintained than the surrounding rural roads. Keep some small bills on hand to pay these tolls, or ask your rental car company if your rental car has been outfitted with a Quickpass. If your car does have a Quickpass, be sure to ask your rental car company if any surcharges apply for your use of tolled highways.