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Travel Guide: Costa Rica Getting Around

12th Oct 2011 2:01am | By Editor

Specialist airlines serve the country's eco hot sopts.

Getting there

By air

There are two international airports: Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Guanacaste.

Most of the major US carriers — including Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Continental and Iberia — fly direct to Costa Rica from major cities in North America.

By sea

Cruise ships leave from Miami bound for Costa Rican ports in Limon, Puntarenas and Caldera.

By car

If you're doing a road trip through Central America, use the Pan-American Highway, which runs from Mexico to Panama via Costa Rica. It can take a couple of hours to get through the border. Speaking Spanish is essential to sort out the paperwork.

By bus

Buses link Costa Rica with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The border crossings are open daily — you'll either have to walk across the border to a connecting bus, or hand your passport over to the driver if you don't need to change buses.

Getting around

Hire car

Renting can be sometimes expensive depending on the season. Prices range from US$45 per day but it can be very handy having a four-wheel-drive, starting from about US$60 per day.

Internal flights

Costa Rica has four domestic airlines: SANSA, Nature Air, Paradise Air and Aerobell.

Chicken bus

You haven’t really travelled in Central America until you’ve survived a journey on a ‘chicken bus’. Buses are the main mode of transport and Honduras has a two-tier system. Chicken buses are the cheaper, second class option and they’re hot, slow, cramped and usually suspension-shy. The good news is the journeys are usually short and you’re plonked right in among the locals who travel with everything from giant sacks of potatoes to squawking chickens. It’s a great way to sample some on-the-ground local colour.

No trip is complete without regular stops to buy frescos (drinks) that often taste as strange as they look. Buses often have salsa music reverberating around the seats, and sometimes American R&B music too.