There are plenty of Costa Rica shopping options, though most textiles are imported from Guatemala or Ecuador, with tourist shops offering Guatemalan clothing, Panamanian appliquéd textiles, El Salvadoran painted wood souvenirs, and Nicaraguan rocking chairs. Still, Costa Rica does have a few locally produced arts and handicrafts available only a short drive from San José in towns and villages known for unique works, including hand-painted ceramics, bowls and trays from wood, the typical miniature ox cart and, of course, coffee. A local and tourist favorite is Mercado Central in San José. This open market is where you can find souvenirs, coffee, spices, woven goods, candles, and other craft items. If shopping in Costa Rica means you’re looking for more authentic items, you’ll need to head outside the city limits to the smaller markets and private shops. Costa Rica shopping has no shortage of malls, including Mall San Pedro located ten minutes from downtown San José, Plaza Rohrmoser an upscale shopping center to the west, and Terramall in the eastern suburbs.
If you are furniture shopping in Costa Rica, one of the best places to visit is an area called Sarchi located about one hour from San José in the Central Valley. Here you will find dozens furniture stores, workshops, and souvenir shops offering a huge selection of very affordable, handmade furniture, including chairs of all kinds, entertainment centers, beds, bars, and chests of drawers. Sarchi is also host to hand-craft shops and best known for the colorfully painted oxcart, reproductions of which are manufactured in various scaled-down sizes. These make excellent gifts. (Larger oxcarts can be easily disassembled and shipped to your home.)
Guaitíl, located near Guanacaste, is famous for pottery with a spattering of small workshops, studios, and storefronts dotting the town`s central park. Many of the low-fired ceramic wares here carry ancient local indigenous motifs, while others get quirky modern treatments.
Real Boruca masks are unique indigenous art works, and the better ones are signed by their carver, and shopping in Costa Rica provides ample opportunity to purchase one these indigenous Boruca pieces from the people of southern Costa Rica. Even if you can’t make the drive to these small villages, some of the better gift shops around the country will have ample supply. These full-size wood masks come in a variety of styles, both painted and unpainted, and run anywhere from $20 to $150, depending on the quality of workmanship.
For genuine Cuban cigar shopping in Costa Rica, check out The Havana Humidor Room in downtown San Jose located two blocks north and one block west of the Holiday Inn.