How much are meals, drinks, taxis and other daily expenses?
Costa Rica has a wide array of options to suit from backpacker to fancy traveler budgets. In general terms, it is more expensive than other Central American countries, but here’s an idea of what things can cost:
Meals.- Breakfast in a “sodita” (small typical restaurant) will cost anywhere between $3 and $6 U.S.D. including coffee, juice and Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), sided with something like eggs or cheese or Natilla (sour cream). Lunch and dinner in the same kind of establishment will cost somewhere between $5 and 8 $U.S.D. and the meal will consist normally of white rice, black beans, a salad, some vegetables and some kind of meat. That combination of food is known as a “Casado” (Married Man). Of course these typical options are not all you will find in Costa Rica. There are plenty of international options, and the cuisine, variety and prices will scale accordingly.
Drinks.– National beers (Imperial, Bavaria, Pilsen) cost around $2 or $3 U.S.D. at typical restaurants and canteens, but can triple in price in any other restaurant and especially in upscale hotels. The same applies for cocktails. Bottled water costs between $1 and $3 U.S.D., depending on the size, but throughout most of Costa Rica, the tap water is safe to drink, so before purchasing disposable plastic, ask your guide about the water in your destination.
Taxis.- A good rule of thumb is to assume that each kilometer will cost between $1 and $1.50 U.S.D. While riding within San José be sure to ask the driver to turn on the “María” or “taxímetro” (the meter). That way you can be sure you’re being charged a fair price. As reference, a trip between downtown San José and SJO airport should cost about $30 U.S.D.
Other expenses.- In souvenir shops you can expect t-shirts to cost between $10 and $15, and coffee bags about $7, although there is a big range of prices. The airport has a good variety of souvenirs, in case you run out of time for shopping, and the prices are reasonable but for sure it’s worth it to purchase souvenirs directly from the locals: you’ll benefit the artisan and the price will be lower for you.