Secrets to Saving a TON of Money While Traveling in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not a destination for budget travelers. All the decent hotels range from $100 to $700 per night, activities of all sorts start at $50 up to $150 per day.

So my readers are constantly emailing me to find out if there are any DEALS to be had. I’ve comprised a list that I recommend to do and will save you a ton of money.

Discover more things to do in Costa Rica for free.

11 Things to Do in Costa Rica on a Budget

Arenal and La Fortuna Area

This is the top hot spot for adventure tours. But the secret is, you can do a lot of them on your own and save a bundle

1. Hanging Bridges – the common misconception here is that if you don’t go on a guided tour you won’t get the same experience. NOT TRUE! You will have the same, if not better. Plus, a guided tour is $57 per person while the entrance is $25.

2. Hot Springs – Naturally heated pools are a craze in this area. Again, if you do an organized tour, you end up paying more than two times the entrance fee. There is no reason for a guided tour since there is nothing to guide just a quick point to the pools and you’re on your own.

3. La Fortuna Waterfalls – another misconception is that you can’t get to this waterfalls unless you are with a guide. WRONG. It’s $10 to enter and you have a great time. A guide will cost you at least $40 per person and not really too much of a different experience.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

4. Frogs – yes, this is a biggy hear. You will find tons of Frog ponds that charge you a ton to enter. If you do a night tour, which is worth the whole $25 per person, you will see tons of frogs and so much more.

5. Hiking the reserves – Do this on your own! Trust me, you will have a great experience for a fraction of the cost that a guide will cost you. Some areas simply don’t need guides, and this is one of them. For an entrance of $15 compared to $50 per person with a guide, you can get a book to show you what you’re looking at.

Manuel Antonio National Park

This is the number one National Park in Costa Rica and the best place to see animals up close.

6. Guided tour of the Park – Yes, you will definitely see more animals with a guide. But no matter if you go alone or with a pro, you will see animals. The difference in price is literally $10 entrance fee vs. $45 per person.

Descubre más cosas que hacer en Costa Rica gratis.

7. Taxis in Manuel Antonio – Sure you can grab a cab to take you from the beaches to Quepos, but did you know that this is the best public bus system in all of Costa Rica. They run every 15 minutes and cost 25 cents!

General Costa Rica Savings

8. Eating Out – You have to eat at a SODA – a Costa Rica local eatery – located in every part of the country. You will get a humongous meal that includes drink, protein, starch, sometimes soup and desert for less than $8. And it’s all homemade!

9. Coffee – Costa Rica is known for it’s great coffee. I bet you didn’t know that you can buy the same coffee per pound in the local supermarkets for literally a fifth of the price then in any of the souvenir shops.

10. Street Vendors – More and more people are selling goods on the streets. You can buy a lot of the same things from them as you can in the stores minus the rent. The savings can be up to 50%.


11. Accommodations – Many travelers are now staying in Costa Rica timeshares. Not only are these resort suites loaded with comfortable luxuries, but they can be found at very discounted prices online. For the most affordable rates, try a timeshare resale/rental company like to see what kind of deals they are currently offering.

If you use any of these tips, you are still guaranteed a super trip. So save and enjoy.


About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

8 Responses to Secrets to Saving a TON of Money While Traveling in Costa Rica

  1. Meagan says:

    I tagged you in My 7 links post.
    Meagan recently posted..My 7 LinksMy Profile

  2. These are some great tips! I realize CR is not the cheapest country in the region but like any country it offers some value for those willing to search for bargains.
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Bicycle | Dali, China | Travel PhotoMy Profile

  3. Mark Wiens says:

    Sounds like there are a lot of guided tours in Costa Rica. It’s good to hear that guides are not always mandatory and can be avoided to save some money! Great tips, and I hope to visit at some point.
    Mark Wiens recently posted..Zanzibar Video Guide – Street Food, Stone Town, and BeachesMy Profile

  4. Pete Heck says:

    Great tips! Always like to save $$$ while traveling 😉
    Pete Heck recently posted..Foto Friday – Irish RosesMy Profile

  5. Good post with lots of tips for my least favorite country in Central America. Gringolandia.
    Michael Hodson recently (@Eurail), the Ultimate Train Challenge and… Which Way Should I Go??My Profile

  6. Great article Marina! I’m always looking for ways to save so this was pretty helpful. Hoping to make it to Costa Rica in the next year or two!
    Megan Eileen recently posted..Tourism Boards GaloreMy Profile

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