A few days in San José, home to over one third of all Ticos, will give you an insight into the true character of the nation. The city's markets are colorful and vibrant, and its nightlife is as sophisticated (or as debauched) as you want it to be.
Sights to see in San Jose:
*Mercado Central: The bustling central market is the perfect place to fill your backpack or suitcase?s empty spaces.
*Avenida Central: Beginning a block beyond the Mercado Central, Central Avenue is a pedestrian-friendly epicenter of shops and restaurants.
*El Pueblo: San José?s all-night entertainment and nightlife hub. El Pueblo caters to tourists and locals both with restaurants, discos, galleries, and more.
*Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica: Founded in 1897, San Jose?s National Theater is one of Costa Rica?s grandest architectural attractions.
*The Simon Bolivar Zoo: While the zoo showcases a whole host of Costa Rica?s endemic animal species, it?s no match to seeing them in the wild.
*Museo Oro Precolombino: The collection consists of 1600 pieces of Pre-Columbian gold work dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD. Information is given on the processing and making of the pieces as well as their social, cultural and religious meanings.
*Museo De Jade: San JoséŽs most famous museum houses the worldŽs largest collection of American jade. The various archeological exhibits of ceramic and stonework are helpful in gaining an insight into Costa RicaŽs pre-Colombian cultures.
When to go
San José has a pleasant, though at times sticky, climate all year round. Cooling rain is at its heaviest from May to November, usually in the afternoons. Coinciding with the coolest period of the year, December is the most vibrant and thus most crowded time to be in San José with a series of festivals leading up to New Year.
How to get there
San José is the hub of all transportation around Costa Rica. Most people get around by bus, but there is no actual central bus terminal. Instead, there are dozens of bus stops and terminals scattered around the city, all serving different destinations.
Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría (near Alajuela) handles international traffic while Sansa domestic flights operate from the blue building to the right of the main terminal. The airport is 17km or about 20 minutes by car from the center of San José.
There is a local bus stop outside the airport, but you might have to change buses to get to the city center. The taxis charge around 15 US Dollars to take you to the city, be sure to take one of the licensed reddish-orange taxis that say "Taxi Aeropuerto."
Most travelers do not need a visa to enter the country including those from Canada, U.S., Europe, Australia, the UK, Argentina, Israel, Japan, Panama, South Korea and Uruguay. Visitors can stay for up to 90 days. Note that it may be required to show a return ticket, ticket to another country, or proof of funds to purchase such tickets before being permitted to enter the country.
On guided tours, tip the guide US$1.00 to US$5.00 per person per day, and tip the tour driver about half of what you tip the guide. Naturally, tips depend upon quality of service. Taxi drivers are not normally tipped, unless some special service is provided. Upscale restaurants may add a 10% service charge to the bill. If not, you might leave a small tip to show your appreciation, but it is not required.