An Asian’s View of Costa Rica

General

  • Everyone is very friendly, even if they don’t speak English. Do try to learn a few Spanish phrases though, as it’s almost impossible to order food and go places without basic Spanish.
  • If possible, avoid flying Spirit airlines if a full service airline is desired. While the “ticket” is cheap, they laden it with extraneous costs and fees which ultimately brings the cost to a similar level to other airlines.Their lines were the longest in the airport, but the least staffed. They wouldn’t give a cup of water for free, and insisted on charging. It was apparently impossible to use the online system to check-in. And it turns out, we’re not the only ones who had terrible service.
  • For the love of all things good, be prepared to eat a ton of beans and the side-effects. The typical food you find in Costa Rica is called casado, which is rice, beans, salad, and a meat product.The meats and veggies are pretty decent all around, and can be pretty cheap (just ask the locals where they eat). On the other hand, the rice is practically uncooked compared to the typical Asian rice; skip it if you are used to the softness of Asian rice.

    Casado
    Casado (usually without fries)
  • Travel within the country is hard; the roads are rarely paved on the outskirts.

Arenal Volcano

  • The name is pretty tough to pronounce for Asians apparently; listen to how the locals pronounce it a few times to prevent confusion.
  • The volcano is gorgeous if there are no clouds on it.
  • We want to La Fortuna waterfall area, a natural tour of the area and one of the hot springs.The waterfall was mildly forgettable (coming from Cornell, waterfalls are no biggie), but the roughly five hundred stairs were not for my thighs. Just remember to change before down the path if you intend to take a dip; there are no changing rooms at the bottom of the stairs.

    La Fortuna
    La Fortuna
  • The natural tour was okay, partly because my tour guide had troubles communicating, and partly due to two immature young ladies in our group. We managed to see a snake, and quite a few birds. I honestly preferred the Monteverde area to Arenal.

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    The hot springs was anything but forgettable. We went to Baldi after our nature hike, and it was quite the relaxant. There were several different pools, with different designs for different people with different temperatures. Spending 15 minutes in each pool will burn through two hours easily.

    There is a “free” hot springs by the Tabacon resort in that the river is warm. Be wary of the love birds there making out though (source: random Canadian tour guide).

Monteverde

  • The weather was so weird. Have a poncho/umbrella/light coat ready at all times.
  • If going on the ziplines, DO FOR THE TARZAN SWING. It’s basically a giant ass swing and bungie jump in one.
  • In one day, we did a morning nature hike, the ziplines and a night walk. It was worth it, but incredibly tiring.
  • Both the morning and evening nature hikes were distinct on their own. We were fortunate to have a very competent guide (name was Christian) for the morning hike, which we rehired as our guide for the night walk.The morning one was more a flora/fauna + bird tour, while the night tour contained way more large mammals. They were both different and well worth it.
    DSC_0125
    Morning Hike

    DSC_0200
    Night Walk
  • The butterfly garden by Montverde Country Lodge (there’s no road names in either Montverde or Arenal…) was educational’ nothing out of the ordinary. Our guide did bite a roach to prove that they are cleaner than we think.
    Butterfree
    Butterfree

    The Don Juan coffee/chocolate tour was also nice. Loads of fun and demystified the makings of coffee to me; includes tons of free samples!

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