Is Costa Rica backpacking practical for the budget traveler? It can be! Though Costa Rica has a name in travel circles for being a bit touristy and more than a bit expensive, it is possible to have a true backpackers adventure here and keep expenses to a reasonable level.
• Eat local: rice and beans from the sodas, hole-in-the-wall eateries that are patronized by the local population, are a good way to go.
• You can get even cheaper by shopping in the market and making your own meals.
• Skip taxis, take buses: taxis, often preferred by the luxury tourist, are ridiculously expensive in Costa Rica; instead, hitch a ride on one of the public buses.
• Spend time at the National Parks—there are entrance fees, but they are reasonable—but also take advantage of the completely free-to-wander jungle that borders these parks.
• Do camping and youth hostels—or stay in a mom and pop guesthouse—rather than pay a premium on a hotel room
• Consider traveling off-season: if you don’t mind rain, for instance, consider visiting Costa Rica in the rainy season—the crowds of tourists will have cleared out, prices for more touristy activities will have dropped, and you’ll be able to enjoy everything Costa Rica has to offer without being part of the crowd.
• The Caribbean coast tends to be cheaper and less touristy than the Pacific, so you may want to spend at least part of your backpacking time there.
• Skip the bottled water--- tap water in Costa Rica is perfectly fine to drink, so fill up your Nalgene bottles at your hostel or guesthouse and cut out one expense that has a way of adding up.
Costa Rica is full of experiences, but here are three you won’t want to miss while doing your Costa Rica leg of backpacking trip.
Rainforest at night? Yes and yes! Take a place on a tour of the rainforest at night—it’ll cost, but shouldn’t break the bank—and you’ll have an experience to talk about for a long time to come. Many animals of the rainforest are nocturnal, and you’ll be surprised what a different place the jungle is when the lights go off. Don’t try this on your own though; it isn’t safe.
Zipline Tour—do your homework on this one, as it can be expensive; but, especially if you’re traveling in the off-season, there are some pretty good deals as well. And a Costa Rican zipline tour is something else
Visit an Active Volcano— Dreamed of walking through tropical rainforests beside an active volcano? Or had nightmares of the same? Well, it’s time to make those dreams reality—and don’t worry, there’s pretty much no chance that it’ll turn into a nightmare. You wont be able to climb the volcano—or get closer than two miles away—but the Arenal Volcano National Park is still a pretty cool place, and you can hike up to see some lava spewed in a 1993 eruption. Since 2010 the volcano has been mostly sleeping--- mostly, but not quite.
Have fun Costa Rica backpacking, and come back with your hard drive full of pictures and your head full of priceless memories!