Coming to Costa Rica?

Are you coming to visit us? We recommend taking this information into account …


Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO).
The International Airport Juan Santamaría is in the province of Alajuela, 22 kms away from San José, the capital of Costa Rica. From the Airport to your host family, the trip takes around 30 minutes with slow traffic and even 50 minutes if traffic is very high.


110 Volt, plugs with three prongs often need an adapter.


Potable in greater San José area as well as in bigger cities. In the rural areas (mountains, beaches and national parks) caution is advised.


The official currency is the ‘colón’ (plural: colones) and its exchange is made via the Dollar at a fluctuating rate.
$1 = 650 colones.

Banks & ATM

All national and international financial transactions can be effectuated through the national banks or with any private bank. Any bank changes Dollars to Colones. International credit cards are generally accepted in most places on the territory. ATMs generally accept cards with the plus sign and MasterCard as well as VISA. ATM system is call ATH in Costa Rica and you find it everywhere inside and outside the central valley.


In San Jose and the surrounding cities internet cafes are abundant and access is cheap. Outside of the cities, at the beach and in the mountains,  there are internet cafes but their use is a lot more expensive.

Public Transportation

In the Central Valley (San José) there is a tightly strung net of public busses that are very efficient and cheap. The busses also connect the city with all the suburbs and cities at regular intervals. Almost all busses to the provinces depart from San José. A large number of official, red taxis in the entire country including 4WD taxis in some remote areas are available. There is a well-established and functioning network of buses within and between provinces, as well as international busses.

Cell phone

Pre-Paid SIMS Pre-paid SIM can be purchased at the airport and some other locations. This requires a quad band unlocked cell phone. The vast majority of US cell phones are NOT unlocked. They are locked to the company providing the cell service and a pre-paid SIM will not work.
Read more about at:

Taxes and Tips

In accordance with the law, in restaurants a 13% tax and a 10% service charge; if the service is excellent, you are welcome to leave an additional tip. To give tips in taxis is not necessary.


There is generally a post office (correo) in every small town, and there are several in the bigger cities.
Location of central post office in San José Downtown:


Traffic in Costa Rica could be dangerous, so be careful. Pedestrians in general do not have the right of way. As in any country in the world, some disappointing things can happen. First working day IHCAI Foundation staff will provide instructions for your safety. Also follow the recommendations given by your Costa Rican family. Please be aware and follow the recommendations, if you prevent you will be safer.

Health insurance

For all the IHCAI Foundation programs a health insurance for traveller is mandatory. If you do not have and you need one we highly recommend to get one on line with HCC Medical Insurance Services, a recognized leader in international life and health insurance offering coverage in more than 130 countries, at:

Health recommendations

Malaria prevalence and incidence is very low in Costa Rica. Is mainly located in the banana’s plantation in some remote areas of Limon Province and in the south of the country. IHCAI participants do not travel for work or tourism to these areas. We do not recommend taking any prophylaxis. Dengue fever has been spread in the entire country during the last 10 years. There is no medication for dengue prophylaxis, repellents are recommended. Costa Rica is free of yellow fever since 1970.

CDC/ Yellow Fever & Malaria information by country at: Yellow Fever Vaccine & Malaria Prophylaxis Information, by Country

For P01 and P08 students who coming to do a clinical rotation we recommend the vaccination scheme advice by CDC for health care workers (Including Hepatitis A and B):

Passport & visa

A valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica. It should be valid during the following 6 months from the entry date to Costa Rica. Depending on your country of origin you may enter Costa Rica without a visa. USA, Canada and most European countries have this privilege.
Search if you need visa at:

More general information about Costa Rica