Costa Rica on a Budget

October 16, 2014 Updated: October 16, 2014

So, you’re planning on going to the most expensive country in Central America: Costa Rica. It is truly an expensive place compared to Guatemala, Nicaragua or Honduras. However, there is a way for you to eat, sleep, experience and travel around for a much lower cost than you might think.

Here’s how:

1. Travel during off-peak season


Costa Rica rainforest (Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam)
Costa Rica rainforest (Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam)


The low season (or rainy season) in Costa Rica goes from May to November. This means, you need to travel within this period of time to stay on a low-budget. It rains, yes, but the early months of the rainy season are actually a fantastic time to go, since there aren’t so many tourists and everything is more green and lush.

2. Take local busses


Local bus (Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam)
Local bus (Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam)


Now, I wouldn’t recommend this for all countries in Central America, but the public bus system in Costa Rica is cheap, reliable and extensive. When we traveled from Monteverde to San Jose, we could get a minibus for $50 (Intershuttle). The local bus, which was way more comfy, was only $5! Just sayin’.

3. Drink tap water

If you don’t mind the iron taste, you’ll be fine with tap water. It’s perfectly safe, and with the bottled water costing between $1 and $3, you’ll definitely save a few bucks refilling your own bottle.

4. Make your own meals


(Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam)
(Miriam Risager, Adventurous Miriam)


For some reason, a lot of the accommodation in Costa Rica consists of small apartments. They have their own kitchen, fridge and bathroom, so there’s plenty of possibility to buy and prepare your own meals. We bought our own breakfast, dinner, beer and we always had toast bread and different sorts of meat (and peanut butter) to make sandwiches.

Follow this advice and you will spend somewhere between $15 and $30 a day, including hostel and food.

5. Or eat locally

The food is actually not that expensive if you know where to look. Costa Rica has a local restaurant chain called Soda, where you can get a meal between $3 and $6.

6. Make friends with the locals

Costa Ricans are very friendly people and they’re always eager to help pointing you in the right direction. Get good advice on transportation, restaurants, sights and adventures. We got advice on visiting this beautiful waterfall that can’t be found in the typical guidebooks. We took a local bus there for under $1, and we got this amazing sight for free!

7. Buy beer from the supermarket

Simply go to the local Mercado instead of ruining your travel budget on the bar prices. Bring it with you to the beach when watching the sunset. The Nicaraguan beer, Toña, is the best in all of Central America, if you ask me. Only $1,5, whereas you pay double at most bars.

Copyright © 2014 by Adventurous Miriam. This article was written by Miriam Risager and originally published on

*Image of Hot springs in Costa Rica via Shutterstock