One major difference for me has been adapting to transportation and learning what is best to use to get around. Therefore, here is a comprehensive guide on getting to wherever you need to go from San Jose!
For short trips, using Uber or DiDi is the easiest way to get around. The prices are usually similar between the two apps, but Uber is slightly less accessible in areas with many tourists and taxis. One important cultural difference to remember is that you should sit in the passenger seat of an Uber, as it would be considered rude to sit in the back!
These apps are also much cheaper than what you would expect in the United States, so they are great for transportation when you don’t want to walk or need something quick. I would estimate an average 10-15 minute ride to cost between 3 to 5 USD, but this price varies greatly depending on where you are. The only main con would definitely be the lack of accessibility in areas outside of the city and surrounding suburbs.
Another app that is very helpful is Moovit, which provides bus routes and transportation options. It maps out when next arrivals will show up, tells you what stations to go to, and shows connecting routes to take. Sometimes, it can be slightly inaccurate with arrival times for the local bus routes, but this has not been a huge issue for me.
I personally live walking distance from my university, meaning I do not need to take that bus to or from classes held at ULatina. However, my morning classes are held at a hospital in San Jose, so I still take the local bus to get there. The bus fare is 325 colones, which is approximately 60 cents. The bus is very easy to use and I have not felt unsafe while on it.
I also walk to places closer to me. There are a lot of supermarkets and stores near where I live, which makes necessary items very accessible. Overall, I really enjoy the transportation system that I use daily!
Longer Distance Trips
For longer distance trips, I have used a couple of different options. Terminal 7-10 in San Jose is home to many of the buses to different popular locations throughout the country. There are also other bus stations in San Jose to get to other places. The buses that go out to these places cost about 5 to 12 USD, depending on where you go. I would suggest purchasing tickets online, and emailing the company if you have difficulties or questions. I have found the customer service to be very helpful through email.
On the bus itself, there is often no air conditioning, so I usually dress in layers. I also would recommend bringing motion sickness medication if you are prone to nausea on the bus. Finally, I would highly recommend keeping your valuables on your person, especially if you choose to store luggage in the overhead bin. I have not felt unsafe, but I have heard stories from other people regarding the bus.
Finally, even when in a new place in Costa Rica, it always helps to check out the local bus system to see if you can get around the town without having to worry about individual transportation.
Transportation may be daunting at first, but the people here are more than happy to help out! Happy traveling!