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Friday, February 22, 2008

Costa Rica: Expensive

Costa Rica is expensive, at least by my standards. Some things even seemed more expensive than they are back in the US. For instance, a bowl of tomato soup in an decent restaurant cost six dollars. Going to cheaper looking places didn't seem to help much. Giving up a little ambiance only saved about a dollar a meal. Of course, eating less would have helped the budget, but that's not an option I choose very often.

Some other sample prices include $15 for the Jeep-Boat-Jeep trip, $36 to see the erupting volcano and visit Baldi Hot Springs afterward. Skip Baldi, and pay $28 to be driven out to the bridge in a minivan, then be driven back.

What really struck me was the cost of doing anything, anything at all. While I've gotten used to the idea of paying $12 to go into a world class private museum like the Corcoran in Washington DC, $9 for a one hour tour of a cheese factory seems a bit high.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest entrance fee costs $15 per day per person. Admission to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park is $25 per car, and is good for a week. Yellowstone is bigger, and much more interesting.

Costa Rica is a poor country, with the largest percentage of national parks and other protected lands in the world, so collecting a higher fee makes sense as part of the drive to maintain the Costa Rican wilderness. It is probably especially helpful at Monteverde, where very little of the preserve is available to tourists. That means it is more likely to survive in a fairly pristine state.

As do most developing countries, Costa Rica practices differential pricing, charging foreigners extremely high fees, and their own citizens very low fees. If they didn't do this, they wouldn't have the revenue to maintain the preserves, and their own citizens would probably never be able to visit them. Even knowing this, it gives a rather blatant 'rip off the foreigners' impression.

At any rate, even some Europeans were commenting that prices were very much like those at home. Panama has always been considered the most expensive country in Central America. It has now lost that title to Costa Rica.


Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me what is needed (if anything)
in Costa Rica. Guess I'm used to traveling
through Cuba, where I bring many gifts, because
so much is hard to get or too expensive.
I would like to bring some gifts and
wonder what might be extremely expensive or
hard to get there.

Cindy said...

Cuba is a Communist country under a US economic embargo. Costa Rica doesn't have the same economic problems, and consumer goods are readily available, so I don't know what would be good to bring as gifts. You are not going to have little children running up to you in villages and asking for pens or anything like that. It's a fairly prosperous country, which is one of the reasons it is expensive to travel there relative to some of the other Central American countries.