Costa Rica is a Central American country named after its rich coastlines and beautiful scenery. With a population close to 4.5 million people, Costa Rica is full of culture and life. The New Economics Foundation recognized Costa Rica as the greenest country in the world in 2009. With its expanding economy, this country is becoming a great place for business, as well as a fascinating travel destination.
Before traveling to Costa Rica, whether for work or pleasure, there are some things you should know about the country’s currency. The unit of currency in Costa Rica is called a colón. It was named after Christopher Columbus, since he is considered one of the first Europeans to visit Costa Rica.
Before Costa Rica became independent from Spain in the 16th century, Costa Rica originally used the peso currency. These were manufactured in Spain and then transported to Costa Rica. Once the gold and silver mines were discovered in Peru, the golden “Escudo” and the silver “Real” were used for daily purchases.
When Costa Rica gained their independence in 1821, they transitioned to the Federal Republic of Central America, through which they adopted their currency. It wasn’t until 1993 that Costa Rica began printing their own currency that is still in use today. The colón uses golden coins that are made from bronzed coated steel and some made from aluminum. The value of the colón wavers from 500-550 colón to 1 US dollar.
If you are traveling to Costa Rica from America, it is important to note that US dollars are widely accepted in Costa Rica. Upscale hotels and restaurants will even use American currency to denote the prices for various items. When traveling around Costa Rica and purchasing meals and transportation services, you should be prepared to pay with colónes.
For mid-budget travelers, the average daily costs in Costa Rica range between US $50 to US $100. This covers hotel costs, transportation and meals for the day. You should know that prices tend to increase around holidays and during the dry season (December to April).
The colón comes in paper denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, and 50000. And the coins are available in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500. Most newer coins are gold-colored, except for the silver 5 and 10 colónes. When purchasing items including food, souvenirs and hotels, know that there is a 13 percent tax on all of these goods.
Some hotels and restaurants in Costa Rica add an additional charge for tourists. While you are not obligated to tip on top of this surcharge, it is recommended that you do so. These tips and fees are often split among many employees, so adding an additional tip is respectable and appreciated.