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Travel Advice
Uber in Costa Rica

Uber in Costa Rica is quite strong and a reliable alternative for transportation. Of course, it has its pros and contras, but above all, it has made things easier for travelers. 

Uber in Costa Rica might be the best alternative for transportation in the country for small distances. And exactly as in other countries in the world, there are some local tips to write about. 

Uber formally arrived in Costa Rica in 2015, and although its legal situation is in a blur, it has become one more transportation option for locals and travelers. 

We will give you all our local secrets regarding Uber in Costa Rica. 

The only other alternative right now in Costa Rica regarding apps is Didi. 

The legal situation of Uber in Costa Rica

The government division of public transportation is still attempting to decide the full Uber situation since its beginning in 2015. 

And despite all the efforts and protests of the taxi drivers, Uber and now Didi are both strong and thriving. 

Of course, there are other alternatives for transportation in Costa Rica, and we will briefly touch the subject; however, Uber in Costa Rica is an excellent chance for visitors to go smoothly and in an affordable way. 

What happens with taxis in Costa Rica? 

Uber in Costa Rica

Unfortunately, taxi drivers in Costa Rica (As in other areas of the World) have a reputation for overcharging tourists, creating longer routes, altering the meter, and being pushy. 

You will see them wherever you go. 

Usually in line near plazas, bus stations, hospitals, and supermarkets. 

In the cities and towns, they are conventional cars. Out of the main cities, you will see the vehicles used as taxis are four-wheel drives.  

The state controls them, and they have to have a visible meter (We call them Marías) by law. They cannot give random prices, or negotiate

All of them have yellow triangles on their roofs and doors (With their license plate number in them). 

In the big hotels, you will find taxis that exclusively work for the hotels, and they may try to go for fixed prices to specific touristic routes. It is essential to ask for the meter. 

Where is Uber in Costa Rica?

In the map below you will find three sorts of icons, the blue cars, the green cars, and the X.

  • The X are the places where you won’t find Uber whatsoever.
  • The Green cars are the places where you may find a few cars (Easily on weekends)
  • The blue cars are the areas where Uber is quite strong.

(These data is from people that live and work in these regions)

Although there may be a few Uber drivers in some of these destinations, it is not recommended to depend totally on Uber for your transportation (Out of the capital city) as your ONLY method to get around Costa Rica. However, if in doubt, check the app. It may surprise you! 

What’s the cost of Uber in Costa Rica? 

Never mind where you are; you can check the rates of Uber in Costa Rica. 

Right now, it is less expensive than taxis. However, this may change as they may start paying the same taxes as taxis. 

Can you use Uber in Liberia or San Jose Airports? 

In Liberia, Uber is not as strong, so that you may check the app. However, we recommend that you arrange your transportation beforehand. 

And it is an excellent alternative to SJO Juan Santamaría International Airport. 

Pick up at San Airport

When you have landed at San Jose Airport, completed immigration and customs, either check your roaming or buy a sim card at the baggage claim area of the airport so that you can call the car as you exit the arrivals area. 

In the SJO Airport, there is free WIFI; however, the range may fail as you exit the facilities. 

As you exit the arrivals area, ignore the pushy taxi drivers and the crowd waiting and go across the street to the second floor and the departures area and call your car from there. 

There will be fewer people, fewer cars, and your uber can wait a bit longer if needed. The Juan Santamaría Airport doesn’t have an assigned rideshare area. 

Your driver may ask you to sit in the front to dissimulate a bit that it’s an Uber not to have trouble with the taxi drivers of the area. 

You can also use it for the local flights and the remote terminal. 

Departures:

You can have an Uber pick you up at your hotel and drop you off at the area of departures without any problems. 

What do you need to use Uber in Costa Rica:

Internet, a registered account, and a valid and active payment method.

It is essential to check that the card you use for uber is allowed to be handled outside of your country.  

You may also program your rides, and in Costa Rica, they are quite punctual. 

If you don’t have a Uber account, it is a good idea to open it at home so that you may use it as you arrive in Costa Rica. 

 Select a Nearby Landmark for Your Destination

Addresses in Costa Rica are kinda’ funny. We don’t use street numbers but a local system of iconic places: 

the central plaza, the Cathedral, the Don Paco Groceries Store, a tree long gone (But everyone knows where it was). 

So if you are not staying at a hotel, but an apartment or an Airbnb, our advice is to search for the closest landmark and do everything from there. 

And do this at home before your trip. 

Waze is the most popular app in Costa Rica, so as you get in the car, tell the driver the nearest milestone to your accommodations. 

Useful Spanish Phrases

It will be beneficial to grasp some Spanish. You will find that a lot of the people in Costa Rica speak English, from very little to fully bilingual. However, it is a very awkward situation, to say the least, not to be able to communicate at all. 

Here are some useful phrases and words:

I’m going to ____: Voy a _____

Where are you?: ¿Donde esta?

Here is fine:  Acá está bien

Thank you:  Gracias

My hotel is close to ____ : Mi hotel está cerca de____ 

Talking about your departure, there are Ubers at all times.

If you are in the Central Valley and you have to be at the airport at 2 am, you will find an Uber. 

However, in distant areas like La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, or in the Guanacaste Province, including Liberia, we don’t recommend relying on Uber late at night or too early. 

Surge Pricing During Rush Hour

Surge pricing is irritating, and unluckily, it is also in Costa Rica. San Jose, infamous for awful traffic jams, anxious drivers, and long-ignored potholes, it’s crazy at certain times of the day and surges pricing happens often.  

Rush Hour goes from 6: 30 a.m. (Sometimes earlier), to 9:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. sometimes longer. 

Unless you are going on a tour and taking your Uber to get to the meeting point, or going back home and going to the airport, our advice is to take it easy and use your relaxing vacation powers to take a car out of rush hours. 

Waiting Times will not always be accurate

Give or take at least 10 minutes. 

Don’t Need to Tip

You may want to tip your driver, either in cash or in the app. You have that option too. 

Conclusion

Uber is a great tool for any traveler anywhere on the planet. Either if you are enjoying a leisure customized vacation or backpacking in Costa Rica this information proves to be useful. 

If you like to go with a certified guide, learning about your route and be supported at all times throughout your trip, let us know! It’s even better than Uber! 

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