Costa Rica

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Flag of Costa Rica Costa Rica
Language: Spanish, Recognised regional language: Mekatelyu
Capital: San José
Population: 4,133,884 (July 2007 estimate)
Currency: Costa Rican colón (CRC)
Paved roads: 8,621 km (5,357 mi)
Hitchability: <rating country='cr' />
More info: Hitchbase
Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots or BeWelcome
<map lat='9.61' lng='-84.2' zoom='7' view='0' country='Costa Rica' height='300'/>

Costa Rica is a country in Central America. It borders Panama in the South and Nicaragua in the North.

While hitchhiking isn't customary for long distance rides among the local population, it works pretty well in fact, especially close to beaches and in remote areas where there is almost no public transport. Nevertheless it might appear more difficult here than in other neighbouring countries, although it depends where.

Except in remote places, hitchhiking on the back of pick-up trucks like in other Central American countries doesn't work in Costa Rica as it is illegal − the police give high fines for violations of this particular law. Your lifts will come with other sorts of vehicles.

Here people refer to hitch-hiking as ride, hacer ride and buscar un ride are common expressions.


The border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua has one particularity: the border authorities make it close to hell for any vehicle to cross from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, and trucks bearing a load often have to wait 3 days at the Peñas Blancas border before the paper work get's through to allow them passage. The cue of vehicles in Peñas Blancas is at best several miles long. Entering Costa Rica from Nicaragua takes about 1 minute on the other hand.

Pan-american Highway

For hitchhiking the Panamerican highway, waiting times may be longer than on the beaches but are still not bad. Trucks are definitely the best and fastest way to cross the country on the Panamerican, as they travel this road a lot and are almost always going long distances.

Alternative Route

If you are hitch-hiking through Cost Rica on the North-south or South-north route, it is well worth while not going down the Panamerican (highway 2) all the way and instead taking the 34 along the pacific coast. A lot of truckers go that way anyhow as it is less hassle and not so mountainous, so if you are lucky enough to find a ride that is crossing the country you might just go that way without having to ask.

General Information

Like in all of Central America, the dirty-hippy look is not appreciated at all! People here wash every day, wear clean clothes and change them as often as possible. Not doing so is seen as a sign of the utmost disrespect and bad education, and is not recommended if you hope to get anywhere hitch-hiking, however hard it might be to find a shower and some place to dry clothes every day!

Compared to the rest of Central America, life in Costa Rica is very, very expensive! This is due to the fact that Costa Ricans pay very high taxes on all purchased goods, and in exchange have good social services and pay hardly no taxes on anything else, including their salaries. Of course, it's a pain for the tourist who never uses anything else than purchased goods...



You can get simple roadmaps with gas stations for free in the tourist information in San José. Other recommended maps: Reise Know-How "Costa Rica/Panama" scale: 1:550.000 (world mapping project). There are various maps in the Libreria Lehman in the pedestrian zone (Calle Central, in San José).



Personal experiences

"Man, I had a blast hitching Costa Rica. Easy as blackberry-crumble. If you're lucky enough to cross mount Cerro de la Muerte without too much fog, you can see both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans at once (or so they say). Don't get leichmaniasis!" - User:Kalan
"You really feel the brunt shift in luck when you can no longer get in the bed of pick ups in Costa Rica and Panama. But hitching here worked well enough, although I got picked up by more expatriots than Costa Ricans! However, one Costa Rican truck driver who picked me up became a very good friend."-Chael777
"In two months here i hitch hiked more than any other country, but mainly because i was more determain, as transportation is rediculesly high priced. Getting rides was slightly harder than other countries in the area, and probably about 50% to 60% were forgniers. I was picked up by pick up trucks a lot in the rural areas, they didnt mind there."-Aqua-