Is it possible to travel in Costa Rica on a budget? Learn how much it cost me to backpack in Costa Rica — along with my favorite travel tips & highlights.
Everywhere I traveled in Central America, I kept hearing the same thing. “Skip Costa Rica” they said. “It’s expensive and touristy”. But one lesson I’ve learned during my travels is that you shouldn’t always believe everything you hear from others.
Costa Rica surprised me in a good way. Sure, there were many expensive tourist-friendly types of activities that other backpacker’s warned me about. For example: I’ve never seen so many advertisements for zip-lining!
But I soon found out there are a variety of ways to experience the best of the country even on a backpacker’s budget. You just need to dig below the surface a bit.
Costa Rica has plenty of less-traveled rural towns and National Parks that offer travelers numerous adrenaline-fueled & nature-loving activities – and they won’t break the bank either.
Costa Rica Travel Costs:
Costa Rica travel budgets can vary greatly. Here is a breakdown of how much money I spent over 1 month of travel there.
- Food & Drink: $477 US (groceries, restaurants, water, alcohol)
- Accommodation: $315 US (hostels, hotels, camping fees)
- Transportation: $149 US (buses, taxis, boats)
- Activities: $124 US (entrance fees, rentals, classes, tours, etc.)
- Miscellaneous: $33 US (laundry, sundries, souvenirs, visas, etc.)
TOTAL DAYS = 34
TOTAL SPENT = $1,099 US
DAILY AVERAGE = $32 US
Budget Notes: For some reason I actually never get sick of eating rice & beans! This helped me save on food. You can buy a hearty plate of beef, pinto, & fried plantains for about $3 at small local establishments.
- Trekking through Corcovado National Park
- Hitchhiking down a volcano with cheese
- Whitewater rafting a wild jungle river
- Hammock camping near Rio Celeste Waterfall
- Manuel Antonio National Park is kind of a joke
- Multiple attempted taxi scams in San Jose
- The country is more mountainous than I expected
- Rainy season wasn’t really that bad
Costa Rica Photo Slideshow
Stories & Adventures From Costa Rica
Planning to travel to Costa Rica soon? Browse all my blog posts from Costa Rica to get ideas & recommendations for your own adventures.
Read My Travel Stories From Costa Rica »
Costa Rica has a well deserved reputation for its eco-tourism, but its most popular National Parks are not the best in my opinion. You can certainly experience the country on a backpacker’s budget if you take the time to investigate low-cost sleeping options like camping, hostels, and small guest houses.
Visiting Costa Rica in the rainy season (May to November) is a wonderful way to experience it’s best nature reserves without tons of tourists around – if you don’t mind some occasional wet hiking conditions.
Spend a few weeks exploring the diverse biology, mountains, beaches, and rain-forests of Costa Rica and I promise you won’t be disappointed!
My last trip to Costa Rica was in 2011. Prices have probably changed a bit since then. We don’t all travel the same way either. So to help you get a better picture, here are a few Costa Rica travel budgets from others:
- Costa Rica Travel Costs from Nomadic Matt
- Costa Rica Travel Costs from Go Backpacking
- Costa Rica Travel Costs from the Globetrotter Girls