Did you know?
Mount Arenal was dormant from 1500AD until July 29, 1968 - when huge explosions triggered lava flows, killing 78 people.
Spanish, Creole English and aboriginal dialects - predominantly Bribri.
A passport valid for at least six months after your trip is required. No visa needed if your stay is for less than 90 days.
Direct flights from Manchester, London
Gatwick to the capital's San Jose International Airport.
There are two domestic airlines, but you need to book well in advance. San Jose is the transport hub, where you can catch buses to most parts of the country. The system can be chaotic and not very comfortable, but the fares are cheap.
Colon, plural colones, named after Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus to you and me), divided into 100 centimos.
A litre of petrol 38p, a bottle of beer £1.30, a short taxi ride £2, a moderately priced restaurant meal with wine £25, a roll of camera film £6.50. Prices will vary.
Temperatures vary little between seasons, but are affected by altitude. San Jose (1150m) 60-79F(15-26C), Caribbean coast 70-86F(21-28C). It's the rain you've got to look out for - rainy season May-November, and ever-present on the Caribbean coast although more sporadic during December-April.
Six hours behind GMT
International dialling code from the UK
110VAC at 60Hz so all UK/European appliances need a converter.
Banks from 9am-3pm Mon-Fri, government offices from 8am-4pm Mon-Fri (but they often shut for an hour around lunch). Shops are open Mon-Sat 8am-6-7pm but they often have a two-hour lunch break.
Health - Before you go
No vaccinations are required to enter, but it may be a good idea to make sure you are protected against cholera, hepatitis and malaria. Check with your GP or the FCO on 020 7238 4503/3 as it depends upon which region you are visiting. The UK
has no reciprocal health agreements with Costa Rica - so get insured.
Health - When you are there
To avoid dengue fever - spread by mosquitoes - take insect repellent. There is a low risk of cholera and hepatitis. Costa Rican social security hospitals give free emergency services to everyone - including tourists (San Jose Hospital San Juan de Dios, Paseo Colon, Calle 14, Tel: 257 6282), but be insured.
Take extra care when swimming off beaches, especially in the Atlantic, as riptides are common and reliable local advice should be sought (200 people a year drown from this). Also watch out for bizarre electric shower heaters common in hotels - don't touch any metal parts while showering as they can deliver a nasty shock as well as tepid water.
Police National emergency Tel 999. Red Cross - Cruz Roja 128 in San Jose, in Alajuela 441 3939, Cartago 551 0421, Heredia 237 1115, Guanacaste
666 0994, Limon 758 0125, Puntarenas 661 0184. British Embassy: Apartado 815, Edifico Centro Colon (11th Floor), San Jose 1007. Tel: 00 506 258 2025.
Costa Rica is a conservative place. Family values are paramount - so no skimpy outfits if you want a hassle-free time. Topless sunbathing is definitely out. Expect people to ask you about family, as this is an everyday inquiry rather like our "how are you?"
Don't take them and don't bring any back, as they will be quarantined in the UK.
Most restaurants add 15% tax and 10% tip on to your bill, which is legally correct. Tipping above this is not necessary but a few per cent for excellent service is fine. Taxi drivers are not normally tipped.
Consulate of Costa Rica, 14 Lancaster Gate, London
W2 3LH. Tel: 020 7706 8844. For tourist information please call after 10am.