Standard Time Zone: UTC/GMT -6 hours

San Jose is roughly 2 hours behind New York time and 1 hour ahead of Los Angeles.

Phone facilities

The country code for Costa Rica is 506. If you’re calling from the US, dial the international access code (011) before the country code and then the number you want to reach.

So you dial: 011-506-XXXXXXX 

For making phone calls within Costa Rica you will just have to dial the number you wish to reach; there is no area code.

To call back home, it would be best to find an Internet cafe that offers VOIP calling. Voice-over-internet calling services like Skype are perhaps the cheapest way to make phone calls. If you are carrying your computer, just find a place to connect to WiFi and make your calls.

At our network dental clinic, Americans and Canadians can make as many phone calls back home as they want. All for FREE.

If an emergency requires you to make an international phone call from a public or private phone, dial:  00 + country code + phone number. 

Emergency Line in Costa Rica can be reached at ‘911’ 

Self-driving in Costa Rica

Renting a vehicle and driving on your own may be more gratifying but it is not recommended because:

  • The sign boards, being in Spanish, may be incomprehensible.
  • Traffic rules and general traffic sense of people may not be what you are used to.
  • The government is strict about people involved in accidents and the driver not be let off until all injured parties have completely recovered and the costs involved are known. If involved in any such accident, your travels may be prohibited until a judicial resolution is reached, which in these cases, usually takes long.


Spanish is the official language in the country.

While dental surgeons, assistants, and administrative staff can converse in English, the locals will mostly speak Spanish.

Some helpful Spanish phrases are:

Spanish Pronounced As English
¡Buenos días! bway-nohs dee-ahs Good morning!
¡Buenas noches! bway-nahs noh-chays Good evening! / Good night!
¡Hola! oh-lah Hi!
¡Chao! Chow Bye!
(Muchas) Gracias (moo-chahs) grah-see-ahs Thank you (very much)
De nada day nah-dah You’re welcome
Lo siento loh see-ehn-toh I’m sorry
Mucho gusto moo-choh goo-stoh Nice to meet you
¿Hablas inglés? ah-blahs een-glehs Do you speak English?
(No) Entiendo noh ehn-tyen-doh I (don’t) understand
Claro klah-roh Sure
No tengo ninguna idea noh tehn-goh neen-goo-nah ee-deh-ah I have no idea
Estoy cansado / enfermo eh-stoy kahn-sah-doh / ehn-fehr-moh I’m tired / sick
Todavía no toh-dah-vee-ah noh Not yet
Está bien ehs-tah bee-ehn That’s alright / It’s ok
Tengo calor / frío tehn-goh kah-lohr / free-oh I’m hot / cold


One common phrase you must know is “Pura Vida,” which means “pure life.” It is a common greeting in Costa Rica and is frequently used by the locals.

Food Tips

  • Costa Rican food is not very hard to adjust with.
  • Rice and beans are the staples; generally not many vegetables are included in the diet.
  • A popular dish Casado comprises rice and beans, fried plantains, meat of choice, served with a carrot, tomato, and cabbage salad. Such meals provide good nutritional balance.
  • The food maybe high on oils, but cheese and other dairy products are rarely used.
  • Small, roadside restaurants, locally known as ‘Sodas’, are good to get inexpensive meals. You can stuff yourself for under $2, and it even includes a drink.
  • For breakfast, gallo pinto (pronounced gaiyo peen-toe), is the most commonly served dish. It is a mixture of black beans and rice.
  • Coffee is a nationally-revered drink; you can find it everywhere.
  • Tap water is considered safe.
  • Avoid having raw fruits and vegetables if they weren’t cut before you. Try and have them peeled, too.