Costa Rica Backpacking Budget

Costa Rica backpacking budget

(Map of Costa Rica from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Daily Travel Costs in Costa Rica on a Shoestring Budget

US$35 | 18,500 Costa Rican Colones

Costa Rica certainly ranks as one of the more expensive Central American countries. The cost of travel is similar to that in Mexico and certainly more than in Guatemala or Nicaragua. It has a thriving tourism industry, much of which isn’t really geared towards budget travellers but it is still overall quite an affordable place to visit if you steer clear of the pricier tourist places.

Our Costa Rica backpacking budget of $35/day gives you enough for a dorm bed, some local food and drinks in budget restaurants and bars with a bit of money for day-time activities but not a huge amount. The country is pretty small and getting from town to town is really good value and you might not need much more than $20 to get from one end of the country to the other.

However it is expensive in other ways with activities and accommodation likely to take up a good chunk of your budget. Certainly as a solo traveller you won’t be able to afford a private room on this kind of budget as there is quite a leap from the cost of a dorm bed to a private here. Even couples or friends travelling together may struggle to stick to $35/day each if you are staying in private rooms everywhere. Real shoestring types might want to consider bringing a tent and camping which is quite easy to do in Costa Rica.

See where Costa Rica ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Central American countries

More Comfortable Costa Rica Backpacker Budget

US$50 | 27,000 Costa Rican Colones

Adding an extra $15/day will give you a bit more freedom to do more organised trips in the day or to spend more time in the national parks which can be expensive to visit. Costa Rica isn’t really the kind of place where you can spend days wandering around towns with the natural sights the main attractions here and they generally cost money to get to and some of them can only really be visited as part of a tour or with your own guide so to get the most out of Costa Rica consider upping your budget to something in the region of US$50/day.

Sample Prices in Costa Rica

Local transport from one town to the next – around 1500 CRC ($3)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 4000 CRC ($7.50)

Typical local dish of meat, rice and fried plantains in a small local cafe/restaurant – 1600 CRC ($3)

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 1000 CRC ($2)

Dorm bed – from 5000 CRC ($9)

Budget private double or twin room – from 15000 CRC ($28)

Boat or Kayak tour in Tortuguero National Park – 25,000-30,000 CRC (roughly $50)

Zip-linging in Monteverde Cloud Forest – 25,000-40,000 CRC ($50-75)


Currency – Costa Rican Colon

£1 = 771 CRC

€1 = 608 CRC

US$1 = 535 CRC

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)

US Dollars are pretty widely accepted in Costa Rica and usually at a pretty fair rate.

MFT Recommends

Spend a few days in rural Costa Rica by staying at the very chilled Hostel Casa Chirripo.

street art in Costa Rica

street art in San Jose, Costa Rica (via Jackie SallnasCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Costa Rica recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉

This article was published in June 2016.