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RANGES OF BUDGET

Super Cheap

This price range requires public buses, dormitories or hostels and grocery stores or fast food.  Reservations are not accepted at most accommodations in this price range and public transportation in Costa Rica is first come first served (no online reservation systems).  Flexibility while traveling is key to saving money.

$25 a person per day – Rock Bottom

If you plan to stay pretty much in one place, just want a dorm bed each night ($10-18), a couple of plates of rice and beans ($3-5) each day and can entertain yourself by walking along the beach you can probably get by for around $20 to $40 a day.

$220 – $420 per person ground costs for 8 to 10 days after adding minimal transportation from airport to beach.  Add miraculously low airfare at $250-$350 round trip (requires extremely flexible dates and a lot of luck) and you may be able to visit for under $500 per person plus incidentals.

$45-80 a person per day – Backpacker

If you’d like to try a canopy tour ($70), rent a surf board ($15), take a hike through a National Park ($7-$25 entrance + $25 to $40 pp for a guide), add a couple of beers ($2-$4) with your evening meal ($8-$15 to step up from rice and beans) and hop on the public bus ($4-16) to check out a few different areas you should double your budget to at least $50 per person per day.

$400 to $590 per person for 7 days…$600 to $850 for 10 days plus super cheap airfare $450-$550 (usually requires flexible dates and some luck) for a total trip cost that could be under $1,000 per person plus incidentals.

Economical

The economical price range introduces some latitude and allows choices of transportation and lodging.  Many hotels and lodges in this price range accept reservations and you may be able to find some VRBO or other rental houses or condos that are affordable if you have 3-4 people in your group.  Estimates below assume at least double occupancy so if you’re a solo traveler adjust accordingly.

$90-150 a person per day – Budget

Move up to a private room and a hot water shower ($50-$150 double), a guide with a spotting scope to point out the birds while you’re hiking in the National Park ($25 to $40 pp), a couple of days with a 4×4 rental ($45-$80 per day depending on location, duration time of year and insurance options) to check out an off the beaten path destination and a white water rafting trip ($60-$100) and you’ve about doubled the money again.

$630 to $1,050 ground costs per person  for 7 days  plus airfare.  If you have very flexible dates or plan at least 6 months in advance you may be able to find airfare as low as $450 per person but a more reasonable estimate is probably $600-$700.  Total trip cost of $1,100 to $1,700 per person plus incidentals assuming double occupancy.

Superior

Increased convenience, reliability, and efficiency are all included in the higher price ranges.  Advance reservations are recommended unless you’re traveling in the off season.  Even if you love planning and want to make all of your own reservations and arrangements it’s worth talking to someone who knows the country and can help you avoid mistakes like signing up for a week at an All Inclusive resort six hours away from the cloud forest you want to see.

$170-250 a person per day – Superior

A budget of around $200 per person per day buys you a great vacation in Costa Rica with superior lodging ($125-$275) in unique settings, comfortable transportation (either chauffeured or rental SUV) and enough tours and activities to discover the best of Costa Rica and get back to the lodge happily exhausted each night.

$1,200 to $1,600 per person ground costs for 7 days plus airfare and incidentals. Getting a reasonably good deal on airfare (less than $750 per person) will push to the grand total to $1,900 to $2,500 per person double occupancy for a superior class Costa Rica vacation.

$275-500 a person per day – Deluxe/Luxury

Double your budget one more time and you’ve bought yourself luxurious surroundings and pampering, a day of deep sea fishing or scuba diving to add to your activities and a domestic flight to give you an extra day on the beach instead of in the car.  Of course if you want a fishing charter and 18 holes of golf with a caddie every day you can push the budget even higher.

$1,925 to $5,000 ground costs per person for 7 days plus airfare.

Families with small children will find some savings available especially if everyone piles into the same room.  We’ve written a separate article on family budgets for Costa Rica vacations that will help provide an accurate estimate.