Taxis in Costa Rica are a common transportation option for locals and tourists. There almost 14,000 units in the country and you’ll see taxis almost everywhere you go in Costa Rica.
If you don’t want to take public transportation which at times can be slow and there aren’t routes to everywhere, a taxi can be a good option. It’s especially practical if you don’t need to go far, if it’s raining or if you’re feeling a little lazy to walk in the heat.
If you are visiting Costa Rica for the first time, here are our tips for taking taxis in Costa Rica from a local.
Always Take an Official Taxi
Official taxis in Costa Rica are red with the yellow triangle and light like the one shown below. You will immediately be able to tell the difference between a pirate and real taxi. Official taxis have newer cars, plates and the badge to signify they are official taxis. More on that below.
Official taxis will have a plate on the side of their door signifying which province they can operate in. Taxis cannot operate across province lines so for example, a San Jose licensed taxi cannot operate in Guanacaste.
If you are in San Jose, you will see something like TSJ001 (TSJ stands for Taxi San Jose and the numbers tells you the taxi number), in Heredia you will see plates TH, in Limon TL, etc.
When you land in the San Jose airport, you might see orange taxis, instead of red. These group of taxis are exclusive for the airport. They charge more than the RED ones but they are just right there outside the arrivals door. Both San Jose and Liberia Airports now have an official taxi stand which is right outside the exit. Go there to call an official taxi.
Security Tip: If you are in San Jose and the taxi has a Puntarenas plate, do not take it. Official taxis in Costa Rica can only pick up passengers within their own province.
If you don’t need to, don’t take a pirate taxi
I am Costa Rican and I always try to avoid non-official taxis. Wherever you go in Costa Rica you can find a line of cabs next to the bus stations, parks, restaurants and they will come to you saying, “taxi, need a taxi?” These are drivers who are not official taxis and they do not have the taxi medallion license to offer these services. They are just simply normal people with their own personal cars.
The popular way to call them are “Taxis Piratas” which mean pirate cab drivers. The main reasons why I don’t use them are that they can charge whatever they want, they don’t have the same insurance as the legal ones and they aren’t as safe. Many times they have a super old car in bad shape without insurance so it’s a risk if you take one of those.
Unfortunately, there are some destinations where only pirate taxis exist. These are places outside the city in more remote areas such as Tamarindo and Montezuma. If you have to take a taxi and the pirate drivers are your only option, then negotiate a price beforehand, do not go alone especially if you are female and take a photo of their license plate and get their name just in case anything happens.
Turn the meter on
Like in any part of the world, some cab drivers will try to take advantage of tourists or people that they normally don’t work with by charging more or denying to use the meter. According to Costa Rican law, every cab driver must use the meter (Costa Rica name for the meter is”MARIA”). If you find a cab driver that doesn’t want to use it even if you ask, you can get their plate number and report the cab driver to the government. They have to turn it on by law (more on taxi scams below).
As for rates, the rates are regulated by the government. Rates change depending on the area (rural or city) and the automobile capacity.
Tip: Another way to get a rough estimate of how much your taxi would be is to check the fare estimate on the Uber website. Whatever they charge, add a bit more for Costa Rican taxis.
Ask a Local Before
If you have the opportunity, ask a local before you take a taxi. Ask them about prices and transportation options because Costa Rica has a good public transportation system that might take you for less money where you want to go.
Like any public transportation however, it might take longer and you might have to walk a little bit. Don’t know Spanish? Learn some important Spanish phrases here!
Most of the Costa Ricans will help you and you will have a good experience, but always keep your eyes open and use common sense. Avoid these 10 mistakes when traveling in Costa Rica and read our Costa Rica safety tips to stay safe.
More Tips for Taxis in Costa Rica
- Costa Rican drivers take great care of their car as cars, so please don’t slam the door when you close it. Do it softly and your driver will be happy.
- For solo female travelers, it’s better if you sit in the backseat.
- Always have change with you and small bills in local currency. We do not recommend to pay in USD because 99.99% of the time, the driver will tell you he does not have change and will use an incorrect exchange rate.
- Costa Rica does not really have addresses so drivers will not know where you are going if your address is Calle 2, Segunda Ave 10. Find a hotel or business close by and use that as your destination.
- It is not absolutely mandatory to tip your driver but you may if you want to (10% is standard and we recommend to give local currency). Read more about tipping in Costa Rica here.
Scams to Watch Out For
Unfortunately there are some taxi drivers that will try to scam tourists. Look out for these.
- The driver tells you that your hotel is not in business anymore and will try to reroute you to a hotel they get commission for and try to charge you a lot more for the extra driving.
- If you’re taking a taxi to the bus station, the driver may say your bus already left, the route doesn’t exist, bus station moved, etc. Do NOT believe them. Tell them to take you to the station and verify the information directly at the station.
- Don’t take up their offer to go to a “cheaper/better” restaurant/souvenir store/business/whatever. Continue straight to your destination.
- Get a prepaid Costa Rica SIM card so you have Internet on your phone and open the route on Google Maps or Waze so you can make sure he’s not taking you in the long way around.
Read more about common tourist scams in Costa Rica.
Uber in Costa Rica is honestly so much better than taxis. Don’t get me wrong, taxis are necessary but like anyone else, we hate the constant taxi badgering when we leave the airport or are walking down the street. Not to mention, Uber is much better for pricing because you can see how much it will be in the app and unlike a taxi driver, it is very difficult for them to try to charge you a higher or ridiculous price.
We always use Uber when we’re in San Jose even if we have a car because it’s cheap, pricing is automatically in the app and we don’t have to drive. Read our tips for using Uber in Costa Rica.
Another app for ride share is Didi which is growing in San Jose.
Your website has been incredibly helpful! This summer, we are going to Costa Rica (Arenal, Monteverde, Quepos, Carara) with a young toddler and NOT planning to rent a car (my husband and I both hate driving and are wary of difficult driving conditions, particularly to get to national parks). We plan to do a few day/half day tours that will provide transportation, but we mostly want to explore on our own, which will usually include a morning hiking, a return to the hotel for our toddler’s nap, and then another activity later in the afternoon. We will need transportation to and from our locations, and we will need to either bring a car seat with us or rely on taxis to have them. I have a couple of questions:
1) Do taxis usually have car seats available or do we need to have our own to install for each trip?
2) Do you know if there is ever a place to stash car seats at national parks (such as the ticket booth) so we don’t have to figure out a way to hike with one?
3) Booking a taxi (or uber) from our hotel is easy enough, but what about when we are at an out-of-the-way park that doesn’t get many travelers, such as several of the parks near Monteverde? What do you suggest for getting a ride to come home? Is there cell service to call one? Would we need to arrange pickup at a specific time before we go?
4) How hard is it really to drive to all the parks around Monteverde, Arenal, Carara, and Manuel Antonio?
Thanks for your help!
Hi Aleks, we have sent you an email with information
Thank you in so much for providing this valuable information but I do have one more question (well, two);
in a week We’ll be arriving at SJO at 4:30 AM on a Monday, heading to Jaco.
1: are red taxis available that early in the morning?
2; you mentioned that the taxis can only legally operate within their designated provinces – should the taxi I need have the “Puntarenas” province printed within the triangle on the side of the car?
Thanks again – this transport from the airport to Jaco is the most “unknown” of our trip and I am very nervous!
Hi Kelly, yes there should be airport taxis but honestly I recommend trying to for an Uber instead or a private shuttle is better. Taxis can operate within their designated provinces but if its a SJ San Jose taxi they can take you to other places
Your guide was very helpful. We will be spending 1 day in Costa Rica, landing in Puerto Limón from a cruise, from 9-6 next month. We’re hoping to see the sloth sanctuary and either go to Cahuita National Park and/or Tortuguero National Park. However, we are bringing a baby with us, so that means either taking the public bus so we don’t need his car seat, or taking a taxi and bringing his car seat. We wonder if we can rent a taxi for the whole day so we can bring the car seat with us? However do you think we would be at risk for having the car seat stollen, leaving it in the taxi? We don’t want to have to take multiple taxis and haul the car seat with us everywhere. Thanks for your advice.
If you’re only there for 1 day, book a private shuttle. This is the safest, and fastest way. There are also a couple tour companies in the area so maybe they can put together a package of transportation + your activities for you – check with Caribe Fun Tours, they’re a main operator based in that area.
Your website and guides seem super helpful for planning our first trip to Costa Rica in March!
I am wondering how easy it is to find an Uber or taxi especially at night in smaller towns? For example we plan to stay in a hotel in Playa Hermosa for some days but want to visit Playa de Coco for a day and probably some drinks in the evening. Can you give us some advice how to find a driver at night for the ride back to Playa Hermosa? Thanks so much!
Uber is not as common in that area, there may be a couple but I wouldn’t rely on it 100%.
Thank you so much for your helpful blog.
I want to take buses from the SJO airport to La Paz Waterfall Gardens next week. I figured out the route (I think) and it mainly starts in Alajuela and ends in Jualares. Rome2Rio says to take a taxi from there for the last 20 minutes.
Can I depend on a taxi (or Uber/Didi) to be available at the bus stop?
We also will need to take the same route back before noon to catch our flight to Limón. Will a taxi/Uber/Didi be available to bring me back to Jualares when I need it?
There’s only so much info I can seem to find and it’s frustrating at times!
Thank you so much for any help. Private drivers keep telling men they should take us but we’re on a budget…and not sure how safe those shuttle/private drivers are either.
There isn’t really rideshare for the last stop but local taxis, which may or may not try to rip you off since it’s not very regulated – they are supposed to use a meter but they can mess with it.
Best and safest option is to take a private shuttle or start with an Uber in San Jose and then look for a taxi or ask your Uber driver to stick around until you’re done
I’m going to CR next week for the first time. Is it possible to get Uber from San Jose airport to Zarcero? It seems to be way cheaper than Taxi’s or the shuttle services I have contacted.
You probably can – the only stipulation is the driver needs to accept it but I know drivers who have done SJO – Jaco and SJO – Manuel Antonio and Zarcero is not terribly far
What is the max occupancy of taxis?
We are a family of 5 adults staying at the Riu Palacio & are thinking of visiting Tio Leo Coffee, Haras del Mar Equestrian Center and the town of Coco for various 1/2 day trips on our own instead of booking private excursions.
You can hire a bigger taxi (they have sedans and SUVS available)
If you want to do day trips on your own, I’d recommend renting a car in Costa Rica instead of booking taxis. You’ll have more flexibility with your own car and you don’t have to worry about taxis ripping you off or not showing up.
I am traveling to Liberia airport but I’m trying to get to nicaragua. Is it better to get an Uber or taxi?
Uber doesn’t readily exist in Liberia or the airport, the best option is to take a taxi or book a private shuttle. If you’re on a budget, there is a public bus (must go from airport to Liberia, then Liberia to the Penas Blancas border)
We are arriving to the san jose airport in the evening (9:00pm) and our hotel is an hour and a half away.. do taxis travel that far?
yes probably, it depends on the driver but most will
You just need internet on your phone (and an Uber account)
Do you need a local sim to book an Uber? Or I’m still able to book with my US number?
I was wondering if it is safe to take an uber as a solo female traveller? Or are official taxis safer?
I need to go from the airport to downtown San Jose to a bus stop. I have never travelled alone before and I’d rather go for a more expensive option if it is more safe 🙂
I’d take Uber – I take Uber alone when I’m in San Jose many times and haven’t had any problems.
Sari Watkins says
Is taking an Uber from Liberia to Playas del Coco an option? Would you recommend it over a taxi or private shuttle? It’s a last minute trip and cars are all booked. We need to get to a specific Airbnb destination so public transportation isn’t an option. Thanks for your insight!
There aren’t really any Ubers in Liberia, I would book a shuttle or take the taxi
Cindy Manrique says
Thanks for the information! I am in the middle of deciding to rent a car in the Guanacaste area or just use shuttles and taxis. We are staying for our honeymoon in Westin Conchal for 6 days (after a few days in Arenal) and want to be able to explore Tamarindo if we have time. I was thinking taking a taxi or Uber down there and back to the hotel. However are you saying that there aren’t really any official taxis in Tamarindo? How much typically would the taxi fare be? Do you suggest renting a car for a few days that were in the Guanacaste area or should we stick to just local taxi/ Uber options?
Hi Cindy, there aren’t Ubers in the area and there aren’t many “official” taxis but you will find tons of pirate taxi drivers, that’s the norm in that area. If you’re at the Westin and just want to check out Tamarindo for a day, I’d just ask the Westin to arrange a shuttle for you. Since you’ll be at an all inclusive resort, I don’t highly recommend renting a car for your time there because you’ll most likely be spending most of your time in the resort and you would just have the car parked in the parking lot but paying for it. If you want to do any day trips, you can easily arrange those with transportation.
Thank you so much for your blog, advice and guidance. We are in our 50’s and have never really been sure of Uber but decided to try it last night after arriving in San Jose based on your insight. Uber is not allowed to operate where I live (British Columbia). It worked really well. My only suggestion to others is don’t order one until you are through Customs. It took 45 minutes due to four flights arriving in close proximity and the line was huge for the bag screening.
Once our bags were x-rayed I ordered an Uber and he was there before I made it up to departures level which is where the designated pickup point was. I was actually put off by the aggressive taxi drivers, both official and pirate.
Hi Cam, thanks for the feedback and glad Uber worked well for you! We always use Uber in San Jose too, too much stress and risk of scams with the taxi drivers 🙁
Kristina Mcghee says
Yesterday I caught a RED taxi from San Jose bus station to the airport. I asked him the price and he said meter. I was watching the meter and it was going up quickly. The ride took about 20 minutes in traffic.
When we arrived at the airport he wanted 135,600 colons!! I knew that was wrong and told him that was too expensive and he kept saying “meter” .I ended up giving him much less but still 50,000 because he wouldn’t open the boot to take my suitcase out and I had to get to my flight ! O knew I was scammed. The taxi registration was 3238 and I want to make a formal complaint with Red Taxis but cant find a website. Or should I report it to the police ?
Hi Kristina, I’m so sorry to hear that. This is the website to make a complaint, you have to fill out a form and send it to the email address they provided: https://aresep.go.cr/usuarios/quejas-denuncias-otros
Zbigniew (Ziggy) Pietrzyk says
I wanted to ask, if taking a public transportation is an option, for someone arriving at San Jose airport on New Years Day at (or around) 1:09 AM and trying to get to TRYP by Wyndham San Jose Sabana?
Public transportation will not be working at 1 AM, in your case, I would recommend you to check first if your hotel has a free shuttle from and to the airport many hotels have them. IF they don’t some shuttle companies charge from $40 to $45 (private transfer) to take you from the airport to ay hotel in San Jose.
Another option is to walk outside the airport to get close to the bus station and request an UBER (that would be the cheapest option). or you can also take one of the orange taxis at the airport.
deborah patacsil says
flying into SJO on 5/29/19. needing to get to Funky Monkey lodge in St. theresa and would like to take ferry across the water. what is our best option for travel from SJO to ferry and ferry to Lodge? will there be taxi’s or Ubers waiting on the other sided of water where the ferry drops off? What should the price be for taxi/Uber?
Depending on the time you arrive, you can book a private or shared shuttle or take the bus. There are no Ubers in that area but there are taxis and there is a public bus that goes from Paquera to Cobano to Santa Teresa.
Nathaniel Curie says
General advice to all:
Avoid taxies. Not only do they perceptually try to scam you if you seem like you don’t speak enough Spanish to haggle, One one occasion I actually had one get violent with me when I asked them not to wait in front of the hostel I was volunteering at.
These guys are part of a dying industry and will act desperately in accordance to their economic plight.
just my perspective.
Hi Katrina, there is a public bus from San Jose to Jaco that is super easy to take, it doesn’t pass by the airport so you will need to Uber or taxi to the bus station but I wrote a post on how to take the bus from San Jose to Jaco here: San Jose bus to Playa Jaco
Hi, I’ll be flying in to San Jose in July and I plan on staying in jaco for 2 nights. I may travel to monteverde on one of those days to spend a day there. What transportation would you recommend for traveling to jaco from the airport? Then jaco to monteverde? Thx
There are Ubers in San Jose and you can request to see if anyone will take you to Manuel Antonio. You can use the Uber website to get a fare estimate.
Does Uber go from san jose airport to Manuel Antonio? Or do you of tropical tours shuttles. Are they reliable.
Great post!! I arrive in San Jose on May 9th and need to get to my tour group meeting point within San Jose itself.
Best to take a taxi, Uber, bus or arrange a pickup from the tour operator ($50 US)???
Appreciate the help and advise. Cannot wait to visit Costa Rica!
Nancy Marchiotti says
Great post!! I arrive in San Jose on May 9th and need to get to my tour group meeting point within San Jose itself.
Best to take a taxi, Uber, bus or arrange a pickup from the tour operator ($50 US)???
Appreciate the help and advise. Cannot wait to visit Costa Rica!
It all depends of how many people are taking the transfer and the distance. For example a private transfer from The airport to San Jose can cost around $100 but up to 6 people can be in the transfer and they will charge you the same if 1 or 6 people are traveling so with 6 people is worth the money. I personally don’t like to take the red taxis in San Jose I prefer UBER it’s like 40% cheaper and you don’t need to have cash with you. In regards to public transportation I would recommend it just for long trips, we only recommend public transportation around San Jose to experienced travelers or if you are traveling with a local, the service is good but you will need to know where are you going and where to get out of the bus.
Good luck with your trip and let us know if there is anything we can do to help.
Thanks! I will look into Uber and have a note out to the hotel to see if they have a shuttle service or pick up service.
You can take shuttles to each destination, the cons to taking shuttles is that shared is cheaper but they have set schedules (and limited space for luggage), private can go whenever you want but its much more expensive. You can read more about taking shuttles here: Costa Rica shuttles.
Renting a car gives you so much more flexibility and freedom, and the routes for your destinations are beautiful – we always stop to take pictures, have lunch in a scenic restaurant, etc. However, since you are going to Monteverde it is highly recommended to have a 4×4 and since the next couple weeks are the busiest of the whole year (north america spring break plus easter week), many of the 4×4 cars are not available so if you want to rent a car, I’d check asap. We do have a car rental discount you can check prices and availability here: Costa Rica car rental discount. But if you’re not used to driving on gravel roads, are worried about driving/getting lost or feel it’s not something you want to do, then you can book shuttles to your destinations.
You can read more about getting around Costa Rica in this post.
We are a family of 4 ( two kids ) and travelling to Costa rica next week. We are flying into SJO and staying in La fortuna for 3 days and then to Monteverde ( 2 days ) and then to Tamarindo ( 2 days). We are flying out of Liberia. we are debating if we should rent a car or just use shuttles. Do you have a recommendation?
Hi Sarah, where in Puntarenas will you be going? It’ll be best to take a shuttle, a taxi will charge a lot. We work with INterbus, a shuttle company to give our readers 10% off so if you’d like a quote for a shuttle, you can email us here: Contact Mytanfeet
My best friend and I are landing in San Jose and going to Punta Arenas area march 22nd. Would it be best to uber, shuttle, or taxi?
I can’t determine this on the uber site, but is transportation possible from SJO to Vera Blanca (Tiquicia Lodge is where I’m supposed to stay). From the fare estimate, it says it should only be about $20. Does this sound right? Thanks!
On the fare estimate on Uber, it seems to be around $20-$25
Uber is way more cheaper than regular taxis or shuttles, the other day we paid like $10 from my mom’s house to the airport in rush hour and it’s like 15 kilometers so $20 to Vara Blanca sounds around the price point, but I am not 100%. The app estimate rates is normally very close to the final amount.
Thanks so much for your reply. Is Uber generally safe in your opinion? I’d much rather pay $20-$25 than $90 for a shuttle. Thank you for your time.
We’ve had great experiences with Uber and we’ve called Ubers at 11 PM to 4 AM and haven’t had any problems so for us, it’s safe and a lot more comfortable than going with taxis. Uber is awesome for San Jose, sometimes you may have to do surge pricing if it’s during rush hour but it’d still be cheaper than $90 for a shuttle
Understood. Thanks! And you may not know, but can I get away with requesting an uber over wifi while my phone is on airplane mode? I’m only planning to use uber from the airport and I’m not getting a sim card or prepaid data plan. As long as I set my pickup point accurately, that should be okay, right?
Yes, as long as you have Internet whether it’s data from your phone or Wi-Fi, you can use the Uber app and other apps. Uber lets you choose your pick up location so remember to turn on the location on your phone so it can automatically get your location so you don’t have to look for it on the map.
I booked for a 2 night stay in Mango Valley in Alajuela Province. I am not sure if I want to rent a car since it’s a short stay. I won’t have enough time to visit the coast so maybe taxi is a cheaper option. I searched some fare it’s about 20,000 colones about US$40 is that correct? And will I be able to call for taxi ahead of time when I leave from the hotel to the airport SJO?
If I do want to rent a car to go to pacific coast do you think it’s not enough time for 2 nights?
Hi Daniel, it depends which part of the coast you’re going to. I don’t know how much a taxi is but you can ask your hotel to call you a taxi to get to the airport and your hotel should be able to provide shuttle options too. For renting a car, 2 days is kind of short but you can do a lot more with a car in that area. You can drive to the beach, the closest one is about 45 minutes away, visit national parks like Poas Volcano, take a coffee tour, lots of things to do in that area. You can book tours but it will be more expensive overall to do that and with the car, you can explore a lot more. You can rent a small compact car which is the cheapest option (~$40 a day) and you won’t need a big car if you’re going from Grecia to the coast.
Hi Braydon! The easiest way to get to all those destinations is either shuttle or driving. There are buses to all those destinations but you will have to switch buses a lot and it’ll be really long (Liberia to Fortuna takes 3 buses, Samara to Tamarindo takes 2, Fortuna to Samara takes 4 buses). If you don’t want to worry about driving, you can book a shuttle to all those places. A shuttle isn’t cheap but you can book a shared shuttle and it’s a little cheaper than private. It’s nice since you don’t need to worry about driving or getting lost.
If you don’t mind driving, renting a car is the best option. The route from Liberia to Fortuna is gorgeous so you have a lot more flexibility with a car – stop when you want to have lunch, take pics, buy souvenirs, etc. Also those routes are not hard to get to as you go on main roads (except Samara but there are tons of signs to Samara). They are kind of long though, Liberia to Fortuna is around 3 hours, Fortuna to Samara is around 4.5 hours and then Samara to Tamarindo is a couple of hours. It’s not too bad for driving times though. If you rent a car, you won’t need a SUV for those routes, you can rent a sedan as those routes are all paved, on main roads and the roads around the destinations are not that bad.
For more renting a car tips, check out this post: Costa Rica car rental tips and we also have a car rental discount where you can get a free 2nd driver and cell phone and 33% off gps: Costa Rica car rental discount
Hello, I no there are many comments already but I am looking for your opinion
My girlfriend and I are coming down early March. Fly into Liberia, we then plan to travel to LA Fortuna for few nights. Then samara. Then tamarindo. We are debating if it is worth renting a car (is car okay or would we need suv).. or if we should take other transportation? Any feedback helps!
Thank you for sharing! All of You!
I’m truly inspired to see so many women going alone to CR! I, too, am looking into traveling there alone, hopefully a friend will be able to join me a week later! Maybe two friends!
Anyway, I am looking to relocate to CR and honestly am relying on tons of research, and much of the helpful info has come from ordinary people like yourselves! Therefore, ANY advice is appreciated!
I have an 8 year old son that will be moving along with me as well as my father who is excited about relocating as well!
I have NO idea yet which will be the best place to begin my search, but I’m considering using Airbnb to switch things up and network….I love what’s available on their site! And wherever I choose, I need air conditioning and to be somewhat close to a hospital….though near a beach is…..making me smile right now.~
If you like the beach and want to have a smooth transition with other expats living around you or in the same situation, Playas del Coco is a good option there are private and public hospitals around the area and some good schools where you kid will be around students from all different countries that moved here. We have plenty of articles about playas del coco and a city guide if you would like to read more about it.
Good luck in this new adventure of your life and we wish you the best 🙂 Costa Rica always welcome everyone it doesn’t matter the color of the skin, religion or country you are coming from if you are nice every one will be nice with you too.
Hi Yvette, I have no idea the cost of a taxi to your hotel, but I would actually use Uber instead. It’s much cheaper than a taxi and you can call Ubers pretty much any time in San Jose. We wrote a post with tips on using Uber in San Jose here: Uber Costa Rica
If you go the Uber website, you can do a fare estimate to see about how much it’ll be.
Thanks Sammi. I won’t have access to data when I arrive in San Jose (does the airport have free wifi?). I will look into Uber.
The arrivals doesn’t have Wi-Fi so you will have to go upstairs to departures which has free Wi-Fi. There are stairs or an escalator you can take.
I’m a single female and I’m coming to San Jose arriving around 11pm in the night on February 11th. If I stick to the advise above and take a red taxi, would I be safe travelling alone to my hotel? I’m joining a tour and the tour company is charge $70 for the hotel transfer which I thought was high? What is the approximate cost in a taxi to get to Hotel Le Bergerac, San Jose. Thanks in advance.
I’ll be traveling to SJO end of January. Is Uber pick up and drop off limited to ONLY the SJO area? If I were to take an Uber from the airport, will they take me to La Fortuna? Or can I only be dropped of in the San Jose area?
What private transport company can you recommend that won’t charge $160 one way!
Uber is only in San Jose, you may be able to hire the driver to take you to La Fortuna but since it’s like 3.5 hours away, it’s still going to be expensive and around $160-200 (the driver has to go allll the way back to San Jose) You can take the bus, there is a direct bus from San jose to Fortuna that’s about $8, otherwise shuttle or taking a local flight is an option too. Since Fortuna is quite far away, all private shuttles are expensive, especially for only one traveler. $160 one way is actually cheaper than many quotes I’ve been given.
There are several different options. The cheapest is by bus (you can read our tips for taking the bus in CR here: Public transportation in Costa Rica and includes a schedule) which would be your best option if you guys are on a budget. Or if you’d like to do something more fun, we work with a white water rafting company that does white water rafting trips where you can get picked up in San Jose and dropped off in La Fortuna. That’s pretty awesome because instead of spending your day on the bus or driving, you get to go white water rafting and your transportation is all taken care of. We offer some awesome promos for it you can check out here (Rio Pacuare white water rafting discount)
And then from Fortuna to Monteverde, you can take the bus from Tilaran to Monteverde. Or you can go the fun route, and take a water taxi across Lake Arenal and then a 4×4 to your place in Monteverde.
From Monteverde to San Jose, there is a bus every day at 6:30 AM and 2:30 PM.
You can also consider renting a car (tips for renting a car here: (Costa Rica car rental tips). The views on that route are very beautiful and you can stop at any of the small towns to take pictures or buy souvenirs along the way. It’s also a lot more flexible when you rent a car.
Awesome. Thank you so much 🙂
A friend and I will be visiting Costa Rica for the first time next Spring. We are flying into San Jose, and will be heading over to La Fortuna upon landing. After spending a few days in La Fortuna, we will head over to Monteverde. I was wondering if anyone has any knowldegde they’d like to share as far as what our best options are for traveling between cities:
1. San Jose (airport) to La Fortuna
2. La Fortuna to Monteverde
3. Monteverde to San Jose
There’s a bus from San Jose to Sarchi leaving from Abonos Agro Transportes in San Jose at 12:15, 5:30, 6:05. You can read more about the bus here: Public transportation in Costa Rica . There is an itinerary you can download and an app you can use.
Hello was wondering what is the best way to get from San Jose (staying in Paso Ancho) to Sarchi?
Dean Short says
Thanks for all your helpful posts. I would like to know the best way to get from the tica bus drop off in Liberia, to Playa Buena area.
Hi Dean, from Liberia you can take a bus to Playas del Coco and there is a bus to Hermosa/Panama/Buena area. Or you can hire a private shuttle which is the quickest.
Thanks a lot for your advices! Why would you recommend solo female travellers to sit in the backseats? I thought it would be safer to sit in tho front so you can check whats going on.. 🙂
Well when taking a taxi, that is where passengers sit anyways. And for females, it’s just safer and more comfortable in the back as well as putting a bit of distance (not saying all taxi drivers have bad intentions).
Hello! Thanks so much for this article, it’s great. I was wondering if you happen to know if Uber is available in other cities in Costa Rica other than San Jose? I will be flying into the Liberia airport and would love to use the service there. Thanks so much for your help 🙂
Hi Eleanor! Sadly I haven’t seen Uber working in other cities. I am sure it will get bigger here eventually but it’s still very new. I just checked LIR airport for UBer and saw none unfortunately.
Can you use Uber from the airport or to get to the airport (San Jose)? I know it varies in different cities/countries. We are traveling in December, but are still debating how to move around. Renting a car is quite expensive when you add all the insurance.
Hi Natasha, yep! You can use Uber to get dropped off or picked up, we’ve used it 4 times so far at SJO airport. Works great and is cheap!
Thank you so much!
Your posts are awesome! Thank you for sharing the information. Is it possible to “reserve” a taxi if I am needing to get from Heredia to San Jose very early in the morning (3:30 a.m.)?
Hi Tori! Unless you have a number of a driver, no but you can ask your hotel to call one for you as they usually have phone numbers. But we have used Uber at 4 AM in Heredia to get to the airport and there are plenty of Uber drivers around. Definitely recommend doing that!
Do you know of a shuttle that runs from the Escazu to SJO and back? I am planning on leaving my rental car at the place I will be staying at in the Escazu and either taking a shuttle, taxi, or Uber into SJO for a flight. All of this will take place in January 2017.
I am so happy to have seen your website. Great website! Great advice! 🙂
Hi Mary! I highly recommend Uber, it will be way cheaper than getting a shuttle and it’s much more convenient than a taxi. We always use UBer in San Jose now, it’s just so convenient and easy to use!
Hi, guys. Great site!
Would it be easy to bus from Escazu to San Jose proper?
Do you have a bus website that we can check location and time please?
Hi! I will not recommend you to take the bus if you are visiting it gets very crowded and it you will spend more time. UBER will be the best choice to travel around San Jose.
Ok. Hopefully you’ll have time to write about Uber in Costa Rica soon.
It’s on the to-do list!
They run every 5 minutes or so, depending on the time of the day, it’s fine using busses to move around. I wouldn’t use it at night, because the bus stop in San José doesn’t feel so safe at night. Busses for Escazú leave from the “CocaCola station”, and they have other stops around the Paseo Colón area before getting to Escazú.
Uber is great and reliable, cheaper than the red taxis, but it adds up obviously. Bus fares within San José range from 200 to 600 colones (less than $1).
Thanks for the comment Ana 🙂 Pura vida!
Hi, any idea of the cost of a taxi from the Riu Guanacaste to Tamarindo?
Not sure, but that’ll be really expensive. That’s about a 1 hour 30-45 minute ride.
Hi! I would recommend you to take the public bus you can find details here: Playa Tamarindo
The public bus from Liberia costs 1,275 colones ($2.50) so that’s a really cheap way to travel and lots of people take the bus.
Can Uber pick up passengers at SJO airport? Is there designated area for Uber pickup like at some US airports? How long is the wait? Thanks!
They can, a good and easy place is the bus stop right outside the SJO airport (just walk down the ramp to the main street). The wait depends on how close the Uber driver is.
I will be visiting San Jose at the end of October. Is uber legal and safe there? I use it all the time back home in NYC.
Uber is awesome in San Jose and soo cheap! Definitely recommend it instead of taxis, we always use Uber now since it’s way more convenient and cheap
Hi I am landing at SJO on Saturday Oct 1st at 7:26am. I want to go straight to Tamarindo but all the shuttles leave at 8:30… I am nervous I won’t have enough time to make the shuttle… would a taxi be soooo expensive?
Hi Lindsay, if you book the shuttle before hand, the shuttle has to wait for you. We used Tamarindo Tours & Transfers when we needed to get picked up and dropped off at the airport (we live in Tamarindo) and just book it beforehand so they know to wait for you and they’ll keep an eye if your flight is delayed, etc. A taxi would be ridiculously expensive :/ A shared shuttle is $20 a person.
Hi, I will be traveling to Costa Rica is December and I’m looking to travel from SJO to Tamarindo. I’ve been looking around for the best way to travel there and that will also be fairly trip for two people since we are on a budget. What would you recommend would be the easiest, safest and cheapest?
Thank You =D
Hi There! Thanks so much for the info! Good to know about looking for the Red Taxis, and using the “Maria”. Quick question, we are arriving into San Jose just after midnight, do you know if there will still be plenty of taxis at the airport at that time – and is it safe to take a taxi at that time? Thanks so much!!
Hi Brandi, yes you will find some airport taxis by the time you land. You can use Uber too it is cheaper 🙂
going to SJ Friday need to get to Marriott SJ ,, will take a red taxi ,, about how much the cost ??
Hi Wanda, we dont know exactly how much will that be but you can check with Uber to get a fare estimate and get an idea
Sylvia Talavera says
Trying to find out what is the approximate fare from San Jose airport to Apartotel La Perla hotel , San Jose. We are a party of nine. Just want to have a clue, so we won’t be caught off guard. Thanks, Sylvia
I recommend asking your hotel, they should know how much it will be.
If one is at the SJO International Airport, what is the best way to get to Tica Bus station? Is there a safe way, cheaper than a taxi?
Hi, you can just walk out off the airport and take any bus to San jose, then once you are in San jose take a cab to TICA bus it will be way more cheaper
“la Maria, la Maria por favor!” Good advice, and I didn’t realize taxis could only work within their own province. When I lived in San Jose many years ago, we had several friends who had friends that were piratas, and that was the only way we would take the ‘unofficial’ taxis, because our friends could vouch for them, and we would discuss the price of passage before hand.
Yes it’s very important to take a taxi within their province. Now it’s better to put on the meter than discuss a price beforehand since most tourists don’t know how much it’s supposed to be.
Trying to get an idea – cost of Arenal springs resort to sky adventures. We have 8 people and trying to decide if we should take our own taxi and go other places or pay sky adventures the per person charge.. May want to do extra stuff in town the same day. Thanks
I recommend asking your hotel, they should know the approximately the taxi rates and see how much a shuttle will be to take you around town
Bettina Neidhardt says
Hello, can someone please tell me how much I have to pay from Liberia to Tamarindo? I’m traveling alone and I’ll article at 7 pm
Hi Bettina, do you mean Liberia Airport? A taxi will be expensive, probably around $70 if you take the orange ones. It’s better to pre-book a shuttle, it’s not as expensive as taking a taxi right when you land.
Hey I will arriving in Costa Rica on Tuesday January 12 is it cheaper to take an cab the than the airport shuttle because they are trying to charge me 34 for my and my wife .
Not necessarily, the orange airport cabs charge more. It depends on how far you are going from the airport.
What is approximate cost from San Jose airport to La Fortuna in red taxi? Is it worth going by taxi or is there another way? We could skip going to airport hotel and then take shuttle from there to La Fortuna.
A shuttle costs around $200 from SJO to La Fortuna, and a red taxi could charge you way more depending on the kind of driver he is. I’d book a shuttle, it’ll be more comfortable and you will have no chances of getting ripped off like you would with a taxi driver. If you need recommendations, we always go with Jacamar, they operate out of La Fortuna and do these transfers all the time, and their shuttles are super comfy.
Do official be available dec 25 around 2:00 am to go to Hampton inn airport hotel?
If not, is it safe to walk that half mile at that time?
Yes, there are always taxis. And no, I would not walk at 2AM at that time. The Airport isn’t in the city, you have to drive on a highway to get to San Jose (The airport is actually in Alajuela not San JOse)
Pat hogan says
What is then approx. cost of a official taxi from downtown San Jose to Airport?
Depends where in downtown, but about $30-40 on average.
Thanks for this advice! Seems pretty straight forward in San Jose, etc. I’ll be in Guanacaste staying in a resort (after staying well off the beaten path for almost a week! 🙂 and want to know if taxis are easy to find/call around dinner time outside of cites. I want to travel from Playa Conchal to Playa Hermosa (an hour drive, more or less) but would rather not drive at night.
Hi Michael! Yep no worries, you can find taxis pretty much anywhere! And you can always ask your hotel to call them for you too if you’re outside the city or kind of “in the middle of nowhere” Enjoy your time in Guanacaste!
That’s really helpful. We’re going to Costa Rica on honeymoon next month so great to have info!
Congratulations for your weeding !
Enjoy Costa Rica 🙂
Very helpful, thank you. Sounds like the red taxis are the ones to use, but are they right outside San Jose airport, or do you need to walk somewhere?
There are usually a mix of some red and orange taxis in there, there are usually a huge crowd of them right outside the airport so try to get a red one first. You can’t really walk anywhere outside SJO airport since it’s not near the city so those ones are pretty much your only taxi options.
How much more do “airport taxis” charge in comparison to the red taxis?
Usually 10-20%, depending on your driver… just make sure to ask him to turn on the Maria.
Taxi piratas – good name and so true! They exist in many places but this is very helpful to know the legit taxis are red. Thanks for the tips, will be very helpful as I may go to Costa Rica solo. Even if with another person, I will know what to look out for.
You Welcome Brooklyn Chick, have a safe trip and please let us know if you need any help.
I recommend using the new mobile app they published. Specially in the rural areas where many times the cars don’t use a meter.
The creator actually contacted us about that app – great idea!
Jon Patrick says
Thanks for this advice. I’d never been in a taxi until we took our first cruise several years ago. The wide variety of cars advertising themselves as ‘taxi’, with selections ranging from nice cars to beat up old Hyundai’s was honestly intimidating.
Not to be dramatic, but we found ourselves wondering if the one we would chose would be safe or run by a psycho.
It all worked out okay. In Grand Cayman, the car was junky, but the driver safe and respectful. In Bermuda, it was a van that you could see the floor through the rusted floor, it was filthy, it rattled like a can of screws – and the driver was the most outgoing, angry, and funny driver I’ve ever seen. Dropping us off at a hotel, there was a lot of traffic. She stopped in the middle of the driveway and got out, yelling and bossing other people out of her way.
Got back in, looked in the rear-view mirror and said “Don’t nobody listen.”
That silly phrase is part of our family lexicon now!
It’s really amazing how some people just pass their car off as “taxi” here. I was walking on the road to a friends house and some random car stopped next to me and the man inside asked if I needed a taxi. One quick look and I knew that was a HUGE no.
I learned the hard way to use a taxi in Orlando Florida when the guy ripped me and my friends off big time and was being very very creepy. Never again!
That is a hilarious story! She sure got spunk but if I was a taxi driver stuck in traffic all day I’d probably work up some attitude too! Always makes for a good story 🙂