Uber officially made its way to Costa Rica in 2015 and has made getting around Costa Rica much easier. Though technically not 100% legal, Uber has now become one of the normal transportation options for both locals and tourists.
Uber in Costa Rica is exactly the same as other countries but there are a few things to know. In this post, you will read our tips for taking Uber in Costa Rica. If you haven’t opened an Uber account yet, you can get $10 off your first ride by using this coupon code: yeisonkue. Sign up here.
In this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about using Uber in Costa Rica.
This post has been updated April 2019.
Uber Costa Rica Information
The government sector of public transportation is still trying to figure out the whole Uber situation since it went online in August 2015. Despite protests from taxi drivers, Uber in Costa Rica is up and running and going strong.
You can still take taxis in Costa Rica but for us, Uber is quick, cheaper and more comfortable. Taxi drivers in Costa Rica have an unfortunate bad reputation for overcharging and being pushy, especially to tourists.
In San Jose
Uber readily exists in the San Jose metropolitan area covering San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago. There are also a few Ubers in Jaco and Manuel Antonio.
As of April 2019, Uber has announced it will expand to other destinations like La Fortuna and Liberia. Since the announcement was mid April, I will update this post to share how it goes in a few months. So far, we have seen only a couple Ubers in the Tamarindo and Playas del Coco area sporadically.
Cost of Uber in Costa Rica
How much does Uber cost in Costa Rica? You can estimate a fare from San Jose to another destination on the website if you’re curious as to how much your ride will cost. This is a very handy tool.
You Can Use Uber at San Jose Airport
Airport taxis are known to be expensive so to have Uber as an alternative option is awesome. You can call an Uber to drop you off and pick you up at SJO airport. Here is what you need to know about using Uber at San Jose Airport.
Pick up at San Airport
Put your pick up location at San Jose Airport at the arrivals (upstairs). In the Uber app, you have the option to call your driver so I would let them know you are upstairs. San Jose Airport doesn’t have a designated ride share area unfortunately.
This is because Uber drivers and taxi drivers are at odds and it’s best to avoid any crossing of paths as much as possible. So the moment you walk outside the airport and leave customs, you will see a huge crowd of people waiting, most of them taxi drivers. Ignore them!
The Uber app will tell you to go to the bus stop at the west end, so head right when you exit the airport and walk down that way.
Your driver might also ask you to sit up front to make it less obvious that they are an Uber. This has happened to us the last year or so we’ve been using Uber in San Jose. And not just at the airport, but around the cities.
You can also use it at the Pavas International Airport.
The Uber driver can drop you off directly at departures.
You need to have Internet on your phone to use Uber. Uber does allow you to schedule rides up to 30 days in advance in the app. We have never used this tool but you can see if it works.
There is free Wi-Fi in the departures area of San Jose Airport or you can purchase a pre-paid Costa Rica sim card in the airport (in baggage claim, Kolbi company).
Select a Nearby Landmark for Your Destination
Since addresses don’t exactly exist in Costa Rica, but you can enter the name of your hotel or place you are going as your destination. For houses, Airbnbs or vacation rentals, it is best to use a landmark or business. When we stayed at our Airbnb in San Jose, we set it to the Universal store across the street. Our Airbnb didn’t have a name or was on the map so it was easier to find the closest business.
Pretty much everyone uses Waze in Costa Rica so once you get in the car, you can tell the driver the closest landmark to your destination and have them drop you off where you need to go.
Useful Spanish Phrases
It will be extremely helpful to know some Spanish phrases. A lot of city Costa Ricans know a degree of English but not all. Here are some useful phrases and words:
Voy a X: I’m going to X (hotel, restaurant, etc.).
Donde esta?: Where are you?
Aqui esta bien: Here is fine.
Gracias: Thank you.
Mi hotel es cerca de X: My hotel is close to X.
There are Uber Drivers in the Wee Hours of the Morning
We’ve needed to call Uber for early morning flights and had no problem getting one at 4 AM in San Jose. So don’t worry too much if it’s late in the night or super early in the morning, we’ve never had a problem calling an Uber at 11 PM or 4 AM.
You May Have to Use Surge Pricing During Rush Hour
Surge pricing is annoying and unfortunately it is also in Costa Rica. San Jose, notorious for horrible traffic, impatient drivers and long ignored pot holes, is a mess during rush hour and surge pricing may be necessary to get a ride.
However, if you’re not in a rush, you can wait 10 minutes and see if other drivers are nearby. You can also select the carpool option for a cheaper ride.
Wait Times Aren’t That Accurate
Because of San Jose’s awful traffic, you should give or take at least 10 minutes. We’ve had to cancel Uber requests a few times even though the driver was just a couple blocks away but they were stuck in traffic. Instead we picked a different driver that was coming from the side of no traffic.
Estimate Your Fare Online
The Uber website has a fare estimate which is helpful to know around how much you’ll pay for both UberX and UberXL. We were surprised at how much cheaper it was. Normally, we pay around $15 for a 15 kilometer taxi ride from Yeison’s mom’s house in Heredia to the San Jose airport. With Uber, we paid a little less than $10!
Don’t Need to Tip
When it comes to tipping in Costa Rica, it is not mandatory to tip Uber drivers in Costa Rica but they have the option now.
Get $10 off your first ride by using this coupon code: yeisonkue when you sign up to Uber.
Read more tips about traveling in Costa Rica here!