Odd Mistakes Foreigners Make When Travelling to Costa Rica

Travelling to Costa Rica is your chance to experience some things you may never encounter again in your life. The local Ticos are proud of their country, may not be widely traveled, and are not always familiar with many Western customs. The differences in Costa Rica can lead an embarrassing scenario if you make a mistake. So here are some of the oddities you should aim to avoid.


Always stock up on perishable items in advance of when you actually need them. Dairy products like milk and eggs are rarely sold refrigerated. They’re placed in a low-power fridge which keeps them cold. This doesn’t mean they’re refrigerated enough to eat. Buy them and take them to the nearest cool box so they can cool down before you tuck into them.

Buying Wine

If you want to surprise your special someone back home with a bottle of local wine, forget about it. Authentic Tico wine is sold in a little plastic box which you have to refrigerate for a few hours first. If you’re staying at a resort, you can still get bottled wine, but it might well be more expensive.

The Locks

If you can see a traveller desperately trying to work out how to unlock a door, you know they’ve fallen for a classic Tico housing feature. Doors have inward locks. In the West there are outward locks. So remember to change the way you approach it. It’s like how people from the UK have to change the way they drive when they visit the US because they drive on the opposite side of the road.

Assume Marriage

Marriage in Costa Rica is different from other places in the world. If you see a couple living together you shouldn’t assume they’re living in sin due to a difference in their last names. A woman uses her full maiden name for life, even when she gets married. A man keeps his last name. Any children they have between them automatically take the father’s name.

Don’t Fall

The older generations of Ticos were much shorter than the Ticos of today. Furniture is therefore built about six to eight inches lower than the furniture found in the US. Ease into a chair carefully or you might find yourself misjudging the distance and falling through it when travelling to Costa Rica!