Odd Mistakes Foreigners Make When Travelling to Costa Rica

Posted by Nov05, 2013 Comments (0)

Travelling to Costa Rica is your chance of experiencing things you’ll only ever encounter once in your life. The local Ticos do come from another culture and they’re not familiar with many Western customs, either. The differences in Costa Rica can lead to a lot of embarrassing scenarios if you make a mistake. Here are some of the oddities you should aim to avoid.arenal volcano


Milk deserves a whole section to itself because it’s such an important part of life in Costa Rica. They don’t sell them in cartons or bottles like they do in the US. You’ll find your milk in a little plastic bag which you have to cut the edge of with a pair of scissors.

Inexperienced travellers might attempt to tear the top of the bag open. Unlucky tourists who think they know what they’re doing will accidentally squeeze the bag whilst they’re cutting it. It takes a delicate touch to avoid being covered in milk.


Always stock up on perishable items in advance of when you actually need them. Dairy products like milk and eggs are never 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 that special someone with a prestige bottle of 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. We in the West have outward locks. 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!

Photo credit: Stuck in Customs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Categories : Costa Rica Interest

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