Getting around: Buses and Taxis in Costa Rica

It’s all about getting from A to B. If you’re nervous about using public transportation in Costa Rica, look no further! Here are a few tips for using the bus and taking taxis, and a nice alternative if your response is “neither!” 

Buses: Inner-city and Inter-city

Keep these in mind when taking the inner-city bus: 

  • Tickets, passes, and tokens are not a thing – expect the whole system to be cash-only. The price of the fare is typically posted on the bus windshield. 
  • You’ll have to step between some vertical bars when entering the bus, but do not keep standing between them. These count passengers, and standing there without passing through will ruin the count. Expect some angry Spanish thrown your way by the driver. 
  • Though there are some designated stops, you can essentially be picked up anywhere along the bus route. If your bus is about to pass, just wave your arms so it’s clear to the driver you want to board – they’ll stop for you. 

For buses between cities in Costa Rica, it’s also a straightforward system which allows you to sit back and relax while enjoying the country-side. Tips to remember: 

  1. Pay in local currency – If you break out USD, you automatically mark yourself as a target for thieves. 
  2. For regional buses, there are generally two types: Directivo and Colectivo. Directivo is as it sounds – that bus is going directly to its terminal station without stopping along the way. Colectivo, on the other hand, will be making stops for passengers which generally takes…a while. It’s not your best option if you plan to go to the end of the line. 
  3. If you plan to be making a stop before the terminal station, be sure to tell your driver in advance. Otherwise, you risk your stop being skipped. 
  4. Don’t use the overhead compartments – If you do, you won’t have eyes on your bag, giving opportunistic thieves an open market. Go instead for the under-bus storage where other travelers will not have access. 

As with anywhere else, stay alert on the bus to avoid pickpockets, and do not trust others with your possessions. 

Are the taxis in Costa Rica safe? 

Yes, it is safe to travel by taxi. However, be mindful to only use authorized taxis – these cars will always be red or sometimes orange. 

If you are not careful to take an official taxi, you might end up in an unauthorized or “pirate” taxi. These drivers are not insured and are at liberty to charge you any amount for your trip. How to spot them? The cars they use are much older, and they might run over to you asking if you need a ride. Real taxis will always wait for you to come to them. 

You’ll want to remember a few more safety tips when it comes to taxi use: 

  • Check to make sure the meter is running. Sometimes, the driver will tell you the meter is broken – this is a scam. They will use it to charge you whatever they want. 
  • Do not hail a taxi at night. In the event you need to travel at night, ask your accommodation to call a taxi for you, so you will know that a trustworthy company is on the way. 
  • Carry small denominations of currency. Most drivers will refuse to give change if you try to hand them a large bill. 

Remember: stay vigilant, make sure your taxi is authorized, and make sure they’re using the meter. Your taxi ride in Costa Rica will be a breeze. 

Alternatives: Private Car Transfer in Costa Rica

But maybe you don’t get excited about braving public transportation, or just don’t feel like taking your chances with a taxi. Afterall, ease and relaxation are one of the goals for anyone’s holiday. 

One way to avoid that stress and unknown is by booking a private car transfer with a professional local driver to take you from point A to point B, so you can enjoy the views of the country while a local driver navigates the terrain. Such transfers are booked in advance and operate door-to-door from your accommodation, so you wouldn’t need to even worry about getting yourself to the right pick-up point. 

Daytrip is a fantastic option for within the field of private car transfers, and they operate all over Costa Rica!  With experienced drivers always ready to provide you with safe, stellar service, everything is done for you. You can visit to start planning your next journey! 

Looking for more information? 

Check out the following articles below for other tips on safety in Costa Rica: 

Safety in Costa Rica

Food and Water Safety in Costa Rica

Scams in Costa Rica

Solo Travel in Costa Rica

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