SAN JOSE - GETTING AROUND

By Taxi

Officially licensed taxis are colored red or orange; if a taxi is any other color or lacks the inverted yellow triangle on the doors, it’s a `pirate taxi` operating illegally. You can travel anywhere within the city for no more than about 4500 colones ($8). The official rate is about 605 colones ($1.15) per kilometer. By law, taxi drivers must display a business card with their name, license plate, and other details. Also, drivers must use their meters (Marias) for journeys of less than 12 kilometers, but few do. When boarding the taxi ask the taxi driver `Puede poner la maria, por favor?` (Could you please turn the meter on?), otherwise, you will pay a higher price.

Finding a taxi is usually not a problem, except during rush hour and when it`s raining. Some of the best places to find a cab are Parque Central where they line up on Avenida 2, in front of the Gran Hotel, and two blocks east of the National Theater. Avoid hailing a taxi on the street, as many drivers work together with robbers (who hop into the cab). For a taxi, call Coopetaxi (tel. 506/2235-9966) or Coopetico (tel. 506/2224-7979).

By Bus

There are no metropolitan bus systems in San Jose, only private buses. San Jose`s buses can take you anywhere in the city for about 125-250 colones (25-45 cents) and about 100 colones (20 cents) or less within the metro. If you arm yourself with basic bus-riding wisdom, discard your worries and prepare for the experience, San Jose`s buses will soon become your ally. Generally, San Jose buses run from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. Sunday-Saturday. Buses are assumed to stop only at official bus stops (decorated with a bench and sometimes a shelter from the rain) but usually stops for anyone who flags them down. Just stick your arm out, and wave.

Downtown and suburban San Jose buses operate every couple of minutes. Buses to the suburbs fill up fast, so it`s best to board at their principal downtown parada, designated by a sign, Parada de Autobuses,` showing the route name and number. A sign in the windshield tells the route number and destination. Fares are marked by the doors and are collected when you board.

By Train

A great way to beat the cross-town traffic is to hop on the Tren Interurbano commuter train that links Pavas (on the west side of town) with San Pedro (on the east side). Trains depart the Estación Ferrocarril Pacífico (Pacific Station, Ave. 20, Calle Central ) and operate six times daily Monday-Friday and three times daily Saturday-Sunday about 150 colones ($0.30) in each direction, stopping at or near the U.S. Embassy, La Salle (south side of Parque la Sabana), and Universidad de Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica). Another service links the Estación Ferrocarril Atlántico (Atlantic Station, Ave. 3, Calle 21) to Heredia, with 15 daily departures; a third service leaves the same station three times daily for Cartago.

By Rental Car

If you are staying close to San Jose, there is no need to rent a car. Only consider a car if you want to plan a side trip exploring Costa Rica.

Renting a car in Costa Rica is probably one of the best ways to enjoy all the sights of the country. Some of the advantages are obvious – go where you want, when you want. Make your own agenda and have more freedom. A great idea if you are staying in San Jose is to taxi or (public bus, cheap) from the airport to your hotel, save the cost and stress and have your rental car delivered to your hotel the next morning and off you go after breakfast and rested. Some companies do it others won’t, just inquire.

By Walking

Walking is a good way to get around the downtown area, but not other areas of San Jose. Keep in mind that in Costa Rica pedestrians do not have the right of way. There are some marked crosswalks that will chirp when it is okay to walk, but you will have to watch for traffic or cross in a group when others do. Keep a lookout for motorcycles, as they are usually weaving through traffic faster than the cars and may not always obey traffic signs.