Almost everyone who visits Costa Rica wants to stay forever. While forever may not be possible, maybe a year or so is. In this case you will need to renew your tourist visa a few times. Every three months you will have to cross the border to Nicaragua or Panama, stay for 3 nights and then return to get a new 3 month visa. I will tell you about my experience crossing the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which I have done 3 times so far.
There are a number of ways to get from San Jose to the border. I have tried both private and public buses. Of course public buses are cheaper but there are other benefits as well. When I was on a private bus with a company called NicaBus I found that if one person has something illegal in their luggage the whole bus will get stuck at the border for extra hours. The same goes for if someone forgot their passport. Officials for the bus company will collect money on the bus- this is for the border crossing fee which was already included in your ticket. Don’t give them money. I gave them $10 and they gave me a ticket that said $3! It’s best to take a public bus (only $5) and cross the border on your own.
There are a few things to note when crossing the border on your own.
1) Know the current fees so that you won’t get ripped off.
2) Know the currency exchage rates and have colones, dollars, and cordobas because they may ask for a specific currency and only except that one..you don’t want to have to wait on the line again!
3) Check the ticket they give you before paying to make sure it’s the same amount. Pay in small bills because you won’t get change.
4) The papers you fill out are FREE.
One last thing that’s extremely important-you must have a real ticket out of Nicaragua. They do not except receipts of enough money to leave, public bus tickets, or anything without a confirmation number anymore. You can buy a NicaBus one and continue to change the date on it so you can use the same ticket for each visa trip.
There are taxis or collective vans to get you where you’re going after going through customs. If your Spanish is intermediate you can use the collective vans. They are about $1 and can get you all the way to Granada! That’s a really unique city and I’d suggest it as your Nicaraguan destination.
By Kerry La