Trip To San Jose, Costa Rica

As you can see, I have returned. While it was a good trip, I am always glad to get back home. I took the TRACOPA bus from the Frontera to San Jose and the round trip price was about $20. The trip is about 7 hours by bus and that makes the trip about the same as a bus trip from David to Panama City. As always I took photos to give you a taste of what the trip was like.

I am going to only post some of the photos I took here. The rest are in the Chiriquí Chatter Photo Album.
After getting my passport stamped on the Panama side, I headed to the Costa Rica area to get it stamped for entry to Costa Rica. With the passport stamped on both the Panama side and the Costa Rica side, the trip is ready to begin.

Here is the TRACOPA bus waiting to be loaded.

I still think that taking one of these buses or the ones that run from David to Panama City is taking your life into your hands (or better said the bus driver’s hands). Still, if you want to see the countryside, either driving your own car or taking a bus are the only alternatives.

Before boarding the bus all bags are opened and inspected to insure that no contraband is entering Costa Rica.

Everyone is in an assigned seat, but if the bus isn’t full you are free to move to wherever you want. I am sure that you would like to know where the following photos were taken in Costa Rica. Well about ½ of the ones that I took from the bus were taken about midway back on the left side of the bus and the other half were about the same location on the right side. Other than that I haven’t a clue where I was. I just took photos.

This ride to San Jose is pretty much a ride through the mountains. On one side you may only see vegetation because the road is next to a steep incline. On the other it may look off into a canyon. Much of the drive followed a river that was full and flowing. With only a few exceptions all of the of the photos were taken with the bus in motion. Because of this you will see parts of some photos that are affected by the motion.

Here are a handful of shots between Paso Canoas and the first bus stop for lunch.

The bus stop for food and bodily needs is shown here.

Food was served cafeteria style and all priced in colones. The current exchange rate is 520 colones to one dollar. I am glad I don’t have to do that conversion everyday. It would drive me nuts.

Just past to food stop that was a lot of cultivation going on. Here is one ready to plant. The only thing I saw growing in that area was pineapples so maybe this is going to be the same.

I will have to say that the road from Paso Canoas to San Jose was in very good condition. I didn’t see a single pothole. The road is only two lanes and is a pain to drive because of all the 18-wheelers. I would not want to drive this road. I think the road from Panama City to David is easier even with the potholes.

There were three areas where the traffic went to one lane but not because of road construction. They were laying electric cable and had huge rolls of orange cable spread for miles. I took this photo of a pickup soccer game at one of the places where we had to wait for our turn to move.

Here was a little town we passed by.

Here are a couple more shots in the mountain area.

With the last shot the fog had set in and it was either fog or rain for the rest of the way to San Jose. It is a pretty exciting drive when you are in thick fog, behind a couple of 18-wheelers that the bus driver doesn’t want to be behind and the road changes directions every 40 yards. Not for the faint hearted.

Now it is the following morning and the rain has gone. Here are some photos of the house I stayed at.

The first is the doghouse. Luckily, I didn’t have to bed down with the dogs.

This is another shot of the large back yard.

This was really a beautiful house. I would guess it to be around 3,000 square feet or larger. It had 5 bedrooms, an office, TV room, huge family room with a fantastic fireplace. The kitchen was large and there was a large are for the washer and dryer and freezer. I am probably forgetting something. The construction price was about $80,000. I was impressed. Of course I am sure a gringo would pay more.

Sunday we went to a beautiful church. We got there a little early and walked around a soccer field that was across the street from the Church. Here are a few photos of that area.

Here was a wild orchid that was growing on a tree.

Here is a school at the other end of the soccer field.

At the end of the church service, I took a few photos in the church. The stained glass was beautiful and came from Innsbruck Austria.

Here are some more photos.

On Monday we prepared for a morning in San Jose. Each day we started off with a typical Costa Rican breakfast. They always have tortillas, a rice with black beans, scrambled eggs with several condiments, fried cheese, and plantain. Yum!

Here are some shots taken in downtown San Jose.

This was taken in the Ministry of Education. The people are waiting in lines in hopes of getting a teaching position in Costa Rica. So many lines. Probably so few positions.

Some more photos in San Jose.

I paused a few minutes here expecting Tom Cruise to exit the building. Guess he wasn’t in San Jose.

Here is a photo taken inside an art museum. I didn’t go past this point because they wanted to charge $5.00 for foreigners. It is free for citizens of Costa Rica.

I think it rained at least 50% of the time I was in Costa Rica. The last night we were there we went to a restaurant that served typical Costa Rican food. It was La Casa de Doña Lela. It is apparently a well know tourist place to eat, but the prices were very reasonable. I only took a couple photos to give you an idea. The first was a chicken tortilla plate.

I had a pork fajita plate. Both of these plates ran less than $5.00.

Here I am enjoying the company of my host family.

The next day around 11:00 Am we left for Paso Canoas. No photos of the reverse trip because it rained the entire 7 + hours on the road. To make it worse with all the rain we couldn’t open the windows of the bus. Even though it was very cool outside (much like Boquete), it was very uncomfortable on the bus. Except for the return trip in the bus I had a great time.

Remember more photos are in the Chiriquí Chatter Photo Album.

45 thoughts on “Trip To San Jose, Costa Rica

  1. Looks like you had a great trip! Glad you got back safely.

    We will be flying through San Jose on our way to Panama this Saturday. We’re going back to finalize our house plans.

  2. Hi Don:

    I just couldn’t wait to see you photographs of your trip to San Jose. I lived in Costa Rica for more than 15 years and could recognize several building in your photos.

    Welcome home! I always like to travel with you in your journeys. Thanks a lot, Don.



  3. Don,

    Terrific to see your photos! You have the best blog; I “tune in” often. Friends in Boquete have done that road trip; they enjoyed it very much.

    Curious…what did the bus round trip cost?

  4. Jerry

    I came by your trip quite by accident when searching for info on distance from San Jose Costa Rica to David Panama,

    Most informative ,I gained more info from you than anywhere plus I had a wonderful journey thanks to you.

    Thank you for an enjoyable trip.


  5. All I have to say is that it looks like you had a wonderful time in Costa. Man, all those pictures remind me of how beautiful my country really is. Thanks again. By the way, check out Hotel Villas Corcovado in Osa next time you visit Costa Rica. You might like it.


  6. I will try to keep that in mind.

    Just looked at your rates. I think there is no way I would pay them, so don’t expect me to stop in.

  7. thank you so much for sharing your photos,
    i am going to san jose soon so it will help me planning my trip.
    many thanks… from paris !!

  8. We are thinking of moving to Costa Rica (San Jose) after retirement in a year or so. We want to take a trip there to check it out. Any advice on when to go, what to see, how long to stay to get the feel, etc?
    I would appreciate any suggestions.

  9. Based on the people that I have talked to that have left Costa Rica and moved to Panama, any time in San Jose is a good time to get mugged. Too expensive and too much crime for me in San Jose.

  10. don, great trip. hope to use the info someday.

    wife and i are in a suburb of san diego. trying to collect info about david and especially boquete. what are the best ways to get there? is coming in via san jose better than panama city or what?

    this probably isn’t the right venue for this question, but wth you can just ignore me if i’ve inadvertantly stepped on toes.


  11. Hi Dick. If it were me, I would fly into Panama City and fly to David. Ssome may like the San Jose route better. One thing I recommend is to make arrangement so that your flight to David will be in the morning. You will have better odds of not flying in the rain and it can postpone and cancel flights.

  12. don, thx for the tip on morning flights. any other info you have to offer would be more than i have right now, such as recommended airlines, web sites with good info, other people with insight into panama, david and boquete.

    again, thx for your response. btw; where from originally?

  13. Related to airlines, I don’t care for any of them anymore. Too much $$ and too little service. Once you get to PC you only have two choices, Air Panama and AeroPerlas. I Use AeroPerlas, but that is as much out of habit as anything.

    All of the sources to information on Panama, that I have found of value, are in the Chiriqui Chatter link section.

  14. Enjoyed reading of your visit, have made the bus trip from San Jose to David several times and really enjoyed it. Going again in October, tickets on AA Miami to San Jose $79 each way, hard to beat.

  15. Your recent comment regarding “riding the bus from David to Panama City is like placing your life in the hands of the driver…” interests me as we are doing just that in March. Could you elaborate on this comment please.

  16. Riding the bus during the dry season is relatively safe. My concerns are more during the rainy season when the roads may be wet and slick. I would prefer riding during the daytime as well. Many people like the bus. I have a very good friend that had the bus she was on turn over around Santiago. It took her about a year to recover from the accident. The bus had swerved to avoid a car driving without lights.

    You only live once. You might like a little excitement in your life. 🙂

  17. Hello Don,
    For the little time being I am living in Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately not too long ago my mother passed and now I must move to San Jose,Costa Rica with my father. Could you please give me some valuable information on this very difficult transition for me. I wanted to know are there school’s there where you can learn to speak spanish? Plus, I dont have very much money as well, only about $15,000.00 is in my bank account and i wanted to know is that enough for me there? I see in one of your pictures you showed a platter of food and said that that and another dish costed less then $5. Is that $5 in American money or the Colones? I hope I will be alright in this transition but I am asking for anything you can give me. Do they have clubs, cars, and malls like they have here in America? Please Help!

  18. Hi Charles. I can’t speak for what it will cost to live in Costa Rica and I don’t know what CR’s rules are for immegration. You should check the CR governmental sites to get that information. I know it is a lot more expensive to live in CR than Panama.

    Anytime I quote a price it will be in US dollars. I am sure there are a lot of Yahoo groups dedicated to Costa Rica. You may want to check them out as well.

  19. In addition to the Yahoo groups, you might do some google searches for Costa Rica blogs. Hopefully, you can find a blog as helpful as Don’s blog is for those moving to and living in Chiriqui.

  20. Thank You Don and Michael, but I thought that American and Panama currency was alwayz equal? What parts of Panama are you talking about because I may be wrong. So wouldn’t you think it would be more expensive to stay in Panama than Costa Rica? Once again thank you for the very valuable information! 🙂

  21. There is no conversion for money between the US and Panama. 1 US dollar = 1 Panamanian Balboa. You can use all US currency in Panama without worry.

    Costa Rica has Colones and at the present 556Colones = 1 Dollar.

    Currently the exchange rate for dollars to colones is going the wrong way for the dollar. It seems like each day you get less for a dollar in CR.

    Just about everything in CR is more expensive. Many Costa Ricans come to Panama to buy things. Gas costs more in CR. A car costs a fortune in CR. Many US retires are leaving CR and moving to Panama. That is my 2 cents.

  22. I was interested in getting some info on how to get from San Jose, Costa Rica to David, Panama and ran across your this site. I enjoyed the photos and I truly appreciate some of the tips you’ve given. I’m sure some things have changed from what they were 2 years ago. I have just recently made a very short trip to David (I flew into Tocumen International Airport and then caught an early afternoon bus from the Albrook Bus Terminal to David and made the reverse trip a week later.) I’m now considering making another trip to David but this time from the opposite direction.

  23. i just got back to san joaquin, cr (where i live) from david yesterday after spending 5 days there. very hot this time of year in david. sun is intense most of day. cooler up in mountains at boquette and much prettier.

  24. Hi Randy. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. There are trade offs to living anyplace. Some people, including me prefer the heat of David to the cold dampness that is year round in Boquete. I enjoy my mornings, evenings and nights better than I did when I lived in Boquete.

  25. Looking for some info on staying in the David Panama area as a stepping off spot to both CR and Boca Del Toro (? on the Carribean side). Looking to live and a mild year round climate and would appreciate any comments you can make to that effect. P.S. I like to fish and I heard there is also a Costco in David, no? What other things would be of interest to a disabled American looking for some relief from the gray skies of Seattle and the difficulty of arthritis at only 50yo!

Leave a Reply