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Telephones

Costa Rica has an excellent and widespread phone system. A phone call within the country costs around C15 per minute. Pay phones are relatively scarce. If you do find one, it might take a calling card or coins. Calling cards are much more practical. You can purchase calling cards in a host of gift shops and pharmacies. However, there are several competing calling-card companies, and certain cards work only with certain phones. CHIP calling cards work with a computer chip and just slide into specific phones, although these phones aren’t widely available. Better bets are the 197 and 199 calling cards, which are sold in varying denominations. These have a scratch-off PIN and can be used from any phone in the country. Generally, the 197 cards are sold in smaller denominations and are used for local calling, while the 199 cards are deemed international and are easier to find in larger denominations. Either card can be used to make any call, provided the card can cover the cost. Another perk of the 199 cards is the fact that you can get the instructions in English. For local calls, it is often easiest to call from your hotel, although you may be charged around C150 to C300 per call.

To call Costa Rica from abroad:

1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S. and Canada; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.

2. Dial the country code 506.

3. Dial the 8-digit number.

To make international calls: To make international calls from Costa Rica, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next dial the area code and number. For example, if you want to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial 00-1-202-588-7800.

For directory assistance: Dial 1113 if you're looking for a number inside Costa Rica, and dial 1024 for numbers to all other countries.

For operator assistance: If you need operator assistance in making a call, dial 1116 if you're trying to make an international call, and 0 if you want to call a number in Costa Rica.

Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 0800 or 800 within Costa Rica are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States from Costa Rica is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Mobile Phones

Costa Rica primarily uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks. If your cellphone is on a GSM system, and you have a world-capable multiband phone, you should be able to make and receive calls in Costa Rica. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account. Per-minute charges can be high, though—up to $5 in Costa Rica, depending upon your plan.

Costa Rica has three main cellphone companies and a couple of smaller outfits. The main providers are the government-run ICE/Kolbi and the international giants Claro and Movistar. All offer a range of prepaid and traditional plans.

You can purchase a pre-paid SIM card for an unlocked GSM phone at the airport and at shops all around the country. A prepaid SIM card costs around $2 to $4. You'll need an 1800mHz band, unlocked phone. You can buy minutes separately via phone cards or at ICE offices.

Cards usually come loaded with some minutes, and you can buy additional minutes separately either online or at cellphone stores and ICE offices around the country. If you don’t have your own unlocked GSM phone, you might consider buying one here. Shops around the country offer basic, functional phones with a local line, beginning at around $35.

In addition, most of the major car-rental agencies offer cellphone rentals. Rates run around $5 to $7 per day or $25 to $50 per week for the rental, with charges of 50 cents to $1.50 per minute for local calls and $1 to $3 per minute for international calls.

Internet & Wi-Fi

Internet cafes were once ubiquitous but are increasingly rare, as most hotels and restaurants offer high-speed Wi-Fi access, usually for free.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.