ATMs/Banks:You’ll find an extensive network of banks and ATMs around San José. Banks are usually open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, although many have begun to offer extended hours. Post offices are generally open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5:30pm, and Saturday from 7:30am to noon. To protect against crime, some banks have taken to disabling their ATM networks at night.
Dentists:Call your embassy, which will have a list of recommended dentists. Because treatments are so inexpensive in Costa Rica, dental tourism has become a popular option for people needing extensive work.
Doctors:Contact your embassy for information on doctors in San José, or see “Hospitals,” below.
Drugstores:San José has countless pharmacies and drugstores. Many of them deliver at little or no extra cost. The pharmacy at the Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Avenida 14 between calles Central and 1 ((tel) 2522-1000), is open daily 24 hours, as is the Hospital CIMA pharmacy ((tel) 2208-1080) in Escazú. Farmacia Fischel ((tel) 800/347-2435 toll-free in Costa Rica; www.fischel.co.cr) has scores of branches around the metropolitan area.
Emergencies:In case of any emergency, dial (tel) 911 (which should have an English-speaking operator); for an ambulance, call (tel) 1028; and to report a fire, call (tel) 1118.
Hospitals:Clínica Bíblica, Avenida 14 between calles Central and 1 ((tel) 2522-1000; www.clinicabiblica.com), is conveniently close to downtown and has several English-speaking doctors. The Hospital CIMA ((tel) 2208-1000; www.hospitalcima.com), located in Escazú on the Próspero Fernández Highway, which connects San José and the western suburb of Santa Ana, has the most modern facilities in the country.
Internet Access:Internet cafes were once ubiquitous in San José but are now a rarity, with free Wi-Fi widely available in hotels and restaurants.
Maps:The information desks at the airport are usually stocked with decent maps of both Costa Rica and San José. Also try Librería Lehmann, Avenida Central between calles 1 and 3 ((tel) 2522-4848; www.librerialehmann.com); and Librería Universal, Avenida Central and calles Central and 1 ((tel) 2222-2222). Perhaps the best map to have is the waterproof country map of Costa Rica put out by Toucan Maps (www.mapcr.com), which can be ordered directly from its website or any major online bookseller.
Police:Dial (tel) 911 or 2295-3272 for the police. They should have someone available who speaks English.
Post Office:The main post office (correo) is on Calle 2 between avenidas 1 and 3 ((tel) 2223-9766; www.correos.go.cr).
Restrooms:Public restrooms are rare to nonexistent, but most big hotels and restaurants will let you use their restrooms. Downtown, you can find public restrooms at the entrance to the Museos del Banco Central de Costa Rica.
Safety:Pickpockets and purse snatchers are rife in San José, especially on public buses, in the markets, on crowded sidewalks, near hospitals, and lurking outside bank offices and ATMs. Leave most of your money and other valuables in your hotel safe, and carry only as much as you need when you go out. If you do carry anything valuable with you, keep it in a money belt or special passport bag around your neck. Day packs are a prime target of brazen pickpockets throughout the city. One common scam involves someone dousing you or your pack with mustard or ice cream. Another scamster (or two) will then quickly come to your aid, but they are usually much more interested in cleaning you out than cleaning you up.
Stay away from the red-light district northwest of the Central Market. Also be advised that the Parque Nacional is not a safe place for a late-night stroll. Other precautions include walking around corner vendors, not between the vendor and the building. The tight space between the vendor and the building is a favorite spot for pickpockets. Avoid parking your car on the street, and never leave anything of value in a car, even if it’s in a guarded parking lot. With these precautions in mind, you should have a safe visit to San José.