Frommer's Costa Rica [With Pocket Map] Paperback – Nov 15 2011
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About the Author
Eliot Greenspan is a poet, journalist, musician, and travel writer who took his backpack and typewriter the length of Mesoamerica before settling in Costa Rica in 1992. Since then, he has worked steadily as a travel writer, food critic, freelance journalist, and translator, and continued his travels in the region. He is the author of Frommer’s Belize, Frommer’s Ecuador, Frommer’s Guatemala, Costa Rica for Dummies, and Costa Rica Day By Day, as well as the chapter on Venezuela in Frommer’s South America.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Out of the 21 reviews, 20 are from Vine members, the only 1 star review coming from someone that actually paid for the book.
Not only does Frommer's Guide cover the basics, e.g., getting there, eating, lodging, and transportation, the book is loaded with illustrations, photos, insightful comments, and helpful diagrams.
Travel Guides often fail because of one of two extremes being too inclusive, or being so general as to not give specific enough guidance.
The Frommer's Guide takes an excellent middle of the road approach.
While all travel guides try to convey where to go, the Frommer's Guide for Costa Rica is also willing to tell you where to avoid.
As a frugal traveler who values personal safety, I appreciate that. (Sadly, there are many areas in Costa Rica that are dodgy now that were perfectly safe a few years back, but I would rather know than be caught in a risky situation unaware.)
I found the nightlife descriptions and the shopping sections for each area to be the most unique and helpful in the Guide.
Pick up this book and prepare to enjoy the Pura Vida of Costa Rica!
The Original Dr. Games since 1993
I need to draw a VERY solid line before this review continues: If you're the type of person or group that feels comfortable with going to a new place and simply partaking of whatever "easily-accessible" activities or attractions there are, and not going too far off the beaten path, you'll have no problems with this book. If anything, this book will actually have more information than you actually need, so be sure you know what you expect from your trip before you simply read a travel book cover-to-cover.
That said, the only thing I can honestly say about this edition is that it's inconsistent. To be fair, Costa Rica feels a lot bigger than it is, and there are all sorts of awesome little things tucked away around the next corner, so there is NO way for someone to compile travel information that will cover every single type of traveler and every single slice of life in a country. With that in mind, this book does pretty well with giving you the general vibe/feel of an area, and tries to point out some good must-sees in just about every area.
Traveling with a toddler wasn't hard, but (not surprising) this book didn't cover that aspect. I really didn't expect that, though, as we're not exactly the target demographic of Costa Rica travelers (I'm guessing). As an aside: A LOT of friends and family asked us, "You're taking a TODDLER to COSTA RICA? Isn't that DANGEROUS?" To be honest, we felt more safe in Costa Rica than we did here in California. The book has some great safety/planning information, so that is a definite plus if you're not used to traveling in countries like Costa Rica.
Obviously, more popular places will have more information. Other super-awesome places that are off the beaten path won't even get a nod. The other problem is determining the starting-point for very subjective reviews: Some eateries we tried were recommended, but they were simply "gringo-style" Tico food, so we thought they weren't that good. Other eateries, however, barely got mentioned, and they were WONDERFUL. It's all about what you expect.
So. For an overall-vibe-get-to-know-Costa-Rica book, this is definitely a good start. When it comes to planning the perfect trip, however, you'll definitely need to diversify your sources.
I was doing a lot of research on Costa Rica prior to receiving this book and a lot of the places/companies I've read about are either not in the book at all, or mentioned in passing as a one-liner. Including the gorgeous hotel I stayed at in the Arenal Volcano National Park (Arenal Manoa), which was not even mentioned in this book and yet has 481 reviews on TripAdvisor with an average rating of 4.5. I really think this book tried to mention as many places as possible. It reads like a list of mentions of various hotels and restaurants. Once in a while there is a more detailed description but this book really lacks the detail you would need to decide between 2 or 3 places. It justs lists the 3 and you have to go do further research to make educated decisions. Some of the suggestions are very outdated. One of the restaurants it mentioned in Brasalito is a shell of a building now, makes me wonder if this "updated for 2012 version" was actually updated at all.
In the case of the 2 guide books i bought for Costa Rica, i think i was better off with no guide book at all and just doing my own research on TripAdvisor. We luckily had Wifi at most hotels and restaurants in Costa Rica and relied quite heavily on the TripAdvisor app for our nightly restaurant selection.
Color also helps make the many small maps throughout the book a lot more approachable. There's also a full color fold-out map showing the entire country on one side, and San José and various national parks in mini-maps on the other side, along with an index.
The book focuses more on activities rather than places, which probably makes sense given that anyone can find hundreds of hotels and restaurants on the Internet. This makes it a good choice if you're going on a package trip or sorting out hotel accomodation before you go. Don't expect more than a half dozen token hotel listings for any given location. If you're looking to wander at random and want more detailed hotel and eatery listings, and better coverage of smaller towns, then the Lonely Planet guide is probably a better bet.
The same applies to other 'survival' information, like details of tropical diseases to be aware of, alternative transport options, and so on; if you're a backpacker or roughing it, the Lonely Planet guide is probably the one you want. If you're sticking to the beaten path and the touristy areas, this book is probably a better choice, and it's certainly a more visually appealing read. I'm not ashamed to admit that my primary interests in Costa Rica are coffee and parrots, and I don't plan to go anywhere near a tent, so I'll be referring to this guide first.