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Pauline Frommer's Costa Rica Paperback – Oct 22 2007


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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Glad I bought it March 3 2008
By chp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For my super-detail oriented personality there wasn't quite enough meat (logistics-wise) in Pauline Frommer's Costa Rica for it to successfully stand alone as the only guidebook for someone on an independent vacation (with rental car). If you're on a package tour it's more than adequate. But when taken along with another guidebook (Moon's Costa Rica in my case) Pauline Frommer's shined.

It excels in recommending excellent beaches, beach towns, restaurants and hotels but is lacking in maps and discussion on travel logistics - i.e. how long it will take to drive from town X to town Y on the dirt road, etc.

Here's where it shines and is worth purchasing. On three occasions it guided us to sights (a secluded hard-to-reach pink sand beach, a beautiful beach town, and a wonderfully authentic restaurant (where there was no menu but 2 huge plates of food, 2 sodas, and 2 dessert pan dulces all came to under $9)) that made our vacation really special and were either totally left out of the other guidebook or not emphasized sufficiently to warrant exploration. This is a mark of a great guidebook and allowed me to feel confident that the authors, David Appell and Nelson Mui, knew what they were talking about and recommend great stuff! We also like the author's laid back and relaxed, but realistic attitude. We only traveled to areas covered by 3 chapters of the book so I can only imagine the other gems recommended in other parts of the country.

This guidebook can definitely work alone, but I simply like to have more details about transportation - especially maps. The next version should include more. Also, as a young man I almost did not purchase this book simply because Pauline's picture is displayed prominently all around. It looks like it's targeted to my mom's demographic, which it may be, but if its trying to be a new series of guidebooks aimed at allowing the traveler to "see more" and "spend less" it could appear more contemporary and less like a book for ladies.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Accurate descriptions, but double the prices July 30 2008
By Hal Brodsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Its July 2008, and my family has just returned from a wonderful 9 days in Costa Rica, enhanced by this book (2008 version, copyright 2008.) We traveled to San Jose, Monte Verde, Arenal/La Fortuna, and Sarapiqui. This book provided excellent descriptions of local sites and attractions and lodging. The sections on food, tipping, transportation, were all accurate and helpful. White water rafting and zip line recommendations were good. Recommended restaurants were good. The book is for the most part well organized.

My only gripe with the book is that the prices were off by 25-100% even though we traveled in the same year the book was published. For example, the butterfly exhibit in Monte Verde is quoted at $8 per peron, and it is actually $10 per person. A Pizza Parlor in La Fortuna recommended for its $5 pizzas actually charges $10.50 for its cheapest pizza. At first I thought this might be an exchange rate issue (after all the dollar is doing poorly this year), but the book quoted the exchange rate at approximately 470 Colons to the Dollar and when we arrived it was 540 Colons to the Dollar. Then I thought maybe this was a problem with world food prices rising (yada-yada-yada). So I did a study of a single item : Imperial Beer. According to the book, Imperial Beer costs 60 cents in bars and "up to $2 in Better Hotels". We paid between $1.25 and $4 for an Imperial (mostly around $2). So, was it the excahnge rate or World Food Prices?.... neither. I went into two super markets, one in Monte Verde and one in San Jose . Both were charging 90 cents FOR A SIX PACK. So in Costa Rica places recommended in the book, they have doubled the price of beer since the book went to press and raised admission fees 25%. Whether this is a result of being included in the book or a sudden country-wide realization that Americans will pay this much, I don't know, but I would not plan a budget using this book as a guide. (Prices in San Jose were closer to the quoted prices than in the other areas).

I took two other books with me that accompanied this book well. One was Moon Costa Rica (Moon Handbooks)which has MUCH deeper information on the history and culture and politics of Costa Rica (you can buy a used copy that is a couple of years old CHEAP on Amazon and you won't miss anything if you stick to the opening and closing sections). The other was The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Unless you plan to just get hammered and lay on the beach for a week, you have to bring this book and a pair of binoculars. They have the most increadible birds down there and many places put out fruit scraps so that these amazing creatures come to join you for breakfast!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Information Jan. 21 2008
By kla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I looked through several guides on Costa Rica before purchasing this one - it wasn't just a list of where to stay etc., it had the kind of info a good friend really familiar with an area would let you know. For example we are interested in staying at the beach on the pacific side and there was a lot of detailed info on the beaches and beach towns to help decide which area we wanted to stay in. I know which beaches are considered more family friendly and which towns are the party spots. The book also talks about things like the history of development in the beach towns and gives info on which are still sleepy towns and which are sort of like Cabo. Also included is info on alternatives to hotels, and lots of good websites to check out. This isn't a comprehensive guide but rather a good place to start with all the online resources you need for further info.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not recommended March 11 2010
By Asami Hachiuma - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My friend and I just returned from a week-long trip to Costa Rica, with this book as our only guide. Normally, I use the Lonely Planet series, but I really wanted to give this book a try -- Pauline Frommer seems to embrace authentic, independent travel that I and other Lonely Planet readers enjoy, but I had read somewhere that Latin America wasn't LP's strength, so I was hoping to find a better source and gave this one a chance. Boy, do I regret it!

Let me preface this by saying that there were only TWO incidents that I felt betrayed by the information in this guide. It may seem harsh to dismiss a 400+ page book with only two pieces of information, but the errors were MAJOR and cost us money. I agree with a previous reviewer that prices seemed quite a bit higher now than reported in the book. However, I cut her some slack because a publication date of 2008 means that the research was probably done in 2007, so the data is about 3 years old. But like the previous reviewer, I found rates to be much higher than quoted in the book: one-way bus fare from San Jose to San Isidro quoted as $2.75 when it was actually $5. The schedule had also changed. She did not provide any information on where I might find the latest schedule online, which would have been useful (Google searches yielded nothing comprehensive, so perhaps there is no reliable source). Our local bus ride from San Jose to San Isidro was to connect to Dominical, our destination. She states that we can connect to another bus in San Isidro... but FAILS to mention a CRITICAL fact that the bus station that you arrive in San Isidro is NOT the same bus station as the one that departs San Isidro for Dominical. There are no maps in the book to help you -- if there were, we could have used it to communicate with the locals to get us in the correct direction. We had to ask 6 people for directions to Transportes Blanco, in our broken Spanish, dragging our backpacks and luggage on bumpy sidewalks, in humid, 90+ degree weather. When we finally found the second bus station, the schedule printed in the book was no longer valid, and we sat for 3 hours in the open air bus station for the next bus. But this is the nature of independent travel, I said to my travel companion... She was miserable in the heat, and I felt badly that I chose this book.

After arriving in Dominical, we found the lodging prices had gone up dramatically... which I expected. We enjoyed a few days in this town before deciding to head up to Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica's most visited national park. Our dive shop staff said that he thinks Manuel Antonio is closed on Monday, but perhaps it had changed. Oh no, I said, my book says that it's open daily, from 7am to 4pm! I added, I know that this park is very popular with locals also, so we're going on Monday to avoid the weekend crowd. his is why we buy guide books, so we can do research ahead of time, instead of just show up like some backpackers do. We took a $5 bus to Quepos, spent more on a guest house than we did anywhere else, and set our alarms to wake up at 6am to hit the park right as it opened. After taking a local bus to Manuel Antonio, we found that the park is CLOSED on Mondays. It has been closed on Mondays for as long as anyone can remember. So why would this guide say, in more than one place, that the single most visited national park is OPEN DAILY when it's not!? Our flight back to the U.S. was on Tuesday, so my friend missed the treasures of Manuel Antonio completely (I visited in 2003 on my first trip to Costa Rica). We were very unhappy. To add insult to injury, we got swindled on our bus ticket from Manuel Antonio to San Jose -- what should have been a $4 fare was quoted to me as $15, but because all the other prices in the book were wrong, I didn't think much of it and paid the fare. It seems that the "official" ticket agent pocketed the $22 difference on the two tickets. Again, this is not the author's fault, but had we known that Manuel Antonio National Park was closed on Monday, we wouldn't have gone there at all. The book's error cost us a day and half that we could have spent surfing and scuba diving, and over $50 in unnecessary transportation.

I will never buy a Pauline Frommer guide again, and stick with the trusty Lonely Planet series. Not only does Lonely Planet provide publisher updates online, users can also report changes/errors/omissions. Also, they have many, many street maps in their books, which Pauline Frommer's guide does not. If you are an independent traveler looking for a single book to use as your primary source of information, I would not recommend this book.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
REALLY on the mark! June 20 2008
By Carmel and Savona - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book came from the library after we came back from Costa Rica, so we read the section about the area's we had visited, and BOY was Paula right on! It's simply amazing how one person could have such complete observations about so many area's. I would highly recommend this book (and Costa Rica). I will be buying it for my sister who is on her way... May all your travels be filled with wonderment, beauty and love.


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