“I GOT A MAP OF THE WORLD, PUT A LINE THROUGH THE COLD PLACES AND ALL THE PLACES WHERE THERE WAS A WAR GOING ON, AND ENDED UP HERE.”
We think that's how a lot of people ended up in Costa Rica over the last few decades. The country, with no standing army, is by far the most established tourist destination in a part of the world where coups, civil war and government oppression were the rule, rather than the exception.
With coastlines on the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama are perennially popular with foreign travellers - so much so that many have decided to relocate permanently. Whilst this means that they are easy places to travel with limited Spanish, it's also pushed the prices up somewhat.
For us, two very strict budget backpackers, we simply couldn't afford to spend as much time as we would have liked in either. However, don't let this put you off entirely - there is a world of tropical rainforests, caribbean islands, beautiful hikes and bustling cities for you to explore if you can afford it (and don't mind sharing it with many more Gringos elsewhere in Central America).
so, you're thinking of going to costa rica or panama?
We didn't spend much time in either country, but here are some posts to show you what we did and some advice on travel there.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Not sure where to go in Costa Rica and Panama? Use our interactive map to work out the main tourist spots and plot out your route.