If you visit Costa Rica you will use their national currency, the colon. Let’s find out more about it here.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

The colon is a decimal currency which is referred to as colones when talking about plural amounts. It is also divided into 100 centimos. However this is really not relevant anymore since there are no coins available for this subunit.

Instead you will find several coins in use, all denominated as colones. They are the 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 colones coins. There are six banknotes in larger denominations too, which go from the 1,000 colones note through to the 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 colones notes.

From past to present – the history of the Costa Rican colon

This currency’s name has an interesting source. Costa Ricans speak Spanish and they decided to name their currency after none other than Christopher Columbus. You may think the colon has no association with that name, but in fact in the Spanish language he is referred to as Cristobal Colon.

This is one currency that has quite a long history, stretching back as it does over a century. It originally came into use as a replacement for the Costa Rican peso. One replaced the other at exactly the same value so it was not a major undertaking in terms of getting used to the new currency. Various different issues of the coinage have come into use since then, but all in all this is still the same currency that was introduced back in 1896.

How to get hold of the Costa Rican colon

Unfortunately most if not all travel currency outlets do not provide the Costa Rican colon, so this is not a currency you will be able to get hold of prior to your trip abroad. However it’s good to know many outlets in Costa Rica accept the US dollar as well as the local currency. This means it might be worth ordering some US dollars to take with you rather than your own currency, as you can use it to pay for things as well as exchanging it for the colon once you get there.

You will need some colones while you are there though, so don’t hesitate to get some on your arrival. Cash machines are quite well distributed in the country, although as is often the case there are more of them in cities and large towns than there are in rural areas. Make sure you have a Visa card as this is the most commonly-accepted card in the cash machines. You may not be able to use your card in all the machines but you should be able to use it in a lot of them. You might also want to alert your bank to the fact you’re travelling in Costa Rica in case they decide to stop your card. It’s possible they may think it is being used in a fraudulent manner, which is good for security but not as good for you if you’re the one trying to use it at the time!

Finally you can also make use of traveller’s cheques when you are in the country. They are easy to change and as you might expect, ones denominated as US dollars make the most sense to carry.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Costa Rican colon

You can use your preferred currency converter to get the information you need here. The best way to find the colon is to use the ISO code, which is CRC. You can then determine the exchange rate with the US dollar, which is handy to know, as well as the exchange rate with your own currency.

If you need to find out any information about Costa Rica it might be useful to visit the Costa Rican embassy website for the UK. The embassy is based in London but a quick visit to the website is usually preferable. You will find it at http://www.costaricanembassy.co.uk/.

Travelling safely with the Costa Rican colon

Several thousand people from the UK visit Costa Rica each year. While it is a safe place to visit the crime levels there are said to be increasing. This means you must take all necessary steps to make sure you minimise the risks to yourself.

The main concern is with petty crime. This means you should make sure you keep your valuables in your hotel safe rather than carrying them with you. Petty theft can include the theft of passports, which is the last thing you want to lose track of. This should be kept safely in your room safe along with excess cash, traveller’s cheques and any jewellery you have with you. It is not worth wearing a lot of jewellery since it only highlights you as a potentially good victim of petty theft.

Some incidents that have occurred have been violent in nature, and not all crimes take place in secluded areas at night. Keep your bags with you when you are exploring the country and don’t leave them unattended. This is a sure way to turn around and find they have disappeared.

Where to spend your colones in Costa Rica – and what to spend them on

Costa Rica is located in Central America. It is part of the long thin and winding land mass that joins South America with the land mass that is the US and Mexico. As such it only has two other countries bordering it – Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Costa Rica has the advantage of facing the Pacific Ocean on its west coast and the Caribbean Sea on its east coast. This alone provides lots of great opportunities for tourists to visit some lovely destinations there.

The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose, which you may already be aware of. This is located quite centrally in terms of the country as a whole. The skyline of the city is quite spectacular as it has the backdrop of a mountain range to present itself against. Those interested in architecture will certainly appreciate the beauty inherent in many of the theatres the city has to offer. Even if you don’t see a play or performance at one of these theatres, you can enjoy the external architectural features, of which there are many. Watch out for The National Theatre of Costa Rica among others.

If you wish to learn more about the country you can visit the National Museum of Costa Rica in the city. The museum is a piece of history in itself, since it was formerly a barracks and is riddled with bullet holes. Every form of history represented in the country is here, and it is quite a fascinating journey through the museum to see all the exhibits.

To really appreciate the mountains that loom over the city, a visit to La Sabana Metropolitan Park is in order. This isn’t just the biggest urban park in the city, it is also the largest one the entire country has to offer. It has a charming pond, quite large in size, and there are many vantage points from which you can view the mountains.

Elsewhere in Costa Rica you can see the Arenal Volcano, an active volcano that last erupted only a few years ago in 2010. Before this time it had been considered dormant, so you can imagine the surprise of those in the country when it started getting active back in 1968. This period of activity lasted right through until 2010 but it seems as though all has been quiet ever since.

Of course most countries have their national parks and Costa Rica is no exception here. The Corcovado National Park is perhaps one of the most appealing, as it sits on the Osa Peninsula on the western side of the country. It is a charming and exciting place for people to visit, since it is teeming with wildlife and you are more than likely to see some of it while you are there. Tapirs and anteaters are both present along with monkeys and all kinds of other animals. For example the park has its fair share of watery habitats too… some of which actually have sharks present!

Finally let’s finish with the Celeste River, a truly amazing place that looks like something out of a dream. It can be found in the Tenorio Volcano National Park (yes, the volcano mentioned above is not the only one the country has to offer). The river itself is famous for being a gorgeous turquoise in colour. This phenomenon is created by the river’s proximity to the volcano and the sulphur in the area, not to mention its reaction with calcium carbonate to create the blue shade.


As you can see, Costa Rica has plenty to offer to the eager visitor. We have merely touched on some of the highlights here. There are plenty more to be discovered if you decide to go there on holiday.

It’s a good idea to check out the many attractions in the country before you decide where to base your stay. This will ensure you get to see the best of both cities and more rural areas so you won’t miss out on any of the real highlights.

Costa Rica Colon – CRC

2 thoughts on “Costa Rica Colon – CRC

  • January 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    This article pointed out my bad geography to me, as I thought Costa Rica was in South America as well. It certainly seems as if the country is worth visiting in places though; at least it’s good to know you can get your money out fairly easily. With some countries you never know where the nearest cash point is. It’s easy to take them for granted if you are used to having them at home.

    It doesn’t sound like traveller’s cheques are a good idea though, which is a shame because they are easy to use in many other places.

  • February 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

    It’s interesting to see that you have to think about which currency to use in Costa Rica if you are on holiday there. I suppose you would have to see what the exchange rate is like for the Costa Rica colon and the US dollar and decide which one to use from that point on. It could make things a little difficult though couldn’t it, since the exchange rates are constantly changing?


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