If you read guide books or talk to many locals, you will probably get a negative review about the safety of downtown San José, Costa Rica. This comes from years of petty theft being a chronic problem and many locals avoiding the city for so long that they don’t actually know how much it has improved in recent years.
We, however, live and work in San Jose and find it a treasure to explore and similar to other big cities around the world. There are parts to avoid, caution to be taken, and a personal responsibility to accept to ensure you don’t have problems.
The following is a list of our recommended tips to follow while staying in and exploring San Jose. Let knowledge keep you away from trouble.
As always, your personal judgment is best.
Do not walk at night intoxicated, in groups or alone.
Do not wear flashy jewelry or watches.
Be mindful of items in your pockets when on a crowded bus - better to wait for the next one.
Take cabs between venues or use Uber at nighttime
Take cabs that are red with a yellow triangle; note the number in the triangle in case you need to report a problem.
Most ATMs in all of Costa Rica do not work after 10 p.m. for security; be cautious if using one at night.
As you get seven to eight blocks away from the city center, there are less people on the streets, making you an easier target because there are not other people around to witness or to help.