Hello, My family and I will be in Costa Rica from April 09-17. We plan to fly into Liberia, rent a car, and drive to Monteverde to spend 3 days. Then we will drive to Tamarindo for 5 days. A colleague visited Costa Rica last year (she went to Monteverde, La Fortuna, and a beach town near Tamarindo). She said while they were there they were pulled over by the police and they had to pay the police off in order to avoid a ticket. She was there with someone who used to live in Costa Rica and said that this is common practice. She basically told me that we need to keep separate wallets with a little cash in them so that if we get pulled over we just open up our wallets and they will take all the money and then we will go on our way. She said the police also carry \\\”big AK-47s\\\” and not to be alarmed by this. Is this accurate info? I have not heard or read anything like this, but if this is the norm I want to be prepared and prep my kids so they don\\\’t get freaked out. Thanks for your blog. It was super-helpful in my trip-planning! Kim
We’ve heard stories like that from many years ago but don’t think that this happens very often anymore. We have lived here for 3.5 years and have driven all over the country multiple times and never been asked for a bribe. Occasionally you might have to stop at a routine checkpoint and be asked to show your passport. This is normal and has happened to us maybe a dozen times in our time here. Whenever it has we have always been treated kindly by the police. Sometimes they do carry larger guns like you mention (this is common all over Central America) but more often than not you will just see a pistol on their hip. You could prepare your kids just in case but most likely, you won’t have to interact with the police at all. Glad our blog has been helpful, have a great trip!