From Manila to Costa Rica

On January 22, 2011 by Mrs C


Costa Rica is not a usual destination for Filipinos, so I was so excited to go to this exotic place. This small country is located just above Panama, smack between Pacific Ocean and the Carribean Sea.  I was quite unsure whether to put this under North America or South America (if there was a continent called Central America, I would have classified it as such). But with a little bit of research, my concern was answered: Central America is a part of North America, problem solved!

Geography of Costa Rica. Photo from


Republica de Costa Rica

Suprisingly, you don’t need a visa to go to Costa Rica if you hold a Philippines passport. You only need:

  • a valid passport with at least one blank visa page. The expiration date of your passport must be greater than 30 days from your date of entry to Costa Rica.
  • a valid visa for your connecting country (in my case, it was USA).
  • a pre-paid airline ticket to exit Costa Rica and/or a ticket to either return to your home country or to go to another country.

If you have a different nationality, do not fret. You can easily find out the requirements by checking out, just look for your country of nationality!

The Route

Okay, so this isn’t exactly the route. Photo from

There is no direct flight from Manila to Costa Rica.

My journey from Manila to Costa Rica covered 5 airports (counting airport of origin NAIA) and it was more than 24 hours (including all airport time). It started on a Northwest (now Delta) Airlines flight to Los Angeles, California, which included a plane change in Tokyo, Japan. From Los Angeles, we took a flight to Houston, Texas aboard Continental Airlines. From Houston, we finally get to San Jose, Costa Rica.


Tokyo-Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan



It was a fairly pleasant stopover at the Tokyo Narita airport. The only hassle is the queue through security. Other than that, there are nice things to see, spanking clean facilities, and quite a few food options. I must say, I have yet to see anyone order the MegaMac, though.

Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, CA, USA

I had no pictures from LAX, because our connection was so tight we almost missed our flight. Good thing, we were tagged as priority passengers (thanks to my friend’s status with Northwest’s Worldperks program).

Some things you must remember if you’re only passing through:

  • You will have to go through Immigration, meaning you need a valid visa
  • You will need to pick up your bags and check them in again (you must not forget this!)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX, USA

IAH was a nice, spacious airport. Definitely nicer than LAX, I must say. I was amused how the signs have Spanish translations, and there was even an iPod vending machine!


Juan Santamaría International Airport , San Jose, Costa Rica

No pictures of SJO, too. We arrived at almost midnight local time. We were sooo tired, all we wanted to do was get to our hotel room and get some rest.

34 Responses to “From Manila to Costa Rica”

  • Marlon

    how much was the plane ticket? and how long did the flight take?

    • Hi Marlon! We bought the plane ticket in two parts.

      First was MNL-LAX c/o Delta Airlines (it was Northwest Airlines at the time), which meant there was a plane change in Tokyo-Narita airport. It’s about 4:30hrs from MNL to NRT, then a little over 10hrs from NRT to LAX. Normal airfare would be somewhere around US$1000, but it can go lower if you get a promo fare.

      Second part was LAX-SJO c/o Continental Airlines. The one we got had a stopover in IAH (Houston – Intercontinental). From LAX to IAH, it’s about a little over 3hrs, then from IAH to SJO, it’s about 3:40hrs. Average airfare would be about US$650.

      You can take other routes, and other airlines. However I opted for this one because I wanted to stop by LA for a while before going back to Manila. Hope this helps!

  • eda

    hi, i dont have a u.s. visa for transit do u have any idea what other route to go to costa rica? please let me know. as im planning to go to costa rica soon.thanks

    • Hi Eda! You can try going via Europe, but that might cost more and the travel time might be longer too…

      • Marc

        I took the Europe Route, no transit visas needed. KLM flies from manila to costa rica (KLM: Manila To Panama; Copa Airlines from Panama to Costa Rica) without baggage check-out.

        • hanjo

          Hi Marc can you help me please that you can give me what travel agency arranged your flight..thanks I hope to hear from you soon

        • jennjenn

          Im planning to go to costa rica too..I would like to ask how much it costs and what travel to hear from you marc

        • emmeline valencia

          hi i am planning to go to costa rica with my daughter.she will be flying from canada while i, from the phils. if i book via klm, mla-panama & copa airlines, panama to costa rica, you mentioned no transit visas needed. are there any requirements? thanks.

  • bebe

    hi,,do i need a visa to transit in US?

    • Hi Bebe,

      Yes, you need a valid US visa if you’re going through US to go to Costa Rica. This is because you will be going through immigration when you’re in transit there.

      Hope this helps!

  • hi,

    i’m just curious… what are the requirements/documents that you passed/needed so you could get a transit/tourist visa? we’re supposed to go to costa rica this coming april.. but i’m stuck with the requirements..


    • Hi! I’m not sure what the requirements are for non-Filipinos.
      So I’ll just assume that you are a Filipino who wants to visit Costa Rica, so that I can answer your question. 🙂

      Case 1: You have an existing tourist visa to US.
      Then you don’t need any other document. Just make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months when you enter the US.

      Case 2: You don’t have an existing tourist visa to US.
      You will need either a tourist visa or a transit visa to US. In this case it might be easier to get a transit visa. According to the embassy, you will need:
      • A copy of the itinerary/reservations or other evidence of transportation arrangements to the applicant’s destination showing the need to transit the United States.
      • Permission to enter a country other than the United States following the transit through the United States, unless the applicant can demonstrate that such advance permission is not required.

      You can find more info about the transit visa here:
      For tourist visa, go here:

      Hope this helps!

  • joy diane hernandez

    hi i was planning to go to costa this march and im holding philippines passport i was wondering what should i do to go there what do i need?do i just need a ticket to go there,if i have ticket can i go there with no hussel in airport (no question).i hope you can help me.thank you

  • May Miranda

    Hi there, I wanna go to Costa Rica but I don’t have us visa. If ill take another option like connecting flight to Europe, do I still need any visa or it? Response will be appreciated much. Thanks

    • Mrs C

      Hi May! Based on this website, you won’t need a visa. I’m guessing that I just needed the US Visa because I had to go through US immigration, even if I was just passing through. Hope this helps!

  • Katy

    What’s the route from Manila to Europe….how many stop overs there will be….I dont have a US visa and my fiancee is asking me to visit Costa Rica…He is an American so we will just meet there…I’ll be coming from Philippines…Please help me..I need some suggestions…thank you in advance…

    • Mrs C

      Hi Katy! Thanks for dropping by my blog.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a ready answer for your question, since I’ve only been to Costa Rica one time, and that was thanks to a business trip. (And as you can tell from this post, we went via USA).

      I’m not 100% sure on the route from MNL to SJO via Europe, but if you check out the Wikipedia page for the SJO airport, there’s a couple airlines that link SJO to European cities such as Condor (via Frankfurt) and Iberia (via Madrid). You might want to check those out, and enlist the help of a real travel agency.

      Hope that gives you a place to start.
      Again, thanks for dropping by my blog!

  • Katy

    Will I be able to pass a US Visa even if I dont have any tourist trips before?

    • Mrs C

      Hi Katy! I don’t think I’m in any position to tell you whether or not you’ll be able to pass your interview for a US Visa… The only thing I can advise you is that the consul will want to be convinced that you have no plans of being an immigrant.

      “Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the officer, at the time of the application for a visa . . . that he is entitled to nonimmigrant status . . .”

      Check out the FAQ page of the US Embassy in Manila for more info.

      Good luck!

  • keijo

    Hello Good day!i am planning to visit Costa Rica this coming September,,and meet my american bf,,i have read about filipinos dont need visa entering costa rica,,what i am curious about or i wanted to know is that when my visa given expires and want to stay longer can i extend?do i need to exit out of costa rica and re enter and can have another visa?can i exit to canada?thank you and God bless

    • Mrs C

      Hi Keijo! Thanks for dropping by! Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to your questions. I have been to Costa Rica only once, and only for 1 week. You might want to try this other web site which is specifically about Costa Rica tourism:
      They might be able to help you better. Cheers! 🙂

  • dian

    hi! i want to know if i also need a visa for japan since it’s one of the connecting flights..

    • Mrs C

      Hi Dian,

      For Japan, no visa is needed if your flight is just connecting. I believe US is one of the few countries that require a visa even if you’re not stepping out of their airport.

  • erin

    Hi… I will go to costa rica next month. And im a first timer . this will be my first travel. My passport is blank. Never been outside of the philippines. My route is europe. I will stay there for 3 weeks. What will be my requirements on our immigration ?

  • jay

    Hi im jay,,last month im having my flight to costa rica but because of transit visa in america i missed flight i get in hongkong but they deport me back to philippines,,my problem is how to get transit visa in USA

  • zai

    Thanks for this info! Do you think its easy to me to get transit visa since i travel the south korea twice?

    • Mrs C

      Hi Zai! Thanks for dropping by. Unfortunately, I have no experience in application of transit visa, so I’m not sure how that goes. To travel to Costa Rica, I presented my US B1/B2 visa (Visitor visa).

  • Corene Lagura

    Hi.. I am going to Costa Rica this coming November 8.. But the US embassy denied my application for transit visa… Can I pass through Texas a-port to Costa Rica without transit visa??

  • haedi amor planning to go to costa rica this coming bf from canad will bring me in costa rica and he will be the one to book a flight for me..whats else sopporting docs needed to travel? Do we need show money to proof that we can support ourselves? Or just only passport and travel round trip ticket..? This is my first time to travel if so..:) i hope you can answer me back with my concerns..thank you:) have a good day ahead

    • Teodora

      Hi haedi. Good day! How’s your vacation in Costa Rica? What are the requirements that they needed? We’re in the same situation it’s my first time to go abroad.I don’t have any idea about going there and I don’t habe a US visa. Thank you.

  • Winnie Pagulayan

    Hi ,me and my fiance are planning to go visit Costa Rica. But my problem is I will be coming from philippines and he will from USA. And he will be the one to handle all my expenses. Do u think the U.S. Immigration will allow me to visit costa Rica by myself and my fiance will Just wAit me at costa rica? Do I need to provide any supporting documents for the immigration to see? Was worried about it coz we come from different country is we going to meet there. Thanks hope u can help me.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Pura Vida! Costa Rica says:

    […] September 2008, I was fortunate enough to be sent to Costa Rica. Although the trip from Manila to Costa Rica was over 24 hours in total, my total stay there was just about 1 week. Most of it was a struggle against jetlag to stay awake […]

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