Costa Rica has 7 provinces: San Jose, Cartago, Alajuela, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Heredia and Limon. Take a look at the Google map above for more details.
San Jose is the capitol and the south side neighborhoods do have a lot of crime but the tourist do not go to those areas. In center of San Jose the nice things to do are to go to the national museum, gold museum, the zoo, the public central market.
The Aurola Holiday Inn is a pretty nice place to stay at in Center San Jose. And if you like to drink and party or if you like casinos San Jose offers those things also. San Jose is a lot bigger than just the center downtown. It has areas like Escazu that are really fancy and places like La Sabana and too many other places for me to type inside San Jose that are very nice and very safe.
But most tourist dont come to hang around the city. They come to white water raft, Jungle cable slide, scuba dive, fish, surf, see the cloud forest, study serpants and Sea Turtles, climb Volcanoes, see the Whales and dolphins and many more adventurous things.
The best part for a tourist to enjoy of Costa Rica on a short term tour, like a week or two weeks is the North West of the country because you can go to the beaches on the Pacific Coast, you can see a Volcano and you can go to one of the cloud forests.
Remember that Costa Rica is not USA and it doesn’t have the same amount of money US does so of course the buses are older and the roads are still a little 3rd world but thats the cool thing about traveling, you see different ways of life.
In USA houses have really expensive security systems, homes get broken into in the states also, you might not see a lot of bars or bob wire on houses in the states but you see cameras, alarms.
Well in Costa Rica people dont have money for cameras, digital security alarms so they have other ways of preventing there homes from getting broken into like metal bars around the house and windows but thats just the way it is here.
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is very different from the Pacific coast, its more like visiting Jamaica because it has a lot of Jamaican decendents so you eat really good Caribbean food, and listen to reggae and the locals speak both spanish and patua (a english dialiect).
Limon is the province were the Caribbean beaches are and they are beautiful also but the center downtown of Limon is a very dangeous place to go to. You just have to choose if you want to visit the Pacific side or the Caribbean side, its your choice.
If you are a single or solo traveller, you can go with the great package offered on this page.
Otherwise, if you want to make your own vacation, you can check out Farebuzz and Hotelopia for some of the best rates you can get.