district in Los Chiles canton, Alajuela province, Costa Rica
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North America > Central America > Costa Rica > North Costa Rica > Los Chiles (Costa Rica)

Los Chiles is a border town in the north of Costa Rica.



It's pretty wealthy because of its geographic border situation. It's the northernmost town and the only official border crossing east of Lake Nicaragua between Plains of the North, Costa Rica, and Río San Juan Region in Nicaragua.

Get in


By bus


By boat

  • There used to be boats to/from San Carlos (Nicaragua) but they have been shut down indefinitely as of September 2018.

By plane

  • 1 Los Chiles Airport (LSL  IATA). A small grass runway    

Get around

Map of Los Chiles (Costa Rica)

Pretty small - walkable! The avenidas and calles are clearly marked and numbered. Getting lost should be pretty much impossible.

On the riverbank of the Río Frío you can sometimes see Howler monkeys and different birds. There´s a great path that goes along the bank, heading north from the dock. You´ll see lots of locals fishing, which is a great way to spend a day.

If it's a weekend, you can probably catch an afternoon mejenga (soccer match) in the Central Plaza.

  • 1 Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Rio Frío are biological humid areas considered to be one of the richest in biological diversity in Costa Rica. Here you can find a great variety of resident and migratory birds plus three different species of monkeys, also iguanas, sloths, turtles and caymans. Along the river you can see many birds, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, also the three-toed sloth and some reptiles like caimans, Jesus Christ lizard and turtles.    

You can hop on a tour boat driving around on the Río Frío watching birds and stuff like that. Most of these tours are organised from Fortuna.

Los Chiles has something San Carlos (the Nicaraguan town across the border) doesn't: a supermarket. That doesn't mean that you can't get anything in San Carlos but the choice is certainly limited. If you just can't live without certain things buy them here before heading into the Río San Juan area.

Alcohol (well, rum) however is a lot cheaper in San Carlos than this side of the border.

There are plenty of Sodas all over town.

  • Soda Andrea (100 m west and 50 m south from the bus station), +506 2471-1107, +506 8705-6878. 07:00-22:00. Local, family-run business, with menu in English and Spanish. Offers traditional foods of Costa Rica, specializing in rice, meat and fast foods. Totally natural, home-made fruit juices and smoothies. Well known throughout the community for their good service and good food. Ask for the owner, Andrea—she´s a sweetheart. With plans for a small hotel next door. ₡1,200-3,300.



If you are headed north and you like cacique this is your last chance, as it is virtually unavailable in Nicaragua. The immediate border area around the Río San Juan also has a notably limited selection of European liquors. If you are on a budget, however, try sticking to Nicaraguan rum (Flor de Caña, also commonly sold in Costa Rica, but at much higher prices) once you're across the border: it's cheaper than most booze in Costa Rica and is world renowned for its quality.


  • Hotal Tulipan (₡10,000-12,000) right in front of Migration with bar & restaurant.
  • Cabinas Jabiru (₡8,000-10,000) closer to the bus station (follow the signs)
  • Small hostels on the southern side of the soccer field/central park for about ₡2,500-3,000.

Go next

  • Every hour there is a bus to Ciudad Quesada (₡2,200).
  • At 11:00 and 15:00 there is a direct bus to San Jose (cheaper than changing in Ciudad Quesada) (₡2,100).
  • At 13:30 the boat leaves to San Carlos, Nicaragua (₡5,000).

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