Brazil was the first stop of a 3 month trip around South America. One month was not long enough for the size of the country but I managed to get to the following places;
- Rio de Janeiro (includes Rio Carnival)
- Sao Paulo
- Foz do Iguacu
- Ilha Grande
At the time it was a culture shock and I was nervous from all the horror stories you hear of people on the gringo trail. However, looking back it was an amazingly beautiful and fun place to be and overall I felt pretty safe.
Top things to do
- Eat at a buffet a quilo and a Churrascaria;
- Spend as much time on a beach as possible, there is no reason to be body conscious as everyone lets it all hang out – even get amongst it and buy a Brazilian tiny swimsuit;
- By a sarong when you are there as locals don’t uses towels on the beach;
- Drink a caipirinha every day;
- Go to a favela (guide recommended);
- Avoid main tourist attractions during big events/busy times (During carnival it took 5hrs to go up the Sugar Loaf Mt);
- Go to a soccer game (Stadiums seemed liked the only place in Brazil you cannot drink though);
- Carry minimal cash on you and keep your passport locked up in the hostel;
- Avoid the beaches at night for safety unless there is an event on (the beach parties are great on Ipanema beach);
- There are lots of stray dogs but you get use to them and they seem pretty harmless;
- Eat Japanese food in Sao Paulo (they have the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan);
- Use public transport including the taxi vans and semi cama buses to get about as flights add up. Do a cost vs benefit as sometime the money for the flight is worth if you don’t want to be on a bus for 23 hours; and
- Get used to liking ham and cheese toasted sandwiches as this is the standard breakfast at most hostels and even MacDonald’s.
Thing to do before you go
- Acoid planning too much, flexibility is way more fun;
- Learn some Portuguse;
- Get a yellow fever vaccination (this is required to enter some surrounding countries from Brazil);
- Avoid big events such as Carnival, if not expect to pay up to 400BRL for a dorm room;
- Ensure you have an exit flight or bus ticket to present on entry, although unlikely you may be denied entry;
- Check any visa requirements, some countries may have to pay a small fee to enter.
Overall, I spent more than expected in Brazil, but experience the Iguaçu falls via helicopter
- Food – Expect to pay between 18-40BRLs for a meal, alcohol was relatively cheap with beers as cheap as 5BRL
- Accommodation – More expensive than I thought, expect to pay around 35BRLs for a dorm room (depending on size) and up to 40BRL for a double
- Activities – these vary depending on what you like to do, the helicopter ride was $100USD but the beach is free so set a budget that works for you
- Transport – Local taxis were really cheap, we travelled via a taxi in Rio for around 15BRL or you can catch the minibus’s for around 2BRL. Local buses were also reasonably priced.
Money saving tips
- Stay in a hostel that offers a free breakfast, I was lucky enough to stay in a few with free cachaca
- Avoid flying internally unless you are time poor
- Buffet a kilos are a reasonably cheap place to eat.
I can’t wait to go back to Brazil one day, I miss the cheap caipirinhas!