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Visiting Brazil | A Brief Guide

Many travelers dream about visiting Brazil for years before they get to go. There’s no reason not to plan a trip soon. After all, Brazil has so much to offer, from lush jungles to luxurious beaches and unique, spectacular cuisine.

People who want to visit Brazil should familiarize themselves with the country before they go. Here are just a few things that they should know before they take this trip of a lifetime to Brazil.

What to Expect: Entering the Country

Depending on a traveler’s country of origin, they may need a visa or other permission to enter Brazil. The necessary paperwork varies, so it’s important for travelers to do their research and make sure they have the correct travel documents before they leave home. That way, they’ll be able to enter Brazil easily and efficiently and they won’t have to worry about their paperwork once they get there.

Travel requirements regarding COVID-19 are constantly changing around the world, and Brazil is no different. Visitors will need to make sure that they have the necessary paperwork to enter the country and that they have met all of the health expectations in place at the time of their trip. If they do not meet these, they may not be permitted to travel to Brazil or to enter the country once they arrive.

What to Expect: Travel

In the major cities, Brazil has a developed infrastructure. Depending on a traveler’s country of origin, the roads will likely be about the same as they are at home. However, outside of major cities, the roads can get worse quickly. While there are bus routes and other ways to navigate these roads, most seasoned travelers recommend flying between major cities, rather than driving. Flights inside Brazil are often inexpensive and much faster than the bus routes.

Upon arrival, travelers should call a taxi through one of the official agencies at the airport, or via an app like Uber. While other drivers may quote a lower price upfront, there are likely to be unexpect surcharges added upon arrival at the final destination. Regular taxis in Brazil are not allowed to charge more for increased traffic, so travelers shouldn’t have to worry about drivers taking non direct routes so they can charge more.

Traffic in Brazil can be heavy, at least in the city centers. Visitors should note that many traffic laws are treated as “suggestions” in Brazil, so they need to look where they are going before they enter or cross a street. Because of this, many visitors choose not to drive while in Brazil, but to use other forms of transportation.

What to Expect: Lodging

Brazil offers a wide variety of lodging options, from basic hostels to luxurious beach and jungle experiences. Travelers should choose accommodations that best fit their needs and their budget.

It’s best to plan ahead when visiting Brazil. Travelers should make reservations well ahead of time so that they know where they will be staying, at least upon arrival in the country. Some travelers will be required to note where they are staying on their visa application or other application to enter the country.

What to Expect: Weather

Brazil is a large country with weather that varies based on location, altitude, and time of year. Many of the most famous beaches are warm almost year-round, but there is still a colder, darker season outside of summer’s warmth.

Some locations in Brazil see snow regularly during the winter. This only occurs at the southernmost part of the country. The snow is normally light and doesn’t stay around for very long, but it still requires warmer clothing than what many people think of packing when they pack for Brazil.

Travelers will need to research their specific destinations and the time of year that they are traveling to make sure they understand what to expect regarding the weather. That way, they can pack accordingly and always be prepared to have a great time in Brazil.

Remember that Brazil’s seasons are opposite those in the northern hemisphere. Their winter runs from May to September. Temperatures are generally lower during this time, which may or may not appeal to travelers based on where they want to visit and what they want to do in the country.

What to Expect: Safety

Brazil is less safe than many other popular tourist destinations. However, it’s not exactly unsafe. Rather, visitors will want to take some extra precautions to protect themselves and their possessions while in Brazil. 

If travelers plan to be outside after dark, they should make sure they will have a companion or companions with them. They should refrain from using their mobile phones in public, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Preferably, they can store their phones, along with any money, credit cards, or other valuables they’re carrying, in an inside pocket without easy access. They should resist the urge to check this pocket by touching it regularly, as this shows potential pickpockets exactly where their valuables are.

Visitors should never hang a backpack, bag, or purse over the back of their chair when they are eating at a restaurant or resting at a cafe. Instead, they should hold it on their lap or loop the straps around their arm so that someone walking by cannot suddenly grab it and run away with it. They should also leave their expensive, flashy jewelry at home, as there aren’t many places where it is safe to wear such items in Brazil.

Travelers in Brazil should never enter the jungle alone. If they want to do a trek or experience the Amazon, there are a number of reliable tour companies. There are too many wild animals in the jungle and too many ways to get lost for it to be a safe place where visitors can wander around on their own. 

Visitors should also avoid visiting the favelas. These large areas of inexpensive housing are usually run by drug lords or cartels and are not at all safe for visitors. Some tour companies will take visitors inside, though they only see a sanitized version of the reality of life in the favela.

Before visiting Brazil, travelers should find out if they need any vaccines. Yellow fever and typhoid fever are both common in Brazil and easy to prevent via vaccine. The Zika virus and Dengue fever both have vaccines in development, so travelers should be aware of these conditions and talk to their doctors before travel if they have any concerns.

What to Expect: Social

Brazil can be very noisy. Depending on a traveler’s country of origin, this can come as a shock. People in Brazil tend to speak loudly, and there is no hesitation about setting off fireworks, driving motorcycles, or talking loudly on the way home from the bar in the middle of the night. This is not considered rude in Brazil.

Most people don’t drink alone in Brazil. In fact, in some areas and situations, it’s looked down on not to share a drink with the people who are around. Many bars in Brazil sell beer in larger, 700 mL, bottles, which are also ice cold. Buying one and passing it around is normal, and the locals will return the favor when it’s their turn to buy.

If a visitor only wants a single glass of beer, they should expect it to be smaller than normal. This is standard in Brazil because the heat in the country makes larger glasses of beer heat up too fast. 

The most common spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, not Spanish. Travelers will enhance their experience in Brazil by learning a few words and phrases in Portuguese before they leave. Even knowing how to say “Please” and “Thank you” will help them have a better experience in Brazil. However, most people from Brazil who work in tourism will also speak and understand English well.

Brazilian Cultural Tips

Here are a few more tips travelers should know about to have the best possible time in Brazil. 

  • Many ATMs in Brazil use different networks than the ones that are popular in the United States and Europe. Travelers should check the back of their cards before they insert them into any machine. If the network on the card doesn’t match the one on the machine, they should avoid it. Some travelers can notify their banks of travel to Brazil before they leave in order to authorize credit card use there.

  • Don’t be afraid to show some skin...on the beach. Brazilians are famous for baring their bodies on their famous beaches. Tiny bikinis are popular and some people choose to go nude. However, travelers who also plan to visit churches and religious sites should make sure they have clothing that covers their shoulders and knees.

  • Plan to tip restaurant workers and hotel staff, but otherwise don’t worry about it. Many workers in the tourism industry are used to tips, but they are not essential and should be given only for good service.

  • When entering a bar or a nightclub in Brazil, get a card. Don’t lose this! It is a Consumption Card, and travelers will use it to record their food and drink orders all night. Settle up before leaving to avoid significant fines.

  • Don’t trust the plumbing in Brazil. Dispose of toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and any other trash in the bin or receptacle in the stall. Otherwise, travelers might clog the plumbing for an entire building!

  • Some of the subways have cars only for women. Visitors need to make sure they don’t enter the wrong car, as men can face significant fines for being in the wrong cars at the wrong times.

  • Choose bottled water vs tap water. At least in the cities, the tap water is usually clean and safe. However, it does not generally taste good, especially to visitors. Bottled water is inexpensive, always safe, colder, and tastes much better.

  • Authentic, Brazilian food is worth every penny. Brazil has unique cuisine that is well worth trying. It’s usually safe to buy food off the street, or visitors can ask at their hotels or speak to locals to find the best places to eat.

Plan a Trip to Brazil Today

For travelers who have been waiting their whole lives to visit Brazil, there’s no time like the present to plan a trip. The sooner they get their plans in motion, the sooner they will be seeing one of the countries they’ve always dreamed of seeing. Start planning today to visit Brazil soon!

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