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Brazil

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Best Western Premier Maceio
Best Western Premier Maceio - dream vacation

Avenida Dr Antonio Gouveia 925, Maceio

InterCity Premium Ibirapuera
InterCity Premium Ibirapuera - dream vacation

Av Ibirapuera, 2577, Bairro , Sao Paulo

Ibis Guarulhos
Ibis Guarulhos - dream vacation

R. General Osorio 19 Centro, Guarulhos

Blue Tree Premium Paulista
Blue Tree Premium Paulista - dream vacation

Rua Peixoto Gomide 707, Sao Paulo

Olinda Rio Hotel
Olinda Rio Hotel - dream vacation

Avenida Atlantica, 2230, Rio de Janeiro

Atlantis Copacabana
Atlantis Copacabana - dream vacation

Rua Bulhões de Carvalho 61, Rio de Janeiro

Saint Moritz
Saint Moritz - dream vacation

Setor Hoteleiro Norte, quadra 1, Area Especial A, Bloco B, Brasilia

Meridiano Praia Hotel
Meridiano Praia Hotel - dream vacation

Avenida Dr Antonio Gouveia 677, Maceio

Best Western Premier Majestic
Best Western Premier Majestic - dream vacation

Avenida Engenheiro Roberto Freire, 8.860, Natal

Brazil (Portuguese: Brasil) is the largest country in South America and fifth largest in the world. Famous for its football (soccer) tradition and its annual Carnaval in Rio de JaneiroSalvadorRecife and Olinda, it is a country of great diversity. From the bustling urban mosaic of São Paulo to the infinite cultural energy of Pernambuco and Bahia, the wilderness of the Amazon rainforest and world-class landmarks such as the Iguaçu Falls, there is plenty to see and to do in Brazil.

Regions

Brazil is the fifth largest country on earth. It is divided into five regions, mainly drawn around state lines, but they also more or less follow natural, economic and cultural borderlines.

Cities

Brazil has many exciting cities, ranging from pretty colonial towns and coastal hideouts to hectic, lively metropolises; these are a few of the more prominent travel destinations:

  • 1 Brasília – The capital of Brazil, and an architectural spectacle. Noteworthy buildings include a basket-shaped cathedral, the beautiful Arches Palace (seat of the Ministry of Justice) and others.
  • 2 Florianópolis – The city is located in an island in the Atlantic Ocean in the southern state of Santa Catarina, with lakes, lagoons, amazing nature and more than 40 clean, beautiful, natural beaches. Major destination for Argentines during the summer months.
  • Fortaleza – The 4th biggest city in Brazil, blessed with beautiful beaches. Home of the Iracema Beach street market. A good base for exploring the beaches of the northeastern coast, including Jericoacoara. Famed for forró music and comedians.
  • Manaus – Located in the heart of the Amazon, is the capital of Amazonas State and it is also the biggest city of the Amazon. At Manaus the rivers Negro and Solimões meet to became the Amazonas River. The best place to go to visit the Amazon rainforest. It is a gateway to the Anavilhanas and to Jaú National Park.
  • Porto Alegre – a major city between Argentina and São Paulo and gateway to Brazil's fabulous Green Canyons.
  • Recife – A major city in the Northeast region, originally settled by Dutch colonizers. Nicknamed "The Brazilian Venice", it is built on several islands linked by many bridges. Rich in history, art and folklore. Do not miss neighboring Olinda and Porto de Galinhas. The city is also a gateway to the amazing archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
  • Rio de Janeiro – World famous, beautiful city that welcomes visitors with that big statue of an open-armed Jesus atop Corcovado Hill.
  • Salvador – The first capital of Brazil is home to a unique blend of indigenous, African and European cultures. Its Carnival fun is famous, and the influence of African culture and religion is remarkable.
  • 9 São Paulo – Brazil's largest, richest and most cosmopolitan city, where you can find strong influences of several ethnicities, including Italian, Korean, Japanese, German, Russian, Caribbean and Arab.

Other destinations

  • 1 Amazônia – jungle tours, wildlife, floated wood, the mysteries of the Amazon
  • 2 Chapada Diamantina National Park
  • 3 Chapada dos Veadeiros – cerrado (tropical savanna) wildlife and stunning waterfalls
  • Fernando de Noronha – tropical island paradise in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, is protected as a Marine National Park since 1997 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • 5 Ilha Grande
  • 6 Iguaçu Falls – world-famous waterfalls
  • 7 Ilha do Marajó
  • 8 Lençóis Maranhenses
  • 9 Pantanal – the world's largest wetland hosts lots of eco-tourism and vast biodiversity, including caiman, jaguar, anaconda, giant anteater, primates, giant otter, and piranha

Understand

History

Before Columbus arrived in the Americas, the area now known as Brazil was home to people mainly of the Tupi and Guarani ethnic groups. Colonizing by the Portuguese began late in the 16th century, with the extraction of valuable wood from the pau brasil tree, from which the country draws its name. Brazil was colonized and developed by the Portuguese and not the Spanish, who claimed much of the Americas. During Portuguese rule, some parts of Brazil formed a Dutch colony between 1630 and 1654. The Dutch founded several cities, such as Mauritsville, and many sugar cane plantations. The Dutch fought a grim jungle war with the Portuguese, and without the support of the Republic of their homeland due to a war with England, the Dutch surrendered to the Portuguese, though they did not officially recognize Portuguese rule, which led to an all-out war with Portugal off the coast of Portugal in 1656. In 1665 the Peace Treaty of The Hague was signed, Portugal lost its Asian colonies and had to pay 63 tons of gold to compensate the Dutch Republic for the loss of its colony.

Brazil became the center of the Portuguese Empire by 1808, when the King Dom João VI (John VI) fled from Napoleon's invasion of Portugal and established himself and his government in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The following four centuries saw continued exploitation of the country's natural resources such as gold and rubber, alongside the rise of an economy based largely on sugar, coffee and African slave labor. Christianizing and exploitation of natives continued, and the 19th and 20th Century saw a second wave of immigration, mainly Italian, German (in southern Brazil), Spanish, Japanese (In São Paulo State) and Portuguese, adding to the set of factors that generated today's complex and unique Brazilian culture and society.

Following three centuries under the rule of Portugal, Brazil became an independent nation on September 7, 1822. Until 1889 Brazil was an Empire under the rule of Dom Pedro I and his son Dom Pedro II. By this time, it became an emerging international power. Slavery, which had initially been widespread, was restricted by successive legislation until its final abolition in 1888. Many factors contributed to the fall of the monarchy and the rise of nominal Republicanism thereafter, but, in effect, there was military intervention for a century in Brazil after the fall of the empire.

By far the largest, most populous and prosperous country in Latin America, it has also recently emerged from more than two decades (1964-1988) of military intervention in the governance of the country to pursue democratic rule, while facing the challenges of continuing its industrial and agricultural growth and developing its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources, enormous geographic area, a large labor pool, and relatively liberal economic rules, today Brazil is Latin America's leading economic power and a regional leader, overshadowing the likes of Mexico and Argentina. Political corruption, as in most of Latin America, and high barriers to entry of markets including labor, remain pressing problems. A consequence of this is high crime rates, especially in large cities.

The recent "pink tide" in Latin American politics has brought greater economic disparity in Brazil as in other countries, with political classes growing in wealth and number while poorly educated and politically poorly-connected people suffer from high barriers to entry into labor markets, higher education and other markets. Discontent with the Brazilian government erupted into open protests during the 2014 World Cup football tournament. Government forces had begun forcibly removing people from their homes before the tournament began, and the response to the protests was brutal by most accounts. Some protesters pointed out the absurdity of building expensive stadiums in faraway places when people were living in slums with no property rights.

Culture

Owing to Brazil’s continental dimensions, varied geography, history and people, the country’s culture is rich and diverse. It has several regional variations, and in spite of being mostly unified by a single language, some regions are so different from each other that they look like different countries altogether.

Music plays an important part in Brazilian identity. Styles like choro, samba and bossa nova are considered genuinely Brazilian. Caipira music is also in the roots of sertanejo, the national equivalent to country music. MPB stands for Brazilian Popular Music, which mixes several national styles under a single concept. Forró, a north-eastern happy dancing music style, has also become common nationwide. New urban styles include funk - a name given to a dance music genre from Rio's favelas that mixes heavy electronic beats and often raunchy rapping - and techno-brega, a crowd-pleaser in northern states, that fuses romantic pop, dance music and caribbean rhythms.

A mixture of martial arts, dance, music and game, capoeira was brought to Brazil by African slaves, mainly from Portuguese colonies Angola. Distinguished by vivacious complicated movements and accompanying music, it can be seen and practiced in many Brazilian cities.

In classical music, the Modern Period is particularly notable, due to the works of composers like Heitor Villa-Lobos and Camargo Guarnieri, who created a typical Brazilian school, mixing elements of the traditional European classical music to the Brazilian rhythms, while other composers like Cláudio Santoro followed the guidelines of the Second School of Vienna. In the Romantic Period, the greatest name was Antonio Carlos Gomes, author of some Italian-styled operas with typical Brazilian themes, like Il Guarany and Lo Schiavo. In the Classical Period, the most prominent name is José Maurício Nunes Garcia, a priest who wrote both sacred and secular music and was very influenced by the Viennese classical style of the 18th and early 19th century.

Candomble and Umbanda are religions with African roots that have survived prejudice and persecution and still have a significant following in Brazil. Their places of cult are called terreiros and many are open to visit.

Indigenous traits can be found everywhere in Brazilian culture, from cuisine to vocabulary. There are still many indigenous groups and tribes living in all Brazilian regions, although many have been deeply influenced by Western culture, and several of the country's surviving indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing completely. The traditional lifestyle and graphic expressions of the Wajãpi indigenous group from the state of Amapá were proclaimed a Masterpiece of the World's Intangible Heritage [2] by UNESCO.

Globo, the largest national television network, also plays an important role in shaping the national identity. Nine out of ten households have a TV set, which is the most important source of information and entertainment for most Brazilians, followed by radio broadcasts. TVs broadcast sports, movies, local and national news and telenovelas (soap operas)– 6-10 month-long series that have become one of the country’s main cultural exports.

People

Throughout its history, Brazil has welcomed several different peoples and practices. Brazil constitutes a melting pot of the most diverse ethnic groups, somewhat mitigating ethnic prejudices and racial conflicts, though long-lasting slavery and even genocide among indigenous populations have taken their toll. Prejudice is generally more directed towards different social classes rather than between races. Nevertheless, race, denoted by skin colour, is still a dividing factor in Brazilian society and you will notice the skin typically darkens as the social class gets lower: wealthy upper-class people are mostly white; many middle-class are mixed; and the majority of poor people are black. Nowadays, however, Afro-Brazilians and Amerindian populations are increasingly aware of their civil rights and of their rich cultural heritage, and they can hope to achieve social mobility through education.

In general, Brazilians are a fun-loving people. While Southerners may be considered somewhat colder and more reserved, from Rio northward people can boast a vivacious attitude and enjoy leisure time.

Friendship and hospitality are highly prized among Brazilians, and both family connections and social interactions are valued highly. To people they have met, or at least know by name, Brazilians are usually very open, friendly and sometimes quite generous. Once introduced, until getting a good reason not to, a typical Brazilian may treat you as warmly as he would treat a best friend. Brazilians are reputedly one of the most hospitable people in the world and foreigners are usually treated with respect and often with true admiration. That being said, tourism in Brazil, as in most of the world, brings out the darker side of humanity.

Attitudes towards foreigners may also be subject to regional differences:

  • The state of Santa Catarina welcomes their Spanish-speaking tourists with bilingual signs and welcome committees.
  • In Salvador, the largest city of the Northeast, anyone talking, acting or looking like a tourist (even other Brazilians!) could be charged higher prices, such as in parking lots, in restaurants, etc.

Most Brazilians are honest and genuinely friendly, but many are used to small acts of corruption in their everyday lives, the so-called jeitinho brasileiro. If you obviously look like a tourist, you are a potential target; for instance, a vendor may try to sell goods at higher prices, or a taxi driver may choose the longest route to the destination. It doesn't mean that you can't trust anyone, just that you have to be a bit more alert and careful, particularly if someone seems too friendly.

Whereas the "Western" roots of Brazilian culture are largely European, especially Iberian, as evidenced by its colonial towns and sporadic historical buildings between the newer skyscrapers, there has been a strong tendency in recent decades to adopt a more "American way of life" which is found in urban culture and architecture, mass media, consumerism and a positive attitude toward technical progress. Despite this, Brazil is still a nation facing the Atlantic rather than Hispanic America, and the intellectual elites are likely to look up to Europe, especially France, as sources of inspiration, as opposed to the US. Many aspects in Brazilian society, such as the educational system, are inspired by the French, and may seem strange at first to North American visitors.

Brazilians are not hispanic. Some may be offended if a visitor says that, or believes that Brazilians speak Spanish as a primary language. Visitors will receive a warmer welcome if they try to start conversations in Portuguese. If the visitor speaks Spanish to Brazilians, they are likely to answer in Portuguese.

The contrasts in this large country equally fascinate and shock most visitors, especially Europeans. The indifference of many locals towards the social, economic and ecological problems can upset visitors accustomed to addressing these issues at home. While an elite of well-educated professionals and the political class partake in the amenities of modern society, child labor, illiteracy and grossly inferior housing still exist even in cities blessed by economic growth and huge foreign investment such as São Paulo or Rio.

As much as Brazilians acknowledge their self-sustainability in raw materials, agriculture, and energy sources as an enormous benefit for the future, most of them agree that without enormous changes in education and access to entrepreneurship for all there will hardly be a way out of poverty and underdevelopment.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, Brazil has faced an increasing wave of immigration from China, Bolivia and Haiti.

Climate

Brazil is an enormous country with different climate zones, though most of the country is in the tropics. In the North, near the equator there is a wet and a dry season; from about São Paulo down to the south there are four seasons.

Holidays and working hours

Brazil observes the following 13 national holidays:

  • New Year - 1 January
  • Carnaval - February/March (movable - 7 weeks before Easter. Monday and Tuesday are the actual holidays, but celebrations usually begin on Saturday and last until 12PM of Ash Wednesday, when shops and services re-open.)
  • Holy week - March/April (movable) two days before Easter Sunday
  • Tiradentes - 21 April
  • Labor Day - 1 May
  • Corpus Christi - May/June (movable) sixty days after Easter Sunday
  • Independence Day - 7 September
  • Patroness of Brazil and Children's day - 12 October
  • All Souls' Day (Finados) - 2 November
  • Proclamation of the Republic - 15 November
  • Christmas - 25 December

Working hours are usually from 8AM or 9AM-5PM or 6PM. Banks open Monday to Friday, from 10AM-4PM. Street shops tend to close at noon on Saturday and re-open on Monday. Shopping malls normally open from 10AM-10PM or 11PM, Monday to Saturday, and from 3PM-9PM on Sundays. Some malls, especially in large cities, are also open on Sundays, although not all the stores may be open. It is also possible to find 24-hour stores and small markets that are open on Sundays.

Electricity

See also: Electrical systems

Brazil is one of a few countries that uses both 110 and 220 volts for everyday appliances. Expect the voltage to change back and forth as you travel from one place to the next—even within the same Brazilian state, sometimes even within the same building. There is no physical difference in the electric outlets (power mains) for the two voltages.

Electric outlets usually accept both flat (North American), and round (European) plugs. Otherwise adaptors from flat blades to round pins are easy to find in any supermarket or hardware shop. Some outlets are too narrow for the German "Schuko" plugs. One makeshift solution is to buy a cheap T-connection and just force your "Schuko" in, -the T will break, but it will work. Very few outlets have a grounding point, and some might not accept newer North American polarized plugs, where one pin is slightly larger. Again, use the cheap T. Near the border with Argentina, you might occasionally find outlets for the Australia/New Zealand-type plug. If crossing the border, you'll probably need this adapter as well.

In 2009/2010, the IEC 60906-1 was introduced to Brazil and some newer buildings already have it. It is backwards compatible with the Europlug, but it has a receded socket. Again, T-plugs can be used as adapters for other common formats.

Frequency is 60 Hz, which may disturb 50 Hz electric clocks. Blackouts are becoming less frequent, but you always run a risk at peak of high season in small tourist towns.

Time zones

Time zones can be a confusing matter in Brazil. The country spans four standard time zones from UTC-2 to UTC-5, in Brazilian terms "Brasilia time -2" to "Brasilia time +1". As a rule of thumb, Central and Southeastern states observe Daylight Saving Time (moving clocks one hour forwards), others do not. Visitors from the Northern Hemisphere should also remember that Brazil is south of the Equator and that the DST therefore is used at a completely different time of the year compared to what they might be used to — from October to February.

  • Brasilia time +1 (UTC-2): Fernando de Noronha and some other smaller islands in the Atlantic. This time zone doesn't observe DST.
  • Brasilia time (UTC-3): Southeast, South, Northeast, Goiás, Distrito Federal, Tocantins, Pará, Amapá. DST is observed in Goiás, Distrito Federal and the Southeastern and Southern areas.
  • Brasilia time -1 (UTC-4): Roraima, eastern Amazonas, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul. The two last states observe DST.
  • Brasilia time -2 (UTC-5): Acre, western Amazonas. None of these observe DST.

Get in

Visa requirements

  • Brazil has a reciprocal visa policy with all countries, meaning that whenever visa fees and restrictions are applied to Brazilian visiting a country, Brazil adopts the same measures for that country's visitors.
  • Citizens from all other countries (complete list [3] ) do require a visa. The fees vary depending on reciprocity: for example, US citizens have to pay at least US$160 for a tourist visa and US$220 for a business visa. As of November 2008, citizens of Canada should expect to pay at least CDN$117 for a tourist visa, not including any handling or processing fees. Cost of Brazil visa for citizens of Taiwan or Taiwanese passport holder pay US$20 (Reference from Embassy of Brazil in Lima, Peru) and 5 days to process. The reciprocity, however, also frequently applies to visa validity: US citizens can be granted visas valid up to 10 years and, likewise, Canadian citizens for up to 5.
  • Tourist visas (including those granted on the spot in immigration control) can be extended at any office of the Policia Federal. Tourist Visas granted to citizens of the Schengen Area can not be extended. All state capitals, and most border towns and international ports have one. Tourist visas will only be extended once, for a maximum of 90 days, and under no circumstances can you be granted more than 180 days with a tourist visa for any 365-day period. You should contact the federal police about 1 week before your visa expires. The handling fee is R$67 (Oct 2008). You may be asked for an outbound ticket (book a fully refundable one on the internet, then cancel when your visa is extended), and a proof of subsistence (for which your credit card is mostly accepted.) In order to apply for the extension, you must fill out the Emissão da Guia de Recolhimento on the Federal Police website, which you will carry to the Banco do Brasil in order to pay the fee. Do not pay the fee until you have spoken with a federal police officer about your case. If she/he denies the extension of your visa, you must have a bank account in Brazil in order to receive a refund.
  • By law you are required to produce your outbound ticket upon entry, but this is only enforced in exceptional cases. Even if you are asked, you could often get away with explaining that you are taking the bus to Argentina, and couldn´t buy the ticket in, say, Europe.
  • If you overstay your tourist visa, you will be fined R$8.28 per day (as of October 2007), for a maximum of 100 days. This means that even if you stay illegally for 5 years, the fine will never exceed R$828. You will be made to pay this at the border crossing. As this can take time, it could be wise to do it a few days up front at a federal police office, especially if you have a domestic to international flight connection. The federal police will then give you 8 days to get out of the country. If you don´t pay your fine upon exiting, you will have to pay the next time you enter. The fact that you have been fined for overstaying in the past does not normally imply future difficulties with immigration, but you´d better keep all receipts and old passports for reference.
  • If you want to enter/exit the country for some reason without coming in contact with the immigration authorities, there are numerous tiny border towns that have virtually no control. You will perhaps be told by the local police (who don´t have stamps or computer registers for immigration) to contact the federal police in such and such nearby town.
  • When you are travelling from certain tropical regions to Brazil you need a yellow fever vaccination and the certificate showing you had this. Note that it is illegal to bring in animals, meat, dairy, seeds, plants, eggs, honey, fruit, or any kind of non-processed food without a permit. Contact [vigiagro@agricultura.gov.br] for more information.

By plane

The cheapest airfares are from February (after Carnaval) to May and from August to November. Tickets from New York, for instance, can cost as little as US$699 including taxes. Many undersubscribed flights within Brazil can be had for bargain prices.

By far the largest international airport in Brazil is São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (IATA: GRU), the hub of TAM airlines, which has direct flights to many capital cities in South America. Other direct flights include:

North America: New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Washington, D.C. and Toronto.

Europe: Lisbon and Porto by TAP, Madrid by Iberia, Air Europa, TAM and Air China, Barcelona by Singapore Airlines, Amsterdam and Paris by KLM-Air France and TAM (Paris), London by British Airways and TAM, Frankfurt by Lufthansa and TAM, Munich by Lufthansa, Zurich by Swiss, Rome by Alitalia, Milan by TAM, Istanbul by Turkish Airlines.

Asia: Seoul by Korean Air (via LAX), Doha by Qatar Airways, Abu Dhabi by Etihad, Dubai by Emirates, Singapore by Singapore Airlines (via BCN), and Beijing by Air China (via MAD).

Africa: Luanda by TAAG, Johannesburg by SAA, Addis Ababa by Ethiopian.

The second largest airport in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport, (IATA: GIG) the home of Gol Transportes Aéreos, which flies to many regional destinations including Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Asuncion. Other direct flights include: North America: Delta Air Lines flies to Atlanta, and New York, United Airlines to Washington, D.C., and Houston and American Airlines flies to Charlotte, Miami, Dallas and New York City. Africa: Taag Angola to Luanda about 3 times a week. Europe: Paris by Air France, Rome by Alitalia, London by British Airways, Madrid by Iberia, Amsterdam by KLM, Frankfurt by Lufthansa, Lisbon and Porto by TAP Portugal.

The Northeastern capitals have slightly shorter flying times to Europe and North America:

Natal: Direct flights to Lisbon by TAP, Amsterdam by Arkefly.

Recife: Direct flights to Lisbon by TAP, Miami by American Airlines and Frankfurt by Condor.

Salvador: Direct flights to Lisbon by TAP, Madrid by Air Europa, Frankfurt by Condor, and Miami by American Airlines.

Fortaleza: Direct flights to Lisbon by TAP, Cabo Verde by TACV, and Rome by Air Italy.

In addition to the above, TAP flies directly to BrasiliaBelo HorizonteCampinas, and Porto Alegre. TAP Portugal [4] is the foreign airline with most destinations in Brazil, from Lisbon and Porto, and provides extensive connection onwards to Europe and Africa.

Air travel in Brazil has increased exponentially in the past few years, partly as a result of the poor condition of many Brazilian roads(qv)and the absence of any viable railroad network (cf India). It is still relatively inexpensive with bargains sometimes available and easily the best option for long distance travel within the country. Some major airports, particularly those in São Paulo and Rio, are, however, becoming very congested.

By car

The main border crossings are at:

  • with Uruguay: Chuy/Chuí, Bella Unión/Barra do Quaraí, Artigas/Quaraí, Aceguá/Aceguá, Río Blanco/Jaguarão, and between Rivera/Santana do Livramento
  • with Argentina: Paso de los Libres/Uruguaiana, Santo Tomé/São Borja, Bernardo de Irigoyen/Dionísio Cerqueira, Tobuna/Paraíso (Santa Catarina), Comandante Andresito/Capanema, and between Puerto Iguazu/Foz do Iguaçu
  • with Paraguay: Ciudad del Este/Foz do Iguaçu, Salto del Guaira/Guaíra, and between Pedro Juan Caballero/Ponta Porã
  • with Bolivia: Puerto Suarez/Corumbá, Cobija/Brasileia/Epitaciolandia, San Matías/Cáceres and between Riberalta/Guayaramerin/Guajará-Mirim (the bridge over Mamoré river will be ready in 2007)
  • with Peru: Iñapari/Assis Brasil
  • with Colombia: Letícia/Tabatinga No road connections on either side of the border.
  • with Guyana: Lethem/Bonfim

In certain border towns, notably Foz do Iguaçu/Ciudad del Este/Puerto Iguazu, you do not need entry/exit stamps or other formalities for a daytrip into the neighbouring country. These same towns are good venues if you for some reason want to cross without contact with immigration authorities.

By bus

Long-distance bus service connects Brazil to its neighboring countries. The main capitals linked directly by bus are Buenos Aires, Asunción, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile, and Lima. Direct connections from the first three can also be found easily, but from Lima it might be tricky, though easily accomplished by changing at one of the others. Those typically go to São Paulo, though Pelotas has good connections too. It should be kept in mind that distances between S?o Paulo and any foreign capitals are significant, and journeys on the road may take up to 3 days, depending on the distance and accessibility of the destination. The national land transport authority has listings [5] on all operating international bus lines, and the Green Toad Bus [6] offers bus passes between Brazil and neighbouring countries as well as around Brazil itself.

By boat

Amazon river boats connect northern Brazil with Peru, Venezuela and Colombia. The ride is a gruelling 12 days upriver though. From French Guiana, you can cross the river Oyapoque, which takes about 15 minutes.

By train

Train service within Brazil is almost nonexistent. However, there are exceptions to the rule, including the Trem da Morte, or Death Train, which goes from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to a small town just over the border from Corumbá in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. There is still a train line from there all the way to São Paulo which at the moment is not in use, but bus connections to São Paulo via the state capital, Campo Grande, are plentiful. The journey itself is reputedly replete with robbers who might steal your backpack or its contents but security has been increased recently and the journey can be made without much difficulty. It goes through the Bolivian agricultural belt and along the journey one may see a technologically-averse religious community which resembles the USA's Amish in many ways.

Get around

By plane

Air service covers most of Brazil. Note that many flights make many stops en route, particularly in hubs as São Paulo or Brasilia. Most all airports with regular passenger traffic are operated by the federal Infraero.[7]. They have a very convenient website, with an English version. It lists all the airlines operating at each airport, and also has updated flight schedules.

There are now several Brazilian booking engines that are good (although not perfect) for comparing flights and prices between different companies. They will mostly include an extra fee, hence it is cheaper to book on the airline's own site.

The Brazilian airline scene completely changed at least twice over the last 10 years or so. The largest carriers are now TAM [8] and Gol [9], which share more than 80% of the domestic market between them. The traditional Varig is now just another brand of Gol. Others include WebJet [10], Avianca [11], and Azul [12]. TRIP [13] has short-haul flights to smaller airports throughout the country, and Pantanal [14] and Puma [15] are growing in the same segment. Portuguese TAP [16] has a few domestic code shares with TAM. There are also a number of regional companies, such as NHT [17] (Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina). Price differences, at least if a ticket is purchased on the internet well in advance, are so small that it´s rather meaningless to call any of these "low cost", although WebJet and Azul have lately been a notch cheaper for domestic flights.

Booking on the domestic carriers' sites can be frustrating for non-Brazilian citizens. Often, you will be asked for your CPF (national identity number) while paying by credit card. Even if you -as a foreigner- have a CPF, the sites will often not recognize it. Gol now accepts international cards, but the system is buggy (Oct 2010). One trick that might work is to visit one of the airlines' foreign websites, although prices may vary. Many flights can also be found on foreign booking engines where no CPF is needed. If you book weeks in advance, most carriers will give you the option to pay by bank deposit (boleto bancário), which is actually payable by cash not only in banks, but also in a number of supermarkets, pharmacies and other stores. Buying a ticket at a travel agent is generally R$30 more expensive, noting that certain special offers can only be found online.

Be aware that many domestic flights have so many stops that some, including yours, may be missing from the listings in the airports. Double check your flight number and confirm with ground staff.

Certain domestic flights in Brazil are "international", meaning that the flight has arrived from abroad and is continuing without clearing all passengers through customs and immigration. This means ALL passengers must do this at the next stop, even those having boarded in Brazil. Do NOT fill out a new immigration form, but show what you were given upon actual arrival to Brazil.

By car

See also: Driving in Brazil

Brazil has the largest road network in Latin America with over 1.6 million kilometres. A car is a good idea if you want to explore scenic areas, e.g. the historic cities of Minas Gerais, the Rio-Santos highway, or the beaches in North-East Brazil. There are the usual car rental companies at the airports.

Many roads are in good condition, especially in the east and south of the country and along the coast. In other areas and outside the metropolitan regions there are also gravel and dirt roads for which an off-road vehicle can be strongly recommended. This especially applies to the Amazon area where many roads are difficult or not at all passable during the rainy season from November to March. This is why it is advisable to travel with a good map and to be well informed about distances, road conditions and the estimated travel time. Road maps of the brand Guia 4 Rodas (can be bought from most newsstands in Brazil) provide not only maps and distances but also information about current conditions of the roads. Cochera andina [18] publishes useful information on almost 300 routes in the country. In theory, the driving rules of Brazil resemble those of Western Europe or North America. In practice, driving in Brazil can be quite scary if you are used to European (even Mediterranean) or North American road culture, due to widespread violations of driving rules, and the toleration thereof.

Distances kept to other vehicles are kept at a bare minimum, overtaking whenever close to possible, and changing lanes without much of a prior signal. Many large cities also suffer from hold-ups when you wait at a red light in the night. Even if there is no risk of robbery, many drivers (including of city buses) run red lights or stop signs at night when they do not see incoming traffic from the cross street. Drivers also indulge in "creative" methods of saving time, such as using the reverse direction lanes. In rural areas, many domestic animals are left at the roadside, and they sometimes wanders into the traffic. Pedestrians take enormous chances crossing the road, since many drivers do not bother to slow down if they see pedestrians crossing. The quality of the paving is very varied, and the presence of enormous potholes is something that strongly discourages night-driving. Also consider the risk of highway hold-ups after dark, not to mention truck drivers on amphetamines (to keep awake for days in a row).

  • In Brazil cars are driven on the right hand side of the road.
  • A flashing left signal means that the car ahead is warning you not to pass, for some reason. If the car ahead of you wants to show you that it is safe to pass it will flash the right signal. The right signal is the same signal to indicate that you're going to stop on the side of the road, so it means you're going to slow down. On the other hand the left signal is the same signal to indicate you're going to pass the car ahead, meaning you're going to speed up.
  • Flashing, twinkling headlights from the cars coming on the opposite side of the road means caution on the road ahead. Most of the time, it indicates that there are animals, cops or speed radar ahead.
  • Keep the doors locked when driving, especially in the larger cities, as robberies at stop signs and red lights are quite common in some areas. You'll make it much easier for the robber if he can simply open up the door and sit down. Be equally careful with keeping your windows wide open, as someone might put their hands inside your car and steal a wallet, for instance. Leave your handbags and valuables out of sight.

By bicycle

In smaller cities and towns the bicycle is a common means of transport. This does not mean that cyclists are usually respected by cars, trucks, or bus drivers. But you may find good roads with little traffic outside the cities. It is also easy to get a lift by a pickup or to have the bike transported by a long-distance bus. Cycling path are virtually non-existent in cities, except along certain beachfronts, such as Rio de Janeiro and Recife.

There are bicyclers groups around the country, e.g. Sampa Bikers in São Paulo which meets weekly.

By train

Brazil's railway system was mostly wrecked during the military regimes. Today there are few passenger lines left:

  • The Serra Verde Express [19] from Curitiba to Paranaguá. This scenic 150 km long railroad links the capital of Paraná to the coastal cities of Morretes and Paranaguá, through the beautiful Serra do Mar mountains covered with mata atlântica forest. The trip takes about 3 hours and has bilingual guides. Trains leave daily at 08:15 and prices start from about R$50 (round-trip) - see Curitiba#Get out for more information.
  • From São João del Rei to Tiradentes - This 35-minute trip on a steam train is almost like time travel. The train operates Fri-Sun, with departures from São João at 10:00 and 15:00 and 13:00 and 17:00 from Tiradentes. The round trip costs R$16.
  • From Belo Horizonte to Vitória - Daily trains operated by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce [20] leave Belo Horizonte at 07:30 and Vitória at 07:00. Travel time is about twelve and a half hours. Tickets are sold at the train stations and a single 2nd class fare costs about R$65 (and R$89 for first class). Seats are limited and it is not possible to reserve, so it is advisable to buy in advance at the Vale's website: [21]. The railway is the second longest passenger line of Brazil, almost 700 km long.
  • From Ouro Preto to Mariana - Weekend (and holiday) scenic trains operated by Compania Vale do Rio Doce and ABPF (Associação Brasileira de Preservação Ferroviária). Leaves Ouro Preto (or Mariana) in different times, depending on the day, or holliday (It's advisable to consult the timetable prior abording or buying tickets). The train runs to both cities in 2 departures by day (sometimes three), and pass by some untouched and preserved atlantic forest reserves, with astonishing landscapes. The travel takes about 1 hour and it's 16 km long. From 2016, the prices starts from R$40 (or R$58 if you buy the round-trip ticket).
  • From São Luis to Parauapebas - interesting because part of it passes through the Amazon rainforest and it's the longest passenger railway of Brazil, almost 900 km long.
  • From Macapá to Serra do Navio
  • From Campinas to Jaguariuna. Part of the old Ferrovia Mogiana, which was built to facilitate coffee exports in the late 19th and early 20th century. Entertaining guides. Only at weekends and holidays. Some steam trains. Inexpensive. About 1 h each way.

By inter-city bus

Long-distance buses are a convenient, economical, and sometimes (usually if you buy the most expensive ticket), rather comfortable way to travel between regions. The bus terminal (rodoviária) in cities play a role akin to train stations in many countries. You should check travel distance and time while traveling within Brazil; going from Rio de Janeiro to the south region could take more than 24 hours, so it may be worth going by plane if you can afford it.

Brazil has a very good long distance bus network. Basically, any city of more than 100,000 people will have direct lines to the nearest few state capitals, and also to other large cities within the same range. Pretty much any little settlement has public transport of some kind (a lorry, perhaps) to the nearest real bus station.

Mostly you have to go to the bus station to buy a ticket, although most major bus companies make reservations and sell tickets by internet with the requirement that you pick up your ticket sometime in advance. In a few cities you can also buy a ticket on the phone and have it delivered to your hotel for an extra charge of some 3-5 reais. Some companies have also adopted the airlines' genius policy of pricing: In a few cases buying early can save you more than 50%. The facility of flagging a bus and hopping on (if there are no available seats you will have to stand, still paying full price) is widespread in the country. This is less likely to work along a few routes where armed robberies have happened frequently, such as those leading to the border with Paraguay and to Foz do Iguaçu.

There is no one bus company that serves the whole country, so you need to identify the company that connect two cities in particular by calling the bus station of one city. ANTT, the national authority for land transportation, has a search engine [22] (in Portuguese) for all available domestic bus lines. Be aware that some big cities like São Paulo and Rio have more than one bus station, each one covering certain cities around. It is good to check in advance to which bus station you are going.

Bus services are often sold in three classes: Regular, Executive and First-Class (Leito, in Portuguese). Regular may or may not have air conditioning. For long distances or overnight travels, Executive offers more space and a folding board to support your legs. First-Class has even more space and only three seats per row, making enough space to sleep comfortably.

All trips of more than 4 hours are covered by buses with bathrooms and the buses stop for food/bathrooms at least once every 4 hours of travel.

Brazilian bus stations, known as rodoviária or terminal rodoviário, tend to be located away from city centers. They are often in pretty sketchy areas, so if you travel at night be prepared to take a taxi to/from the station. There will also be local bus lines.

Even if you have a valid ticket bought from elsewhere, some Brazilian bus stations may also require a boarding card. This can be obtained from the bus company, often for a supplement fee. If you buy a ticket in the departure bus station you will also be given this boarding card.

Rodoviárias include many services, including fast-food restaurants, cafés, Internet cafés, toilets and left luggage. As a general rule, the larger the city, the more expensive the services (e.g. leaving a suitcase as left luggage in a smaller city may cost R$1, but in Recife in might cost you R$5).

When buying tickets, as well as when boarding the bus, you may be asked for proof of ID. Brazilian federal law requires this for interstate transportation. Not all conductors know how to read foreign passports, so be prepared to show them that the name of the passport truly is the same as the name on the ticket.

By city bus

Most cities have extensive bus services. Multiple companies may serve a single city. There is almost never a map of the bus lines, and often bus stops are unmarked. Be prepared for confusion and wasted time.

Buses have a board behind the windshield that advertises the main destinations they serve. You may have to ask the locals for information, but they may not know bus lines except the ones they usually take.

In most cities you have to wave to stop the bus when you want to take it. This in itself would not pose a problem; however, in big cities there may be dozens of bus lines stopping at a given bus stop and bus stops are not designed to accommodate so many vehicles. Frequently one cannot observe the oncoming buses due to other buses blocking the view. Bus drivers are reluctant to slow down for a bus stop if they are not sure someone will take their bus, so it is common to miss your bus because you could not see it coming to wave on time or the driver did not see you waving in between buses already at the stop. Some people go into the middle of a busy street to wait for their bus to make sure they see it and the driver sees them. In some places, like Manaus, drivers even tend to ignore stop requests (both to get on and to get off) if it is not too easy to navigate to the bus stop.

Most city buses have both a driver and a conductor. The conductor sits behind a till next to a turnstile. You have to pay the conductor; the price of the bus is usually advertised on the windshield. The turnstiles are narrow, and very inconvenient if one carries any kind of load (try balancing a heavy backpack over the turnstile while the bus is running). Larger buses often have a front section, before the turnstile, meant in priority for the elderly, handicapped and pregnant women - you can use it but you still have to pay! Typical prices are around R$3.

You can try asking the conductor to warn you when the bus is close to your destination. Depending on whether he or she understands you and feels like helping you, you may get help.

In addition to large city buses, there are often minibuses or minivans (alternativo). You pay the driver when you go aboard.

By boat

In the Amazon region as well as on the coast west of Sao Luis, boat travel is often the only way to get around.

By e-hailing

Brazil has availability of some e-hailing services, Uber being the largest of them. Notable e-hailing services in Brazil, are:

  • Uber (covering the majority of the big capitals and more than 20 cities at countryside)
  • Cabify (covers some capitals)
  • T-81 (Brazilian app, cover some capitals)

Talk

See also: Brazilian Portuguese phrasebook

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, spoken by the entire population (except for a few, very remotely located tribes). Indeed, Brazil has had immigrants from all parts of the world for centuries, whose descendants now speak Portuguese as their mother tongue.

Brazilian Portuguese has a number of pronunciation differences with that spoken in Portugal (and within, between the regions there are some quite extreme accent and slang differences), but speakers of either can understand each other. However, European Portuguese (Luso) is more difficult for Brazilians to understand than the reverse, as many Brazilian television programs are shown in Portugal. Note that a few words can have a totally different meaning in Brazil and Portugal, usually slang words. An example of this is "Rapariga" which in Portugal means young girl, and in Brazil means a prostitute.

English is not widely spoken except in some touristy areas. Don't expect bus or taxi drivers to understand English, so it may be a good idea to write down the address you are heading to before getting the cab. In most big and luxurious hotels, it is very likely that the taxi fleet will speak some English. If you are really in need of talking in English, you should look for the younger people (-30 years), because they, generally, have a higher knowledge of the language and will be eager to help you and exercise their English.

Spanish speakers are usually able to get by in Brazil, especially towards the south. While written Portuguese can be quite similar to Spanish, spoken Portuguese differs considerably and is much harder to understand. Compare the number 20 which is veinte (BAYN-teh) in Spanish to vinte (VEEN-chee) in Brazilian Portuguese. Even more different is gente (people), pronounced "HEN-teh" in Spanish and "ZHEN-chee" in Brazilian Portuguese. Letters CH, D, G, J, R, RR, and T are particularly difficult for Spanish speakers to understand, and that's without even considering the vowels. Often confusing to Spanish, even English speakers, is the pronunciation of the letter "R" in the beginning of most words. Common first names such as Roberto, Ronaldo and Rolando are not pronounced as you would think: the "R" is pronounced as "H". Thus you would say Hoberto, Honaldo and Holando. If you address Ronaldo with a perfect Spanish pronunciation, he most likely will look at you in confusion and wonder what or who you are speaking to.

See

Natural wonders

  • Amazon Rainforest - The Amazon River Basin holds more than half of the world's remaining rainforest, and over 60% of that lies within the North of Brazil — approximately one billion acres with incredible biodiversity. The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, over 40,000 plants species, 2200 fish species, and more than 2,000 types of birds and mammals. One in five of all the bird species in the world live in the rainforests of the Amazon, and one in five of the fish species live in Amazonian rivers and streams.
  • Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) - A region of tropical and subtropical forest which extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil from Rio Grande do Norte state in the Northeast to Rio Grande do Sul state in the South. The Atlantic Forest has a wide variety of vegetation, including the many tree species such as the iconic araucaria tree in the south or the mangroves of the northeast, dozens of types of bromeliads and orchids, and unique critters such as capivara. The forest has also been designated a World Biosphere Reserve, with a large number of highly endangered species including the well-known marmosets, lion tamarins and woolly spider monkeys. Unfortunately, it has been extensively cleared since colonial times, mainly for the farming of sugar cane and for urban settlements — The remnants are estimated to be less than 10% of the original, and that is often broken into hilltop islands. However, large swaths of it are protected by hundreds of parks, including 131 federal parks, 443 state parks, and 14 municipal parks, most of which are open to visitation.
  • Pantanal - A vast tropical wetland expanse, one of the world's largest. 80% of it lies within the state of Mato Grosso do Sul but it also extends into Mato Grosso (as well as into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay), sprawling over an area estimated at between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometers (54,000-75,000 sq mi). 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping support a dense array of animal species.
  • Waterfalls (Cachoeiras) - Brazil has an amazing range of impressive waterfalls of all sizes and shapes. Iguaçu Falls, in eastern Parana, is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, truly a sight to see. The 353-meter Cachoeira da Fumaça in Bahia's Chapada Diamantina National Park is the country's second highest waterfall, after the Amazon's almost inaccessible Cachoeira do Araca. Other famous waterfalls include Caracol Falls, in a Rio Grande do Sul state park of the same name near Canela, Itaquira Falls, an easily accessible 168-meter fall near Formosa, Goiás, and the gorge at Parque da Cascata near Sete Lagoas, Minas Gerais. Aside from the nationally famous falls, in many parts of the country, particularly the South, Southeast, and Central West regions, you are rarely far from at least one locally-famous, named waterfall worth a short hike.

Architecture

  • Colonial architecture - Many cities have reminders of Brazil's colonial past, with churches, monasteries, forts, barracks, and other structures still intact. Some of the most concentrated and best-preserved colonial buildings can be found in old gold-mining towns such as Ouro Preto and Tiradentes, but many other cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Petrópolis, SalvadorParaty, and Goiânia have quite significant colonial centers as well.
  • Oscar Niemeyer works - Niemeyer, Brazil's most famous architect, is a modern architectural pioneer who explores the aesthetic impact of reinforced concrete, using curves to create buildings with a unique sense of space. He is most famous for designing many of the buildings when the new capital of Brasilia was built in the 1950s, but his works literally dot the country, with major works in Natal, João Pessoa, Belo HorizonteRio de Janeiro, Niterói, São Paulo, Londrina and other locations.

Do

Gay travel

Due to its high degree of acceptance and tolerance, gay travel is increasingly popular. Brazil hosted the first gay ball in America in 1754! Nowadays the main lesbian and gay destinations are Rio de Janeiro, which was elected the world's sexiest destination twice, São Paulo, which has the world's largest Pride Parade, Florianópolis, which is the hippest gay hangout and Recife which is attracting more and more lesbian and gay tourists looking for fun and sun.

Carnaval

The biggest party in the world takes places across the country every year, lasting almost a week in February or early March. It is celebrated in a wide variety of ways, from the giants boneco masks of Olinda and the trios elétricos of Salvador to the massive samba parades of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. For a relatively more subdued atmosphere, check out the university-style street party of Ouro Preto or the sporty beach party at Ilha do Mel. Don't forget to make your reservations well in advance!

Beaches

Almost the entire coast is lined with fabulous beaches, and the beach lifestyle is a big part of Brazilian culture. Nowhere is that more true than in Rio de Janeiro, with its laidback, flip-flop-footed lifestyle and famous beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana. Beaches in other areas of the country may not have the instant name recognition but are no less amazing. The Northeast has jewels like Jericoacoara, Praia do Futuro, Boa Vista, Porto de Galinhas, and Morro de São Paulo which bring in throngs of travellers, particularly Europeans. Landlocked mineiros go mingle with the rich and famous at Guarapari or dance forró in the sand at Itaunas, while paulistas head for Caraguá or Ubatuba. In the South, weekend revelers flock to Ilha do Mel or Balneário Camboriú, while the 42 beaches of Santa Catarina Island draw in thousands of Argentianian tourists every year. Hundreds more beaches lie ready to be explored as well. Don't forget for those nude beaches in Rio and São Paulo!

Sports

  • Soccer - Soccer is the talk of the town wherever your are in Brazil, and the country is brimming with great teams and great players. While Rio de Janeiro's world-famous Maracanã stadium is currently in renovations, you can still catch a game at lots of other great venues like the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte or Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo.
  • Volleyball - While soccer is the main sport in Brazil, volleyball is extremely popular as well. In addition to the standard indoor sport known the world over, there are several other varieties you can play or watch in Brazil:
  • Beach volleyball - It is very common to find spaces on the beaches where you can play beach volleyball, but this version of the sport possess a different code of rules than indoor volleyball (for example instead of six players, only two players are allowed to play on each team).
  • Footvolley - Created in Brazil, this challenging sport is essentially beach volleyball played with the ball and no-hands rules of soccer.
  • Biribol - Another Brazilian original, biribol, named after the city of Birigüi where it was invented, is an aquatic version of volleyball, played in a 1.3-meter-deep pool with 4 players on each team and a ball similar to a water-polo ball.

Buy

Currency

Brazil's unit of currency is the Real (pronounced 'hay-AHL'), plural Reais ('hay-ICE'), denoted "R$" (ISO code: BRL). One real is divided into 100 centavos. As an example of how prices are written, R$1,50 means one real and fifty centavos.

Foreign currency such as US dollars or euros can be exchanged major airports and luxury hotels (bad rates), exchange bureaus and major branches of Banco do Brasil (no other banks), where you need your passport and your immigration form.

The Real is a free-floating currency and has become stronger in the past few years. Especially for US citizens, prices (based on exchange rates) have increased quite a bit.

There are many federal regulations for dealings with foreign currency, trading in any currency other than real in Brazil is considered illegal, although some places in big cities and bordering towns accept foreign money and many exchange offices operate in a shady area. In addition, exchange offices are almost impossible to find outside of big cities. Currency other than US dollars and euros is hard to exchange and the rates are ridiculous. If you would like to exchange cash at a bank, be prepared to pay a hefty commission. For example, Banco do Brasil collects US$15 for each transaction (regardless of amount).

Banking

Look for an ATM with your credit/debit card logo on it. Large branches of Banco do Brasil (charging R$6,50 per withdrawal) usually have one, and most all Bradesco, Citibank, BankBoston and HSBC machines will work. Banco 24 Horas is a network of ATMs which accept foreign cards (charging R$10 per withdrawal). Withdrawal limits are usually R$600 (Bradesco) or R$1000 (BB, HSBC, B24H), per transaction, and in any case R$1000 per day. The latter can be circumvented by several consecutive withdrawals, choosing different "accounts", i.e. "credit card", "checking", "savings". Note that most ATMs do not work or will only give you R$100 after 10PM.

In smaller towns, it is possible that there is no ATM that accepts foreign cards. You should therefore always carry sufficient cash.

Wiring money to Brazil can be done through Western Union [23] transfers to be picked up at a Banco do Brasil branch in most cities, and also quite a few exchange offices.

Travellers' checks can be hard to cash anywhere that does not offer currency exchange.

A majority of Brazilian shops now accepts major credit cards. However, quite a few online stores only accept cards issued in Brazil, even though they sport the international logo of such cards.

Coins are R$0.05, R$0.10, R$0.25, R$0.50 and R$1. Some denominations have several different designs. Bills come in the following denominations: $2, R$5, R$10, R$20 R$50 and R$100.

Tipping

While tips can sometimes be given for some services, delivery or tourism, tips are very uncommon. It is usually not expected in cabs, although rounding up the fare occasionally takes place. It should be noted that many restaurants include a 10% delivery charge in the note, with no further tippings being required. Such a charge often depends on the municipality. Tipping bartenders is not customary.

Souvenirs

Similar to the rest of Latin America, hand-crafted jewelry can be found anywhere. In regions that are largely populated by Afro-Brazilians you'll find more African-influenced souvenirs, including black dolls. Havaianas jandals are also affordable in Brazil and supermarkets are often the best place to buy them — small shops usually carry fake ones. If you have space in your bags, a Brazilian woven cotton hammock is a nice, functional purchase as well. Another interesting and fun item is a peteca, a sort of hand shuttlecock used in a traditional game of the same name, similar to volleyball.

Shopping

It's not a bad idea to pack light and acquire a Brazilian wardrobe within a couple of days of arrival. It will make you less obvious as a tourist, and give you months of satisfied gloating back home about the great bargains you got whenever you are complimented on your clothing. Brazilians have their own sense of style and that makes tourists - especially those in Hawaiian shirts or sandals with socks - stand out in the crowd. Have some fun shopping, and blend in. Another good reason for buying clothes and shoes in Brazil is that the quality is usually good and the prices often cheap. However, this does not apply to any foreign brand as imports are burdened by high import taxes - therefore, do not expect to find any good prices on brands like Diesel, Levi's, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. To figure your Brazilian trousers size, measure your waist in centimeters, divide by 2, and round up to the next even number.

Store windows will often display a price followed by "X 5" or "X 10", etc. This is an installment-sale price. The price displayed is the per-installment price, so that, "R$50 X 10", for example, means 10 payments (typically monthly) of R$50 each. The actual price is often lower if you pay in cash.

Make sure any appliances you buy are either dual voltage or the same as in your home country. Brazil is 60 Hz, so don't buy electric clocks or non-battery operated motorized items if you live in Europe or Australia. The voltage, however, varies by state or even regions inside the same state. (see Electricity below).

Brazilian-made appliances and electronics are expensive. If not, they are usually of poor quality. All electronics are expensive compared to European or US prices.

Brazil uses a hybrid video system called "PAL-M." It is NOT at all compatible with the PAL system of Europe and Australia. Television began in black and white using the NTSC system of the USA and Canada, then years later, using PAL for its analogue colour—making a totally unique system. Nowadays, most new TV sets are NTSC compatible. However, the newly introduced digital TV standard is not compatible with that of most other countries. Digital video appliances such as DVD players are also compatible with NTSC (all digital colour is the same worldwide), but make sure the DVD region codes, if any, match your home country (Brazil is part of Region 4). Prices for imported electronic goods can be quite expensive due to high import tax, and the range of domestic electronic gadgets is not very wide. Also, be aware that the term "DVD" in Brazil is both an abbreviation for the disc itself and for its player, so be specific to avoid confusion.

Although the strength of the Real means that shopping in Brazil is no longer cheap, there are still plenty of bargains to be had, especially leather goods, including shoes (remember sizes are different though). Clothes in general are a good buy, especially for women, for whom there are many classy items. Street markets, which are common, are also a very good option, but avoid brand names like "Nike" - you will pay more and it's probably fake. Don't be afraid to "feel" an item. If it doesn't feel right, most likely it isn't! Beware of the dreaded "Made in China" label. If there's none, it's probably Brazilian, but be aware: some Brazilian-made products are less robust than their American or European counterparts.

Eat

Cuisine

Brazil's cuisine is as varied as its geography and culture. On the other hand, some may find it an unrefined melange, and everyday fare can be bland and monotonous. While there are some quite unique dishes of regional origin, many dishes were brought by overseas immigrants and have been adapted to local tastes through the generations. Italian and Chinese food in Brazil can often be as baffling as Amazonian fare.

The standard Brazilian set lunch is called prato feito, with its siblings comercial and executivo. Rice and brown beans in sauce, with a small steak. Sometimes farofa, spaghetti, vegetables and French fries will come along. Beef may be substituted for chicken, fish or others.

Excellent seafood can be found in coastal towns, especially in the Northeast.

Dishes

  • Brazil's national dish is feijoada, a hearty stew made of black beans, pork (ears, knuckles, chops, sausage) and beef (usually dried). It's served with rice, garnished with collard greens and sliced oranges. It's not served in every restaurant; the ones that serve it typically offer it on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A typical mistake made by tourists is to eat too much feijoada upon first encounter. This is a heavy dish — even Brazilians usually eat it parsimoniously.
  • Brazilian snacks, lanches (sandwiches) and salgadinhos (most anything else), include a wide variety of pastries. Look for coxinha (deep-fried, batter-coated chicken), empada (a tiny pie, not to be confused with the empanada - empadas and empanadas are entirely different items), and pastel (fried turnovers). Another common snack is a misto quente, a pressed,toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich. Pão-de-queijo, a roll made of manioc flour and cheese, is very popular, especially in Minas Gerais state - pão-de-queijo and a cup of fresh Brazilian coffee is a classic combination.
  • Farofa: cassava flour stir-fried with bacon and onion bits; the standard carbo side dish at restaurants, along with white rice
  • Feijão verde: green beans with cheese gratin
  • Paçoca: beef jerky mixed with cassava flour in a pilão (big mortar with a big pestle). Traditional cowboy fare
  • Pastel: deep-fried pastry filled with cheese, minced meat or ham
  • Tapioca (or more precisely, "beiju de tapioca"): made with the cassava starch, also known as tapioca starch. When heated in a pan, it coagulates and becomes a type of pancake or dry crepe, shaped like a disk. Some will serve it folded in half, others will roll it rocambole-style. The filling varies, but it can be done sweet or savory, with the most traditional flavors being: grated coconut/condensed milk (sweet), beef jerky/coalho cheese, plain cheese, and butter (savory). However, in recent times it has become a "gourmetized" food item, to be treated with creativity; nutella, chocolate, napolitano (pizza cheese/ham/tomato/oregano) and shredded chicken breast/catupiry cheese being almost standard options nowadays.

Regional cuisines

  • Southern - Churrasco is Brazilian barbecue, and is usually served "rodizio" or "espeto corrido" (all-you-can-eat). Waiters carry huge cuts of meat on steel spits from table to table, and carve off slices onto your plate (use the tongs to grab the meat slice and don't touch the knife edge with your silverware to avoid dulling the edge). Traditionally, you are given a small wooden block colored green on one side and red on the other. When you're ready to eat, put the green side up. When you're too stuffed to even tell the waiter you've had enough, put the red side up... Rodizio places have a buffet for non-meaty items; beware that in some places, the desserts are not considered part of the main buffet and are charged as a supplement. Most churrasco restaurants (churrascarias) also serve other types of food, so it is safe to go there with a friend that is not really fond of meat. While churrascarias are usually fairly expensive places (for Brazilian standards) in the North, Central and the countryside areas of the country they tend to be much cheaper then in the South and big cities, where they are frequented even by the less affluent.
  • Mineiro is the "miner's" cuisine of Minas Gerais, based on pork and beans, with some vegetables. Dishes from Goiás are similar, but use some local ingredients such as pequi and guariroba. Minas Gerais cuisine if not seen as particularly tasty, has a "homely" feel that is much cherished.
  • The food of Bahia, on the northeast coast has its roots across the Atlantic in East Africa and Indian cuisine. Coconut, dende palm oil, hot peppers, and seafood are the prime ingredients. Tip: hot ("quente") means lots of pepper, cold ("frio") means less or no pepper at all. If you dare to eat it hot you should try acarajé (prawn-filled roasties) and vatapá (drinkable black beans soup).
  • Espírito Santo and Bahia have two different versions of moqueca, a delightful tomato-based seafood stew prepared in a special type of clay pot.
  • Amazonian cuisine draws from the food of the indigenous inhabitants, including various exotic fish and vegetables. There is also a stupendous variety of tropical fruits.
  • Ceará's food has a great sort of seafood, and is known to have the country's best crab. It's so popular that literally every weekend thousands of people go to Praia do Futuro in Fortaleza to eat fried fish and crabs (usually followed by cold beer).

Brazilian "fusion" cuisines

  • Pizza is very popular in Brazil. In S?o Paulo, travellers will find the highest rate of pizza parlours per inhabitant in the country. The variety of flavours is extremely vast, with some restaurants offering more than 100 types of pizza. It is worth noting the difference between the European "mozzarella" and the Brazilian "mussarela". They differ in flavor, appearance and origin but buffalo mozzarella ("mussarela de búfala") is also often available. The Brazilian "mussarela", which tops most pizzas, is yellow in color and has a stronger taste. In some restaurants, particularly in the South, pizza has no tomato sauce. Other dishes of Italian origin, such as macarrão (macaroni), lasanha and others are also very popular.
  • Middle-eastern and Arab (actually Lebanese) food is widely available. Most options offer high quality and a big variety. Some types of middle-eastern food, such as quibe and esfiha have been adapted and are available at snack stands and fast food joints nation-wide. You can also find shawarma (kebabs) stands, which Brazilians calls "churrasco grego" (Greek Barbecue)
  • São Paulo's Japanese restaurants serve up lots of tempura, yakisoba, sushi and sashimi. The variety is good and mostly the prices are very attractive when compared to Europe, USA and Japan. Most Japanese restaurants also offer the rodizio or buffet option, with the same quality as if you ordered from the menu. Sometimes, however, it can be quite a departure from the real thing. In particular, Brazilian-made sushis often employ copious amounts of cream cheese and mayonnaise, and breaded sushi with tare sauce ("hot rolls") are as popular as "raw fish" sushi. The same can be said of Chinese food, again with some variations from the traditional. Cheese-filled spring rolls, anyone.Japanese restaurants (or those that offer Japanese food) are much commoner than Chinese and can be found in many Brazilian cities, especially in the state of São Paulo.

Restaurants

  • ALL restaurants will add a 10% service charge on the bill, and this is all the tip a Brazilian will ever pay. It is also what most waiters survive on, but it is not mandatory and you may choose to ignore it, although is considered extremely rude to do it. In some tourist areas you might be tried for extra tip. Just remember that you will look like a complete sucker if you exaggerate, and stingy and disrespectful if you don't tip. R$5-10 are considered good tips.
  • There are two types of self-service restaurants,sometimes with both options available in one place: all-you-can-eat buffets with barbecue served at the tables, called rodízio, or a price per weight (por quilo), very common during lunchtime throughout Brazil. Load up at the buffet and get your plate on the scales before eating any. In the South there's also the traditional Italian "galeto", where you're served different types of pasta, salads, soups and meat (mostly chicken) at your table.
  • Customers are allowed by law to visit the kitchen and see how the food is being handled, although this is extremely uncommon and doing so will probably be considered odd and impolite.
  • Some Brazilian restaurants serve only meals for two. The size of the portions might not say in the menu, -ask the waiter. Most restaurants of this category allow for a "half-serving" of such plates (meia-porção), at 60-70% of the price. Also, couples at restaurants often sit side-by-side rather than across from each other; observe your waiter's cues or express your preference when being seated.
  • Fast food is also very popular, and the local takes on hamburgers and hot-dogs ("cachorro-quente", translated literally) are well worth trying. Brazilian sandwiches come in many varieties, with ingredients like mayonnaise, bacon, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn, peas, raisins, French fries, ketchup, eggs, pickles, etc. Brave eaters may want to try the traditional complete hot dog (just ask for a completo), which, aside from the bun and the sausage, will include everything on display. The ubiquitous X-Burger (and its varieties X-Salad, X-Tudo, etc.) is not as mysterious as it sounds: the pronunciation of the letter "X" in Portuguese sounds like "cheese", hence the name.
  • Large chains: The fast-food burger chain Bob's is found nationwide and has been around in the country for almost as long as McDonald's. There is also a national fast-food chain called Habib's which despite the name serves pizza in addition to Arabian food (and the founder is Portuguese, by the way). Recent additions, though not as widespread, are Burger King and Subway.

Drink

Alcohol

Brazil's national booze is cachaça (cah-shah-sah, also known as aguardente ("burning water") and pinga), a 40% sugar-cane liquor known to knock the unwary out quite quickly. It can be tried in virtually every bar in the country. Famous producing regions include Minas Gerais, where there are tours of distilleries, and the city of Paraty. Pirassununga is home to Caninha 51, Brazil's best-selling brand. Outside Fortaleza there is a cachaça museum (Museu da Cachaça) where you can learn about the history of the Ypioca brand.

Drinking cachaça straight, or stirring in only a dollop of honey or a bit of lime juice, is a common habit on the Northeast region of the country, but the strength of cachaça can be hidden in cocktails like the famous caipirinha, where it is mixed with sugar, lime juice and ice. Using vodka instead of cachaça is nicknamed caipiroska or caipivodka; with white rum, it's a caipiríssima; and with sake it's a caipisaque (not in every region). Another interesting concoction is called capeta ("devil"), made with cachaça, condensed milk, cinnamon, guarana powder (a mild stimulant), and other ingredients, varying by region. If you enjoy fine brandy or grappa, try an aged cachaça. Deep and complex, this golden-coloured spirit is nothing like the ubiquitous clear liquor more commonly seen. A fun trip is to an "alambique" - a local distillery, of which there are thousands throughout the country - not only will you be able to see how the spirit is made from the raw cane sugar, you will probably also get a better price.

Well worth a try is Brazilian whisky! It's actually 50% imported scotch - the malt component -and approximately 50% Brazilian grain spirit. Don't be misled by American sounding names like "Wall Street". It is not bourbon. Good value for money and indistinguishable from common British blends.

While imported alcohol is very expensive, many international brands are produced under license in Brazil, making them widely available, and fairly cheap. You can buy booze in the tax-free after landing at Brazilian airports, but it generally is more expensive than buying it outside the airports.

Beer

Beer in Brazil has a respectable history because of the German immigrants. Most Brazilian beer brands tend to be way less thick and bitter than German, Danish or English beer. More than 90% of all beer consumed in Brazil is Pilsner, and it is usually drunk very cold (at a temperature close to 0°C). The most popular domestic brands are Brahma, Antarctica, and Skol. Traditional brands include Bohemia, Caracu (a stout), Original and Serra Malte (another stout). They are easily found in bars and are worth trying but are usually more expensive than the popular beers. There are also some national premium beers that are found only in some specific bars and supermarkets; if you want to taste a good Brazilian beer, search for Baden Baden, Colorado, Eisenbahn, Petra, Theresopolis and others. There are also some international beers produced by national breweries like Heineken and Stella Artois and have a slightly different taste if compared with the original beers.

There are two ways of drinking beer in bars: draft or bottled beer. Draft lager beer is called chope or chopp ('SHOH-pee'), and is commonly served with one inch of foam, but you can make a complaint to the bartender if the foam is consistently thicker than that. In bars, the waiter will usually collect the empty glasses and bottles on a table and replace them with full ones, until you ask him to stop, in a "tap" charging system. In the case of bottled beer, bottles (600ml or 1l) are shared among everyone at the table and poured in small glasses, rather than drunk straight from the bottle. Brazilians like their beer nearly ice-cold - hence, to keep the temperature down, bottles of beer are often kept in an insulated polystyrene container on the table.

Wine

Rio Grande do Sul is the leading wine production region. There are a number of wine-producing farms that are open to visitors and wine tasting, and wine cellars selling wine and fermented grape juice. One of these farms open to visitors is Salton Winery, located in the city of Bento Gonçalves. The São Francisco Valley, along the border of the states of Pernambuco and Bahia, is the country's newest wine-producing region. Brazilian wines are usually fresher, fruitier and less alcoholic than, for instance, French wines. Popular brands like Sangue de Boi, Canção and Santa Felicidade and others with prices below R$6.00 are usually seen as trash.

In Minas Gerais, look for licor de jabuticaba (jabuticaba liquor) or vinho de jabuticaba (jabuticaba wine), an exquisite purple-black beverage with a sweet taste. Jabuticaba is the name of a small grape-like black fruit native to Brazil.

Coffee and tea

Brazil is known world-wide for its high-quality strong coffee. Café is so popular that it can name meals (just like rice does in China, Japan and Korea): breakfast in Brazil is called café da manhã (morning coffee), while café com pão (coffee with bread) or café da tarde (afternoon coffee) means a light afternoon meal. Cafezinho (small coffee) is a small cup of strong, sweetened coffee usually served after meals in restaurants (sometimes for free, just ask politely). Bottled filtered coffee is being replaced by stronger espresso cups in more upscale restaurants.

Chá, or tea in Portuguese, is most commonly found in its Assam version (orange, light coloured). Some more specialised tea shops and cafés will have Earl Gray and green tea available as well.

Mate is an infusion similar to tea that is very high in caffeine content. A toasted version, often served chilled, is consumed all around the country, while Chimarrão (incidentally called mate in neighbouring Spanish-speaking countries) is the hot, bitter equivalent that can be found in the south and is highly appreciated by the gaúchos (Rio Grande do Sul dwellers). Tererê is a cold version of Chimarrão, common in Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso state.

Soft drinks

Nothing beats coconut water (água de coco) on a hot day. (Stress the first o, otherwise it will come out as "poo" (cocô)). It is mostly sold as coco gelado in the coconut itself, drunk with a straw. Ask the machete-wielding vendors to cut the coconut in half so that you can eat the flesh after drinking the water.

If you want a Coke in Brazil, ask for coca or coca-cola, as "cola" means "glue", in Portuguese.

Guaraná is a carbonated soft drink made from the guaraná berry, native to the Amazon area. The major brands are Antarctica and Kuat, the latter owned by Coke. Pureza is a lesser known guaraná soft drink specially popular in Santa Catarina. There is also a "Guaraná Jesus" that is popular in Maranhão. Almost all regions in Brazil feature their own local variants on guaraná, some which can be quite different from the standard "Antarctica" in both good and bad ways. If traveling to Amazonas, be sure to try a cold "Baré," which due to its huge popularity in Manaus was purchased by Antarctica and is becoming more available throughout northern Brazil.

Tubaína is a carbonated soft drink once very popular among Brazilians (particularly the ones born in the 70s, 80s and early 90s) and becoming extremely hard to find. It was once mass-produced by "Brahma" before it became focused on beers only. If you happen to find a place that sells it, try it.

Mineirinho (or Mate Couro) is also a popular soft drink made of guaraná and a typical Brazilian leaf called Chapéu de Couro. Although most Brazilians say that it tastes like grass, older people (+70 years) claim that the drink has medicinal properties.

Fruit juices

Fruit juices are very popular in Brazil. Some cities, notably Rio de Janeiro, have fruit juice bars at nearly every corner.

  • Açai (a fruit from the Amazon) is delicious and nutritious (rich in antioxidants) and can be found widespread across the nations. In the Amazon region it's used as a complement to the everyday diet, often eaten together with rice and fish in the main meal of the day. Curiously, outside of the Amazon region, it's typically used in blended in combination with guarana (a stimulant) powder and a banana to re-energize from late-night partying. It is served cold and has a consistency of soft ice. There are also açai ice creams available.
  • Maracuja (passion fruit) (careful during an active day as this has a relaxant effect)
  • Caju (cashew fruit) and
  • Garapa: freshly pressed sugarcane juice
  • Manga (mango) are also great juice experiences.
  • Mangaba
  • Umbu
  • Vitamina: milk shake with fresh fruits

Brazilians have great taste when it comes to mixing juices.

Sleep

High season in Brazil follows the school holidays calendar, December and January (summer) being the busiest months. New Year, Carnival (movable between February and March, see Understand above) and Holy week are the peak periods, and prices can skyrocket, especially in coastal cities like Rio and Salvador. Also, during those holidays, many hotels restrict bookings to a 3 or 4-day minimum and charge in advance.

Hotels are plentiful in just about all areas of Brazil and can range from luxury beach resorts to very modest and inexpensive choices. The Brazilian tourism regulation board imposes specific minimum attributes for each type of facility, but as the 1-5 star rating is no longer enforced, check in advance if your hotel provides the kind of services you expect.

Pousada means guesthouse (the local equivalent of a French auberge or a British boarding house), and are usually simpler than hotels, and will offer fewer services (room service, laundry etc.). Pousadas are even more widespread than hotels.

In wilderness areas like the Pantanal, travelers usually stay in fazendas, which are ranches with guest facilities. In small towns of Minas Gerais people are fond of hotéis-fazenda (farm hotels) where you can swim, ride, walk, play football, and camp as well as sleep in picturesque barracks.

Also there is great fun in going on a boat hotel which will take you to inaccessible places on the rivers and lakes for great fishing trips or for simply relaxing and watching and photographing the wildlife which is very abundant in the Pantanal. The boats are large, safe, and comfortable with air-conditioned rooms (very necessary). Several small aluminum boats with outboard motor, carried by the boat hotel, driven by experienced fisher/guide will take 2 or 3 tourists to the best "points".

Motel is the local term for a "sex hotel". There's no social stigma per se in staying in one, but the room service and rates are geared to adults staying for a few hours with utmost discretion and privacy.

Youth hostels (albergues da juventude) are becoming increasingly common.

Learn

Portuguese courses for foreigners are not widespread outside the big cities. A good alternative is to befriend language students and exchange lessons.

If you come to Brazil with some initial notions of Portuguese, you will see that people will treat you much better and you will get by much easier.

Language schools in CuritibaSalvador, São Paulo, Rio de JaneiroBelo Horizonte, and Porto Alegre have Portuguese courses from 2 weeks up.

Work

If you can get a job, working in Brazil is easy, mostly because there is much informality. In theory, you must have a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho) from the Ministry of Labor before you can get a job. However, in order to obtain it, you must be sponsored by an employer before entering the country. The company must want a foreigner bad enough to pay the government upwards of R$2000 to sponsor you, knowing also that they are required by law to simultaneously hire and train a replacement for you. Because of this, finding a legal job can be a pretty daunting bureaucratic task, even in Brazil's growing job market of today.

If you are a native English speaker, you may be able to find an English-teaching part-time job, but don't expect that to save your holidays. Although working in the informal market can seem hassle-free at first, there are risks as well. The pay will be under-the-table without contract, so it will be difficult for you to claim your labor rights later. In the bigger cities, there is also the danger of being turned in to the authorities by a rival school, which may see you to a plane home earlier than you had planned.

There is also a growing demand for Spanish language classes, so native Spanish speakers should have no trouble finding work, especially in the major cities. In both cases, it's always much more lucrative to find work privately rather than through schools. This can be done easily, for example by putting an ad in the classifieds section of the Veja weekly news magazine (you have to pay for it) or by putting up signs on the notice boards at universities like USP (free of charge).

Refer to the Ministry of Labour website [24] for more detailed information.

Stay safe

By law, everyone must carry a photo ID at all times. For a foreigner, this means your passport. However, the police will mostly be pragmatic and accept a plastified color photocopy.

Crime

Even the most patriotic Brazilian would say that the greatest problem the country faces is crime. Brazil is one of the most criminalised countries of the world; therefore, the crime rate is high, even for a developing nation. Pick-pocketing and theft are rampant, but perhaps what is more scary to visitors - and also depressingly common - are robberies at gunpoint, which target both locals and tourists. There are cases of armed criminals attacking hotels (from guesthouses to luxurious resorts) and even package tour buses, and armed robberies in crowded areas at plain daylight.

Most visitors to Brazil have trips without any incidents, and a few precautions can drastically reduce the likelihood of being victim of crime. Even with those precautions, though, the chance of a bad incident may still not be negligible. Check the individual city/area articles for advice on specific cities or places. Generally speaking, with exception of a few prosperous countryside areas and smaller towns (mostly in the southern part of the country), most areas in Brazil aren't extremely safe, so it is advisable to avoid showing off expensive possessions in public areas, to avoid deserted streets during the night, and especially, to avoid poor, run-down towns or neighbourhoods. There are cases of Brazilians or tourists being shot down without warning when entering certain neighbourhoods, either in a car or on foot. If you want to visit a favela (slum neighbourhood) or indigenous village, use a licensed, reputable tour service.

Intercity buses are generally safe, but in large cities, intercity bus terminals are often located in run-down, unsafe areas of the city, so it is prudent to take a taxi to and from the terminal rather than walk to or from it. In touristy places, tourists are often seen as "preferred prey" for criminals, so it is better to avoid looking like a tourist. For example, avoid being seen carrying a large camera or guidebook (leave them in a backpack and use them discreetly only when necessary), or dressing in a way dramatically different from the locals. It is perfectly fine to sometimes stop locals to ask questions, but avoid looking clueless and vulnerable when in public.

Road safety

Murder is probably the top fear of visitors to Brazil, but traffic-related deaths are actually nearly as common as murders - in fact, the chance of a road fatality in Brazil is comparable to countries with poor road safety reputation, like Malaysia or Vietnam. This may come as surprise as the traffic in Brazil, especially in large cities, appears to be relatively well-organised compared to these countries. However, this apparent sense of safety is where the danger lurks - Brazil has a large share of irresponsible drivers, who defy speed limits, drive under the influence of alcohol, and sometimes ignore traffic lights. Therefore, keep always your eyes open when crossing the road, even when the pedestrian light is green and the cars have stopped - you never know when a motorbike will pop up from between two cars.

In certain parts of the country, especially in the northern part, roads tend to be poor-maintained, and enforcement of traffic regulations tend to be lax. Although sometimes unavoidable, it is worthwhile to re-consider taking very long road trips inside the country when there is the option of taking a plane instead.

Stay healthy

Food from street and beach vendors has a bad hygienic reputation in Brazil. The later in the day, the worse it gets. Bottled and canned drinks are safe, although some people will insist on using a straw to avoid contact with the exterior of the container.

Bear in mind the heat and humidity when storing perishable foods.

Tap water varies from place to place, (from contaminated, saline or soaked with chlorine to plain drinkable) and Brazilians themselves usually prefer to have it filtered.

In airports, bus stations, as well as many of the cheaper hotels and malls, it is common to find drinking fountains (bebedouro), although not always safe. In hostel kitchens, look for the tap with the cylindrical filter attached. In more expensive hotels, there is often no publicly accessible fountain, and bedrooms contain minibars, selling you mineral water at extremely inflated prices — buying bottled water from the store is always the best alternative.

Vaccination against yellow fever and taking anti-malaria medication may be necessary if you are travelling to central-western (Mato Grosso) or northern (Amazon) regions. If you're arriving from Peru, Colombia or Bolivia, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required before you enter Brazil. Some countries, such as Australia and South Africa, will require evidence of yellow fever vaccination before allowing you enter the country if you have been in any part of Brazil within the previous week. Check the requirements of any country you will travel to from Brazil. In coastal Brazil there's also a risk for dengue fever, and the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America hit Brazil hard with more than 60,000 confirmed cases in 2015 and 2016.

Public hospitals tend to be crowded and terrible, but they attend any kind of person, including foreigners. Most cities of at least 60,000 inhabitants have good private health care.

Dentists abound and are way cheaper than North America and Western Europe. In general, the quality of their work is consistent, but ask a local for advice and a recommendation.

The emergency number is 190, but you must speak Portuguese.

Beware that air conditioning in airports, intercity buses etc. is often quite strong. Carry a long-sleeved garment for air-conditioned places.

Although Brazil is widely known as a country where sex is freely available, it is sometimes misunderstood regarding HIV. Brazil has one of the best HIV prevention programs and consequently, a very low infection rate compared with most countries. Condoms are highly encouraged by governmental campaigns during Carnaval, and distributed for free by local public medical departments.

Respect

Brazilians tend to be very open and talk freely about their problems, especially political subjects and other issues. Also, they use a lot of self-deprecating humour. This allows you to make jokes about the problems in Brazil, when they are talking about such issues, in a playful manner. It is common when you pointing out something bad, for them to give answers like, "That's nothing. Look at this here. It's so much worse". But don't imitate them, as they are likely to feel offended if you criticize certain areas, such as nature or soccer. In some small towns, local politics can be a sensitive issue, and you should be careful when talking about it. Always be polite.

Be aware that racism is a very serious offence in Brazil. Most Brazilians frown upon racism (at least in public), and even if you are only joking or you think you know your company, it is still wise to refrain from anything that can be perceived as racism. According to the Brazilian Constitution, racism is a crime for which bail is not available, and must be met with 6 months to 8 years imprisonment. This is taken very seriously. However, the law only seems to apply to overt, unquestionably racist statements and actions. Therefore, be aware and be respectful when discussing racial relations in Brazil; do not assume you understand Brazil's history of racial inequality and slavery better than a Brazilian person of colour.

Remember that Portuguese is not Spanish and Brazilians (as well as other Portuguese speakers) feel offended if you do not keep this in mind. Both languages can be mutually intelligible to a certain extent, but they differ considerably in phonetics, vocabulary and grammar. It is not a good idea to mix Portuguese with Spanish; don't expect people to understand what you're saying if you (intentionally or unintentionally) insert Spanish words into Portuguese sentences.

It is also noteworthy that the Brazilians are fanatical about football (soccer) and so there are (sometimes violent) disputes between teams from different cities, and walking with the shirt of a team in certain areas may be seen as controversial or even dangerous. Speaking ill of the Brazilian national football team is not considered an insult, but you should never praise the Argentine team or compare them both.

Brazil is open to LGBT tourists. São Paulo boasts the biggest LGBT Pride parade in the world, and most major cities will have gay scenes. However, be aware that homophobia is widespread in Brazilian society, and Brazil is not the sexual haven that many foreigners perceive it to be. Couples that in any way don't conform to traditional heterosexual expectations should expect to be open to some verbal harassment and stares if displaying affection in the streets, though several neighborhoods of many of the major cities are very welcoming of the LGBT population, and LGBT-oriented bars and clubs are common. It is best to gather information from locals as to which areas are more conservative and which are more progressive.

Social etiquette

  • Cheek-kissing is very common in Brazil, among women and between women and men. When two women, or opposite sexes first meet, it is not uncommon to kiss. Two men WILL shake hands. A man kissing another man's cheek is extremely bizarre by Brazilian standards (unless in family relationships, special Italian descendants, and very close friends). Kissing is suitable for informal occasions, used to introduce yourself or being acquainted, especially to young people. Hand shaking is more appropriate for formal occasions or between women and men when no form of intimacy is intended. Trying to shake hands when offered a kiss will be considered odd, but never rude. However, to clearly refuse a kiss is a sign of disdain.
When people first meet, they will kiss once (São Paulo), twice (Rio de Janeiro) or three times (Florianópolis and Belo Horizonte, for instance), depending on where you are, alternating right and left cheeks. Observe that while doing this, you should not kiss on the cheeks (like in Russia) but actually only touch cheeks and make a kissing sound while kissing the air, placing your lips on a strangers cheek is a clear sign of sexual interest. Failing to realise these rules likely won't be seen as rude, especially if it is known that you are a foreigner.
  • Many Brazilians can dance and Brazilians are usually at ease with their own bodies. While talking, they may stand closer to each other than North Americans or Northern Europeans do, and also tend to touch each other more, e.g. on the shoulder or arm, hugs etc. This is not necessarily flirtatious in nature.
  • Brazilians love to drink, and going to pubs and bars is definitely part of social life - sometimes even for those who don't drink alcohol. However, alcoholic beverages aren't allowed in certain places such football stadiums, and laws concerning driving under the influence of alcohol have become increasingly more strict and more rigorously enforced.
  • Brazilians do not normally take their shoes off as soon as they get home, neither expect their visitors to do so. Hence, only take off your shoes when you visit someone's house if your hosts ask so or you see they doing that.

Table etiquette

Except for highly formal situations, Brazilians don't normally mind their tones when eating and chatting. Restaurants tend to be relatively noisy and cheerful environments, specially when there are tables with large groups of people.

Most meals will be eaten with forks/spoons and knives, but there are some things that you can eat with your hands. If you are unsure whether you should use the knife to cut something shorter or just grab it with your hands, observe how people behave around you and imitate them - or simply ask.

Burping is considered impolite, unless you are among very close friends or relatives. Brazilians usually place the knife and the fork in a parallel manner on the plate to signalize they are finished.

If you order a beer or a soda and it comes with a cup, waiters may fill it for you from time to time as they see it becoming empty. They will normally collect empty bottles and cans without asking you first.

Connect

By phone

Brazil has international telephone code 55 and two-digit area codes, and phone numbers are eight or nine digits long. Some areas used seven digits until 2006, meaning you might still find some old phone numbers which won't work unless you add another digit. (Mostly, try adding 2 or 3 at the beginning, or if it's an eight-digit number starting with 6 to 9 try adding a 9 at the beginning).

Eight-digit numbers beginning with digits 2 to 5 are land lines, while eight-digit or nine-digit numbers beginning with digits 6 to 9 are mobile phones.

All cities use the following emergency numbers:

  • 190 - Police
  • 192 - SAMU(Serviço de Atendimento Móvel de Urgência)
  • 193 - Firefighters

However, if you dial 911 while in Brazil, you will be redirected to the police.

To dial to another area code or to another country, you must chose a carrier using a two-digit carrier code. Which carriers are available depends on the area you are dialing from and on the area you are dialing to. Carrier 21 (Embratel) is available in all areas.

The international phone number format for calls from other countries to Brazil is +55-(area code)-(phone number)

In Brazil:

  • To dial to another area code: 0-(carrier code)-(area code)-(phone number)
  • To dial to another country: 00-(carrier code)-(country code)-(area code)-(phone number)
  • Local collect call: 90-90-(phone number)
  • Collect call to another area code: 90-(carrier code)-(area code)-(phone number)
  • International Collect Call: 000111 or through Embratel at 0800-703-2111

Public payphones use disposable prepaid cards, which come with 20, 40, 60 or 75 credits. The discount for buying cards with larger denominations is marginal. Phone booths are nearly everywhere, and all cards can be used in all booths, regardless of the owner phone company. Cards can be bought from many small shops, and almost all news agents sell them. The Farmácia Pague Menos sells them at official (phone company) price, somewhat cheaper. Calls to cell phones (even local) will use up your credits very quickly (nearly as expensive as international calls). Calling the USA costs about one real per minute. It's possible to find all international and Brazilian phone codes on DDI and DDD phone codes.

By mobile phone

When traveling to Brazil, even though it may seem best to carry your cell phone along, you should not dismiss the benefits of the calling cards to call the ones back home. Get yourself a Brazil calling card when packing for your trip. Brazil phone cards [25]

Brazil has 4 national mobile operators: Vivo (Telefónica Group), Claro (Telmex/América Móvil Group), OI and TIM (Telecom Italia Group), all of them running GSM, HSDPA/HSPA+ and LTE networks. There are also smaller operators, like Nextel (NII/Sprint Group) (with iDEN Push-To-Talk and HSPA+), CTBC-ALGAR (GSM and HSDPA in Triangulo Mineiro Region (Minas Gerais)), and Sercomtel (GSM and HSDPA in Paraná).

Pay-as-you-go (pré-pago) SIM cards for GSM phones are widely available in places like newsstands, drugstores, supermarkets, retail shops, etc. Vivo uses 850/1800/1900 MHz frequencies, while other operators uses 900/1800 MHz (and some specific cases, 1900Mhz) frequencies. 3G/HSDPA coverage is available mostly on big cities on the southeast states and capitals. Some states use 850 MHz but others use 2100 MHz for 3G/HSDPA. For LTE, all states and operators use the european 2600Mhz (B7) frequency (700Mhz B28 is under tests on this moment) If you need to unlock a phone from a specific operator, this can be done for a charge in any phone shop.

If you prefer, you can use international roaming in any operator (respecting the roaming agreements). In this case, if you want to call to Brazil, you must call the number directly, as stated above, or using the standardized way, as +<countrycode><areacode><number> to call abroad.

All major carriers (Vivo, Claro, TIM and Oi) can send and receive text messages (SMS) as well as phone calls to/from abroad. Some operators (as Vivo, Claro, and TIM), can send and receive international text messages.

By net

Internet cafes (Lan houses) are increasingly common, and even small towns often have at least one spot with more or less decent connections.

An increasing number of hotels, airports and shopping malls also offer hotspots for Wi-Fi with your laptop computer or smartphone.

For general tips on internet while travelling, see our travel topic: Internet access

By mail

The Brazilian Correio [26] is fairly reliable and post offices are everywhere. However, be aware that if you ask how much it costs to send a letter, postcard or package they will automatically give you the "priority" price (prioritário) instead of the normal one (Econômico). You might think that the priority one will make it go faster, but it isn't always true; sometimes it takes as long as the normal fare, so be sure to ask for the "econômico" price of anything you wish to dispatch.

Hear about travel to The Pantanal in Brazil as the Amateur Traveler talks to Daisy about her recent trip to this vast wetlands area. The Pantanal is south of the Amazon in Eastern Brazil and also extends into Bolivia and Paraguay.“The Pantanal is a basin that is the world’s largest wetlands. It is about ten times the size of the Everglades. It’s really a great site to see wildlife.” The Pantanal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Let's be honest--it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that we're big fans of Machu Picchu. I mean, we're even called IncaTrail.info! That said, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail certainly aren't the only parts of Peru that we're in love with. In our humble opinion, Peru is one of the world's most magical countries for reasons that span much further than one (albeit truly incredible) archaeological site. But if you've just been browsing our site, you might not have noticed this yet. We've kept quiet about all the other wonderful things to see and do in Peru, mostly because we've had so much to say about Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas/activities.

That is, until now! In honor of all the other wonderful destinations and activities that Peru has to offer, we've decided to craft a new list: the top 20 things to do in Peru that aren't Machu Picchu. Due to the nature of the article, we won't be going into too much detail about each site--but maybe, in the future, we'll have some more time and space to expand on a few of them.

1. Bird Watch at the Colca Canyon

colca canyon - things to do in peru

Southern Peru is home to the Colca Canyon, one of the country's more popular tourism spots that nonetheless you've probably never heard of! Many people are surprised to learn that the Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the world-famous Grand Canyon in the United States, though its walls are not as steep and as such it's not quite as visually striking. The Colca Canyon is also home to the Andean Condor, one of the largest birds in the world with a wingspan reaching up to 3.2 meters. This is one of the few spots on the planet where it's relatively easy to see the birds at close range--a truly magical experience.

2. Fly Over the Nazca Lines

nazca lines - things to do in peru

If you've never heard of the Nazca Lines before, there's a good chance that you're quite confused by the image above, which is fine! The Nazca Lines, to put it succinctly, are a series of hundreds of massive designs dug into the ground by the Nazca culture well over a millennium ago. They range from simple geometric shapes to highly-stylized images primarily depicting plants and animals from the natural world. Because some of the figures are over 200 meters across, the best way (well... the only way, really) to see the Nazca Lines is from above. There are a variety of tour operators offering flights above the lines if you are so inclined.

3. Surf or Just Relax in Máncora

mancora - things to do in peru

If you're planning a trip to Peru, spending some time relaxing on the beach probably isn't on your to-do list. If you're on a tight schedule, we totally understand this, but if you've got the time, then why not? If a few days of sand, surf, and sun sounds right up your alley, then the laid-back surfing town of Máncora is perhaps your best option in Peru. Though the town is small, there are lodging and dining options galore for most any budget. To enjoy the beach the way that Peruvians do, this is your place.

4. Sandboard or Take a Buggy Ride in Huacachina

huacachina - things to do in peru

As much as this might look like a scene straight out of the Sahara Desert, trust us--Huacachina is very much in Peru. Located in the same southwestern Peruvian province as the Nazca Lines, this tiny oasis village in an otherwise parched dry desert has been attracting tourists for a while. Though nowadays additional water is pumped to the oasis from the nearby city of Ica, it's still undoubtedly a cool place. Popular activities here in the "oasis of the Americas" include sandboarding and dune buggy riding.

5. Take a Boat Tour of the Islas Ballestas

islas ballestas - things to do in peru

This small group of equally small islands has recently become one of the world's most widely-recognized biodiversity hot spots. From birds such as blue-footed boobies and Humboldt penguins to seals and sea lions, many of the world's most charming and beautiful animals call the Islas Belletas home--or they would if they could, you know, talk. Boat tours leaving from the nearby coastal town of Paracas generally take around two hours and are highly recommended as one of the coolest things to do in Peru.

6. Do Some Shopping at a Peruvian Marketplace

pisac marketplace - things to do in peru

Peru, especially the Andean region, is famous around the world for its colorful marketplaces catering to tourists and locals alike. If you're looking to buy a keepsake for yourself or some souvenirs for friends and family back home, skip the brick and mortar stores and check out the market stalls first! The Andean highlands are home to a number of major marketplaces (check out a description of Cusco's largest in an article by a fellow site contributor at this link), but the most famous is without a doubt located in the small town of Písac. Pictured above, Písac's marketplace is regarded as too touristy by some, but regardless, we remain fans and recommend it at least as a short half-day trip from Cusco.

7. Visit the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca

lake titicaca - things to do in peru

Lake Titicaca is famous for a number of reasons: it's the largest lake in South America, the highest navigable lake in the world, and it has an admittedly funny name (for English speakers, at least). It's also the home of the pre-Incan Uru people, an indigenous group that still lives in the most incredible of ways--on floating islands built and rebuilt out of dried reeds, drifting over the surface of the lake. Originally this was done as a defensive strategy, and though the threat of Inca invasion is long gone, the lifestyle has managed to live on. Today, visitors can take tours of the islands and even participate in homestays with local families. When it comes to these activities, there are a couple of tours that we specifically recommend!

8. See the Otherworldly Maras Salt Ponds

maras salt ponds - things to do in peru

A slightly lesser-known historic and cultural site not far outside of Cusco, the town of Maras makes for a fine day trip. Or, if we're being more specific, an area just a kilometer or so outside of the town makes for a fine day trip--the town itself, to be frank, is pretty slow. But we digress... The bizarre scene you can see above is just a small section of the massive terraced salt ponds from which many Maras residents derive their livelihood. The indigenous people of the region have used evaporation to harvest salt here for centuries, and it's one of the most interesting ways to step back in time in Peru today.

9. Explore the Peruvian Amazon

amazon rainforest - things to do in peru

When most people think of the Amazon Rainforest, their minds immediately jump to Brazil--and although South America's largest country does contain the lion's share of the Amazon, one could actually make the argument that it's not the best place to visit the rainforest! In fact, many would contend that that specific honor should go to Peru. Home to Iquitos, the largest city in the world without outside road access, the Peruvian Amazon has been attracting lots of visitors in recent years. The city itself is home to many historic and architectural wonders, but the real draw here has always been the region's stunning nature and biodiversity.

10. Get Some Perspective in the Belén District

belen - things to do in peru

On the outskirts of Iquitos, on the floodplain of a major Amazon River tributary, sits the Belén District, often referred to as the "Venice of the Amazon." But frankly, the similarities end with the water. The residents of this notoriously impoverished area have built floating homes out of necessity, mostly because no one else wanted to live in an area that experienced such terrible annual flooding. Most of Belén is dreadfully poor, but it's still an amazing feat of construction. Though some might feel ethical qualms regarding what is sometimes termed "slum tourism," others view tourism to places like this as an effective source of income for local residents. Decide where you stand, and if you'd like to visit Belén go during the day, and with a trusted local guide.

11. Climb the Misti Volcano

misti volcano - things to do in peru

Without a doubt Peru has a wide, and we mean wiiide variety of hiking, trekking, and climbing options. You should know by now that we're big fans of both the Inca and Lares Trails, but if you're looking for something different then southern Peru's Misti Volcano might be more your speed. Let's be clear: this is by no means an easy climb. Even the shorter of the two main routes to the summit features nearly 2,000 meters of elevation gain, and a good portion of this is through loose volcanic sand. That said, the climb does not require any technical mountaineering skills, and those who arrive at the summit seem to agree that it's a truly inspiring experience.

12. Wander Túcume, Peru's Valley of Pyramids

tucume pyramids - things to do in peru

This valley is bone dry, abandoned, and home to the ruins of some 26 major pyramids and mound structures built over the course of some 800 years. It's also a source of fear and apprehension for local people--many still believe this valley to be cursed and refer to it by the Spanish word for "purgatory." But you don't believe in any of that stuff... right? Indigenous groups here built and rebuilt pyramids in an attempt to appease what they perceived as angry gods, but it seems that the system never worked after all. Today the valley is an archaeological site relatively popular with hikers and history buffs, and it even features a small hotel just outside the site boundaries.

13. Discover Chan Chan, the Largest Pre-Columbian City in South America

chan chan - things to do in peru

Though eclipsed in popularity by some other ruins sites including Machu Picchu, this ruins complex near the modern-day city of Trujillo should be a mandatory stop for anyone visiting Peru. Chan Chan was the capital city of the Chimu Empire and was quite large even by today's standards, the urban center covered approximately six square kilometers while the city continued to stretch less densely much further still. The city thrived until conquering Incas arrived and forced a relocation of its residents in the 1470's. By the time the Spaniards arrived to explore this area, the once massive Pre-Columbian city was nothing more than a ghost town.

14. Enter the Walled Fortress of Kuelap

kuelap - things to do in peru

If you're getting bored with the archaeological sites, this is the last one--we promise. But seriously, look at this place! Located in northern Peru, Kuelap was a massive walled city home to over 400 buildings constructed by the Chachapoya culture, sometimes referred to as "the Warriors of the Clouds." Though the ruins within the fortress are certainly very impressive, nothing matches the sheer size and scope of its walls, which reach up to some 19 meters in height. Though often neglected in favor of other pre-Columbian ruins structures, a visit to Kuelap is certainly one of the most interesting things to do in Peru.

15. Indulge Your Appetite in Lima's Culinary Scene

central restaurante lima - things to do in peru

Any savvy readers who have already done a bit of research on Peru may be wondering about the total lack of Lima on our list so far. How could it be that the country's capital and largest city hasn't yet been mentioned? Well, we've basically decided to save all of our Lima entries for the end of our list. It's no longer any secret that Lima is home to one of the most innovative, exciting, and simply delicious culinary scenes in all of Latin America. From new-school classics like Central Restaurante to upscale takes on uniquely Peruvian cuisines to just some darn good sandwiches, you can truly find anything here. It should go without saying that these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

16. Examine Pre-Columbian Erotic Pottery at the Larco Museum

larco museum - things to do in peru

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. This private Lima museum is one of the country's finest, despite the fact that its numerous galleries showcasing works from over 4,000 years of Peruvian history are generally overshadowed by its one gallery showcasing nothing more than erotic pre-Columbian ceramics. It just goes to show you that at the end of the day, we really haven't changed all that much. Without a doubt, this is one of the wackiest yet most interesting things to do in Peru.

 17. Take a Stroll on the Malecón in Miraflores

miraflores malecon - things to do in peru

Of all of Lima's upscale neighborhoods, Miraflores is probably the most well known. Perhaps this is due to its striking coastal location that makes for some truly stunning photographs? If you're looking for a place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city without really leaving it at all, Miraflores is the place. Its seaside walkway, called the Malecón, is especially popular with locals and tourists alike, it's a beautiful public space with gardens, parks, and plenty of public art. If you're looking for a slice of what life is like for Lima's richest residents, this is it.

18. Experience the Magic Water Tour at the Park of the Reserve

park of the reserve - things to do in peru

Your gut reaction to our having included a fountain tour through a public park on our list might simply be a bewildered, "what?" But please trust us--this place really is something special. Inaugurated in 2007, the newly remodeled Parque de la Reserva is home to El Circuito Mágico del Agua, now officially the largest fountain complex found anywhere in the world. For the meager price of four soles (currently less than $1.50 US), visitors can experience thirteen colorful and interactive fountains, including one that reaches over 80 meters into the sky.

19. Get Bohemian in the Barranco District

barranco - things to do in peru

Head south from Miraflores and you'll arrive in Barranco, undoubtedly Lima's "hippest" neighborhood home to artists, squatters, and increasingly the nouveau rich. The district has a back story similar to those of many up-and-coming neighborhoods around the world. To put it shortly, the rich people fled as the expanding city encroached, poor artists and creative types moved in and made it cool, and now they're slowly being pushed out again as a different kind of rich people buy up the property once more. But for the time being at least, Barranco is still home to galleries, cafes, bars, nightclubs, and everything else you'll require to pass the time in bohemian bliss.

20. Buy All the Clothing You'll Ever Need in Gamarra

gamarra - things to do in peru

By far the most "off the beaten path" of our Lima suggestions, the city's Gamarra district certainly isn't for everyone--it's noisy, incredibly crowded, and home to the largest clothing and textile market in Latin America. It's been estimated that there are over 20,000 shops here, selling everything from t-shirts and jeans to tuxedos and bridal gowns to designer knockoffs to traditional Peruvian garments. If you can't stand crowds, stay away, but if you're into clothing or simply enjoy shopping like a local, hold on and get ready for a wild ride.

The post The Top 20 Things to Do in Peru--That Aren't Machu Picchu! appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Stretching 96,922 square kilometers across the country, the Amazon comprises more than 60 percent of Peru. The area is home to stunning landscapes, unrivaled biodiversity, and fascinating cultures. A trip to the Peruvian Amazon is well worth the effort, but what are the most impressive attractions? Check out the top four things to do in the Peruvian Amazon.

Peru Amazon Trip

1. Explore ancient ruins in Kuelap. The Chachapoyas people, meaning the Warriors of the Cloud, were a pre-Colombian civilization living in the dense forests of Amazonian region. Though eventually incorporated into the vast Incan Empire just prior to the Spanish’s arrival, the Chachapoyas were known as fiercely independent warriors that vehemently resisted outside rule. Today, the fortress of Kuelap stands as a testament to the greatness of the civilization. Situated on the summit of a hill on the left bank of the Utcubamba, the walled city contains over 400 circular buildings. Kuelap’s sheer size and breathtaking location makes it one of the most impressive ruins in Latin America. Constructed between 900 and 1100 AD, visitors can reach these 1,000-year-old ruins via Chiclayo, which is about 9 hours away by car. Keep in mind that it is best to make the trek during the dry season, between June and October, as during the rainy season many roads and trails become inaccessible.

2. Hike to a waterfall in Tarapoto. If you’re searching for jaw-dropping landscapes, you will find them in Tarapoto. Situated where the Andes meet the Amazon, Tarapoto is marked by verdant, dramatic hills and beautiful rivers — the perfect recipe for waterfalls. The Cataratas del Ahuashiyacu is arguably Tarapoto’s most famous waterfall. However, there are a number of arguably more spectacular waterfalls situated off the beaten path. The Cataratas de Huacamaillo, though a 3-hour hike away, are well worth the trek.

3. Search for pink dolphins. The Amazon River dolphin, colloquially known as the pink dolphin, is a freshwater dolphin found in the Amazonian rivers of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. These fascinating creatures thrive in the lowland rivers of Peru. During the annual rainy reason when the Amazon floods across vast swaths of forests and marshes, these dolphins are able to use their unusually long necks and flexible spinal cords to maneuver under tree trunks and submerged vegetation to hunt and extract their prey, feeding on crustaceans, small turtles, catfish, crabs, and shrimp. In local Amazonian lore, the pink dolphins are powerful symbols of good luck.

4. Participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony. Made by combining the caapi vine with DMT-containing plants, this powerful hallucinogenic is an important part of a rich tradition of ethoegenic practices within many indigenous communities throughout the Amazon basin, used for both medical purposes and spiritual guidance. The visions induced by Ayahuasca can help users to conquer their fears and gain new insights. Outsiders have long made the journey into the Amazon in search of an illuminating Ayahuasca experience. Allen Ginsberg, a famous beat poet, went to Peru in 1960 in search of the plant on the advice of his writer friend William Burroughs. Paul Simon’s 1990 song “Spirit Journey” recounts his trip into the Amazon and experience with Ayahuasca, while a number of musicians have also tried Ayahuasca, including Tori Amos, Ben Lee, and Sting.

However, visitors are advised to exercise caution if taking Ayahuasca and to find a reputable center or shaman. The experience itself is physically demanding and is often accompanied by fever and intense vomiting. Visitors also need to follow a dietary regimen in preparation for the ceremony, which entails abstaining from salt, sugar, and meat. The Takiwasi center, located just outside of Tarapoto, is highly recommended. The center is run by French physician Jaques Mabiti and combines traditional medicine, including Ayahuasca, with modern psychotherapy. The center runs nine-month rehabilitation programs for those with severe problems, although shorter options are also available.

There you have it, our list of Amazon activities. Check out other things to do in Peru here

Amazon Rainforest Peru

The post The Top 4 Things to Do in the Peruvian Amazon appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

United and illy

United Airlines Serving illy Coffee

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big coffee fan. So I was happy to hear that United Airlines will be serving premium Italian coffee illycafè in its United Clubs at the company’s hubs in the continental US starting next month and across all flights next summer.

As a professional travel blogger I fly a lot these days, and most of my award miles are through Star Alliance & United Airlines.

Improving the flying experience by serving great coffee is a small but important change I wholeheartedly welcome.

United reached out to me because they wanted to share how and why they are upgrading their coffee brand to illy — and the thoughtful journey to this new partner.

Enjoying Great Coffee in the Sky

Why illy Coffee?

Choosing the famous Italian coffee brand illy wasn’t random either. They actually won out over 16 other candidates in blind taste tests conducted on the ground and in the air with both customers and employees.

Did you know that the lack of humidity in airplanes causes passengers to lose their sense of taste by about 30%? It’s true!

So if you prefer strong flavorful coffee like me, you’ll enjoy illy.

United will be serving the brand’s signature scuro dark roast as well as espresso brewed from Arabica beans purchased directly from growers in Brazil, Central America, India and Africa.

Airline competition is fierce these days. It’s nice to see an airline listening to customers and employees in order to improve customer satisfaction.

Serving better coffee on board is one small change that United is making to stand out from its competitors. I’m looking forward to this one! ★

Watch Video: United Airlines Coffee Taste Test

READ NEXT: Key West’s Crazy Street Festival

Have you ever tried illy coffee before?

United Airlines

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Drum roll – preferably the steel drum number from Under The Sea, if possible – please: Today, I’m proud to be making one of the biggest announcements of my blogging career. An announcement that’s been in the works for six months – or if you look at it another way, six years.

I’m a PADI AmbassaDiver for 2016.

Diving Self Portrait

I first heard the term “PADI,” the world’s leading scuba diver training organization, in 2009. I’d just arrived on Koh Tao and had a faint inkling that maybe, despite my fears and doubts, I needed to give this whole scuba diving thing a try. Six years, several certifications and hundreds of dives later, I’m back on Koh Tao again – a PADI Divemaster, a grant recipient from the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, and now, an ambassador for the PADI brand to boot. It’s hard not to feel like things have come full circle in the most perfect kind of way. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do and writing exactly what I’m supposed to write.

Sail Rock, Gulf of Thailand

Some of you already know the whole story. Completing my PADI Open Water in Thailand was a turning point for me. The following summer, I completed my Advanced Open Water in the Cayman Islands while completing an apprenticeship that first introduced me to underwater videography. Upon my return to the US, I attended the Beneath The Sea dive show for the first time, learning about an organization called the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame.

Eventually, I fulfilled my dream of moving back to Thailand and begun working as an underwater videographer by day, and a travel blogger by night. Ever a student, I applied for the WDHOF’s continuing education grant and to my delight, I won! I used the grant to move to Indonesia to complete my PADI Divemaster training. By then, this blog was a full time job, and I was thrilled to have a platform from which to encourage others to join me underwater.

Diving in Isla de Coiba

Why I Love PADI

Ever since the first day of my Open Water course, PADI has represented excellence in standards, compassion in conservation, a way to make friends and see new places, and a certification card that is recognized around the world. Here’s a little more on why I’m so excited to partner with the biggest name in diving.

• Education: For this right brained creative, all the “science-y” stuff surrounding diving seemed overwhelming at first. I can’t explain the pride I felt acing the physics sections of my Divemaster training – my PADI education gave that to me.

Diving in Iceland

• Friendship: Diving has brought so many treasured relationships into my life – those with friends, mentors, and beyond – moreso than any other hobby or passion. The only way I can explain it is that diving is such a special experience, sharing it with someone creates a special bond.

Shore Diving Bonaire

• Wanderlust: PADI opened the world up for me. I want to dive it all. I want to do a liveaboard in Raja Ampat. I want to dive with whales off the coast of Domenica. I want to see the kelp forests in California, to swim with sharks in the Galapagos, and to submerge myself in the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve had a serious case of wanderlust since long before I know what size wetsuit I wore, but diving has given my travels direction and focus.

Diving in Guatemala

• Conservation: My zeal for diving ignited a second, perhaps more important passion for me – conservation. Coming face to face with the crises facing our reefs and oceans inspired me not just to make changes in my own life but also to share what I’d learned with others. That spark of awareness diving inspired in me prompted me to lead a more sustainable, contentious life – and that will stay with me forever.

Scuba Coiba Dive Trip

• Work opportunities: PADI’s slogan is, the way the world learns to dive. Over the years, I’ve had countless readers write to me asking for tips on how to work in the dive industry. Long before I had any affiliation with them, my response was set – if you’re planning to go pro, you’ve got to dive PADI. There’s simply no other certification that opens the door to as many dive jobs around the world. And while there’s no sugar coating the fact that it can be a tough one with long hours and low pay (tip your instructors, y’all), I think we can all agree you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful office.

Diving Malta

What This Means For Us

I’ll be writing diving-specific content each month, some to be published here on Alex in Wanderland, and some to be published on the PADI website. Of course, those of you who have been around for a while know that as one of my fave topics, diving often comes up much more often than that. So basically, it will be business as usual. The main difference is you’ll probably notice me talking about PADI a bit more on social media, and hopefully working to arrange some fun giveaways and getaways for you.

For me, this means a huge professional milestone, a chance to further pursue my passions, and the opportunity to reach an even wider audience by writing for PADI.com.

Diving in Santorini

What’s Next

As always, I’ll be looking for diving opportunities everywhere I go – for my travels in 2016 this means potentially enrolling in some advanced tech courses here in Thailand, doing some fun diving along the coast of Brazil, and looking into some weekend liveaboards when I’m in California. I’m also excited about potentially attending my first DEMA (the largest diving conference in the world!) in Las Vegas in November. Who knows? I might even be able to sneak a dedicated Caribbean dive trip into my summer like I did last year.

For now, I’d love you hear from YOU. (Duh!) What diving topics do you want to hear about? If you’re a diver, what dive spot or certification course do you want to tackle next? If you’re not, what’s stopping you? Let’s blow some bubbles in the comments!

Resort Diving in Bonaire

3-devide-lines

This post is brought to you by PADI as part of the PADI AmbassaDiver initiative. 

Welcome to my newest series, The Wanderland Guide to Travel Planning. This is the final post in a six-part series! Many thanks to Capital One for sponsoring this post.

Part Six // Packing, Paperwork and Other Practicalities

You’re pretty much all set. Destination picked. Flight booked. Itinerary setaccommodation settled, and activities and entertainment planned. All that’s left is to pack up and go! But first, check on a few of these practicalities and make sure you’re ready for takeoff.

How to Afford Travel

Packing

For longer trips — and ever shorter ones — I often start packing quite early so that I can plan accordingly if I need a special piece of gear (going trekking? Might need to bring replacement mouthpieces for my Camelbak. Going on a rainforest safari? Might want to consider upgrading my zoom lens.)

My first step is typically to select what type and size of bag I’m going to be using, based on my destination and length of my trip. Then, I set aside an area where I can start laying out what I want to pack well ahead of time and do a little editing every day until take off. If it’s a long trip and I’ll be packing a lot, I might do one section at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed – clothes, toiletries, electronics, etc. If it’s a shorter trip, I might try to roughly plan out outfits for each day based on my activities so that I don’t waste space on frivolous times. Usually I double-check myself with a check list to make sure I’m not forgetting something small but essential.

Read more packing posts and lists here.

What to Pack for Bonaire

Paperwork and Practicalities

• Visas: If you’re traveling internationally, US citizens can check the State Department list for visa requirements, while the website Do I Need A Visa For? will give you a quick glance no matter where you hail from. Note that these websites are geared towards those going on shorter trips and thus don’t often go into the details of options available for longer stays — you’ll probably have to go digging a bit for that (for example, both websites briefly explain that visas aren’t necessary for US citizens staying 30 days or less in Thailand, but don’t mention that visas for longer stays are available and can be relatively easy to obtain.) Visas can be confusing but in general as a US citizen I am very grateful for how little red tape stands in my way while traipsing around the world. (Brazil, my next big trip, is turning out to be a major exception.)

If you’re not super web savvy (or the country you want to go to has an embassy website that makes your eyes bleed), check if your credit card has a Pre-Trip Assistance service.

• One-Way Tickets: I touched on this in my guide to booking flights, but some countries will require proof of exit in order to enter. If you’re planning to prance in on a one-way ticket, read this first.

How to Book Flights

• Vaccines: If I’m heading to a new region of the world, I’ll check guidebooks and the CDC website for a general idea of recommended vaccines and then call my doctor to get her opinion on which I actually need. The big vaccine that many travelers (especially those heading to Africa or Latin America) will wrestle with is yellow fever, as there are several countries that require you to show vaccination if you’ve traveled to other high-risk countries (for example, you must show proof of vaccination in order to enter Brazil from, say, Peru).  Plus, you know, there’s no cure — and it’s fatal.

Health insurance rarely covers travel-specific vaccines. If you’re stateside, you can find clinics offering the yellow fever jab on the CDC’s Yellow Fever directory. The priciest option (for all vaccines) will be to go to a private travel clinic, where a yellow fever vaccine will set you back about $300. A cheaper alternative is to call your local County Health Department — I paid $130 for mine in Albany, New York (I did have to get a prescription from my general practitioner first, but I was able to do so over the phone.) The bargain option would have been to do it abroad — you can safely and comfortably get yellow fever and other important travel vaccinations in cities like Lima and Bangkok for around $30-40. Just look up international hospitals and clinics in your arrival city and shoot them an email (I’ve found the hospitals and clinics in Thailand respond to emails within hours!), and make sure the incubation period will have passed before you head into high-risk areas.

• Health and Health Insurance: I am currently on the hunt for a US health plan that will cover me internationally, or a travel plan that will fill in the gaps. Suggestions are welcome! In the meantime I will be paying out of pocket for care here in Thailand, which is incredibly affordable and comprehensive. Before I rolled off my health insurance, I did final check ups for my teeth and eyes, and had a new Implanon birth control implant put in (in my opinion, the absolute best choice for women road warriors).

I do pay for DAN diver accident insurance, which starts at $30 per year and is a must for scuba enthusiasts (standard health insurance and travel insurances do not cover decompression chamber visits, which could both save your life and wipe your savings in a matter of hours.)

Bumungrad

• Travel Insurance: There are a dizzying number of options out there for travel-specific insurance. Personally, I don’t use any of them. Instead, I insure my electronics on my parent’s homeowner’s insurance for a reasonable annual fee (I highly recommend going this route if possible as the coverage is more comprehensive and the rate generally lower than travel-specific insurance) and rely on benefits provided by my credit card.

Most credit card holders are not aware of all the benefits they receive– for example, as a Capital One Venture cardholder, I’m entitled to Visa Signature security and convenience benefits, which include both complementary auto rental insurance and insurance on checked and carry-on baggage, among other things.

Staying Healthy on the Road

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and having a strong body is the best defense! I covered finding healthy food and gyms in a previous post. But here are a few extra ways to avoid illness and injury on the road.

Getting Healthy in Albany

• Avoiding food borne illness: Many travelers deny themselves the joy of street food out of concerns over food-borne illness. That’s a shame! Check out my friend Jodi’s guide to eating street food safely.

I’m frequently asked if I avoid ice and/or fresh fruit and vegetables due to concerns over tap water. Nope. For those on short international trips I can understand wanting to avoid any risk of getting sick, but for long term travelers I think it’s best to just slowly introduce that local bacteria into your system and enjoy all the local produce you can get your hands on! I drink tap water from a Clearly Filtered bottle everywhere I go.

• Avoiding mosquito borne illness: Due to the extended time I spend malaria zones each year and the detrimental side effects and risks of long-term use, thus far I have chosen to avoid all preventative malarial drugs and focus instead on preventing mosquito bites in high-risk areas. Again, I can see how the choice might be different for a short-term traveler less concerned over the long-term risks of those drugs.

Personally, I simply wear bug spray when necessary (bring your own from home if you want to use natural varieties or you’re concerned over DEET levels – it’s pretty unregulated in much of the world).

Staying Safe

• Preventing injury: For the most part, this is just luck. But be very careful when renting motorbikes – in Southeast Asia, it’s a popular way to get from point A to point B. It’s also the leading cause of death among travelers. Don’t let statistics alone stop you from renting one, but be realistic about if you’re comfortable driving on poor roads, in heavy traffic and up steep hills.

• If you do get ill or injured: Did you know that your credit card may offer travel and emergency assistance services? With my Capital One Venture, I have access to a Benefit Administrator who can connect me with local emergency and assistance resources twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Driving a Scooter in Bermuda

Managing Money on the Road

I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by using great banking products and sticking to a well-researched system.

• Avoid foreign transaction fees – and build points: I signed up for my Venture Card by Capital One in 2009 in anticipation of my first big trip, and it’s been my primary credit card ever since. First off, it has zero transaction fees – an absolute must for me. Second, it offers double miles on every purchase – miles that are redeemable on any travel related expense, a flexibility that airline-based cards and programs just can’t compete with. In my first year as a cardholder, I snagged a free flight to Hawaii worth $560. These days, I make everything from Uber rides to hotel rooms disappear from my bill with the click of a button.

• Research your card benefits carefully: Recently, I discovered that I’m eligible to pretty top-notch benefits at some of the world’s best hotels – perks like 3pm checkout, automatic upgrades, free wifi, $25 in dining credit, and more — simply by holding a Venture Card by Capital One. I’m kicking myself for not knowing about it sooner – I spotted several hotels I’ve stayed in over the last year on their roster.

New Haroula Hotel, Santorini

• Avoid ATM fees: For point building purposes, it is best to put as many purchases as possible on credit cards. However, in some destinations around the world that’s easier said than done. Use ATMS rather than currency exchanges to get cash when needed (they have far better rates) and find a debit card that refunds ATM fees. Then, carry small amount of cash (my preference, in case of theft or scatterbrain) and visit the ATM often without fear of racking up huge fees.

• Have backups: Personally, I’ve found customer service at the credit cards I love and have stuck with, like Capital One, to be top notch – they’ll do their darndest to get you a new card and emergency cash wherever you may be in the shortest amount of time possible should yours become lost or stolen, or should you lose access to one of your accounts. (I had to call them just this week and had the sweetest conversation with Tami in Tampa.) But don’t get stranded. Carry your primary credit card and debit card in one place, and stash a backup of each somewhere completely different in your luggage. Better safe than sorry!

• Track your spending: I use online banking tools to monitor my accounts and Trail Wallet to track my daily spending. Splitwise is another great app for when you’re traveling as a couple or group. Trail Wallet let’s me set a daily budget for myself, make my own categories, and make entries in both a home and local and currency. Taking note of every sol I spend will not only help me write posts about my daily budget like I did for Honduras and the Philippines, but also help keep realize when I’m splurging too much on smoothies or when I have wiggle room in my budget for the VIP bus seats.

Read more posts on budgeting here.

Money

Ready for takeoff yet? I truly hope you enjoyed this series. Let me know if I missed any of your favorite travel planning tips in the comments. Bon voyage!

Boston Fourth of July

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, we joked that he’d be done within a few months. Comedians had a field day. He couldn’t gain any serious support, could he?

Until he started leading all the polls…and winning primaries.

Holy shit. This could actually happen.

“If Trump gets elected, I’m leaving the country!”

I know. Everyone says it. But there’s no way to actually do that, is there?

OF COURSE THERE IS! You could leave the country in SO many different ways — ways that are 100% legal and ethical.

Kate on the Sydney Bridgeclimb

1) Get a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand.

If you’re 30 or under, you qualify to spend a year living and working in Australia or New Zealand! These are the only traditional working visas currently available to Americans.

In both countries, you can apply for the visa if you’re as old as 30; you can enter the country within one year of receiving your visa, which means you could start your year at age 31. Australia also offers the option of taking a second year if you spend three months working in “regional Australia” (rural areas and outside the most popular tourist destinations). Edit: I’ve since learned the second year is not available to Americans, sadly. Brits and Canadians can take advantage of this option, however.

You could spend your year bartending in Cairns or Queenstown, working on a winery in the Barossa Valley or Marlborough, working at a corporate job in Melbourne or Wellington, or taking on a hospitality job just about anywhere. And those are just a few of the possibilities.

For more, check out the Australia working holiday visa site and the New Zealand working holiday site.

Hongdae

2) Get a job teaching English abroad.

Teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways U.S. citizens can get a job working abroad. Most countries only require a university degree in any field; others also require a TEFL certificate.

The most opportunity for Americans is in Asia. South Korea tends to offer the best packages: a competitive salary plus free housing and free flights to and from your home country. Many teachers in South Korea are able to comfortably save more than $10,000 per year and pay down debt or go traveling afterward.

Japan, China, and Taiwan also have great environments for teaching English with decent benefits. Entry-level teaching jobs in Southeast Asia and Latin America tend to pay only enough to get by.

While many Americans dream of teaching English in Europe, it’s extremely difficult to work in the EU without EU citizenship and the jobs are thus few. Eastern Europe and Turkey are a better bet.

Options in the Middle East tend to pay the most but have the most stringent requirements, often a teaching certification and experience in your home country and/or an advanced degree.

This is just the most basic of overviews — head to ESL Cafe to learn anything and everything about teaching English abroad.

El Tunco, El Salvador

3) Join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dreamed of working as a diplomat around the world? The U.S. Foreign Service is your way in. If you’re able to pass the notoriously difficult Foreign Service Exam, you’ll be eligible to work two-year contracts in countries around the world.

The goal of the U.S. Foreign Service is “to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.” Basically, you represent the United States while abroad.

There are several different tracks: Administration, Construction Engineering, Facility Management, Information Technology, International Information and English Language Programs, Medical and Health, Office Management, and Law Enforcement and Security.

You don’t get to choose your destination — you could be headed to any of 270 embassies around the world — but if you work in a hardship destination, you’ll often get preferential treatment regarding your next assignment. Like two of my lovely readers whom I met in Mexico last year — after working as diplomats in Pakistan, they got stationed in Cuba next.

Check out all the details on the U.S. Foreign Service’s website.

Bitola

4) Join the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is perhaps the most famous volunteer program in America, starting in 1961 under President Kennedy. Volunteers are sent around the world in primarily two-year contracts working in the fields of Education, Health, Community Development, Environment, Youth in Development, Agriculture, and Peace Corps Response.

You don’t get to choose where you go — you’re sent where your skills are needed the most. That means if you speak Spanish, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Latin America; if you speak French, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Africa.

Most people I’ve known to serve in the Peace Corps describe it as life-changing. It’s a fantastic way to serve your country and make lasting contributions toward building a better planet.

For more, visit the PeaceCorps.gov.

Koolbaai

5) Find a job abroad.

I know it sounds daunting to find a job abroad when you don’t know anything about it, but Americans do it successfully every day!

The U.S. State Department has put together a comprehensive list of resources for finding work abroad, no matter what field you’re in.

Ljubljana

6) Study abroad or get another degree.

Are you still in college? Studying abroad will be one of the most valuable (and fun!) things you do in your college career. Here are the lessons I learned from my semester in Florence in 2004.

Already have a degree? This could be a great opportunity to get your master’s abroad! Several countries offer you the option of getting your master’s in just one year, unlike the standard two years in the United States.

You probably know that several countries offer free university education to their citizens. Well, several countries offer free university education to international students as well, including Americans! Don’t speak the local language? They offer degrees given in English as well.

It was big news when Germany began offering free education to international students in 2014. Other countries include Brazil, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Many of these countries also offer stipends, making getting your degree infinitely more affordable than in the U.S.

London Millennium Bridge

7) If your job has an international office, see if you can transfer.

This isn’t an option if you work for a small, independent, local business. But it could work if you work for a larger company.

I used to work for a company with offices in Boston and London, and plenty of people migrated across the Atlantic in each direction. The company took care of the sponsorship and all the red tape.

Another option: if your company has an international parent company, see if you can find a job abroad in one of your parent company’s other companies.

Playa Samara

8) See if you can start working remotely.

If your job is mostly doable online, you may have the ability to start working remotely and set up shop anywhere in the world.

Note that this is something best done little by little. Start by doing exceptionally outstanding work for awhile, then ask your boss if you can work remotely one day per week. Make that your most productive day of the week. If it goes well and your company is pleased, keep negotiating for more time working remotely.

If you’re able to transition to working 100% remotely, keep in mind that you may need to stay within the same time zone or in a destination where you have excellent internet. Still, that’s a small price to pay for working from, say, a beach town in Costa Rica!

Berlin

9) Look into the German Artist Visa.

Entering the EU long-term is a major challenge for most Americans, but one of the easiest ways in (aside from getting a student visa) is to get the German “artist visa.”

“Artist” is a relative term here. In this case, it means freelancer. If you’re able to prove multiple contracts paying you enough to get by, that may be enough for you to secure this visa and live in Germany.

Most people with this visa choose to live in Berlin due to its art scene, expat scene, and relatively low cost of living (albeit one that continues to rise). Increasingly popular alternatives are hip Hamburg and artsy Leipzig.

Check out Travels of Adam’s guide to getting the German artist visa or, alternatively, a student visa.

Paris Marais

10) Become an au pair in Europe.

If you love kids, don’t mind living with a family, and want to live like a local, becoming an au pair could be an excellent option for you. Many Americans become au pairs by finding a job and family online, then registering for a student visa to give you a year in the country.

The student visa could be for as little as a few hours of language study each week; some countries, like France, are notoriously lax about whether you actually attend class and many au pairs decide to ditch the classes entirely.

Being an au pair could be the time of your life — or a complete disaster. The best thing is to know exactly what kind of experience you want — how many kids and how old? Living with the family or in your own apartment? Urban, suburban, or rural environment? Would you be expected to cook or not? — and finding a family that fits your needs well.

Ashley Abroad has a great resource for getting started as an au pair.

Christmas at JJ's

11) Save up, quit your job, and backpack the world for awhile.

Yes. You can absolutely do this. Plenty of people around the world travel for months at a time — it’s very common for people from other western countries, but far less popular for Americans.

If you want your money to go the furthest, stick to a cheaper region. Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central America, and Eastern Europe are all great options. You can live in parts of these regions on less than $1000 per month if you want to (but that amount doesn’t include start-up expenses like flights, gear and insurance).

Here’s how I saved $13,000 in just seven months. That was almost enough to sustain me for six months in Southeast Asia from 2010-2011, but keep in mind prices have increased a bit since then.

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12) Move somewhere cheap for awhile.

Not in the mood to be traveling all the time? You could just move somewhere. Many countries have visa policies that allow you to live long-term by leaving the country every few months and coming right back. (Be sure to check on your country’s latest visa regulations, as they can change at any time.)

I still think that Chiang Mai, Thailand, offers the maximum value for a great price. As a solo adult, you can comfortably get by in Chiang Mai for less than $800 per month, or even less if you’re part of a couple, and there are plenty of amenities for the many expats who live and work there.

Other popular options for expats? Oaxaca, Mexico. Ubud, Bali. Bangkok, Thailand. Medellin, Colombia. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (particularly Panajachel and San Pedro). If you have the ability to live in the EU, consider Berlin, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; or any town you can imagine in Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona.

Ragusa, Sicily

13) Get a second citizenship based on your ancestry.

Several European countries offer the option of getting a passport based on your ancestry. I’ve known Americans who have gained Irish, British, Italian, and German citizenship due to their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents being born in those countries.

The best part? Gaining EU citizenship means you can move around freely within the EU, not just the country where you hold the ancestry! I have an American friend with new German citizenship who’s thinking about moving to London. That’s totally fine on a German passport.

Do research this first — every country is different and has its own conditions. Some don’t offer ancestry-based citizenship at all. (While my great-grandfather immigrated from Italy, I don’t qualify for Italian citizenship because he naturalized before my grandmother was born.) Here’s a guide to obtaining citizenship in European countries.

Israel also offers citizenship based on the Law of Return. You must either be Jewish by birth (meaning your mother or grandmother is Jewish) or a convert to Judaism.

Keep in mind that this could potentially take years, depending on the country. It took three years for my friend Mike to get his Italian citizenship. (Then again, as someone who lived in Italy and visits often, they are not the most organized of nations when it comes to this kind of stuff. Or anything else, frankly.)

Skellig Michael

14) Fall in love with someone from a different country, get married, and move to their country.

I know a lot of people, particularly women, dream of this — meeting a handsome fisherman on a Greek island, or a brawny Australian at a beach bar in Thailand, and falling in love and it being destiny and your friends being so jealous.

Well…as someone who has lived in another country for two different boyfriends, let me tell you that the reality can often be quite difficult, even if you have a good relationship. Living in a different country is like fighting through hundreds of cultural differences every day, and there can be a chasm in your relationship if you’re struggling while your partner is surrounded by everything he knows and loves. It’s much harder if you don’t speak the local language or you’re living in a small town.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a strong support system on the ground. Make sure you have interests, activities, and a social circle outside your partner. Most importantly, make sure your partner understands how challenging it is for you to be there, even if you’re happy most of the time. Make sure he makes an effort to travel to America, too.

You’re the one who is sacrificing here. Even if you were excited to move there. Even if he supports you financially. Even if you work online and have the freedom to live anywhere.

quebec-ice-slide-gallery

15) Just move to Canada!

Everyone says they’re moving to Canada if a candidate they hate is elected. Well, this guy actually moved to Canada when George W. Bush was elected. That link gives you an overview of ways for Americans to move to Canada today.

Pink House New Orleans

But in all seriousness…

I know this is a tongue-in-cheek list, but I seriously hope you’re not voting for Donald Trump. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here. The kind of person interested enough in other countries to read a travel blog is not the kind of person who would support a xenophobic presidential candidate.) Please do everything you can to keep him from being elected.

But there’s something else I want to say.

In the past six years, I’ve met many American travel bloggers who have said something along the lines of, “I just don’t like it in America. I don’t want to live where I could be killed in a random shooting or where I could be bankrupted if I’m hospitalized. I don’t like it here anymore, so I’m leaving.”

I get it. I was like that. Parts of me still feel that way. But not anymore.

I recently moved back to the U.S. after more than five years of travel. There were many reasons. One is because I am sick of doing nothing. I want to be here and fight to make my country better. And I’m getting started.

All of us can run away. Believe me — there’s stuff about America that keeps me up at night. Frequent school shootings and a Congress that refuses to pass any kind of reasonable legislation like closing the gun show loophole. Black Americans, including children, being killed by the police for no reason at all. The racism, both overt and subtle, that our president receives on a daily basis. Out-of-control elections and candidates supported by corporations. The possibility of a religious ideologue being appointed to the Supreme Court.

So why do I even bother? Because when you choose to be inactive, you’re giving power to the opposition.

If you choose to travel, or to live abroad, that’s wonderful! But don’t use it as an excuse to check out of America completely. Donate money to causes that will make America better. Donate your time to causes and see if you can help online. Get absentee ballots, familiarize yourself with candidates in every race, and vote in every election. These things really can make a difference.

Would you leave the country if Trump was elected?15 legal, ethical ways to leave the country if Donald Trump gets elected.

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This a guest post courtesy of Deanna Gregorio of TravelCuts.

So, you’ve decided you want to (literally) see the world. From the penguins of Antarctica to the Inca ruins of Peru and the foodie treats of Europe, there’s no part of this great planet that you’re willing to miss. Awesome! It’s going to take effort and dedication (and savings), but if you want this, you can make it happen. Here are our tips to make the planning process go as smoothly as possible …

Budget

Small Money Jar on a World Map

Money, money, money. No matter how you look at it, you’re going to have to be wise about how you save and spend your dollars if you want the trip of a lifetime. One of the best ways to make this easier is to participate in SWAP, so you can work AND travel. These are the destinations supported by SWAP, which we can help you book …

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Austria
  • Japan
  • Thailand*
  • Vietnam*

*These are specifically teaching positions

It depends on where you’re going, but a good rule of thumb is to budget about $100.00/day for Europe, Australia, & New Zealand; about $45.00/day for Asia; $35/day for South America (but this varies from country to country); and anywhere from $60-$100+/day in Africa, depending on where you are staying. These estimated budgets include your accommodation, activities, food, and transportation. Keep in mind that you can bring costs down if you have a friend or family member to stay with, or really inflate your costs by staying in luxury everywhere you go. Make sure you always pair your travel with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), if you’re a student! It’s one of the best ways to save while travelling.

If you’re planning to work and travel, you should have about $6,000 saved up for Europe & Australia, and $4,500 saved up for Asia. SWAP requires you to have a specific amount of “support funds” saved before you leave; depending on exchange rates this may be less or more than our suggested amounts. Always be certain you have the required funds BEFORE leaving to participate in SWAP!

Besides working & travelling, there are a lot of ways to make your money go further. We’ve all heard the old adage about “the cost of a cup of coffee a day”, but it seriously makes an impact. If you take the $1.75 you’d normally spend on your daily coffee and put it into a travel fund instead, you could easily save $500 (or more, depending on your caffeine addiction) in a year. Want new clothes? Instead of going shopping, arrange a clothing swap with your friends and you can all refresh your wardrobes without spending a penny! Take this opportunity to do a few odd or freelance jobs for people you know. You’ll want to take loads of photos on your journey, so why not brush up on your photography skills by doing a few freelance gigs? The biggest tip we can give you is to invest the money you do make. Take a portion of every paycheque you get (even $100/month helps!) and invest it in a savings account. If you set up automatic deductions, you won’t even have a chance to miss the money you’re saving, and it will grow into a beautiful travel fund right before your eyes.

Where to Go

Pushpins in a British Map

So you’ve saved up to traverse the world, but where do you start? This is a big world, and you need to have a plan if you’re going to make the most of your time abroad. Here are a few suggested routes from us …

  • Start Europe, travelling West to East. Make your way to Russia and take the Trans-Mongolian train to China. From here, participate in a tour (or individual exploration) around South East Asia. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump over to the South Pacific. When it’s time to head home, you can sleep on the long flight, full of memories from the trip of a lifetime.
  • Start Australia, working abroad with SWAP. Travel over to South East Asia for a minimum of 3 months. Next, you’ll want to move on to the Middle East & Africa (if Safari is on YOUR bucket list, this is the place to do it!) before making your way to South America, and then back home. It’s only a 6-hour flight from SJO to YYZ!
  • Start Costa Rica, and take a Spanish class with SWAP! Travel through South America (starting in Colombia and ending in Brazil), then jump over to western Africa and be sure to visit Morocco on your way to Europe!

Really, the most important thing is that you decide beforehand which countries are on your MUST-SEE list, and which you’re okay with missing. There’s often wiggle room during your trip, but absolutely have your start and end point decided and confirmed before you leave. A book like Rough Guides: Best Day on Earth can help you figure out where to go and what to do!

When to Book

Young Woman on Her Cellphone

Early is ALWAYS best. If you’re taking on a trip of great magnitude, you’ll want to save every possible penny. Booking your major flights at least 6 months ahead of time will get you the best fares. The closer you get to departure date, the more you will end up paying for your flights. If you’re in London and decide to take a last minute trip to Paris, booking that flight last minute won’t break the bank (although ideally, you’d book all flights well in advance to get the best price).

When you’re booking your flights, REMEMBER to also book your travel insurance! For a year’s coverage, travelcuts has travel insurance as low as $486*. It’s a minimal cost ($1.33 per day!) and oh-so-necessary when planning a big, multi-continent trip. If something happened while travelling and you had to end your trip early, that would be heartbreaking enough on its own. But imagine all your hard work to save up going to waste as well? That would be a real tragedy. So make sure you book your travel insurance before you leave!

You’ll also want to consider the time of year you travel. If you’re starting out in Australia, you may want to start your journey during Canadian Winter. Beginning in Europe, you may want to book for Fall as it’s a less popular season for travel (thus CHEAPER), and you can be around for the Christmas Markets in December. Decide before you leave how long you want to be abroad – and save accordingly. You’ll likely be spending a year or more away from home, but it’s definitely worth it for a trip of this magnitude.

travelcuts can help you make the most of your time and money, whether you’re taking on the whole world, or just a few countries! Check out travelcuts.com and get started.

The post A Trip Around the World: Preparing appeared first on Vagabondish.

A homestay can be an incredibly rewarding experience both for the homeowners and visitors. Typically, students use homestays as safe, affordable accommodations when traveling on a tight budget. But it’s also a great way to practice language skills in a comfortable environment and receive insider information on the best areas to explore in their travel destination—homestays are especially suited to solo female travelers

  1. Yuvacali, Turkey

In Turkey’s southeast region, in the village of Yuvacali, visitors receive a raw experience of what daily life is like for local Kurdish families. Traditional life means hard work for families living here, most only survive off a few dollars a day. Though struggling financially, these families offer a culturally rich experience for anyone interested in a unique holiday. A handful of families in the small village offer accommodation under the starry skies of Yuvacali in a nomadic canvas tent adorned with vibrant paintings or in a traditional, mud/brick house. Guests help out on the farm, learn to cook traditional dishes on an open hearth, and enjoy swapping stories with locals. This is no five-star hotel (in fact, it’s far from it) and families here, though extremely friendly, present an opportunity to work together, not offer hotel-like services. If you’re up for the challenge of helping out, Yuvacali has plenty to offer any curious, open-minded traveler.

  1. Tighza Valley, Morocco

Throughout Morocco, there an abundant number of opportunities to experience a homestay with a local family. One particularly magical place is within the breathtaking Tighza Valley where many Berber families open their homes to foreign visitors, offering simple, clean rooms within family owned homes. The arid valley, dusted with cacti and leafy green foliage, is within the high-reaching Atlas Mountains, far from the turbid, bustling cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Rabat. This is rural Moroccan life at its finest: simple and scenic. Within the valley, most guests take to the alpine trails, hiking throughout the valley and enjoying mountainous routes filled with endless snap-worthy scenes: Berber women cultivating fields, shepherds watching after flocks of goats and sheep, and boisterous children playing imaginative games. Life definitely happens at a slow pace, which is not for everyone, but the Berber people are exceptionally welcoming and on point with keeping guests occupied and well-fed.

  1. Old Havana, Cuba

Becoming familiar with the words “casa particular” or “casa particulares” is a great advantage when traveling to Cuba for an independent holiday. The term means “private house”, and upon booking, will land you either a private home or room. The Cuban government issues special permits for renting out privately owned homes, or rooms in family homes, and they are advertised through bright blue signs out front with the words “Arrendador Divisa”, it’s a rental permit showing which casas are legal. Prices vary and depend on the travel season, area of Cuba, amenities offered, square footage, and so on. One of the best places for casas is in Old Havana, where friendly owners give a healthy measure of gossip and tips on the lay of the land. You’ll get great insider information on Old Havana’s top music clubs, festivals, and bars, and most often the owner will treat you just like family.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

In Portugal, “Solares de Portugal” is an interesting idea introduced to bolster tourism within houses laden with charm and unique character, called “Turismo de Habitação”. The concept is aimed at preserving rich heirlooms of the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. This type of accommodation is not a guesthouse or hotel, but a genuine homestay. Accommodation comes in various forms such as rustic farmhouses, elegant estates, and grand country homes restored to their original luster for welcoming guests from around the world. Most homestays can be found in Lisbon, but others are in Porto, Faro, the southwest islands, and other small Portuguese cities and towns. The Solares exemplify hundreds of years of Portuguese culture and history (a large part of the magnificent 17th and 18th centuries manors are owned by descendents of the original owners). Taken quite seriously as a representation of their country, the Portuguese are dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to foreign visitors.

  1. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

If you’ve ever had the desire to explore the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, a Brazilian homestay could be an idyllic experience. Easily planned in Manaus, you can book a trip and be paired up with an indigenous family. You’ll score a room in an eco-lodge or camp under the forest canopy—it’s entirely up to you. Lodges are simply constructed from locally sourced, natural building materials and designed in traditional style. Think “fancy” thatch hut with some modern conveniences and you’re not far off. Ideal for intrepid spirits, planning a trek through the lush, magical landscape is authentic, eye-opening, and lands you where wildlife is richest. Friendly indigenous guides offer a healthy dose of insight on the rain forest ecosystem and teach guests survival tips in a natural environment. You’ll also be treated to some amazing local eats and be privy to some Amazonian cooking secrets too.

The post Top 5 Destinations Around the World for Homestays appeared first on Geeky Traveller.

A homestay can be an incredibly rewarding experience both for the homeowners and visitors. Typically, students use homestays as safe, affordable accommodations when traveling on a tight budget. But it’s also a great way to practice language skills in a comfortable environment and receive insider information on the best areas to explore in their travel destination—homestays are especially suited to solo female travelers

  1. Yuvacali, Turkey

In Turkey’s southeast region, in the village of Yuvacali, visitors receive a raw experience of what daily life is like for local Kurdish families. Traditional life means hard work for families living here, most only survive off a few dollars a day. Though struggling financially, these families offer a culturally rich experience for anyone interested in a unique holiday. A handful of families in the small village offer accommodation under the starry skies of Yuvacali in a nomadic canvas tent adorned with vibrant paintings or in a traditional, mud/brick house. Guests help out on the farm, learn to cook traditional dishes on an open hearth, and enjoy swapping stories with locals. This is no five-star hotel (in fact, it’s far from it) and families here, though extremely friendly, present an opportunity to work together, not offer hotel-like services. If you’re up for the challenge of helping out, Yuvacali has plenty to offer any curious, open-minded traveler.

  1. Tighza Valley, Morocco

Throughout Morocco, there an abundant number of opportunities to experience a homestay with a local family. One particularly magical place is within the breathtaking Tighza Valley where many Berber families open their homes to foreign visitors, offering simple, clean rooms within family owned homes. The arid valley, dusted with cacti and leafy green foliage, is within the high-reaching Atlas Mountains, far from the turbid, bustling cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Rabat. This is rural Moroccan life at its finest: simple and scenic. Within the valley, most guests take to the alpine trails, hiking throughout the valley and enjoying mountainous routes filled with endless snap-worthy scenes: Berber women cultivating fields, shepherds watching after flocks of goats and sheep, and boisterous children playing imaginative games. Life definitely happens at a slow pace, which is not for everyone, but the Berber people are exceptionally welcoming and on point with keeping guests occupied and well-fed.

  1. Old Havana, Cuba

Becoming familiar with the words “casa particular” or “casa particulares” is a great advantage when traveling to Cuba for an independent holiday. The term means “private house”, and upon booking, will land you either a private home or room. The Cuban government issues special permits for renting out privately owned homes, or rooms in family homes, and they are advertised through bright blue signs out front with the words “Arrendador Divisa”, it’s a rental permit showing which casas are legal. Prices vary and depend on the travel season, area of Cuba, amenities offered, square footage, and so on. One of the best places for casas is in Old Havana, where friendly owners give a healthy measure of gossip and tips on the lay of the land. You’ll get great insider information on Old Havana’s top music clubs, festivals, and bars, and most often the owner will treat you just like family.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

In Portugal, “Solares de Portugal” is an interesting idea introduced to bolster tourism within houses laden with charm and unique character, called “Turismo de Habitação”. The concept is aimed at preserving rich heirlooms of the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. This type of accommodation is not a guesthouse or hotel, but a genuine homestay. Accommodation comes in various forms such as rustic farmhouses, elegant estates, and grand country homes restored to their original luster for welcoming guests from around the world. Most homestays can be found in Lisbon, but others are in Porto, Faro, the southwest islands, and other small Portuguese cities and towns. The Solares exemplify hundreds of years of Portuguese culture and history (a large part of the magnificent 17th and 18th centuries manors are owned by descendents of the original owners). Taken quite seriously as a representation of their country, the Portuguese are dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to foreign visitors.

  1. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

If you’ve ever had the desire to explore the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, a Brazilian homestay could be an idyllic experience. Easily planned in Manaus, you can book a trip and be paired up with an indigenous family. You’ll score a room in an eco-lodge or camp under the forest canopy—it’s entirely up to you. Lodges are simply constructed from locally sourced, natural building materials and designed in traditional style. Think “fancy” thatch hut with some modern conveniences and you’re not far off. Ideal for intrepid spirits, planning a trek through the lush, magical landscape is authentic, eye-opening, and lands you where wildlife is richest. Friendly indigenous guides offer a healthy dose of insight on the rain forest ecosystem and teach guests survival tips in a natural environment. You’ll also be treated to some amazing local eats and be privy to some Amazonian cooking secrets too.

The post Top 5 Destinations Around the World for Homestays appeared first on Geeky Traveller.

Lonely Planet Brazil (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Brazil*

Lonely Planet Brazil is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Party at Carnaval in Rio, come face to face with monkeys and other creatures in the Amazon, or snorkel the aquatic life-filled natural aquariums of Bonito, all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Brazil and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Brazil:

Full-color maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, music, football, cinema, literature, cuisine, nature, wildlife Over 119 color maps Covers The Amazon, Rio de JaneiroSao PauloBrasiliaSalvador, Bahia, Pernambuco, Paraiba, Rio Grande de Norte, Parana, Ceara, Piaui, Maranhao, Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Brazil, our most comprehensive guide to Brazil, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less traveled.

Looking for a guide focused on Rio de Janeiro? Check out Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro for a comprehensive look at all the city has to offer, or Make My Day Rio de Janeiro, a colorful and uniquely interactive guide that allows you to effortlessly plan your itinerary by flipping, mixing and matching top sights.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Brazil. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA.

Brazil

Simona Stoppa

With some of the world's most stunning and diverse landscapes, as well as its cultural richness, Brazil is the ideal place to go for unforgettable adventures and unique sensory experiences. Through a treasure trove of images that range from the lush Amazon to sophisticated cities, from lavish colonial churches to favelas, Brazil captures the country's spirit, its history, and its people.

Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed

Larry Rohter

In this hugely praised narrative, New York Times reporter Larry Rohter takes the reader on a lively trip through Brazil's history, culture, and booming economy. Going beyond the popular stereotypes of samba, supermodels, and soccer, he shows us a stunning and varied landscape--from breathtaking tropical beaches to the lush and dangerous Amazon rainforest--and how a complex and vibrant people defy definition. He charts Brazil's amazing jump from a debtor nation to one of the world's fastest growing economies, unravels the myth of Brazil's sexually charged culture, and portrays in vivid color the underbelly of impoverished favelas. With Brazil leading the charge of the Latin American decade, this critically acclaimed history is the authoritative guide to understanding its meteoric rise.

The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The Latin America Readers)

Robert M.Levine, John Crocitti

Bordering all but two of South America’s other nations and by far Latin America’s largest country, Brazil differs linguistically, historically, and culturally from Spanish America. Its indigenous peoples share the country with descendants of Portuguese conquerors and the Africans they imported to work as slaves, along with more recent immigrants from southern Europe, Japan, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Capturing the scope of this country’s rich diversity and distinction as no other book has done—with more than a hundred entries from a wealth of perspectives—The Brazil Reader offers a fascinating guide to Brazilian life, culture, and history.

Complementing traditional views with fresh ones, The Brazil Reader’s historical selections range from early colonization to the present day, with sections on imperial and republican Brazil, the days of slavery, the Vargas years, and the more recent return to democracy. They include letters, photographs, interviews, legal documents, visual art, music, poetry, fiction, reminiscences, and scholarly analyses. They also include observations by ordinary residents, both urban and rural, as well as foreign visitors and experts on Brazil. Probing beneath the surface of Brazilian reality—past and present—The Reader looks at social behavior, women’s lives, architecture, literature, sexuality, popular culture, and strategies for coping with the travails of life in a country where the affluent live in walled compounds to separate themselves from the millions of Brazilians hard-pressed to find food and shelter. Contributing to a full geographic account—from the Amazon to the Northeast and the Central-South—of this country’s singular multiplicity, many pieces have been written expressly for this volume or were translated for it, having never previously been published in English.

This second book in The Latin America Readers series will interest students, specialists, travelers for both business and leisure, and those desiring an in-depth introduction to Brazilian life and culture.

Brazil - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Sandra Branco

For many people Brazil conjures up images of football, Carnaval and fine coffee, but it is much more than beaches and bossa nova. If you could choose only one word to describe Brazil, it would be diversity. The variety of racial types, lifestyles, wealth, landscape and climate is enormous. Jeitinho is the Brazilian means of dealing creatively with life’s everyday complications. Literally translated as a “little way”, in practice it means that regardless of the rules or systems in place, where there is a will there has to be a way around them. The jeitinho is so ingrained in daily life that you can see examples everywhere; managing to get a seat when all the places are booked up, traveling with more luggage than is allowed or successfully ordering something that is not on the restaurant menu. Culture Smart! Brazil is a concise guide to understanding the Brazilian people and illuminating the complexities of their national identity. Familiarise yourself with their customs, traditions and culture and experience Brazil authentically.

Brazil

Olaf Heine

A Brazilian proverb states, "Those who leave will take longing on their journeys." However, translating saudade with "longing" doesn't do the term justice. Olaf Heine's photographs convey impressions that are hard to put into words. Since 2010, the renowned photographer has captured the soul of Brazil. Presenting the land of Carnival and Copacabana in black-and-white is not as paradoxical as it might first seem. Heine's photographs are as deeply melancholic as they are sensual. With a keen sense for shapes and textures, he also exemplifies Oscar Niemeyer's words: "The whole universe is made of curves." These curves appear in architecture and human bodies, and also permeate the Brazilian lifestyle. From the intensity of its passions to the lightness of its shapes, Olaf Heine portrays a fascinating country in all its diversity and beauty.

Brazil: Portuguese Travel Phrasebook: The Complete Portuguese Phrasebook When Traveling to Brazil: + 1000 Phrases for Accommodations, Shopping, Eating, Traveling, and much more!

Erica Stewart

Change the Quality of your Travels to Brazil with this Amazing Phrasebook This Easy to Search, Easy to use Phrasebook Will Help You Communicate with the Locales - +1000 Common Phrases/Sentence Structures Included As an educator for more than 20 years, I’m a fan of teaching others. And there is no greater challenge than to learn a language and to use that tool when traveling abroad! I created this Portuguese Phrasebook as a way to increase your enjoyment when traveling to Brazil. Imagine what the ability to communicate with the locals will do for your travel experience, allowing you to connect with new and interesting people, or even live or study in places like Rio de Janeiro or Brasilia! In essence, it’s a journey to become more open minded about the world, discovering amazing new people in the process. In this book, you have the main tools you will need to develop pronunciation, phonology and sentence structure. The grammar section is clear, and holds all the references you will need when in Brazil. From general conversation, to accommodations, travel and ordering dinner, this is an invaluable resource to keep in your pocket and assist you in common situations you will find yourself in your travels. I invite you to read on and begin a fascinating learning experience. Here is a preview of what you will learn… Specific situational references to help you out when eating out, traveling, requesting directions, shopping and much more! The fundamental vocabulary that will get you off your feet in no time Basic slang and other tips to interact better with the locals! Common phrases to use when traveling to Portuguese speaking countries Basic grammar and pronunciation, so you will feel comfortable in your interactions in Portuguese Other resources to continue learning and improving your mastery of the language Purchase your copy today!

Vagabonding with Kids: Brazil: Piranha fishing, thong bikinis, and other parenting adventures (and failures) abroad.

AK Turner

The Turners are on the road again in a raucous continuation of the Vagabonding with Kids series, exploring Brazil from the Amazon rain forest to Rio’s famed Copacabana Beach. But this time the in-laws are along for the ride, and three generations have to survive close quarters, radioactive beaches, and jungle hammocks for accommodations. Armed with little knowledge of Portuguese, but a great appreciation for the Brazilian national drink, the nomadic family finds adventure (and laughter) at every turn.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Gang-related violence

Police efforts to crack down on crime in favelas (shanty towns) have led to retaliation by criminal gangs. As a result, there is an increased chance of violence everywhere, including major thoroughfares. Remain vigilant at all times and comply with security directives imposed by local authorities.

Incidents of gang-related violence continue to pose a threat in large urban centres, where there is often a visible disparity in the levels of wealth. In the past, targets have included police stations, buses, official buildings and businesses. Most tourist hubs and destinations have also been targeted. In urban centres, violent incidents and armed clashes between police forces and alleged criminals are a regular occurrence. Although additional security forces have been deployed throughout the country, future incidents are likely and could involve the use of firearms, as these are increasingly easy to obtain.

Exercise a high degree of caution at all times and avoid travelling alone, especially at night.

Crime

Serious crime, which can involve significant violence, is high in most urban centres, including, but not limited to, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, BrasiliaRecife and Salvador. The use of firearms is common. Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators.

Robberies involving tourists occur regularly, even during the day, and are sometimes violent. Avoid isolated areas and unsupervised beaches with poor visibility from the sidewalk, and ensure that your hotel or living accommodation is totally secure. You should be extremely vigilant. Incidents of sexual assault against foreigners have been reported, sometimes involving the use of sedatives. Unaccompanied female travellers should exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, and be extremely cautious about accepting invitations.

Any visit to a favela (shantytown) should be done in the company of a reputable tour guide only. Crime levels in favelas are extremely high and police assistance in these areas may be very limited.

Street crime, including pickpocketing, mugging and purse snatching, is common, especially during public festivities such as the annual Carnival. Tourists are a favourite target. Be vigilant when visiting outdoor markets and be cautious of strategies to distract your attention. Avoid walking alone on beaches or in central areas of major cities after dark, and use well-lit and well-frequented streets. Carry only small amounts of money and avoid showing signs of affluence, including carrying a laptop computer. Store your valuables and important documents in a hotel safe. As Brazilian authorities require all individuals to carry some form of identification, carry a photocopy of the identification page of your passport and visa documentation.

Express kidnappings and carjackings occur throughout the country, particularly in larger cities. Victims are usually picked up from the street and forced to withdraw funds from automated banking machines (ABMs). Remain cautious with new acquaintances who offer friendship, hospitality or assistance. Credit card fraud is also common, and travellers are advised to keep their cards in sight when executing a transaction.

Armed robberies at restaurants is a growing issue. Patrons towards the front of the restaurant are at the greatest risk. You should choose a seat towards the back of the restaurant. In all cases, comply with the attackers orders to mitigate the chances of violence.

Piracy occurs in Brazilian coastal waters. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautions and ensure that they can communicate with authorities easily in case of emergency.

Civil unrest

Political and labour strikes and demonstrations are common and could lead to violent incidents. Roadblocks are sometimes used during protests. Avoid large gatherings and keep informed of future demonstrations by monitoring local news reports closely.

Since June 10, 2013, demonstrations have been taking place throughout Brazil to protest against corruption and an increase in costs to basic services. These demonstrations can occur anywhere at any time. In São Paulo, protests have caused delays along the main road to Guarulhos International Airport. Protests may turn violent with little to no warning, and police presence has increased. Expect traffic and public transportation disruptions, avoid all demonstrations and large crowds, and monitor local media.

Road travel

Brazil has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. Driving is hazardous due to aggressive driving habits, a significant number of trucks, reckless passing, excessive speeds, poorly marked lanes, construction, vehicles moving in the wrong direction on one-way streets, and poorly maintained roads. Avoid driving after dark, and keep car doors locked and windows closed at all times. Be careful when stopping on the side of any highway, both for traffic and for the potential of being a victim of crime.

When driving in the city, pay particular attention to your surroundings while waiting at traffic lights. It is common to let motorists treat red lights as stop signs between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to protect against hold-ups at intersections. Most cities will have a flashing yellow light to indicate that drivers only need to yield. Pedestrians and motorists proceeding through green lights during these hours should be particularly cautious. If you feel threatened at any time, do not stop.

Air travel

Reconfirm flight details with your airline and arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure for international flights and one hour prior to departure for domestic flights. Failure to do so could result in the loss of your seat, as airlines attempt to accommodate passengers on waiting lists. Boarding gates frequently change before the final boarding announcement. Boarding announcements are often given in Portuguese only. Verify with airport personnel and listen carefully to all announcements, to ensure that you are at the proper boarding gate.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Public transportation

Theft on buses and trams is common, especially at night. Violent incidents are frequently perpetrated in unofficial taxis, which are often present at airports. Registered taxis are clearly identified but may look different in each city. To be safe, purchase tickets from taxi offices in the airport arrival hall. In town, use taxis from taxi stands. Only use official taxis to travel to and from airports. Few taxi drivers speak English or French. Local law requires the use of the taxi meter to determine the legal fare; adding surcharges to a fare is illegal. At night, it is safer to order a taxi by telephone.

Emergency services

Report all criminal incidents to the nearest police station.

Dial 193 for the fire department, 190 for the police and 192 for ambulance services.

In São Paulo, dial (11) 3120-4447 or 3151-4167 to reach the tourist police (Delegacia de Proteção ao Turista). In Rio de Janeiro, dial (21) 2332-2924, 2332-2511 or 2332-5112 to reach the tourist police.

In case of emergency or an accident with injuries, dial 193 throughout the country. In the event of an accident without injuries, contact the military police at 190. Never confront the driver of the other vehicle in an accident, as this should be handled by the police. Roadside assistance is generally offered by local garage owners.

General safety information

Undertake travel in the Amazon border regions and the Pantanal wetlands only with trained guides. These areas are largely uninhabited and dangerous.

Exercise caution when swimming offshore. Strong currents and sharks are present, especially in Recife. Follow the advice of local authorities before swimming.

Large scale events such as Carnival celebrations, sporting events and international conferences are a common occurrence in larger cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Remain vigilant during such events as fraud and theft become more frequent. Banks and businesses are commonly closed during these occasions.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis, viceral

Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical care is adequate in major cities but varies in quality elsewhere. Certain medications may not be available. Private hospitals and clinics located in cities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural facilities. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical care.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal activities

Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs is severely punished. Avoid areas of known drug trafficking. Travellers should not, under any circumstances, carry any items for strangers, especially baggage and parcels.

Laws

It is recommended that you carry an original piece of identification (such as a driver’s license) as well as a copy of your passport and visa at all times. Not caring identification can lead to problems and delays if stopped by police or in case of a medical emergency.

Brazil is actively seeking to prevent child sex tourism, and a number of tourists have been convicted of offences relating to the corruption of minors. The legal age of consent in Brazil is 18. Prison sentences are severe.

Consumption of any alcoholic beverages prior to driving is illegal in Brazil.

Canadians can drive in Brazil for up to 180 days with a valid Canadian driver’s licence. Obtaining an official Portuguese translation of your Canadian driver’s licence may help when dealing with local authorities.

Money

The currency is the real (BRL). Canadian dollars are not generally accepted in Brazil, although some exchange bureaus, most likely at airports, will accept them. Finding an exchange bureau elsewhere can be difficult. Carry small bills, as change is often unavailable for small transactions. Canadian bank cards may not work in automated banking machines (ABMs). Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and Diners Club) are widely accepted in stores and at ABMs, although many locations will not accept more than one or two of those listed above. Credit card fraud is a major problem. When using credit cards, ensure that your card remains in your sight and retain your transaction receipt along with the carbon paper. Traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted in Brazil.

Climate

The rainy seasons extend from January to July in the north, from November until March in the south and south east, and from April until July in the north east of the country. Flash floods and landslides can occur. During the rainy seasons, travel conditions on mountain roads and on highways leading to beaches can be dangerous due to flooding or landslides. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

Hot, dry weather conditions during the dry season, which lasts from May to September, may lead to wildfires in the central areas of Brazil, including the capital of Brasilia. Remain alert to local developments through the media and modify your travel arrangements accordingly. In the event of a wildfire, follow the advice of local authorities. If you suffer from respiratory ailments, take into account that the air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke.