Travelling in Brazil FAQ. Part II: M-Y

Welcome to follow the second part of our Frequetly Asked Questions posts. Just like the first part, this will also be updated according to the upcoming issues and possible questions. The second part covers topics from M till Y.

Here we go again…

  • Toucan


    MALARIA – Malaria is very common disease in the northern and north-western part of Brazil. Make sure you have an appropriate protection against the mosquitos and avoid the highest risk hours of early evening and early morning, when the concentration of insects is biggest. Before travelling it’s also recommendable to contact your own health care center for more information about prophylactic drugs. If you are in the risk areas and start suffering any of the symptoms like fever, shivering, joint pain, nausea, sweating, headache and dry cough contact a doctor immediately.

  • MONEY EXCHANGE – In  the major cities you will find many money exchange offices called Câmbio. Make sure you use the services of these official offices and never change money on the streets. Usually the exchange offices will also offer you a better rate than for example the hotel front desks.
  • POST OFFICE – In portuguese the post offices are called “Correios” and can be recognized of the yellow and blue colors in the logotype. The post offices are open from Monday till Friday during the office hours and also on Saturday mornings. In general the post in Brazil works pretty well, and in most of the cases your mail will be delivered to the destination within a reasonable time.
  • PHONE – When calling to Brazil from abroad you have to dial the country code 55 and the local code (for example 021 for Rio de Janeiro and 011 for São Paulo) without the first zero. Your mobile will work in Brazil without any problem. When you wish to use roaming in Brazil try to connect at the red of TIM, Oi, Claro or Vivo, operators that cover basically the whole country. If you wanted to get yourself a prepaid sim card with a local number remember to take into account that you will need a CPF (an identity number for individuals issued by the Brazilian government) in order to get it. Getting CPF as a foreigner is not complicating, but will take a while and you will need to hand out a pile of documents, so it’s really not something to be done if you stay shorter time as a tourist in Brazil.
  • PRICE LEVEL – As our readers are spread out to different countries of the world, comparing the price level to any other country doesn’t really work. As many of you might have been travelling at least a little bit around the world, I would say that the price level in Brazil is not even nearly comparable with most of the Asian destinations, but doesn’t reach the levels of Caribbean either. In Brazil you will find everything from expensive till inexpensive, depending on where you are and what you are looking for. You will find fancy highly priced stores, restaurants and hotels, but on the other hand you have also plenty of options for economic dining, shopping and accommodation. It’s all up to you! Please refer to parts of  “Restaurants” and “Shopping”  (below) for more detailed information and price examples. Due to the long distances, travelling in Brazil either by air or by land, may not be as cheap as you have expected. Check out our blog post about getting around for further tips and recommendation.
  • Hammocks

    Hammocks on board

    RAINY SEASON – Check out our blog post of the best seasons to travel….this will be out shortly!

  • RESTAURANTS – You will find a wide range of restaurants of all kind in Brazil. There is everything from a typical Brazilian restaurant to diverse ethnic options. With no doubt “Churrascaria” is probably the most well know type of the Brazilian restaurants. It’s a kind of buffet restaurant where delicious barbecue dishes are served right to your table, and with a fixed price you eat as much as you wish tasting all the choices. A large variety of salads and side dishes are included in the prices as well. Churrascaria is something not to be missed during your stay in Brazil. An another popular concept is the buffet restaurant where food is priced according to the weight. These “A kilo” restaurants tend to be economic options and they serve a good variety of different and tasty dishes. In many traditional á la carte restaurants the meals are large and ment to serve two persons, something to be checked out at the moment of ordering. Due to the big Italian, Japanese and Lebanese communities you will run into many excellent pizzerias, sushi resturants and arab delicacies. Just to give you an idea, an avarage price level (not the cheapest, nor the priciest) is around 30-80 R$ per person in Churrascarias, around 15 -30 R$ per person in “A kilo” restaurants and around 40-70 R$ for two person in a common restaurant. As the country is very large and there are major differencies even in between the neighborhoods of one single city, it’s impossible to give you any more concrete references.
  • SECURITY – Security is something that always comes up when a first time traveller is planning to go to Brazil. You may have heard a lot of stories, some of them true, others not. The simple fact is that some of the world’s biggest cities are located in Brazil and naturally these urban areas have their problems caused by social differences. So when travelling to state capitals always be aware of the security facts. Don’t carry any valuable items with you, leave jewelery at home, passport, extra cash and credit cards at the safety box of your hotel and look after your bag and other personal items. Avoid walking in empty streets, don’t go to favelas on you own and at the night always take a taxi in stead of driving or walking. Beaches or parks of the big cities are not places to go after the sunset. If anything happens, stay calm and hand over all your belongings. It’s not worth fighting against or trying to run away as for many bandits your life has no value. When it comes to smaller places, such as the holiday villages along the coast, the life style is totally different. In these areas you will rarely face any sort of violence or situation of danger. This side of Brazil is as safe for a tourist as any other tourist destination in the world. So if you have a common sense to look after yourself and don’t put yourself purposely on danger, there is absolutely no need to skip travelling to Brazil due to security matters.
  • SHOPPING – When it comes to shopping local brands are nicely priced and worth buying for. All imported products and international brands on the other hand tend to be highly priced, due to the taxation. The stores and shopping centers are open from Monday till Saturday and many of them open on Sunday afternoons as well. At the stores prices are usually fixed, occassionally you may get a discount when paying with cash in stead of a credit card. In market places bargaining may sometimes come into question. Clothes, shoes and handicrafts are popular souvenirs. Don’t forget to buy yourself a box of delicious Garoto chocolates and some brazilian coffee to take back home.
  • Flowers


    SUNSCREEN – Being a tropical country the sun in Brazil is very strong and you better be protected. If you have a very white skin buy inexpensive sunscreen lotion with high factors (30, 50…) from Brazil. Don’t let the strong winds of the northeastern coast to bluff you, the sunscreen is needed even if you might not notice it immediately.

  • TAXI – The taxi prices vary depending on the city and the state, but in general compared to most of the western countries taxis are inexpensive. For example Rio de Janeiro enjoys a large number of taxis (yellow cars visible at any part of the city) and the prises are good even compared to the general standard of Brazil.  All the common taxis have a taxi meter, so make sure the driver turns it on. At the stations and at airports there are taxis that operate with fixed price. In these cases the price of a ride depends on the neighborhood where you are going to. These taxis are a good option for those who arrive to the country for the first time, because just like anywhere in the world, in Brazil you will also unfortunately meet some taxi drivers who are willing to charge a little bit more from tourists who are not familiar with their destination or doesn’t be able to communicate in local language.
  • TIME – There are three time zones in Brazil. The main time zone corresponds to the time of the capital Brasilia, and is equal to -3 UTC. This time zone is the one used in many other areas of touristic interest, like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Florianopolis, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and Belem. The other time zones are: -4 UTC at the states of Acre, Amazonas, Rondonia, Roraima, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul and  -2 UTC followed by few Atlantic island on the east coast of Brazil (for example Fernando de Noronha). However please note that some of the Brazilian states use the concept of summer time, when for example the main time zone changes to -2 UTC, but is NOT followed by northern and northeastern stated of Brazil. The summer time, that starts usually on the 3rd Sunday of October and ends the 3rd Sunday of February, applies only to the following states: Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and the Federal District of Brasilia. Ocassionally the start or the end of the summer time can be postponed for example depending on the timing of Carnival. Always check the possible changes if you are travelling around these dates. Access the World Time Zone to check the exact time on our brazilian destination.
  • TIPPING – Tipping in Brazil is up to you. Normally in restaurants a 10% of service charge is added into you bill automatically and there is no need for additional tipping unless you feel that the service has been extra ordinary. In case the 10% is not added into to value of your restaurant bill, tipping of the respective value is recommended. In other situations (bellboy etc) giving  few coins or a note of 2 R$ will be a good amouth.
  • Ordem e Progresso

    Ordem e Progresso

    TRAVEL DOCUMENTS – Before travelling check out the document requirements. Nationalities of the Schengen countries can entrer to Brazil without visa, but a passport valid for 6 months is requiered. In these cases a permission to stay for 90 days is given at the airport. Later on this can be extended up to 180 days with certain requierements. US citizens will need to apply for visa when travelling to Brazil. Always check the latest information concerning the documents from the Brazilian Embassy of your country. A return ticket, sufficient funds and a hotel reservation can also be requiered either by carrying airline or by local immigration officers. Once in Brazil, make sure you always carry some document of identity or at least a copy of it with you.

  • TRAVELER’S CHEQUES – If possible try to avoid traveler’s cheques, they might be more trouble than benefit for you. Changing them might turn out to be complicating, especially if you are outside of the biggest cities.
  • VACCINATION – When travelling to Brazil you should check you the basic vaccination. Make sure you have protection for hepatitis, polio and tetanus. Depending on the area yellow fever vaccination and malaria protection are also good to have. Always consult your doctor before travelling and carry an international certificate of vaccination with you.
  • YELLOW FEVER – Yellow fever is an another disease transmitted by mosquitos. It’s common in rural areas, especially in northern and midwestern regions. The best way of prevention is a vaccination, which everybody who is heading to the areas of risk should have. If you arrive to Brazil from some of the countries with yellow fever risk (certain South American and African countries) make sure you have the vaccination and carry the international certification of yellow fever vaccination with you, otherwise your boarding might be denied. Check out the information page of the Brazilian Health Ministry for further information of the disease and the risk areas.

In the first part of our Frequently Asked Questions I decided to highlight the importance of attitude whenever travelling at any part of the world. In this second part I would like to state an another important fact that affects on the way we are going to be received by the locals. This simple thing is called a smile, and together with the attitude it’s one of the key points of a successful holiday. Brazilians are a very hospital nation with a lot of curiosity when it comes to gringos (the way foreigners are called in Brazil). If you are lacking a common language remember smile, it’s the easiest way to break the frontiers. Smile and you will be smiled back!

Brazil Diversity wishes you Happy Travelling!


Rio de Janeiro, Part II: One of the 7 wonders and other things to see and do.

Restaurants and bars:

Churrascaria Majórica –
Restaurant Arab –
Restaurante à Mineira –
Restaurante Espirito Santa –
Rio Scenariuam
Carioca da Gema

What to do and see in Rio de Janeiro? Anyone of us can probably name the three most popular sights of Rio, the world famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf mountain. These three must be visited by any tourist who comes to Rio.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

There are two ways to reach the statue of Christ the Redeemer which was recently chosen among the 7 new wonders of the world. You can either take a taxi up to the hill or pick a small train from the Corcovado station that takes you up through the Atlantic rainforest area. If you are not in a hurry, we do recommend you to try this out, it’s a nice experience and worth it even if you may have to take a queue before boarding the train. Once you are up on the top you still have to ascend 220 steps (or take an elevator) to reach the feet of the statue. Together with the beauty of the statue you can enjoy stunning views over the city. For the best views, try to reach the top of the Corcovado hill during the morning, before the clouds come up. There is also a small chapel up on the feet of the Christ for those who want to get married and immortalize their love in this spectacular place.

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

Together with the Corcovado, the top of the Sugar Loaf mountain is one of the best places to enjoy breathtaking views over Rio de Janeiro. To reach the top you have to take two steps cable car from the neighborhood of Urca. In addition to the views you can also enjoy the trails surrounded by the tropical vegetation. Sugar Loaf Mountain and the smaller Urca mountain are also popular among mountain climber and together they create one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world.

Copacabana and Ipanema are the most well known and popular  beaches of Rio de Janeiro. These world famous beaches have been numbered according to life guard posts and serve as meeting points both for locals and for tourists. One of the most trendiest points, is the always crowded post number 9 located at Ipanema.  In addition to these two pearls, Rio de Janeiro has many other smaller or less famous beaches. Arpoador, which is especially in favour of surfers, is located in between of Copacabana and Ipanema. Less crowded Leblon on the other hand is the continuation of Ipanema. The beach of Flamengo is not suitable for swimming but offers one of the most beautiful beach views facing the Sugar Loaf Mountain and Niteroi.

Tram to Santa Teresa

Tram to Santa Teresa

Rio de Janeiro is a lot more than just world famous beaches and landmarks. We highly recommend you to visit the boheamian neighborhood Santa Teresa, located up hill close to the center of the city. There are two ways to get up, either by taxi or by one of the charming old style trams leaving from the feet of Arcos da Lapa, an old aquaduct and entrance to the neighborhood of Lapa. You may have to face a queue to take this pictoresque tram, but it will certainly be at least worth of one way trip. Get off at the square of Largo de Guimarães and wander around in the streets of Santa Teresa. You will find a lot small shops selling handmade items of local artist and small restaurants with delicious dishes. Walking in these streets, while the monkeys are jumping up and down in the trees and tucans hiding themselves behind the leaves, you will start  feeling like if you were in a smaller town and forget of being in a city of more than 6 million inhabitants.

When it comes to historical sights, don’t forget to visit the monastery of São Bento, church of Candelaria and the national museum of Fine Arts. Enjoy a cup of delicious brazilian coffee at the fort located in between Ipanema and Copacabana or walk through the tropical vegetation on the top of the Leme mountain to enjoy another spectacular view over the beaches. The botanic gardens of Rio de Janeiro are worth visiting as well. Jardim Botanico, as it’s called in portuguese is a huge park, where you will find parts decicated for oriental vegetation, others for the Amazon rainforest flora. Don’t miss out the orchid house either! If you enjoy football, pay a visit to the world’s largest stadium, Maracana. Assisting a local match is so much more than just a game, the stadium is full of passion when the Cariocas enjoy their favourite sports and there is no lack of emotion while the fans encourage their teams by singing.

Barra da Tijuca

Barra da Tijuca

A seeker of an active holiday will also find plenty of things to do in Rio de Janeiro. If you are into surfing try out the beaches of Barra da Tijuca and Recreo, they are just one hour away from the heart of the city and offer great waves for the lovers of surf. These beaches are also less crowded and for example a small beach of Prainha, surrounded by the mountains is an excellent place for a swim in beautiful settings. Big emotions and bird’s view over the city are guaranteed if you decide to try hang gliding at São Conrado neighborhood. You may not know, but the world’s biggest urban rainforest area is also located in Rio de Janeiro. Visiting the National Park of Tijuca, is an excellent way to escape from urban life and feel the touch of the nature. For the first time visitors, it’s recommendable to take a tour with a local guide in order to avoid getting lost. The light hikes through the tropical vegetation will take you to waterfalls and viewpoints with breathtaking views over the city.

Once the night falls, we recommend you to head to Lapa. The most trendy, slightly bohemian neighborhood full of bars and restaurants. This is were the Carioca’s go to enjoy a drink and live music. The easiest and the safest way to reach Lapa is by taxi. Don’t consider taking metro, even tough the nearest station is not that far away, at the night time walking through the empty streets of Centro may not be very wise idea. The buildings of Lapa has been refurbished respecting the old architecture, which turns it to be a culturally interesting place to visit as well. Once you reach Lapa you will see a lot of people on the streets, especially during the weekend. Just join them and start bar hopping until you find your favourite place. There are plenty of options for all tastes and budgets. Also check out our recommendations for night in Lapa (see below).

Check out our other blog post about Rio de Janeiro:

Our suggested itineraries in the state of Rio de Janeiro:

Carnaval of Rio

Carnival of Rio

Brazil Diversity recommends:

Restaurants, Bars & Shopping

  • Churrascaria PorcãoA famous Brazilian steakhouse with excellent choice of meats served right at your table. Serves also delicious side dishes and deserts. Try out Porcão located in Flamengo and enjoy stunning views of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
  • Churrascaria Majórica – A typical Brazilian steakhouse, where the quality of meat is highly appreciated. Located at the neighborhood of Flamengo and very growded especially in the weekends.
  • Restaurante Arab – Restaurante Arab serves tasty arab food and can be found both from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and from Copacabana. We recommend you to have a dinner at Arab of Lagoa Rodgrigo de Freitas where in the evenings you can enjoy live music and stunning views over the Lagoa.
  • Restaurante à Mineira – Located at Humaitá neighborhood. A buffet restaurant specialized at delicious dishes from Minas Gerais state.
  • Restaurante Espirito Santa – This small, but charming restaurant is located uphill at Santa Teresa and is very popular especially during weekends. Espirito Santa serves Brazilian flavours and has a small terrance with few tables for those who prefer their meal at fresh air.
  • Rio Sul – If you are into shopping check out the shopping center of Rio Sul, just a short step away from Copacabana. Here you will find a large number of both national and international brands.
  • Rio Scenariuam – One of the most interesting places to explore the nightlife of Rio. Rio Scenarium, located in Lapa,  is an like an antiquarian with a large number of old items being part of the decoration. It’s a show house, where you will enjoy traditional Brazilian music, samba and forró. Like in many Brazilian bars you will also have a possibility for dining in Rio Scenarium. During the weekends, try to arrive before 11pm. just to avoid long queues.
  • Carioca da Gema – One of the most tradional music houses of Lapa. Carioca da Gema is quite small, but the quality of the music, mainly traditional samba, and the atmospheare takes it to the top of the list when it comes to nightlife in Rio de Janeiro.
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