Travel Tips for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Are you traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

I’ve compiled a list of things you should definitely be aware of before you travel to the sunny beaches of Copacabana:

1. Make sure you print out a list of Portuguese words. My friend and I made the mistake of not printing out many words in Portuguese and outside of the hotel, many of the cab drivers DO NOT speak English!

2. Your phone will NOT work overseas, unless you want to be charged an arm and a leg for roaming! Our hotel had free wifi and we used that to communicate with our friends and family. If you have an iPhone, iMessage will work in wifi and you can use Facetime, but beware because the connection could be slow. Many hotels overseas have free wifi in the lobby so if you want to save on costs, I would advise using the hotel’s free wifi to make calls (on Facetime) and to get on the internet.

3. Try to stay in American hotels. The staff is more likely to speak English and accept American dollars.

4. Make sure to exchange money PRIOR to entering Brazil. The exchange rates vary per day and also different places charge different fees to exchange your money.  BE ADVISED THAT THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLACE TO EXCHANGE YOUR MONEY IS IN YOUR HOTEL. I exchanged money in the airport before we landed in Brazil but needed to exchange money again once we got there and the hotel charged me an obscene rate.

5. DO NOT TRAVEL WITH YOUR PASSPORT ON YOU! This is a lesson I learned from a family member that works for the State Department. If someone robs you, it is sometimes a difficult process to get a new passport. Better safe than sorry.

6. Try to experience the culture as much as possible but also stick to what you’re familiar with. You don’t want to try a new food that doesn’t sit well with your stomach and may leave you in the bathroom for days or worse with an illness.

7. Keep in mind that unlike many European countries, Brazil charges a fee to visit their country (tourist visa).

8. The Brazilian BBQ restaurants are quite expensive. I would advise only going to one. Once you’ve been to one, the rest are fairly similar. A meal at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant will run  you about $50 per person.

9. If you want to see the tourist attractions, go on a tour. Your hotel should have details and generally these tours are filled with Americans and other foreigners and the tour guides speak English.

10. To save on costs of traveling, take public transportation in Rio. We did this a few times and saved the money on cab fares. The cab drivers, seeing that we were American tried to overcharge us for the fare. Also be advised that most of the people riding public transit don’t speak English and won’t be able to provide you with directions if you get lost.

I hope these tips can provide you with guidance for your upcoming trip to Brazil!

Below are some pictures from my August 2014 trip to Rio. If you’re interested in seeing more pictures search the hashtag #JNiceInBrazil on Instagram!

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