Brazil Travel Tips

Brazil Travel Tips

The currency of Brazil is the Real ($R) It can be difficult to come across small bills in Brazil and you’ll want to try to hold on to them for small purchases and use larger bills in hotels and major restaurants where they will have change for you. Taxi drivers also carry little change, so make sure you have exact change before using one.

Currency Exchange:
There are many banks located across the city which will exchange currency. Hotels also offer this service as do bureaux de change facilities. The use of traveller’s cheques is not recommended in Brazil as most bureaux de change and hotels offer poor exchange rates for them and banks will not exchange them at all if you do not have an account with them. The most convenient way to exchange money is to withdraw it from the numerous ATMs that are located across the country. Not only is this the easiest way to obtain your holiday money, you are also guaranteed the best exchange rate.
Credit cards are accepted at most Brazilian shops, hotels and restaurants. However, you are in a better position to negotiate a discount on a room or in a store if you pay cash. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa and MasterCard, although American Express and Diners Club are also occasionally accepted.

Banking Hours:
Banks are open from 10:00 until 16:30 Mondays to Fridays. All banks are closed on public holidays.

Upon arrival in Brazil, everybody is required to go through customs and generally no tourists are hassled. There are however random checks of luggage from time to time. You are allowed to bring in items for personal use, such as cameras and laptops although gifts purchased abroad worth more than US$500 must be declared, along with any merchandise for sale.

Electricity voltages vary between states and you should check the voltage before connecting any electrical appliance to an outlet. In general you will find the electricity in Brazil to be 220V, 50Hz.

With such a tropical climate and lush habitat, Brazil is also home to many diseases and you should take precautions before you head there on holiday. A yellow fever vaccination and certificate are required to enter the country, and children ages 3 months to 6 years may be required to show proof of polio vaccinations. Outbreaks of yellow fever have been reported in the Amazon, the Pantanal, Brasilia and Minas Gerais. You should note that the vaccine takes 10 days to take effect. Additionally, it’s recommended that you protect yourself against diseases such as malaria, leprosy and leishmaniasis depending on which region and cities you are visiting.
Brazil is hot and the sun here is powerful. You should be careful of falling prey to dehydration, heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Travellers should drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15.
Hygiene and public health in Brazil are generally high in the larger cities and urban areas; however, you should use common sense when eating out. Although tap water is‘safe’ to drink, it has a poor taste and can still give you a stomach upset. It’s best to drink bottled or filtered water. Brazilian pharmacies are excellent and medication is fairly inexpensive.

Brazil’s official language is Portuguese but the accent and the intonation is different from that of the language spoken in Portugal and other former Portuguese colonies. Brazilians descendants of immigrants speak German and Italian, especially in southern cities.

Brazil has had a reputation for violence and crime since the 1980s, with Rio de Janeiro being a particular bastion of danger. In the 1990s the country cleaned up its image a bit by installing better street lighting and stationing police on city streets and on public beaches. Governments began working at extending water and sanitation to some of the city's poorer residents as well. Common sense should apply when in Brazil - visitors should refrain from displaying their valuables in public. It is advisable to be aware of pickpockets, especially in busy areas and on public transport. You should be especially careful at night and stick to main streets.

Social Conventions:
Brazilians are physical people in general and you’ll find they may stand uncomfortably close to you while speaking. Both men and women will frequently touch you while having a conversation, either holding your hand or patting your shoulder. The common greeting is a kiss or two, and a hug– although the handshake is catching on.
With a racy reputation in terms of clothing, Brazilians like to keep things bright and sexy, especially in the big cities like Rio. Clothing is much more conservative in the south. Churches and government buildings command respect and you should not wear shorts, tank tops, flip-flops or miniskirts.
Brazilians do not eat with their hands. Even pizza is eaten with a knife and fork. If they must use their hands, the food is wrapped in napkins. It’s considered rude to eat while walking around in public. If you are eating at outdoor cafés or food stands, use the tables provided or stand nearby and finish your food before resuming your walk.

Tax and Tipping:
In Brazil, most bars and restaurants include a service charge of 10 per cent although it is common to leave a little extra if the service has been satisfactory. When no service charge has been included, then a tip of 10 to 15 per cent is the general rule.

The country code for Brazil is +55. The city code for Rio de Janeiro is 21 and the code for Sao Paulo is 11.

Rio de Janeiro is GMT -3. Daylight savings time ends in February and starts in October.

Visa and Passports:
Tourists and visitors from Mercosul countries can show their ID cards and do not need to present passports. Visitors from other countries must present a passport that is valid for at least six months. Nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand require a visa to visit Brazil; while British nationals and holders of an EU passport do not require a visa, but do need a passport and a return ticket. A standard single entry tourist visa is valid for 90 days and takes about 2 weeks to process. Upon arrival in Brazil, visitors will receive a 90-day entry stamp in their passport and a stamped entry card that must not be lost. If necessary, the visa can be renewed once for another 90 days through the local Policia Federal.