Travel to Brazil can be a unique opportunity to experience a wonderful culture and have fun in a beautiful setting. However, it can be a confusing, overwhelming experience if you do not know what to expect.
To get the most enjoyment out of your trip, you need to know some basic things about where you are going, how to get there, and how to get around once you are there. It will make the trip more relaxing, which is what it means to travel Brazil.
The first step is getting to your destination. All United States, Canada, and Australian visitors will need a passport to be allowed into Brazil. Other countries will need to check with their local Brazilian embassy or consulate for requirements.
TAM is Brazil's major international airline with flights to Brazil. However, many other airlines have flights to travel to Brazil. Most flights arrive at either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. If your destination is somewhere else to travel Brazil, you will have to find transportation to get you from one of these two cities.
Flights during the high season will be much more expensive and you may have trouble getting tickets at specific times. The high season in Brazil is anytime other than March first to the end of May and the middle of August to the end of November. During these two date ranges, you can find discounted tickets.
Yes, that is a pun, as we don't mean "reel" but "ray al"! Actually in Portuguese it is pronounced "hay al".
The Real is the Brazilian currency you will use and once you arrive, you will need to exchange your currency to Brazil's real. There are several denominations of reals; for your trip, the ten or twenty reals bank notes is the largest that you should carry. It is easier for vendors to make change for your purchases.
You will not need to use reals until you are through customs so do not exchange your money in your country prior to departure. You will often get a poor exchange rate. You will want to exchange your money once you travel to Brazil, especially if you will be spending time in smaller towns. It can be inconvenient to try to exchange it outside of the large cities.
Unlike many European countries that use the railway extensively, Brazil rails are barely in existence and rarely used. Air travel and buses are the primary modes of transportation unless you plan to drive.
Domestic flights may originate from a different airport than the international flights. You will have to get transportation between the two if you will be leaving the city.
If you are looking to save money, you can take a bus to travel between cities. You will have to allow travel time in your itinerary. You can get sleeper seats if you want to travel at night to save your day time for touring the area. They also have toilets onboard for your convenience.
Depending on where you are traveling, bus travel can be quite an adventure! One bus I took in Amazonas had chickens on board that would squawk each time we went over a huge pothole!
Another memorable bus ride was in the state of Rio de Janeiro, somewhere between the city and the campo or countryside. The bus broke down, and there seemed to be no sign of when or if it would be fixed. The other passengers were all quite patient and relaxed. I was feeling very stressed out until I let go of my own agenda and started talking to the other passengers. It was actually rather fun, and to this day I remember to relax rather than tense up when something doesn't go my way!
For traveling within a city, you can choose taxis, buses, or subways. A note of caution however, you will only want to use taxis that are lined up at the taxi stand or those that you call for. Thieves will often parade as taxi drivers; however, you can tell them by their license plates. Taxis have maroon plates for commercial vehicles.
Large cities such as Rio have a subway system that will make it convenient to travel around the city. Unlike many other places, the subway system in Brazil is clean, fast, and an enjoyable way to travel.
You can rent a car if you are brave enough to drive in a foreign country. Most rental cars have manual transmissions and gasoline is expensive. Add to that the fact that Brazil has the third highest number of traffic deaths and you may choose another mode of transportation to travel Brazil! In all the time I spent there, I can count the times I was in a car on one hand. That is probably a good thing!
Many Brazilians in large cities speak at least some English. This will be helpful in hotels, airports, restaurants, and travel agencies. However, in smaller communities, you may not find English-speaking people.
Even if do not speak Portuguese, which is the language of Brazil, it would be helpful and courteous to learn a few phrases before you travel to Brazil. Even saying simple things like thank you, please, excuse me, and goodbye will show respect for the Brazil culture.
You can find great deals on certain products when you are shopping in Brazil. Leather items are inexpensive and are made of good quality. Clothing and jewelry are also bargains to purchase. Electronic items are generally more expensive than in other places.
You can find street fairs in many cities on Sundays to find many interesting items. You can visit markets to find fresh foods, such as local grown tropical fruit.
Hotels have five star ratings, with five being for the most expensive, luxurious places. Three star hotels and above are usually clean and comfortable. Many places have in-room safes where you can keep your valuables, but if they don't, you can usually ask to keep them in the main hotel safe.
Most hotels have breakfast that is a large buffet. This can save you time and money on eating out. Motels are not suitable for guests and are rented by the hour.
Feijoada is a popular dish in Brazil; it could be considered a national dish and is served in many restaurants. It is tradition to serve it for Saturday lunch and should be tried at least once when you travel to Brazil. It is a black bean and meat stew that was probably first made by slaves.
Many restaurants serve lunch by weight. You can fill your plate with your choice of various foods and pay by how much it weighs. Tips are usually included in the price of your meal so you don't have to figure it in.
You can find a variety of restaurants serving various ethnic foods if you want to eat something other than traditional Brazil food.
Brazil is an exciting country with a colorful culture and a rich history. It is worth a visit, but it will be more enjoyable if you take the time to learn about travel to Brazil.