Brazil Travel Guide: What You Need To Know Before Landing in Rio
Travelling to Brazil this summer? Whether you’re going to be offering support at the Olympics or simply exploring the country’s cinematic landscapes, read our Brazil travel guide below for advice before you set off. And don’t forget to use our handy Brazil packing list so you don’t forget all those essentials, too.
Brazil Visa Requirements
If you haven’t already organised your visa for travelling to Brazil, there’s no need to worry. As an EU citizen, current travel requirements for Brazil mean that you do not require a visa, as long as you’re staying in the country for 90 days or less. You will however, require a valid passport with at least six months remaining before it requires renewal, as well as a return ticket.
Your Brazil Packing List
The climate in Brazil varies from one end of the country to another. And as it is the fifth largest country (by area) in the world, the heat and humidity also changes along with the varied landscape. There are several different climatic zones across Brazil:
- Equatorial zone: The close proximity to the equator means year-round humidity and rain, with no winter season in these areas, and no real dry season either. If you’re heading towards the Amazon basin to see the Anavilhanas Archipelago, or the Land of Waterfalls, remember to prepare for hot and humid weather – pack your lightweight waterproof and walking trousers.
- Semi-arid zone: Hot and dry weather in cities such as Cuiabá make for extreme temperatures and hardy plants and vegetation. If you’re heading away from the coast and towards the inland plateau, make sure you wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing, and carry lots of water with you as temperatures can reach up to 36°C in October and November.
- Highland tropical zone: Also known as the country’s Maritime Climate, this zone is spread across Brazil’s coastline and is characterised by its consistently warm temperatures, ranging from 22-31 °C, as well as some rainfall throughout the year. In the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, temperatures are more moderate and see a more distinct season change than many other areas of the country.
- Subtropical zone: These areas sit just outside the tropical zones and are not as hot or humid as the tropical areas closest to the Amazon. In this area you’ll find the Iguaçu National Park, home to rare birds, and mammals, as well as the gargantuan Iguazu Falls. Be prepared for trekking to the falls and through the national park – stock up on water, and take a small rucksack filled with snacks.
Health Advice For Travelling To Brazil
To get the most from your trip, it’s important that you go prepared and protected from potential health risks.
Vaccinations for Brazil
In preparation for your trip, it is recommended that you seek the advice of your doctor to see if you should receive any vaccinations for Brazil.
Your healthcare professional should firstly check that you are up to date on all routine vaccinations such as MMR. It is likely that they will also recommend you have the following vaccinations at least three to four weeks before travel:
- Hepatitis A: Usually contracted via contaminated food or water.
- Typhoid: Usually contracted via contaminated food or water.
- Hepatitis B: Usually contracted through sexual contact or contaminated needles.
- Rabies: This is not a major risk to most travellers as it is passed on from mammals such as dogs and bats. However, it is recommended that you have the vaccine if you will be exploring rural areas and taking part in outdoor activities.
- Yellow Fever: Recommended for travellers aged 9 months or older, and only if you plan on travelling to certain rural areas of Brazil.
- Malaria (tablets): Prescription malaria tablets are recommended for before, during and after your trip to Brazil. You can also take other preventative steps to avoid mosquito bites and blood-borne diseases.
You may also want to invest in some mosquito repellent spray, mosquito nets, and insect repellent clothing. This will give you the added protection required to keep most biting insects at bay, although this is not a replacement for malaria tablets.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor to make sure you’ve covered all bases:
- What vaccines should I have before I leave?
- Do I need to take malaria tablets?
- Are there any other mosquito-borne illnesses I should be aware of?
- What about water-spread diseases?
The above questions should help you and your doctor provide you with the necessary advice and vaccinations ahead of your trip to Brazil.
In 2015, there were increased reports of the Zika virus in the Caribbean as well as Brazil, and this has since continued to spread to the Americas. The virus is mosquito-borne and carried by the Aedes species of mosquito which is also responsible for transmitting dengue fever to humans. Most people only experience mild symptoms and may not even realise they’re carrying the virus. There is no vaccination for the Zika virus at present.
Note: It is not recommended that you travel to Brazil if you’re pregnant or if you’re planning to become pregnant soon. Due to the recent increases in recorded cases of the Zika virus being related to neurological conditions in newborn babies, pregnant women are advised to avoid travelling to Brazil at present.
Always seek advice from your doctor before travelling, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions. It is also important that you have adequate travel insurance in place to cover you if you do need medical treatment while abroad. Further information on Brazil health and travel advice can be found via the World Health Organisation.
Brazil Language and Communication
The language used in Brazil is primarily Portuguese, with only a small amount of people speaking indigenous languages. There is no major variation on the Portuguese dialect, with only small changes in regional dialect. So, it’s worth brushing up on some Portuguese phrases before you travel to Brazil, as the locals don’t tend to speak a lot of English – even in most of the restaurants and hotels.
Thinking about telecoms and what the best options are? If you’re going for a couple of weeks or less, it may be worth leaving your smartphone at home. Going off grid is possibly the safest option, as you won’t have to worry about attracting pickpockets while you use your phone. In Rio and Sao Paolo, there are phone booths (Orelhão) dotted frequently around the cities where you can use phone cards for local calls if needed.
When you want to get in touch with home, there are plenty of internet cafes in the cities, so if you leave your phone behind, use Skype to catch up with friends and family. Most premium hotels will also offer Wifi, so getting in touch with home is easy.
Rio de Janeiro: Travel Information & Safety Tips
From Copacabana beach to the iconic Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro will play host to the 2016 Olympics. Whether you’ll be at the Olympic stadium or simply exploring the city’s food markets, it pays to know a little more about the city to ensure you’re safe, and that you get the most out of your trip.
Throughout the early 2000s, Brazil saw a tourism boost, and costs soared with the rise in visitors. However, more recently, costs have balanced out due to economic hardships in the country, which means that tourists won’t have to worry about breaking the budget. In Rio, the open air markets (also known as feira livre) sell fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, meat, and street snacks – an ideal way to get to speak with the locals and try local cuisine.
On the busy streets of Rio, you may want to take extra care if you’re taking expensive camera equipment or large amounts of cash. Even though Brazil is a safe place for tourists to visit, the more urban areas are prone to have pickpockets working the busier streets, so invest in a money belt you can tuck away, leave your tourist-type backpack at home and take less cash out with you than you normally would.
If you’ve had one too many caipirinhas in the markets and cafes and would like to see another side to Brazil, Sao Paolo is just a short bus ride away, while the beautiful Iguassu Falls are a little further out. Wherever you end up on your trip to Brazil this summer, make sure you make the most of the incredibly diverse landscape, the lively people, and the wonderful food and culture.
Brazil Customs and Etiquette
The people of Brazil are generally friendly and informal, while still making a visible effort with their appearance at even the most relaxed events. If you attend an event, dress up, as the locals will have certainly made an effort. With the laid back locals, there’s also no need to show up to a dinner on time. If you’re invited out somewhere, show up half an hour late, and if you attend a party, go an hour later than the invite states.
Women travellers have no need to worry when visiting the cities of Rio de Janerio and Sao Paolo, as this is commonplace. However, if you’re a blonde-haired, lighter skinned women travelling in the more rural areas of Brazil where the majority of the population are of mixed origin, you may receive some sideways glances. Expect some innocent flirtation when you engage with locals – this is commonplace with male-female relations in Brazil and should not be considered as an insult or to have serious intent.
Equally, LGBT travellers have nothing to worry about in the major cities of Brazil – Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Salavador have lively LGBT nightlife. In more rural areas, however, you may see some discrimination from the locals.
Enjoy the wonders of Brazil this summer. Whether you’re heading over for the beaches, the natural beauty, or the upcoming Olympics, it’s a beautiful country that you’ll long to visit again as soon as you return. Make sure you’re ready for your trip with our large collection of men and women’s travel clothing at Craghoppers.