With so many things to do in Brazil, such as the beautiful beaches throughout the country, “Carnaval” in Rio de Janeiro, or the Amazon forest, it’s a huge tourist destination. Here is some background information on Brazil, along with a short checklist of what you will need before you go.
Brazil is the biggest country in South America with more than 200 million people across 27 states. The official language is Portuguese (even though some tribes in Amazon are still speaking their own language), the capital is Brasilia and the currency is called the Real (R$) (pronounced like hey-eye). It’s a tropical country, so it’s very warm most of the year. Since we were colonized by so many countries, every region has its own characteristics and dialects. Every state is a surprise. The coast of Brazil is simply AMAZING.
My husband and I went to Brazil a few months ago, and since he is American, he needed a Visa as well as a vaccination.
VISA: Since Brazilians need a visa to enter into the United States, we require American visitors have a visa to enter Brazil. Check the Brazilian embassy website (Click here for visa form tutorial) of your country for the steps required for a visa. It’s fairly easy nowadays for Americans, you don’t need to go to the embassy and everything can be done online. Afterwards you get emailed the visa which you print out before your trip. It normally takes around 5 business days and it costs $160 (USA)
VACCINATIONS: Since Brazil is a tropical country that has so many different animals, as well as annoying mosquitoes that transmit diseases, you must get vaccinations before you go. The last time we went, we had to get the YELLOW FEVER shot, which was kinda hard (and expensive) to find in NYC. This was the only clinic with the shot available at that time: Traveler's Medical Service. They also have shots available for different countries.
It’s important to get the vaccinations well before your trip, since some shots take 1-2 weeks before they work. Be aware in advance, and always bring your vaccination card with you. Also, check the news if there is any epidemics going on at the time you’re planning your visit.
LANGUAGE: While I know English is one of, or the most important language in the world, and everybody should know the basics, you should not expect all Brazilians to speak English during your visit. Brazilians are very accommodating to their visits, and try to help when we can, but don’t expect everyone to speak English. Obviously in hotels, restaurants, and tourist hotspots you’ll find people that speak English, but in local spots such as bars, supermarkets, or pharmacies, many times they do not. My advice before you going to Brazil (or any other country) is to learn the basics. You should at least know how to say “Thank you” (obrigado), or “Hello” (Ola), as well as other simple phrases that will help you order food or make small talk at a bar. If you speak Spanish, you’re already half way there.
MONEY: If you have an international credit card, you should be totally fine since most places accept cards, but it’s always ideal to have some cash with you always. For example, you might need to buy something at the beach or if you need to take public transportation, it’s easy to pay in cash. Cash is super important if you’re venturing outside big cities since many stores don’t except card. You can exchange money at the major airports in Brazil, or in before you leave in your home country.
BE SAFE: Of course nowhere in the world is 100% safe, but particularly in Brazil you need to be aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, robbery is very common in Brazil. Do not wear expensive jewelry or watches; do not walk around with a huge camera wrapped around your neck; and try to “hide” your phone if possible. Don’t walk around in neighborhoods you don’t know during the night and avoid taking cabs if you can – Uber is safer and much cheaper compared to in the United States.
We went to Rio de Janeiro during a scary time in terms of security but nothing happened to us since we kept our eyes open.
These are the basic, and most important, tips for your trip to Brazil. We still have a whole lot of posts coming about what to do and where to eat. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @eat_travel_andlove to see what I’ve been up to in real time.