Knowing these main things about traveling to Brazil will enhance your trip and hopefully exceed your expectations. After all, it is always worth being well prepared for any new destination.
As travelers, we have all experienced those moments during a trip when we wished we had known something beforehand or had planned something differently. And without having to plan every last detail to a tee, it is still vital to have some valuable information under your belt.
Brazil is famous for so many things, from its culture and food to its undeniable landscapes and exciting festivities, but if you want to enjoy all of these things to the fullest, these are some things to know.
Here are some of the main topics for Brazil which can make your trip hassle and stress-free.
Brazil was, of course, colonized by Portugal back in the day and was the only country in the Americas to have been, which means that unlike many countries in South America that predominantly speak Spanish, Portuguese is spoken in Brazil. Brazil is the most populous Portuguese-speaking country globally. Although English is spoken in some major tourist areas, especially in Rio, you cannot rely on this if you plan to travel around.
In rural areas, the chances of finding English speakers are low, so it is good to know this so you can prepare for your trip by picking up a few phrases, which can be found here. Believe us when we say this will come in very handy, and you will be glad you took the time to learn a bit of the local language. As well as this, it is always good to carry a local phrasebook or an app on your phone which can be used on or offline, both of which will almost always come in handy during your adventures.
As one of the most diverse and multicultural countries on the planet, Brazil has a mix of cultures, traditions, and customs, which make it such an incredible destination to travel to because, after all, this Is one of the main reasons, we all love to travel.
Catholicism is the main religion in Brazil. It is the largest Catholic country globally, so you will find many churches and religious monuments all over the country – with Christ the Redeemer being the most famous.
When it comes to cultural etiquette, it is worth knowing that Brazilians don’t generally adhere to such things as personal space. But instead, they like to express themselves freely, which might be confusing if you come from a conservative country or background, but this is just how it is in Brazil. In addition, you will notice that Brazilians don’t seem to mind being crowded together in small spaces, but living in one of the most populated cities in the world, who can blame them.
Family is hugely important to Brazilians, and it is not uncommon for people to stay living at home with their parents until they marry, and they like to spend as much time together as they can. However, you will notice that the endless coastline and landmarks are full of locals enjoying their holidays together, so book your trip outside of the Brazilian holidays if you want to avoid the crowds.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Brazil is that it is affordable as some of the other South American countries, but it is not. Brazil is expensive, and costs can be similar to EU or North American prices, so be prepared for this with a reasonable budget. Of course, just like anywhere, there are always options to travel on a budget or splash out on luxury, but the prices will still not be as low as you might have thought.
The currency in Brazil is the Real, and as of February 2022, $1USD was equal to BRL 5.16 and to give you an idea of the costs of daily essentials and treats:
- 0.5ml Local Beer costs 8R$
- A cheap meal in a restaurant costs around 25R$
- Cappuccino costs 7.28R$
- A 0.33ml Coke costs 4.90R$
- One way ticket on local transport costs around 4.50R$
You should know that it is not mandatory or expected in Brazil when it comes to tipping, considering many bills will have a gratuity already added to the final account. However, you can choose to leave cash tips for exceptional service if you like. You don’t need to worry about tipping for restaurants, cafés, taxis, or hairstylists, but there are some situations when you should list, such as at the end of a tour, bartender, bell boy, and of course, if it is not part of the final bill at an eatery. 10% will suffice for all of these situations.
So, if you were planning to travel the whole country in a few weeks or months, you might want to think again, because Brazil is HUGE. One of the best and most common ways to get around is by plane, so book your tickets in advance. However, if the distance is not extreme, you can opt for a luxury overnight bus (leitos), which is frequent, cheap, and high-quality in Brazil. These generally have toilets on board and include a meal voucher, which allows you to eat at a local place where the bus stops along the way.
As expected, local transport can be very crowded, hitchhiking is not customary or particularly safe, and a car rental is an option but not for the faint-hearted. Train lines exist in Brazil, but mostly just for cargo. The best options are domestic flights with low-cost airlines and overnight buses if you want to get around as quickly, cheaply, and efficiently as possible.
You might have heard about the high crime rates in Brazil, and this is true in some parts of the country, preeminent cities, so it is crucial to have your wits about you, be vigilant, and always ask locals, exceptionally your local ‘Destination Expert,’ of any areas to be aware of. It is vital to stay in groups, not go to unknown places after dark, or carry money or valuable openly, mainly because of Brazil’s vast disparity in wealth.
Brazil has a reputation of being a ‘somewhat safe’ country, and although crime exists there, it is vital to keep this in mind, but don’t let it take over your entire trip. Of course, you will wonder where this reputation came from, considering the positive vibes, welcoming people, and exciting atmosphere that you will come across. Still, it is good to keep these tips in your mind and be streetwise when traveling the country.
In terms of health, it is worth knowing that Brazil is home to mosquitos that carry malaria, zika virus, dengue, and yellow fever – not to say you will catch all of these. Still, it is vital to have the appropriate vaccines, take the prescribed medication with you, and always wear repellent to maximize your safety against any of these issues. Also, try to always drink filtered or bottled water instead of tap water in Brazil.
A few other things to know are that Brazilians love to party, so you will undoubtedly have a great time if you get invited to one. Due to the incredible variety of exotic fruits that this country has on-demand, there is a vast range of juice bars all over the country, and their juices are amazing. Finally, Brazil is all about the outdoors. Whether it is the beach, the jungle, or the mountains, this is the place to get to know the culture, the people, and the land.