Brazil is undoubtedly one of the emerging tourist destinations in the world. The South American country has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty, food, drinks and carnivals that it is quite impossible to resist visiting the country. If you are planning a trip to Brazil, you must not only know a few things about the country but must also ensure that you are traveling safely. There is no denying the fact that security is one of the major concerns for tourists traveling to Brazil with regular cases of theft, murder, and violence being reported by the international press. Just like every country Brazil too has its share of problems and challenges. However, they do not undermine the tourism prospect even a single bit. In fact, if you make sure to travel safely to the country and follow some common advisories, you can go back home with wonderful memories.
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Security Advice You Mustn’t Ignore While Visiting Brazil
There are quite a few things that you must keep in mind while traveling in Brazil. The major tourist cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have their fair share of local problems and as tourists, you should do everything to stay away from them. Below we have listed a few things you should keep in mind that will ensure your safety in Brazil.
Favelas are the Portuguese term for shanty towns or slums. In Brazil, favelas are seen as an urban neighborhood, one that is unplanned and unstructured. They can range from comprising only a few blocks to occupying large areas. Favelas usually have narrow lanes, are overpopulated and are hotspots of violence, theft and other criminal activities. The situation inside a favela may seem normal from the surface but there can be shimmering tension that as a tourist you may not understand. That is why almost all advisories on Brazil caution international tourists against visiting favelas.
There is an emerging trend where certain tour operators conduct favela tours – a marketing gimmick encouraging tourists to take a closer look at favelas. They promise to not just show around a favela but also offers accommodations, food, and drinks within this neighbourhoods. But if you value your safety than do not sign up for favela trips. You wouldn’t want to be in the midst of a gang war and become a casualty without any fault of yours.
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There are numerous favelas in Rio de Janeiro – one of the most visited tourist cities in Brazil. Zona an area frequented by tourists is quite close to a favela. It is advisable to study a map before traveling to Brazil, particularly to stay away from favelas.
Keep Your Money Safe
There is no denying that money is important, especially when traveling abroad. However, when you are making a trip to Brazil being careful with your cash is very important. Pick-pockets and minor thefts are commonplace in the country and the petty thieves target easy tourists. When going out for a day, carry only as much money as would be necessary while keeping the rest in a locker. Check-in to a hotel which offers locker facilities. Moreover, keep your passport and other documents safe. Even if you have to carry them with you at all times, do not keep them casually in your back pocket. They should be safely stored somewhere that cannot be easily mugged by the petty thieves.
It is also important that you do not over-dress while visiting the tourist attractions of Brazil. Avoid wearing expensive watches or jewelry as that may attract unwanted attention. Keep things casual and simple so that you do not become an easy target.
Make Health Your Primary Concern
It is imperative to take care of the food you eat, the hygienic rules you set for yourself when you travel away from home. Like many countries diseases and viruses can spread easily without any warning. Not very long ago, in 2015-16 Brazil came under the attack of Zika virus which affected many locals and foreigners as well. Even in 2018, there are cases reported of Zika virus. Though the government and international health organizations are doing their best to contain the virus, the threat isn’t completely removed. That’s why you should be extra cautious of what you eat, where you sleep and how you move about. Cases of dengue, yellow fever and malaria are also reported in Brazil.
In case of emergency, you can ask for the recommended medical help offered by the government. It will do you good to note down the emergency ambulance number of the country so that in case of need you can get immediate help. It is also imperative that you are covered under health insurance.
Be Careful While Using Public Transport
Know a few things before you board public transport in Brazil. While the country has quite a good network of public transport means and using them can mean you are saving money, it is also better to know a few things before using them.
Since demonstrations and civil unrest are common in Brazil, public transports quite easily get disrupted. It is advisable that you keep track of the latest events especially if you are relying on using public transport. If possible, try to avoid buses during rush-hour. Since you are an outsider it would be hard for you to manage the rush. Moreover, petty crime such as pick-pocketing and non-violent mugging are common, so be aware. Rio and Sao Paulo have a strong metro network, which in many ways is safer and better than the bus services.
If you prefer traveling by taxis, hire only licensed ones. You can search online beforehand or can book from one of the many recognized services providers when you touch down the country. You can also make use of taxi apps. As already mentioned above keep cash transactions limited. When using taxis pay through the app so that you can have to carry too much cash. Make use of credit and debit cards rather than hard cash.
Learn The Local Language
Brazilians do not easily speak English which means that communication with the locals can be a hindrance if you do not know their local language. Portuguese is widely spoken in the country and it will do you good to learn the basics of the language if you intend to travel the country safely. Though English is sparingly spoken in major cities such as Rio and Sao Paulo if you are traveling any further knowing rudimentary Portuguese is necessary.
Learning the local language can keep you out of danger most of the time and you can easily get local help. It also makes you more acceptable. Travelling will become fun if you know the local language.
Learn About the Local Way of Life
It is always better to do background research of an unknown place before visiting it. Thanks to the Internet and articles such as this, you can easily be equipped with information that will help you move comfortably across Brazil. Not only should you book your accommodation in advance after thorough research, but you should also be aware of what you can eat, where you should eat, the per day expected expenditure and so on. Download the map of the cities you are visiting and take a good look at them before you visit them. Make use of GPS wherever possible, just be wary of dark alleys and lonely roads.
How to Travel on Road, Air, and Water
If you are planning on driving through the country on a rented car, you will need an international driving permit. Also, you must be aware of driving rules so that you do not get on the wrong side of the laws. For example, you must always turn on the headlights while driving on federal motorways failing to do which you can be heavily penalized. Brazil has a zero-tolerance for drink driving so do not attempt doing so. If you are caught you can be prosecuted with fines and even imprisonment.
If you prefer flying then book tickets only in nationally recognized air carriers. Railways aren’t well connected and thus you cannot rely on them.
You may have to travel on water, especially if your itinerary includes the Amazon. Always ensure that life jackets are on, especially for children and minimum safety measures are in place. Traveling to the Amazon isn’t easy and you should be prepared for every eventuality.
Brazil is a fascinating country – one which can equally enthrall and excite. There is so much to see in the country that you will either want to extend your trip or plan a return soon after. From the beaches to the jungles, cities to towns Brazil has something to offer for everyone. All you need to do is take note of travel advisories and not do anything reckless. Keep in touch with your country’s consulate wherever possible. Once you travel safely you will enjoy every moment spent in the country.