Wherever there’s music, that carefree lust for life tends to appear – whether dancing with cariocas at Rio’s atmospheric samba clubs or following powerful drumbeats through the streets of Salvador. There’s the dancehall forró of the Northeast, twirling carimbó of the Amazon, scratch-skilled DJs of São Paulo and an endless variety of regional sounds that extends from the twangy country music of the sunbaked sertanejo to the hard-edged reggae of Maranhão.
ATMS are widespread in Brazil. Credit cards are accepted at most restaurants, shops and hotels. ATMs are the easiest way of getting cash in big cities and are common. In many smaller towns, ATMs exist but don’t always work for non-Brazilian cards. Make sure you have a four-digit PIN (longer PINs may not work). In general, Citibank, Banco do Brasil and Bradesco are the best ATMs to try.
You can use credit cards for many purchases and to make cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks. Visa is the most widely accepted card, followed by MasterCard. Amex and Diners Club cards are less useful. Visa cash advances are widely available, even in small towns with no other currency-exchange facilities; you’ll need your passport, and the process can be time-consuming, especially at the ubiquitous but bureaucratic Banco do Brasil.
Credit-card and ATM fraud is widespread in Brazil, especially in the Northeast. Card cloning (clonagem in Portuguese) is the preferred method: an entrepreneurial opportunist sticks a false card reader into an ATM that copies your card and steals the PIN when you come along and withdraw money. Shazam! A few hours later, $1500 disappears from your account in Recife while you and your card are safe and sound sipping caipirinhas on the beach in Natal!
To combat fraud, restaurants will bring the credit-card machine to your table or ask you to accompany them to the cashier to run a credit-card transaction. Never let someone walk off with your card. Other tips:
Eating and Drinking
Brazil has incredible variety when it comes to cuisine. Every region has its own specialties, from delectable freshwater fish from the Amazon and the Pantanal, to the unique African-influenced dishes in Bahia. You’ll find European influences in the south (German, Italian) and down-home comfort classics (beans, pork) from Minas Gerais. If you’re a foodie, São Paulo, which has 14 Michelin-starred restaurants, should figure high on your itinerary. Rio de Janeiro also has many standout dining rooms
Feijoada Rich stew of black beans and pork traditionally served on Saturday or Sunday.
Petiscos (appetizers) The perfect match to a cold cerveja (beer).
Agua de coco (coconut water) Sometimes served straight from the nut.
Sucos (juices) Available in myriad flavors at the corner juice bar.
- Hotels Tipping is optional for housekeepers, but appreciated.
- Parking Usually R$2 or more; assistants do not receive wages and are dependent on tips.
- Taxis Not expected but most people round up to the nearest real.
- Tours It’s customary to tip guides at the end of a tour, and certainly appreciated if you can give a little to the assistant or boat operator(s).
- Restaurants A 10% service charge is usually included in the bill.
Australian Government Travel Advice
The Australian Government provides up to date information on the safety of travelling to various countries, and all travellers should take note of this advice. Liberty Tours recommends that all travellers take out appropriate Travel Insurance to cover the entire duration of their absence from home.
Follow this link for current official assessment:
Advice on health risks and vaccination recommendations can also be found using the same link.
The tropical and subtropical climate makes Brazil an all-year round destination. The Brazilian winter lasts for only three months from June to August. From December to February it’s summer and most rain is seen in these months. Most parts of Brazil have moderate annual rainfall of between 900 and 1600 mm (38 and 61 in).The temperature varies within a year with monthly averages in winter between 13 and 18 degrees Celsius (55 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit). During summer temperatures can reach 30 to 40 degrees Celsius (86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rio de Janeiro and in regions in the south, this accompanied by frequent showers creates a rather heavy humidity.
High Season (Dec–Mar)
- Brazil’s high season coincides with the northern-hemisphere winter.
- It’s a hot, festive time – expect higher prices and minimum stays (typically four nights) during Carnaval.
- It’s particularly busy in Rio and popular beach destinations all along the coast.
Shoulder (Apr & Oct)
- The weather is warm and dry along the coast, though it can be chilly in the south.
- Prices and crowds are average, though Easter week draws crowds and high prices.
Low Season (May–Sep)
- Aside from July, which is a school-holiday month, you’ll find lower prices and mild temperatures in the south.
- July to September are good months to visit the Amazon or Pantanal.
What to pack
#1 Casual clothing – The dress-code in Rio is fun and casual, so you’ll fit in perfectly in your bright swim shorts and havaianas. Even on an evening the dress-code is fairly casual, although you may want to go the extra mile if you’re eating out or going to a club, but you certainly won’t feel out of place in summer clothes.
#2 Swimwear – Of course, anything goes when it comes to swimwear, but the Brazilian bikini is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea…
#3 The correct plug adapter – The plug sockets vary throughout Brazil, so a multi-country adaptor is your best bet. However, in places like Rio that have the European 2-prong plug, be aware that you’ll need a small adaptor as the pins are often sunk into the wall too far for a multi-country adapter.
#4 A secure bag – Ensure your bag has a zip or secure fastening, as the streets are busy and pickpocketing is something to be aware of. A bag that crosses your body or can be worn on your front is particularly useful when using crowded public transport.
#5 Sun protection – During the summer and the shoulder seasons it can get extremely hot, so lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in natural fabrics is best. Sunglasses and sun cream are an essential to pack for Brazil, and you should consider a hat too if you are sightseeing for hours at a time, as it can be hard to escape the sun.
#6 An extra layer for indoors – In hotels, shopping centres and restaurants the air conditioning is often turned up so high you’ll wish you had a jumper with you! So a small cardigan or sweater is a good idea, and you can also use it as a cover up on the beach.
#7 A Sarong – A beach towel isn’t necessary in Rio, as the locals tend to use sarongs or scarves to sit on, and go in the sea to cool down rather than to swim. Similarly, try to take as little as possible with you to the beach, as you’ll feel out of place with a bulky bag, and there are plenty of places to get cheap drinks, snacks, sunglasses, hats (literally everything you’d possibly need!), right off the beach.