7 questions that
every foreigner asks before going to Brazil
1. Is it true that a foreign tourist
should never venture on the streets at night?
No, it's not true! But as in every great city, be it during
day or at night, certain precautions should always be taken,
such as to avoid carrying valuables and keeping your eye
on items such as cameras and eletronic equipment, as these
are more coveted by pickpockets. It is also advisable to
be accompanied by a tourist guide or Brazilian firend. If
not for the safety in numbers alone, but also for the pleasure
that the added source of information can offer during the
2. Is it necessary to speak Portuguese
to communicate with Brazilians?
Yes, because the great majority of Brazilians only speak
Portuguese! And no, because the warmth of the people is
so great that you will end up understanding everything even
if you don't speak much of their language! Visitors that
speak some Spanish will not have any problem as both languages
are similar. While those that speak English or any other
language can resort to the international language of signs
(as, obviously, anyone understands the pointing sign), or
you can make it easier than that by simply smiling, which
is something that any Brazilian understands like no one
else! Anyway, in all hotels there will always be someone
to help out in your native language, and most good restaurants
you will have bilingual menus.
3. Is it advisable to take preventive
vaccines before visiting Brazil?
It all depends on the region you intend to visit. If your
plans include wild environments, such as the Amazon or the
Pantanal, it is advisable to have the vaccine against yellow
fever - but just this one, as you won't have a need for
any other! But if you plan to have your vacations near beaches
and cities throughout the country, there is no need for
any kind of vaccine.
4. Is it possible to see Brazil by
railway, as a way to see more of the country?
No! Brazil has no tradition in railway travel. On the other
hand, roads and highways reach almost the entire country
and bus transportation is well advanced and comfortable.
But considering the continental dimensions of the country,
the best way to travel is by plane. There are at least four
major national airline companies and there are modern airports
in every major city in Brazil.
5. Aside from Rio de Janeiro, Foz
do Iguaçu and the Amazon Forest, what else is worth
The list is quite long, because Brazil is as enormous as
it is varied. Actually, one can say that the only thing
it doesn't have is snow, which is not what a foreigner would
be looking for anyway. What to see depends a great deal
on your personal inclinations. History lovers should visit
Petrópolis, Ouro Preto, Salvador and Manaus; those
that love the beach environment should take a look at the
island of Fernando de Noronha or the coastal region of Ceará,
Alagoas and the south of Bahia; while those die-hard nature
lovers can't miss Pantanal and the Chapada Diamantina, and
if time permits, also the vast dunes of Lençóis
Maranhenses, as this would be, maybe, the best guarded natural
secret in Brazil.
6. Is it true that certain cities
in Brazil carnival lasts one entire month?
It's not quite like that... but almost. In Salvador, in
Bahia, Recife and Pernambuco, festivities really extend
to quite more than the four official days and celebrations
can last the whole week, aside from the preparations that
precede the official days. During this period, groups promote
rehearsals that rapidly become a pre-carnival. The same
happens in Rio de Janeiro with the rehearsals of the Samba
Schools, that - now yes! - can drag on not only for over
a month, but for several months. And anyone can take part,
Brazilians and foreigners alike.
7. How much would a couple spend on
a two-week trip throughout Brazil?
Aside from the expenses with air tickets and lodgings that,
however, are usually are part of a travel package sold by
the tourit agency, prepare yourself for a pleasant surprise:
Brazil is a very inexpensive country. Especially if you
are coming from Europe or the United States, where the currency
is worth much more than the local Real. On the average,
a full-course meal in a good restaurant shouldn't cost more
than US$ 15 and a day sightseeing, for instance, should
cost just a little more than that. On the whole, a couple
shouldn't have to spend more than the equivalent of US$
1,500 to eat, enjoy the surroundings and tour the country
during those two weeks.
EnjoyBrazil Magazine - Year 1 #2