Country: Brazil
Currency: Real (BRL)
Peak Season: December-March
Shoulder Season: May-July
Median Temperature: 23.80 C / 74.84 F
Main Languages: Portuguese, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Metro, bus, taxi, ferry
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $100.00/day
Tourist Passes: Rio de Janeiro Pass
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Rio de Janeiro—doesn’t that word just sizzle you with excitement whenever you hear it? The city is a major vacation hotspot in Latin America, hounded by many beach-loving bachelors and bachelorettes during summer. Rio de Janeiro is known for its unparalleled nightlife, great stretch of beaches, natural attractions, and the liveliness of the locals. It’s the total escape from daily, mundane routines towards a visceral plane of existence and fun. It has become one of the world’s leading metropolises, but the presence favelas still poses problems for tourist safety.

The first thing you’d probably want to do is understand the way of life of Brazilians or Cariocas (as the locals prefer to be called), particularly on how to mingle with them and how not to offend them. A tourist in Rio should always exhibit utmost courteousness towards locals, because the city—even though better known for its rambunctiousness (by guise of the Carnaval)—deserves utmost respect from outliers. Rio is best visited with a few of your closest friends and family members, and you should think twice of bringing children here, just for their own sake.

Quite honestly, intoxication is not the way to go when clubbing here (as opposed to what many uninformed people say), since passing out ruins all the fun—so know your alcohol limits beforehand. An evening socialization with your buddies, locals, or fellow tourists is what makes the stay exciting. Enjoy the sultry music in bars, jive into the street parties in Lapa and Gavea – do anything you want, as long as you don’t get too drunk.

Packing List

  • Light, cottony clothes suited for the tropical weather; loose, buttoned shirts are worn by most men in Rio, while jeans and mini-skirts (with patterned tops) are donned by most women
  • Bikinis, sarongs, suntan (with high SPF), a parasol and anything to keep the heat from your skin when hitting the many beaches; a surfboard and some snorkeling equipment can be brought too
  • A shopping bag and a credit card for nifty purchases; many of today’s hot items are sold cheap in Brazil: gold, jewelry, summer dresses, flip-flops and even premium-grade coffee beans
  • Essential medication and toiletries—loperamide tablets come in handy if you’re not used to Rio’s spicy dishes; there are plenty of convenience stores and pharmacies that sell US brands
  • A decent camera and a lot of film/memory and batteries for the auspicious attractions; you may want to leave the tripod at home and look as svelte as possible, since Rio is a party capital

Things to Do

  • Conquering or just taking a cable car to the top Sugarloaf Mountain; the view from atop is spectacular—see the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Central Business District
  • Feeling the embrace of Brazil’s most famous landmark—Cristo Redentor—at the peak of Corcovado mountain; the 130-foot Art Deco statue was erected in 1931 and was recently consecrated in 2006
  • Enjoying the white sands of Copacabana beach, which stretches 2 ½ miles and is famous for its great waves, active, high-profile nightlife venues, as well hotels and restaurants near the shore
  • Viewing tropical life in the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden, known for its resident toucans and tree monkeys; the reserve is home to several endangered species and myriads of tropical plants
  • Visiting the modernist, cone-shaped Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, obviously complimenting the landscape of the CBD; it has a seating capacity of 20,000 and houses the Sacred Art Museum

DON'T

  • Display your wealth or dress flamboyantly if going to the favellas—you might become a thief magnet; the favellas are where most of Rio’s impoverished families and crime gangs live in
  • Accept drinks from strangers inside nightclubs; never leave your drink unattended—a powdered sleeping agent might be sprinkled on it; remember, these people have cohorts inside bars
  • Look naïve, always act and converse like it’s your third time in Rio—don’t linger too far from the southern end of the city; Portuguese words definitely come in handy in conversations
  • Argue with the policemen; should they force to detain you, comply and just call your consul once inside the station; cops are hot on tourists that violate traffic laws and those in an inebriated state
  • Leave your belongings out in the open—keep your hotel room locked as well; the syndicate-operated children in Rio are fast, deceptive and aware of tourist whereabouts, so keep safe