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Rio celebrates the biggest carnival in the world with 5 million people partying on streets.
Rio de Janeiro’s time zone is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) -03:00. As of 2019 the country abolished Daylight Savings Time. So in most cases, it is one hour ahead of New York and four hours behind London.
If you are a U.S. Passport Holder, you do not need a visa to travel to Brazil for tourism, business, transit, artistic or sport activities. For other types of travel, you will need to contact your nearest consulate to apply for a visa.
Passport holders of Japan, Canada, and Australia also do not need a tourist visa.
Just landed from the Rio Galeo Airport? Here are a few ways to get to and from your destination:
The BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) costs a flat rate of 3.4 reais but this option is not always the safest or most comfortable. The BRT contains major crowds and if you are trying to get to Ipanema or Copacabana, you will have to transfer at a metro stop. If you are willing to take a risk, take the BRT to the Vicente de Carvalho station and transfer from there. The metro in general is very safe and strongly recommended with a flat rate of 5.50 Reais (USD $1.2.)
Taking an Uber is the cheapest and safest option in Rio. It costs around 38 reais (USD $10) to reach Copacabana or Ipanema. Share your trip with someone and double check the license place before you get into the car.
There are plenty of taxis available just outside of the terminal. Taxis are a bit more expensive and will often try to scam foreigners. So be wary, try taking an Uber instead.
Rio de Janeiro has a new metro system that opened during the 2016 Olympics. There are two major lines and a few buses that act like extensions of the metro with a transfer fare. The metro’s hours are Monday to Saturday 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. and on Sundays and holidays from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. During Carnaval the metro runs all night. Passes for the metro can be purchased at the machines at the metro stations.
Rio de Janeiro is a dangerous city if you are not being street smart and wander off into the more dangerous neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods in Rio are under dispute between the militia, police force, and drug cartels. In case of an emergency, call the tourist police at+55 (21) 3355-5012.
The Zona Sul (Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon) is generally a safe area for travelers, including solo female travelers! In the zona sul neighborhood, petty theft crime is extremely common so be sure to stay alert at all times. Try to invest in a fanny pack and if you are going out at night, keep your valuables under your clothes. Avoid taking your phone out on the street, but rather, step into a store to check directions or make a call.
Solo female travelers should be cautious about walking alone at night and never venture to the beach late after the sun goes down, even with a friend. Stay alert, listen to your instincts, you should have a safe and fun trip!
Year round, Rio de Janeiro’s temperature ranges from 18 Celsius (65 Fahrenheit) to 30 Celsius (85 Fahrenheit) with high levels of humidity. The cooler end of the season is from May to October and the scorching hot summer is a short couple of months from mid-December to mid-March.
Best time to visit for hiking: May to October
For the beach: December to March
Carnaval: Late February
Flash flooding is extremely common during the rainier season from November to April. During this time avoid outdoor activity. Due to Rio’s poorer infrastructure, sewage water is likely to overflow into the streets during floods.
The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. Here are a few phrases and words to help you get by:
Bom Dia: Good Morning
Boa Tarde: Good Afternoon
Boa Noite: Good Night
Oi a gente: Hey guys!
Obrigada: Thank you
Por Favor: Please
Tal vez: Maybe
Onde fica o banheiro?: Where is the restroom?
Eu preciso um médico. I need a doctor
Você pode falar ingles?: Can you speak English?
Brazilians are generally extremely friendly and helpful when greeted properly. Saying hello, please, and thank you in Portuguese will go a long way. In Rio, girls greet girls or guys with two kisses or a kiss and a hug. In general, Brazilians are also very touchy so don’t let that startle you, unless someone is going too far, let them know.
For appearance, you can wear nearly whatever you would like. Brazilian culture, especially in the beach city of Rio, is fairly casual. Wear your swimsuit for the beach only and then buy a canga (sarong) to cover up when you leave.
The real is the official currency of Brazil. The conversion is around 5 reais to 1 USD. Tipping is not required since most restaurants include a 10% service fee in the bill.
The standard voltage is 110 volts with a Type C or N plug. You will need a plug adapter if coming from outside of Brazil. Your converter should look like this:
It’s advised to drink boiled or bottled water. It’s not recommended to drink water from the tap in cities or rural areas. Get a filtered water bottle to save plastic!
Rio de Janeiro has certain free Wi-Fi hotspots all around the city, but if you are looking for a more reliable solution, buying a SIM card for an unlocked phone might be the best move.
SIM cards can be purchased at the lowest cost through the phone company, TIM. It’s around 50R (USD $10) a month for 4GB of data and unlimited WhatsApp.
It’s recommended to travel via Uber. It is the cheapest and safest option. Be wary of taxis because they will often try to scam foreigners. If you do take a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter, you should double check the machine when you insert your credit card.
Brazil is a living paradox, especially with LGBTQ+ rights. While gay marriage is legal, Brazil suffers from one of the largest murder rates of Black Trans women in the world.
The current president, Jair Bolsonaro, is openly hateful and homophobic. In addition, he has a huge fan base in Rio. While PDA in the city is fairly common, discrimination and hate crimes are still very prevalent. There are many neighborhoods, beaches, and clubs that are LGBTQ+-friendly, including: Ipanema. So look for the pride flags and stay safe!
Rio de Janeiro Brazil’s recycling system is not ideal. Many recycling tasks are left to waste pickers, so if you want to recycle an item and see someone collecting cans, give it to them. This is how they earn a living. Otherwise, there are many ways that you can help reduce your carbon footprint while in Brazil!
- Buy a filtered reusable water bottle; Avoid plastic water bottles!
- Take public transportation. Rio has a very good bus and metro system that will take you to almost all of the sites.
- Spend time outdoors! Rio is surrounded by the Tijuca rainforest and has incredible hikes. Look up the Dois Irmãos, Pedra da Gavea, Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar), and many many more!
- Consider carbon offsets after your long flight to Rio. For more information check out this website.