Brazil’s gorgeous landscapes, rich cultural history, delicious foods, and friendly people continue to allure millions of tourists and travelers from around the trip. But like any seasoned traveler would tell you, there are a few things that you need to know before traveling to the country.
Here’s what you need to know.
- Brazilians do not speak English nor Spanish.
The common dialect spoken throughout the country is actually Portuguese and Brazilians do get offended when someone assumes they speak Spanish. It may be wise to brush up on the language or learn a few words that you will need to use like “food,” “water,” and so on.
- Brazil is a developing country.
You must remember that Brazil is still a developing country and therefore, expect to find favelas, poorly managed city areas, and poverty. Especially if you choose not to stick to the traditional touristy areas. It is also important to remember not enter any favelas alone, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, because the area is mostly a drug territory, despite the fact that residents there are almost always friendly and outgoing.
- Religion is an important part of the Brazilian culture.
Roughly 80% of the Brazilian population are Roman Catholics and they take their religious beliefs very seriously. For this reason, it is essential that you remain respectful and not “diss” religion. In fact, I’d recommend not getting into the subject of religion all together.
- Public transportation is an adventure.
While some bus drivers are responsible drivers, most drivers drive incredibly fast to reach their following stops fast so expect to be hurled from one side of the bus to the other. Also, buses are always cramped up and therefore, it is very difficult to find a seat or a place to stand. If you’re lucky and you do find a seat, make sure to give it for the elderly, children, and pregnant women.
Tip: The yellow seats on the buses were created for those purposes and people.
- It can quickly turn to a pricey trip.
While it is not as expensive as traveling to NYC or California, travelling to Brazil can be relatively expensive. For instance, a bed in a very average hostel will range from $12-$15 per night and foods in the supermarkets tend be as costly as the ones in the UK.
Also, any electronics and/or beauty products that are imported into Brazil are hugely taxed and therefore, unless it’s essential, buy your stuff upon arrival.
Tip: Bus fares are around $1.50.
- You cannot travel to Brazil without visiting the Florianópolis City
While Brazil is home to 2 of the world’s most gorgeous beaches, the Copacabana and Ipanema, the Florianópolis City, south Rio de Janeiro, is perhaps just as alluring. The Florianópolis city is made up of 42 beaches with a vast number of surfing spots.
- Do not show off your wealth
A lot of cities in the country, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, are very high in crime so don’t flaunt around your money, expensive gadgets and so on. It is recommended that you walk around with a cheap cell phone and watch and remember to hide your camera when you’re not using it.
It is also wise to carry around small notes and hide the bigger ones in your socks should find yourself fighting off a thief.
- Do not give do the “OK” hand gesture. Ever.
While making a circle with your thumb and finger is harmless in many societies, Brazil is not one of them. In the country, the “OK” hand gesture has a very different and highly offensive meaning.
One the other hand, the thumbs up is accepted and commonly used as it translates to the beauty.
- Brazilians love to kiss
The typical greeting among friends and family of both sexes are two kisses, one of every cheek. You also must do that before leaving.
Nevertheless, in areas like São Paulo, only one kiss on one cheek is expected. In other regions, like Bahia and Salvador, three kisses are the norm.
- Don’t be the person with a towel on a beach, bring along a Canga instead.
Bringing a towel to a beach may be sensible in areas of the world but not in Brazil. Brazilians and residents of the country use a light, sarong-like drapery called a canga at the beach.
It has all the perks of your regular towel and can be purchased anywhere, including grocery stores and beach sidewalks for less than $10.
- Do not go around bad mouthing the country.
Yes, Brazilians themselves are being more and more vocal with their criticism of the country, their frustration with corruption, social injustice and poverty. That does not entitle a tourist or a traveler to do the same. Instead, feel free to compliment the country which will be very easily done as there is plenty to praise and admire.
- Prepare to be amazed at the country’s diverse culture, heritage and stunning scenery
Brazil has an immense European and African influence. Thus, creating a beautifully quirky and vibrant atmosphere. Not to mention is its exquisite natural scenery, heavenly waterfalls, unique desert landscapes and the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Jim Taylor is a part-time photographer, small business co-owner and wannabe world traveler. One of the favorite Jim’s hobbies is definitely writing, and he loves to write about past and future travelling destinations. Also, Jim loves to hike, barbecue with friends and participate in charities.