Entering Brazil for a short-term stay is easy. Citizens from the UK, most EU countries, New Zeland and South Africa can stay upto ninety days without a VISA. Upon arrival, you will be asked to fill out an entry card ‘cartão de entrada’ which, with a valid passport, will gain you entry for the ninety days.
Citizens from the US, Australia and Canada need to obtain electronic tourist visas in advance. Applications for these are available at www.formulario-mre.serpro.gov.br. Confirmation for this visa usually happens within four to five working days and costs approximately US$40.
Climate & Best time to travel
Brazil is a big country and can be visited all year round.The country is divided into four dinstinct climatic regions, with temperatures and rainful varying drastically depending on the time of year. The South and Southeast are the coldest regions in Brazil, this includes Minas Gerias, Rio Grande do Sul, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo and Porto Algre. Unlike other areas in Brazil, there is a distinct winter, with occasional cold temperatures and rain. However, compared to some of the European winters, it is fairly mild and you can still expect many sunny and warm days. Along the coastal regions of Brazil, their winters (June-August) see temperatures rarely drop below 25°C. Rainy season on the southern coast of Brazil lasts from October till Janurary and is characterised by heavy tropical downpours. The rainy season in the Northeast of Brazil lasts for about three months from April, it is therefore recommended to visit in the months of July to December. Amazônia has a humid and tropical climate, with constant rainfall most of the year. However, there is a distincatlly drier period which is best for travelling between the months of July-October.
It is advised that you bring clothes suitable for all temperatures as the weather can change quickly, especially on the coast and in the mountains.
The offical language and mother tongue for 97% of the population of Brazil is Brazilian (Brazilian Portuguese). It is the only country in the Americas to speak Portuguese. In the south you can come across some German, French or Italian speaking Brazilians, especially in Santa Catarina, Paraná or Rio Grande do Sul. Many First Nation communitites have preserved their own languages, and to this day, there are around 180 Native American languages still present in Brazil.
Electricty supplies vary and can sometimes be 110 V or 220 V, so make sure to check before using. As in Europe, sockets have two round pins.
Whilst most European mobile operaters have an international roaming agreement with Brazil, the costs associated with this can be steep. With a Brazilian SIM card you can a save a lot of money, with 10 GB of data costing approximately R$50. Vivo and Claro are the largest providers in Brazil and have the best coverage, whilst Oi and Tim have slightly cheaper deals. Upon on arrival to Brazil, a SIM can be purchased by just going into one of the providers stores. Ensure to bring documentation with you, as your document number provides an alternative to the usual Brazilian tax number (CPF) needed to purchase a SIM in Brazil. Alternatively, you can buy a prepaid SIM here prior to your trip, note that this is a slightly more costly option.
The Brazilian currencency is called real (pronounced “hey-al”). Major credict cards, VISA and Mastercard, are accepted in most shops and resturants. However, ensure to bring a small amount of cash with you, as most public transport, including the subway and buses, only accept cash. Avoid carrying large sums of cash as this poses as a security risk. You can easily exchange money at the airports and large hotels. The Banco 24 Horas network are a group of banks which are the most reliable for getting out cash from ATMs. This includes Banco do Brasil, Citibank and HSBC. ATMs are always inside and never on the street, most also stop dispensing money after 10pm, apart from airport ATMs which dispense cash at all hours.
Long distance buses are very popular and affordable way of getting around Brazil. The seating on the major bus companies are spacious and comfortable, including most night buses having seats that recline flat. All long-distance buses have on-board toilets and stop every two/three hours at somewhere you can get food and drink. Tickets can be bought usually online or otherwise at bus stations, called a rodoviara ,which are on the outskirts of cities.
In short, there are two types of cabs in Brazil, as well as app-based taxi services. There are the ‘normal taxis’ which are stopped by the side of the road, with each city having its own colour the cab. Additionly, there are private taxis that can be requested by phone, however these can be more expensive. Most taxis have meters, however, taxis in rural locations sometimes do not, so it is best to agree a fare in advance.
UBER and other app-based taxis have become very popular in Brazil, epecially in the big cities. They are a safe way of getting around and readily avalible. They are considerably cheaper than other cabs. Other Brazilian app-based taxi services include Cabify, 99 and LadyDriver.
Due to the long distances between locations in Brazil, domestic flights have become increasingly popular. The major budjet airlines with competitive prices include GOL, LATAM, Azul and Avianca Brazil. All websites have an English option for when buying tickets, and most now accept all major credit cards.
Renting a car in Brazil is easy. All that drivers require are a valid driving lisence from their country of origin and passport. International hire companies such as AVIS and Budget can be found in most major cities. However, extreme caution must be taken when driving, there is a lot of reckless driving on Brazilian roads. Night driving is also not recommended and tolls are often compulsory and can be paid in cash at toll stations.
Tipping at resturants
Resturant bills, a conta , usually come with 10% taxa de serviço, already included ontop of the order, if it is not 10% tip is about right. A lot of waiters and hotel staff depend on tips. You don#t have to tip taxi driveres, but there is an expectation to tip barbers, hairdressers, shoeshinere, self-appointed guides and porters.