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Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by moebius, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. moebius

    moebius Well-Known Member

    I'll be in Brazil in June. I have a 12hr (0800-2000) layover in Sao Paulo. Anything that would be worth seeing/doing for 8hrs and not miss my flight?

    I also have 2-3 free days in Rio. Any must see's/do's besides going up Corcovado Mountain and Sugar Loaf Mountain, Iguassu Falls (all are already on my itinerary)?

    Is it safe to walk alone at night/dark in Rio and Sao Paulo?
  2. Sandra

    Sandra New Member

    I don't know Sao Paulo well enough to advice, so
    I will leave it to someone else, but my family is
    from Rio and I know it quite well, so I hope I can help.

    I would not walk around alone in Rio if I didn't
    speak Portuguese.

    Even being Brazilian and knowing where I'm going,
    I don't walk alone in Rio at night, but with friends, I do.
    You can always rent a car or take a taxi to get around in the
    evening. Rio has a very good public transportation system
    that I find safe during the day.

    In Rio, it is important to stay in a good hotel if you
    don't have friends or family there. The hotel will
    advice or even provide for a tour to any of the places
    you are planning to go. Tour guides speak English
    fluently and provide for your safety. Stay with the
    group and you will be ok in the evening as well.
    If you take a tour, say to the Corcovado, you can
    make English speaking friends and then go with them
    to the Sugar Loaf on your own time.

    I think your itinerary is already a bit packed as is, if
    I would add something, I would also take something away...
    well Brazilians like to take a good time to enjoy the
    views and just enjoy a slower pace for leisure...

    I would say skip Iguacu and focus in enjoying Rio;
    then you can maybe add a trip to the Jardim Botanico,
    that's one of my favorite places in Rio. Have fun!
  3. mikey

    mikey ...an acquired taste

    I spent a few days in Rio de Janiero last year. It's a beautiful city! In addition to visiting Corcovado and Sugar Loaf, I mainly spent time hanging out around the beaches- Ipanema and Copacabana. One thing that I really loved was a helicopter tour over the city.

    Do not walk around alone at night.

    And beware of the cab drivers too, especially at night. I realized that one was clearly intoxicated as I was getting into the cab, but I was able to get out. Another one scared the crap out of me by driving like a maniac, and admitted to me in broken English that beer helps him drive better...
  4. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

    A friend of mine lives in Sau Paulo....I'll ask them if there is anything you shouldn't miss. I can tell you that my friend once said that most people don't go out after 10pm due to crime, in Sao Paulo. So I don't recommend going out at night.
  5. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    San Paolo is “Manhattan” of Brazil and has little flavor of what most tourists perceive as “essenses of Brazil”. It’s very modern compared to the older cities and towns. It’s noisy, polluted, and very blah… But it’s better to go and spend 8 hours in San Paolo than spend it at the airport.

    I would start out by going to the centre and spending time (during the day, not night) in the San Paolo’s Central Park – it’s called Parque De Ibirapuera.

    It’s a great park: it has Japanese exhibition hall, several art museums, fountains, concerts, open air library, sculptures… what else…… a planetarium, aquarium, little lakes, walk ways, interesting trees….. You can easily spend 4-5-6 hours at that park alone.

    Then there is a very unique attraction! It’s a research institute where visitors are allowed – Butantan Laboratory. It researches and produces antidotes to natural poisons and deadly reptile and insect bites. The antidotes are made out of snake venoms…..

    If you, as a kid, ever read how ancient people drank small drops of snake poison to adjust one’s metabolism and increase resistance to other poisons, or even tried it yourself… You will love this place and the tour!

    Look up the hours of this facility if you’re interested. The Laboratory is located on the Central University grounds and is only open few days out of the week. But the trip is also interesting because it’s on the university campus and you get to the real Brazilian university life and dynamics.

    Or you can go shopping in the central area. The best selection and variety is in Jardins district/section, look for streets Rua August and Lorena Alameda. Or just go to “Centro” district – it’s “the Centre”.

    I don’t recommend Zoo or Botanical gardens….. they are very usual. There is Japanese District ….. but why come to Brazil to see “Japanese District”….

    If I had 8 hours – I’d go to the Central Park, and then to Jardin’s section and shop.

    First I want to say take Foz d’Iguacu off your list IF you have only 2 days in Rio. If you have full 3 days, then yes, perhaps you might take a flight to the Falls and back the same day.

    Here is the thing.. If you are flying ex Rio airport to Foz d’Iguacu airport – you most likely end up taking the water-falls excursion on the Brazilian side of the falls. Which is MUCH LESS INTERESTING AND EXCITING than the Argentine side…

    Make sure you get to the Argentine Side!!!! It’s a different ball game! You don’t just get to see the falls from the viewing platform (Brazilian side), you will get to walk on the edges of the Falls, between the water streams, go up and down, close to the falls, and even take a boat ride to a peninsula where you can touch the water from the falls (where the movie “Mission” was filmed).

    To see both, Brazilian side and the Argentine side you will need at least 6 hours. A flight to the falls is not worth it (given you only have 3 days in Rio) if you only see the Brazilian side.

    To sum it up:
    a) I strongly recommend you doing a good amount of reading and foto searching on both Brazilian and Argentine sides of the falls, so you can see the difference, and chose which sections you want to visit.

    b) Go to Foz only if you have at least 3 days in Rio, and if you can get to the Argentine side….. If not – then spend the time you have in Rio only.

    Now the City and stuff

    - Since you’re going to the Christ status and Sugar Loaf, another big attraction is Botanical Gardens….. they are nice, but only if you like Botanical gardens…. :lol:

    - There are two interesting tours you can take for free: Fine Jewelry production houses – Maximino and HJ Stern. Brazil is famous for it’s Gems.

    The way to take those tours: On Ipanema or Copacabana walk into any major hotel lobby Jewelry store labeled Stern or Maximino and ask to be taken down town to the “manufacturing/head-quarters”. They may take you the same day with a group, or sing you up for next-day’s group. It’s fun – you get to see the gems, the cutting, the jewelry making and the show room of final products.

    - Hang out on the beaches at Ipanema or Copacabana….. walk the sidewalks up and down, sit in cafes, watch all the people, go inside the shops, etc….

    - At night DO SIGN UP and buy tickets to one of the Dinner & Carnival/Samba Dance shows. Or just Carnival Show with out dinner (they usually give options). You will see good Samba dancing, as best as you can being a tourist and not going to the Carnival… It is “Las Vegas” style event – but it is better than Las Vegas.

    That’s pretty much all you can do in 2-3 days….

    Safety: stay at hotels on either Copacabana, or Ipanema, or one block behind, not further, and after 8 pm, as soon as it gets darker, walk at night only along the sides of the hotel doors, from hotel to bar or to restaurant…… Do not walk on the beach-front side – there shady characters are out there…. Don’t walk alone at night anywhere else…. You may not get brutalized but there maybe attempts on taking your purse or wallet…..

    In general, try not to look like a tourist. Dress “Latino” – nice, colorful, slightly sexy… not vulgar, but nice colorful sexy…… Do you hair and put on make up.

    If you dress “student comfortable”….. you will look like a tourist, and there are people who are always after “tourist wallets”…… and they have little tricks which you can’t even imagine, that will distract you and lower your guard….

    If you have more questions, or want more specific info on things I’ve mentioned – let me know in the next message.
  6. Sandra

    Sandra New Member


    Absolutely do it. You can also walk around at Praia do Pepino
    (it is in Sao Conrado) where the delta wings touch down after
    flying off from Pedra da Gavea and Pedra Bonita, which are
    by themselves quite impressive.

    I totally agree! Some tourists look like they are trying too hard
    to look so very casual, that it shows, lol

    But don't wear any real jewelry either, if you visit HStern resist it!
  7. moebius

    moebius Well-Known Member

    Keep the suggestions coming in. Thanks everyone to their suggestions. I really appreciate them.

    Actually the itinerary is outside my 3 free days, so I actually do have 3 whole free days in Rio.

    Do I need to apply insect repellent in Rio and Sao Paulo in June?
    If so, is lemon eucalyptus good enough or do I need DEET?
    I'll be wearing long sleeves and long pants, so I just need repellent for exposed areas.
    How's the weather during that time of year?

    Is the street food okay to eat?
    How about those sandwiches from the sellers on the beach?

    How about the water situation? I assume drink from bottled water.
    How about mixed drinks that have ice, like caipirhina?
    Foods that have been washed with tap water?
    Need to brush teeth with bottled water? I was in Argentina in December and I brushed my teeth with tap water and ate raw veggies and I was fine.

    Are favela tours safe or even worth going?
  8. skatecat

    skatecat Lurker Extraordinaire

    I just spent two days at Iguazu Falls (the Argentina side) in January. SPECTACULAR!!! The zodiac ride under the Falls was fantastic, and just incredible views as you walk on catwalks literally a couple of feet from the many waterfalls. I did not go to the Brazil side, so I have no advice there. You definitely need mosquito repellant. I actually got a yellow fever shot before I went, but it is not required. If you do the zodiak ride (which I strongly suggest), know that you will utterly and completely soaked from head to foot. They will provide a "dry" bag for your camera and other items that should not get wet. Take a complete change of clothes if you are flying out the same day that you ride the zodiak, and keep them in the "dry" bag.
  9. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    Do I need to apply insect repellent in Rio and Sao Paulo in June? – no, but in Iguacu area you do if you are worried, one or two may fly by..

    If so, is lemon eucalyptus good enough or do I need DEET? – no idea…

    How's the weather during that time of year? – wonderful!

    Is the street food okay to eat? – in Rio, San Paolo in the tourist areas – yes, as far as my experience. In Manaus (on the Amazon) some of my companions did get sick ones.

    How about those sandwiches from the sellers on the beach? – overpriced, and not that tasty.

    How about the water situation? I assume drink from bottled water. – if you are that worried, yes… I drink tap water in hotels, and still alive…. :lol:

    How about mixed drinks that have ice, like caipirhina? – it’s not Mexico….

    Foods that have been washed with tap water? - should not be a problem….. unless you’re super sensitive…

    Need to brush teeth with bottled water? I was in Argentina in December and I brushed my teeth with tap water and ate raw veggies and I was fine. – same in major cities in Brazil as far as I know…..

    Are favela tours safe or even worth going? – Any official tour (not a private offer on the street to take you on a tour) is safe…. I am not a fan of favela tours…. What are people going to see? Acute poverty?

    A trip to a local Samba school in a typical residential area will take you closer to working class neighborhoods…… and you get to see a cultural specific….

    You have a lot of concerns..... Are you sure you don't want to just rent a video?...... :D
  10. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    If you are planning to go to Iguazu, you need to be aware that the Brazilian side of the falls is quite small, but the Argentinean side is vast. Basically, all you get on the Brazilian side is a couple of spectacular viewpoints and some nearby hotels where you could have a meal. The Argentinean side, on the other hand, is vast and has footpaths and catwalks, and, unless things have changed drastically since I was there, all of the boat and helicopter rides go from the Argentinean side. Also, you should be aware that the border crossing is several miles downstream from the falls, between the Brazilian city and the Argentinean town, so you cannot just pop over from one side of the falls to the other. At a minimum, you will want to spend several hours on the Argentinean side.

    The nearby Itaipu dam and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, are skippable. :yawn:
  11. Sandra

    Sandra New Member

    In Rio THE mosquito of the moment is Aedes Aegypti. Cariocas would prefer to be bitten by Robert Pattinson rather than by an Aedes Aegypti, who wants to get Dengue, anyway. The recommendation is to not use repellents, just avoid Aedes fave places (any sort of container with a little amount of open air water).

    There again, the recommendation of staying in a good hotel is of great value, because most people are getting dengue in their own home and garden, rather than at the beach, tourist attractions, good hotels or restaurants... those places are well taken care of, offer good water and food, you can drink and eat those, but beware of the caipirinha!
  12. allezfred

    allezfred Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    Considering a trip to Brazil at some point, but will have to start working on the nice, colourful and slightly sexy bit first. ;)

    What are the best months to visit Rio?
  13. Sandra

    Sandra New Member

    Go get it in a beach front store in Copacabana!

    Rio is vibrant with culture, social life, sports, and nature all year long. The weather has a quirk, though. It is nice all over the year, but when it rains, it pours, and it that is a bit unpredictable... except during the Summer and Fall, when there is more chance for torrencial rain. Normally I would say there is one big rainfall (lasting a couple of days) once a year, and then is ok. This can suddenly happen any time, though. The Summer runs from December through February. Fall goes from March to May. I have been very lucky and spent many explendid Summertimes in Rio, arriving just after or leavin just before the rain hit.

    Winter and Spring are gorgeous with temperatures on the 20/25 Celcius and the Winter may have some windy days (mild), only seldon rainy, but it can happen... Winter is from June to August, Spring from September to November. If you can choose, I'd say try to go in the early Spring time (september/october).
  14. allezfred

    allezfred Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    Always up for a bit of shopping! :cheer2:

  15. Sandra

    Sandra New Member

    I represent the most danger to my wallet for the same reason! :cheer:

    De nada! :)
  16. beepbeep

    beepbeep Brazilian Eurotrash

    Don't forget to have some cold coconut water while in Rio!

    And if you're supposed to dress latinish to blend in there, I failed at the one big time each time I went there! :lol: Seriously, be yourself and be watchful, like in most big cities.

    I agree that the best time of the year to go there is during spring (sept/oct).

    Be careful with the time you decide to return to the airport in São Paulo: traffic is real b*tch, specially during the rush hour.

    The temperatures can get quite chilly in June in SP, I guess layering clothes would be a good idea.

    I'd suggest a trip to the museums MAM (Museu de Arte Moderna) and/or MASP while there.

    I wouldn't worry about dengue in SP this time of the year, it's too cold for the mosquito to breed.

    Hope it helps! :)