Brazil Frequently Asked Questions
Replies: 31 - Last Post: Feb 12, 2013 12:44 PM Last Post By: gustaveeiffel
Apr 8, 2008 9:00 AM
Brazil Frequently Asked QuestionsFor the benefit of everyone dropping by the Brazil branch for the first time, please read this FAQ first. And I hope there can be some sort of way to moderate the thread to keep it updated and clean. I know there are some AWESOME regular contributors here who enjoy giving advice; I feel this thread can really help to condense the information available.
I'll go first, with some general thoughts from the South America FAQ. Many thank to Apollo for starting that thread and for a great idea. Hopefully we can have a similar thread for Brazil.
1) Use the "Search" function to find out if someone has already asked your question. Many questions have already been asked before, and regular contributors to the forum get tired of answering the same thing over and over again.
2) Read a few pages of posts. The most frequently asked questions are covered at least every week.
3) Tell us what your main interests are. You will get different answers depending on whether you want to dance local music or eat Brazilian food; whether you want to do nature hikes or lounge on a beach. Anyone that asks for itinerary advice and doesn't mention their preferences, will probably not receive much help.
4) Do your research. There are countless websites (Lonely Planet is the obvious place to start) that provide basic travel info to get you started on a plan. This will allow you to ask informed questions about specifics. If you've already done some research, and got part of the answer, tell us, so that we don't waste our time on things you already know.
5) When using words like "cheap", "fun" and "interesting" give us some idea of what these words mean to you. For example, is R$30-50 cheap enough? Is dancing "fun", or is surfing "fun"? Someone's idea of "moderately priced" might mean "expensive" to me.
6) If you post and don't get many responses (or have additional questions), try adding a more specific reply to your original post. This will move the original thread up the board, and it is far better than starting a new thread.
7) Thank people for the answers, either in the thread or with a PM. If you can, once your trip is done, post a trip report to help other people that might be looking for information.
8) Don't abuse people for not giving you the answer you wanted. Perhaps you got the wrong answer because you didn't ask the right question, or you didn't ask it in the right way.
9) When posting a question (especially regarding visas) specify your nationality. That can make a huge difference in the answer.
10) Look at a map. Brazil is a big country and bus travel between the different regions can be quite long. Before preparing and sharing your itinerary, check out the distances and the time you have available. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew!
11) For safety questions, read this thread: Safety in Brazil - Do’s and Don’ts.
Regulars: I feel we can use this topic to provide, for instance:
- info and links to the Brazilian airlines
- links to important info pages (such as that great Salvador website whose name I can't remember now)
- bus distances and schedules
- Pantanal/Manaus info
- Iguaçú, Rio and Salvador (the Brazilian top 3, apparently)
- budget/money/bank logistics
I'll try to do a little bit daily, by doing copy/paste (or providing links) to older topics.
Apr 8, 2008 9:15 AM
1English and Spanish in Brazil?
English is spoken mostly in tourist areas and large cities, by those who have access to the best education or work in tourist-related businesses. Away from the big cities and the tourist infrastructure, you will rarely find people able to communicate in English. Knowing some basics in Portuguese will be very useful.
If you are FLUENT in Spanish, you will be able to read Portuguese signs, newspapers, etc. For oral communication, Brazilians are usually able to understand Spanish speakers, but the same is not true backwards. If you are less than fluent in Spanish, try to learn some Portuguese before your trip. The effort will definitely pay off.
Some info taken from this topic .
Apr 8, 2008 11:24 AM
2The "important info page" for Salvador is:
Pardal, the nickname of the guy whose site this is, knows the local music scene really well, as well as a lot of other information gleaned from living in Salvador for over 10 years. The site covers music, beaches, history, culture, accomodation, neighborhoods amd much more. A thorough read is recommended. There is also a recently revived (after a long hiatus due to hacking and spam) forum where those in the seductive grip of Salvador hang out.
A recommended site for Rio is:
It has detailed maps and descriptions of neighborhoods. info on clubs from rock to samba, and much more, including accomodation.
Both of these sites provide lots of information to orient first-timers and even stuff us regular travellers maybe didn't know.
Apr 8, 2008 3:03 PM
3An excellent idea zerotres, particularly in light of the sudden surge in postings about NE Brazil all from posters who have registered on the same day as they have posed their question. ( a curious coincidence?)
#2 is right that is the best multilingual site on Salvador. It might be worth providing the relevant state Emtursa links for a few other popular destinations.
A list of airline adresses, including Webjet, Oceanair TAM, GOL, those folk who fly ( or did) out of Manaus and the North.
A simple 'how do I book a ticket with...?' check list.
Links to major Brazilian embassies and consulates in in the US and Australia.
Links to all the main sites for carnaval, Rio, Salvador, Recife/Olinda.
I did try posting a beginners style guide to spamming Thorntree some time ago , giving useful tips on presentation and content but for some odd reason the post wouldn't send ( ironic really). Maybe a condensed version on pretending to be a Dutch backpacker would be useful.
Apr 9, 2008 6:19 AM
4Amazon spam: There are numerous fake users that are CONSTANTLY spamming this forum. If you at all mention the word AMAZON in your topic, you'll receive a reply promoting their tour agency. They will NOT address your questions but will instead, simply, describe the lodge, the tour and give you a link. For those of you seeking real information about the Amazon, please ignore these people.
Yes, US citizens need a visa (and so do a lot others): A passport and visa are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil for any purpose. Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler's place of residence. There are no "airport visas" and immigration authorities will refuse entry to Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. All Brazilian visas, regardless of the length of validity, must initially be used within 90 days of the issuance date or will no longer be valid. Immigration authorities will not allow entry into Brazil without a valid visa. The U.S. Government cannot assist travelers who arrive in Brazil without proper documentation. (http://www.travel.state.gov). More details for US citizens here: http://www.brazilhouston.org/ingles/vitur.htm. Click here to see if your nationality is exempt from the visa requirement .
Some general guides to research:
- TravelIndependent.info: A good starting point for info.
- Brazilian Tourism Portal: The official government site.
- Gringoes.com: Info from ex-pats that live in Brazil.
- Road Junky: Irreverent guide to Brazil.
- Lonely Planet: Of course, had to mention this.
- Rough Guides
- Brazil Travel Blog
- Distances in Brazil
Specific regions or cities:
- Rio de Janeiro: and Another Rio site
- Salvador: A great guide about Salvador
- Around Salvador-side trips
- Ilha Grande: IlhaGrande.com
- Pernambuco, Recife and Olinda: A gringo in Olinda (my blog) , Pernambuco tourism board , Pernambuco.com
- a bicycle trip between Recife and Salvador
Weather: As far as I know, no meteorologists visit the forum consistently :-), so it's best to check out the following sites if you have questions about weather:
Health and Safety:
- A great thread with LOTS of health information to get you started: CLICK HERE
- Pelourinho safety questions
- More Rio security questions
- Brazil bus station safety
Brazilian air travel info:
- TAM AIRPASS INFORMATION HERE + Brazil Air Pass FAQ
- Good website to reference for airline routes: http://www.airlineroutemaps.com/Latin_America/index.shtml
- If you have problems buying tickets from abroad, read these first: this topic or this topic or this topic or this topic
- Onward ticket requirement
- Total - now a part of TRIP
- Air Minas
Overstaying your visa:
- Foreigners are permitted to be in Brazil a maximum of 180 days in a 365 day period. Once you have been in the country 180 days ( and the count starts from your first date of entry, regardless of whether you leave the country and return later or not ), you must stay out for another 180 days. Do not forget that after 90 days you must go to the Policia Federal to get an extension for the next 90 days ( for a total of 180 days ).
- The effectiveness of these rules is subject to how well the person at the Brazilian passport control looks at your passport / visa / entry and exit stamps. Sometimes they do not even glance at it, and sometimes they do. If you are planning on repeated, long-term visits to Brazil, you had better stay within the rules to avoid problems.
- The fine is approximately eight reais per day for a maximum of 800 reais. You can pay the fine before leaving, or wait until you return to Brazil and pay upon entry. The stamp does NOT bar you from ever entering Brazil again, as long as you pay the fine and stay away for six months.
- If you are caught with an expired visa, you will get 7 days to leave the country, plus you'll have to pay the fine and stay out of the country for 6 months.
- Typical thread on visa overstay: lesson learned? Don't ask. Want more proof? Read this other thread .
Bus companies in Brazil: Unless you are taking a long distance bus (especially overnight), you SHOULD be able to show up at the bus station and buy your ticket (i.e. no need to buy ahead of time, unless it's a holiday weekend, of course). Take a jacket or blanket, as airconditioning on overnight buses can sometimes be intense. Buses make stops along the way for bathroom and food stops. Info on buses, click here. Here's another thread about bus travel in Brazil .
- Aguia Branca
- Transbrasiliana http://www.transbrasiliana.com.br/ (mainly Tocantins, Goias, Maranhão, Pará)
How to find out what bus company to take: ANTT is the Brazilian’s government official body for road transportation. The site (http://www.antt.gov.br/) is in Portuguese only:
- Click on Transporte de passageiros (on the left sidebar)
- On the drop-down menu that will appear, click on Consulta às empresas e linhas
- Next you want to choose Linhas que fazem ligação entre duas localidades (lines running between two specific points)
- Choose the state where you starting point is located (+Selecione um estado+), and write down the name of your starting point (+Localidade de origem+). Once you’ve written the name, click on Verificar
- Choose the state where your destination is located (+Selecione um estado+), and write down the name of your destination (+Localidade de destino+). Again, click on Verificar
- A new page will appear hopefully showing the results of your search, with timetables, prices and links to the companies’ websites (where available).
Some popular routes that have been thoroughly discussed here:
- Cuiaba to Iguazu
- Campo Grande to Iguazú
- Montevideo - Iguazú
- Campo Grande to Rio
- From Salvador to Rio
- São Paulo to Iguazu
- Getting to Iguazu via bus
- Parati - São Paulo
- Manaus - Lima
- Rio Branco - Porto Velho
- Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
- Rio airport to Ilha Grande
- Chui to Rio de Janeiro
- Florianopolis to Rio
- Train trip Sao Luis - Maraba/Parauapebas
- Iguacu & Sao Paulo
- Salvador to Chapada Diamantina
Amazon river boats: There are riverboats connecting towns from Belem to Manaus and from there to Colombia, Perú and Ecuador. Make sure to buy from authorized sellers and not from street vendors, since there have been reports of fake tickets. Expect to pay minimum R$150 Belem-Manaus (in a hammock), more if traveling in a private cabin. Bring fruit and snacks, as food on board tends to be monotonous, and bring all your electronics fully charged, since power is something hard to come by. Here are some old topics concerning Amazon boat travel. Here are some topics with info and past experiences: topic 1, topic 2, topic 3, topic 4, topic 5, topic 6, topic 7, topic 8,this one for info on getting from Manaus to Cuzco, this one for Manaus to Iquitos, this one for Río Mamoré and Río Madeira
Do we need a visa if going from Argentina to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls?: Here are some previous reports compiled for a thread:
- Local buses from central Puerto Iguazu just waved through the border and drop you in the main bus station in Foz. You do not need to do migration stuff in or out if you are only crossing for a day trip (applies coming either way, and same for Ciudad del Este).-
- No visa needed if going for a day. Just take the bus from Puerto Iguazu to Foz do Iguazu ( Brazil ). It stops at the border for Argentina passport inspection. I never saw the Brazilian passport people (coming and going).
- Last year ( February 2006 ) I crossed into Brazilian Iguazu for the day, and did not need a visa. If you take the local bus ( from Puerto Iguazu ) it will stop at the Argentinian immigration. You get stamped out of Argentina. Then the bus will stop at the Brazilian immigration for all those people who want to get stamped into Brazil. If you are just going to Foz do Iguazu Falls for the day, you just stay on the bus. On the return, you do not get off at Brazilian immigration. At the Argentine immigration you then get stamped back into Argentina. This process is all above board from what I believe so no need to worry about doing anything wrong.
- We just caught the local bus from Puerto Iguazú, on the Argentine side. It stops at the border where we all got off, got our Aussie passports stamped, hopped back onto the bus and off we went. The bus went pass the turnoff to the falls but we stayed on and then we got off at the town of Foz do Iguaçu. Then we had to catch another one back to the falls wasting about an hour. Next time I will just hop off at the turnoff and then wait for the local bus that is headed down to the falls.
Apr 27, 2008 7:47 AM
Accommodation and homestays during Carnaval
Carnaval feedback from the past years: Rio, Salvador, Olinda...
Good thread Zerotres!
May 30, 2008 5:12 AM
6The best beaches in Brazil according to magazine Veja, December 2007 edition:
Best in Brazil:
- Praia do Espelho (near Caraiva in southern BA)
- Praia do Rosa (Imbituba, SC)
- Salinopolis (222km from Belem, PA)
- São Miguel do Gostoso (105km from Natal, RN)
- Parati (252km from Rio)
- Fernando de Noronha
- Bombinhas (79km North of Florianopolis, SC)
Here is the entire Veja guide for the best of Brazil (in portuguese)
Here is the edition for the previous year, much more compact (and still in portuguese)
Jun 12, 2008 4:27 AM
Jul 27, 2008 5:39 PM
8Recent threads with good information:
- How to get from Salvador to Morro de São Paulo
- Need a yellow fever shot?
- From Belo Horizonte to Ouro Preto and a second topic on the same question
- Apartment accommodation for Carnival 2009
- Money, credit cards, etc.
- Parati vs Buzios
- Credit card fraud in Rio De Janeiro
- A rainy day in Rio
- How NOT to book a jungle tour
- North East Brazil - more than beaches??
Aug 3, 2008 9:02 PM
9Checking flight times. Want to get an idea if your connecting flight is on time and you have time for another beer?
Infraero lists airline departures and arrivals by airport, company, flight number etc. Not always 100% reliable but a useful tool none the less.
Aug 6, 2008 10:02 PM
10The Inevitable Booking with GOL question.
'I can't get it to work' ; ' How do I book without a CPF?' 'I can only select a return flight'. These sorts of questions come up with remarkable frequency on this and other forums.
This was culled from another forum but it's useful advice. The poster was having problems booking a one way flight from Bolivia to Brazil but the answer is applicable to 99% of problems with online booking and GOL. Where possible in life go straight to the source.
'Thanks for the advice. I emailed a helpdesk in English and got a very prompt and thorough reply:
"Gol Airlines appreciates your contact. In response to your e-mail, we inform you that if the system of our webpage allows you to buy the "one way" trip (at Gol's webpage www.voegol.com.br/INT , choosing the route, date, passengers and the option "one way") it is possible to book this type of flight. It is not necessary to buy the return trip. The system will automatically inform you the available flights and prices for purchase. Also, it is recommended to buy the tickets in advance because of the availability of seats and to found the best prices. In case of doubts, click on the "online assistance" link and get real time support. We thank in advance your understanding."
If using the Brazilian site scroll down to Central de Relacianamento com o Cliente and then select Atendimento on-line.
Aug 26, 2008 7:06 AM
11Can I fly to South America on a one way ticket?
Post 1: Though the law states that onward tickets are required, no immigration officials will ever check when you enter. However airlines may refuse to allow check-in to destination without an onward ticket, because THEY are responsible by law to check this detail, and must foot the bill for your return if entry denied. It is totally up to them.
Post 2: It is a very bad idea to buy only a one-way ticket to South America because you will find that the one-way fare back to the U.S.A., Europe, Canada and the like will be very expensive sometimes equal to what you would have paid for a roundtrip to get there. Try to book a round-trip ticket to South America if you can.
Post 3: It is the airline, not the immigration authorities, that may require a round-trip ticket. If you are deported from the country, the airline must return you to your original point of departure; if you have no return ticket, it has to do this at its own expense.
Post 4: Just a word of warning to anyone thinking of entering any countries in South America without an onward ticket, always check with with your airline from your city of departure before you buy your ticket, it will save a lot of stress and worry just before you fly!.
Post 5: The problem is not Immigration, but the airlines. You will not even make it to Immigration with some airlines as they will refuse to let you board. I got a one way ticket for a real good price with Avianca to Rio de Janeiro. I called them and they were rather blunt on the phone letting me know that they will not let me board their plane without a return ticket. So I got myself another one-way ticket from Cancun to Florida for less than US$ 200 for 6 months later and went to the airport real nervous and crossing my fingers as I was not sure if Cancun back to US would be good enough for them. Seeing I was flying into Rio de Janeiro. Well, I had a young lady who's first or second day on the checkin job it must have been. Her English was very bad and I made my Spanish even worse. She was confused about a few things, one of them the return ticket issue. So she called her chief which was real busy. I understood they were talking about the return ticket issue so I said in real broken Spanish that I have a reservation for a return ticket. I took my folded e-ticket confirmation out of my pocket. At that point the superior said ah, he has an e-ticket... the young woman was a bit embarassed and just moved on. Never looked at the confirmation AT ALL. Could have been a picture of a freshly shaven sheep for all she saw. In the end it was no problem at all. But who knows if I had had a different clerk who is having a shitty day.....
Post 6: I was told by Aerolineas Argentinas and also Lan Chile representatives that they would not let me board a plane to their respective countries without an onward ticket. Lan Chile would have been happy with a flight to another country, such as Argentina. Aerolineas Argentinas stressed to me that I would need to show a ticket leaving South America not only leaving Argentina or wherever I was flying to. The way it work is: airlines are required to check you have the necessary visas and/or onward tickets before you board or they might be legally liable to transport you back out of the country they flew you into if you are refused entry. It is not the border immigration officials (especially overland) but the airlines that are responsible. Overland I have never been asked questions in South America either. Boarding planes and arriving via air, I have been asked several times to show onward flights and travel plans. I would get an open return flying into one place and put of another, one year apart, that should give you flexibility and avoid hassles. Of course, you get people who do it and run into no hassles. Your own risk adversity plays a role.
Post 7: We have just (09-10-07) tried to fly from Buenos Aires to La Paz. I say tried because we got as far as the airport check-in. We were then told that we could not board because we do not have an onward ticket out of Bolivia! We do from Peru but we are planning to go over-land to get there and have not decided how or when yet. The airline's only suggestion was to go on the internet and book a ticket with someone!! We tried this and after 2 hours had gotten no further, ultimatley missing our flight!
Post 8: I just bought my ticket from the USA to Buenos Aires a few days ago (September 2007), and it was several hundred dollars cheaper to get a round trip rather than a one way, so it was definitely the smarter way to go! That way I have the "proof of onward travel" and a cheaper ticket.
Post 9: Chile has an official exemption to the onward ticket requirement if entering Chile for touristic purposes. But the problem AGAIN is not at the immigration booth but with the airline and clueless or greedy travel agents.When I encounter a clueless agent at check-in, I immediately direct them to Timatic (the central database the entire travel industry uses for visa and entry requirements) which is at their fingertips. Direct them to the "Exempt" line and everything should be fine. If they still want to argue, ask for a supervisor. IME flying AA and LAN, AA check-in agents sometimes need to be directed to read Timatic while LAN, I have never had any questions (I question one of the accounts above regarding LAN). Delta check-in agents can also be clueless regarding the exemption.You can find a public interface to Timatic on the Delta Airline site.
Post 10: A normal tourist will get the tourist card and not a visa in most countries upon entrance. They basically will not check for onward ticket coming by air or land. They are happy you are there to spend your money. They know you are going home and also know the airline is in reality responsible. Yes, it is correct that the airlines are much more finicky about this return ticket than most countries. If for some reason you are not allowed entrance, which rarely happens, the airline will be required to give you a return trip to point of departure if you had only a one way ticket. They will of course ask that you pay this, but even if you refuse, the airline must comply with the country as they sold you the one way.
Post 11: Airlines will not allow you to fly into any South American country without a return ticket to your originating country. I have validated this with most major airlines.If the return flight is out of another South American country they will allow you to board.
Post 12: (Posted 03-April-2008) I work at a category X airport here in the States. Many times I have seen ticket agents refuse to check people in based on the fact they either have no return ticket or their return ticket is for a date beyond the duration of a tourist visa for that particular country. They have access to this information for anywhere in the world and are sure to enforce it. The airline receives the fine and that could mean the ticket agent losing his job. It is always best to have an onward ticket, with or without restrictions, you can always change the date to fit your itinerary if need be.
Post 13: (Posted 29-July-2008) The previous posts are correct; I contacted Delta and Continental Airlines both of which confirmed that in order to board a flight to South America (From the U.S. and most likely other places) you must have either a return ticket or proof of onward travel. So far no one has been helpful in suggesting a way to buy a bus ticket from outside of Brazil.
A ticket out of the continent is enough.
March 2008 posts:
Post 1: I have just returned from traveling in South America. I went through 6 countries and the only time I ever had to show proof of having an onward ticket was when I bought a one way flight from Tulcan (Ecu) to Cali (col). Not once did an immigration official ever ask for this.
Post 2: I have crossed countless borders in South America and never once have I been asked to show proof of onward travel. I think this is a law on the books so they can block someone questionable, but, when a tourist shows up with all their documents in order and carrying cash or credit cards, they are welcomed with open arms.
Post 3: I went in and out of countries all over (probably 20+ border crossings) the continent and was never asked for proof of an onward ticket. A ticket out of the continent should be good enough if you were ever asked.
Post 4: (Posted 29-July-2008) I have never been asked about departure when entering Brazil, either entering through the airport at Sao Paulo or Rio or through some lesser-known entry point. Just two weeks ago I went through a two-stage entry -- at the actual border crossing at Cucui on the upper Rio Negro both the Army and the Policia Federal carefully went over my passport, visa and yellow-fever certificate, but never asked whether I had passage out of Brazil (which I did not, my return ticket is from Caracas). And that is a 'triple frontier' border crossing, where they worry about drugs and guns being smuggled in from Columbia and fuel being smuggled from Venezuela. My nephew and I were likely the first US tourists to go through that border crossing in months. But they do not stamp the passport there, so we had to go to the Policia Federal in Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, the first real town on the upper Rio Negro. Again, passport, visa and yellow-fever cetificate good a good look-over, but there were no questions asked about how we were leaving. Had they asked my answer would be that I was still undecided about whether to fly to Caracas from Manaus or go by bus.
Countries have these regulations to keep out the riffraff. They are used to deny entrance to poor people who are clearly coming in to work. They are not used against tourists. Tourists are welcomed with open arms.If you have concerns, plan out your itinerary and print it out. Then, when the airlines asks about a return ticket at check-in (something, I repeat, I was never asked about), show them your itinerary and explain you will be leaving by bus on such-and-such date. That, with a credit card to show that you have the means to leave the country will satisfy any immigration agent who happens to ask. Or call the airlines and explain what is going on and ask them to put a note on your record so you will not be denied boarding.
Information compiled by Jorge Daniel Barchi.
Aug 26, 2008 7:22 AM
Please read and (if possible) post in one of these threads. They are either very recent or highly informative. I'm sure I forgot others, but these are a good place to start.
Salvador accommodation #1
Salvador accommodation #2
Salvador accommodation #3
More on accommodation
Carnaval in Recife/Olinda
Apartments for Rio Carnaval
Edited by: Irene_Adler to fix some links
Sep 17, 2008 5:05 AM
- Regarding malaria: Malaria has made it all the way to the state of Maranhão, near the city of São Luis, according to a report by Globo this morning on the news. Regarding medication, you should visit a health travel clinic or even your family doctor. They'll ask where you're going, recommend malaria pills, vaccinations, etc. No one can give better advice on that than a doctor. A wise man once said: "Do you usually ask for medical advice from anonymous strangers rather than asking a doctor?" :-)
Oct 20, 2008 9:08 AM
14A comment about transportation in Brazil: In my experience, there is always some sort of transport between any two cities/towns/attractions in Brazil (except maybe some places in the Amazon, due to lack of roads). You do not need to book your bus travel before you leave home (most companies don't have that technology anyway). You should not concern yourself with timetables and bus availability because Brazil has a strong and far-reaching bug system. When there are no buses, there are vans or even lotação (private cars that wait for 4-5 passengers before leaving). Skip the stress involved in researching all the routes you plan to take and INSTEAD devote that time to learn some Portuguese, which will be a far more useful tool than carrying around a list of bus companies and timetables.
Edited by: zerotres
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