Infrastructure for travelers with disabilities is negligible. Irregular pavements can be a problem.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Paraguay is a cheap-enough country and locals rarely haggle over prices. There is no need for you to do it unless you think you are being overcharged. Start by asking yourself what the item would cost you at home.
Dangers & Annoyances
Despite what you may hear from people who have never been, Paraguay is one of the continent's safest countries for travelers.
- With the exception of Ciudad del Este and the costanera (riverside road) in Asunción, cities are quite safe to walk around, even at night.
- The Chaco environment is hostile and desolate with limited infrastructure – it is highly recommended that you go with a guide.
- Beware of strong currents when swimming in rivers.
Use plugs with two round or flat pins and no grounding pin – 220V, 50Hz.
Embassies & Consulates
A full, updated list of diplomatic offices in Paraguay is available at www2.mre.gov.py/index.php/representaciones/representaciones-extranjeras-acreditadas-en-paraguay2.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Paraguay's country code||595|
Entry & Exit Formalities
Entering and exiting Paraguay is straightforward and hassle-free provided you get your passport stamps. Note that buses that cross country borders often do not stop at customs because locals don't need to. You do, however, so make sure you tell the driver!
Paraguayan customs regulations are fairly standard, with the usual limits on export of cigarettes, alcohol and money. Anything made from animal products is likely to be taken off you at customs and, of course, do not try to take drugs in or out of the country – the penalties are severe.
Canadians, New Zealanders and Americans need visas, others need only a valid passport. Visas are available on arrival at the airport, but complications sometimes arise.
Getting a Visa
Visas may be requested and obtained on the same day at most Paraguayan consulates abroad, but requirements and cost depend where you are applying. Typically you will need two passport photos and two copies of each of the following: your passport, proof of onward travel and proof of sufficient funds.
Immigration Office For information about immigration points, entrance or exit stamps, or visa paperwork.
- Paraguay is a polite and formal society. It is expected upon entering a building that you greet those present with buenos días (good day) or buenas tardes (good afternoon).
- Men usually greet each other with a handshake.
- Both sexes greet women with a kiss on either cheek (though just make the motions if you're not well acquainted).
Internet is widely available in cities, but limited in smaller towns. An hour of use costs around 3000G to 6000G. Wi-fi is common in the cities, and all hotels and most restaurants and bars have it, though it is often password protected.
Drugs are not widely available in Paraguay and under no circumstances can you legally possess, use or traffic drugs while in the country. Penalties are severe – long jail sentences and heavy fines. Don't risk it.
If you are driving, it's common for traffic police to solicit bribes. Do not offer bribes without being asked.
Paraguay is an old-fashioned country, with conservative views. Despite a growing LGBT movement in the country, high-ranking government officials (including the outgoing president) have expressed views that suggest that reviewing equality laws is not high on their agenda. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples are unknown. Gay bars are appearing in Asunción, but on the whole homosexuality is not yet widely accepted.
The two most important Paraguayan newspapers are Última Hora (www.ultimahora.com) and ABC Color (www.abc.com.py), however the most widely read are probably the tabloids Crónica (www.cronica.com.py) and Popular. Most TV and radio stations are privately owned, with owners including former Paraguayan presidents.
ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
ATMs & Credit Cards
- ATMs in major cities and towns are connected to Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus networks but often incur usage charges (25,000G).
- Outside of the Mennonite Colonies there are no ATMs in the Chaco.
- Plastic is rarely accepted outside the major cities, and sometimes comes with a surcharge.
- Most ATMs have a daily withdrawal limit of 1,500,000G.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com
Offer a few thousand guaranies to anybody who goes out of their way to help you. It will usually be appreciated, but if it is rejected don't insist.
- Bars Not expected.
- Restaurants Between 5000G and 10,000G is considered normal on pricier meals.
- Taxi Drivers are not usually tipped.
Banknote values are 2000G, 5000G, 10,000G, 20,000G, 50,000G and 100,000G; increasingly useless coins come in denominations of 50G, 100G, 500G and 1000G. Keep plenty of change and small notes as you travel.
Banks 8am to 1pm Monday to Saturday; casas de cambio keep longer hours
Government offices 7am to 1pm or 2pm Monday to Friday
Restaurants Noon to 3pm & 6pm to 11pm. Many close on Monday.
Shops 8am to noon & 2pm to 7pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday morning
Most Paraguayans will gladly smile for the camera, if you ask before shooting. Professional-quality color print and slide film is available in bigger cities.
The Paraguayan correo (postal service) claims to be the best on the continent, but in reality things are regularly lost en route. Essential mail should be sent certificado (registered) for a small additional fee. Take packages to the post office unsealed so the contents can be verified, then close them up with your own materials after inspection.
The central post office is in Asunción.
Government offices and businesses in Paraguay are closed for the following official holidays.
Año Nuevo (New Year's Day) 1 January
Cerro Corá (Heroes' Day) 1 March
Semana Santa (Easter) March/April
Día de los Trabajadores (Labor Day) 1 May
Independencia (Independence Day) 15 May
Paz del Chaco (End of Chaco War) 12 June
Fundación de Asunción (Founding of Asunción) 15 August
Victoria de Boquerón (Battle of Boquerón) 29 September
Día de la Virgen (Immaculate Conception Day) 8 December
Navidad (Christmas Day) 25 December
- Smoking Smokers are expected to do so outside and to take precautions that their smoke does not cause offence.
Taxes & Refunds
Most Paraguayan goods include VAT (IVA) charged at around 11%. If you want a receipt, you will have to ask for it in most places.
Private locutorios (telephone offices) are less common than before, though most have internet service as well. International calls are expensive.
Local rates are low. Free SIM cards, or those with saldo (credit) charged to them are available for a small fee. Local SIM cards are much cheaper than roaming, but do not allow international calls to be made, only received.
The best cell-phone companies are Tigo, Personal and Claro; their tarjetas (cards) for charging credit to your phone are sold at every newsagent or you can charge credit over the counter via minicarga, where you see signs. Claro SIM cards can also be formatted to work in both Brazil and Argentina. Cell-phone prefixes usually start 09.
Paraguay is at GMT minus four hours. Daylight saving is employed, unlike in many neighboring countries. The time changes during late March and early October.
Time differences with major world capitals are shown below.
|Buenos Aires||0 or -1 hr|
|Canberra||-13 or -14 hr|
|London||-4 or -5 hr|
|Madrid||- 5 or -6 hr|
|Tokyo||-12 or -13 hr|
|Washington, D.C.||0 hr|
- Toilets in hotels, restaurants and service stations are typically well maintained.
- Public toilets are thin on the ground. Most bus terminals have one – for a small fee you get a smelly loo and an (often insufficient) wad of paper.
- Carry your own toilet paper and use the bin, don't flush it.
- Most buses have an on-board toilet (liquid only, please!) but cheaper services and those in more remote areas do not.
Travel with Children
Travel with children can be difficult and it is uncommon to find child-changing facilities except in the more upmarket restaurants. Irregular pavements are an issue for prams, and there are few ramps for access.
Volunteering is a comparatively new concept in Paraguay, but the idea is starting to take root. Para la Tierra, based in Pilar, is a pioneer of the idea, offering an award-winning volunteer and intern program for socially aware, eco-minded visitors. Those interested in women's empowerment should contact the Santa María Education Fund in Santa María de Fe. Intercultural Experience is based out of Asunción.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Paraguay is a reasonably safe country for women, but young unaccompanied women are likely to be hit on by Paraguayan men, especially if they are drinking alcohol. If it is unwelcome, be firm but polite in your response. Paraguayan women tend not to show much skin, and acting contrary to custom risks misinterpretation.
Paraguay is informal in regards to work, and it is still possible to pick up undocumented, casual work provided you avoid overstaying your entry visa.
Long-term work contracts require you to undergo application for temporary residency. This is a complicated and bureaucratic process that requires some forward planning, as you will need to present verified documents from your country of origin. Requirements are detailed at www.migraciones.gov.py/index.php/tramites/radicaciones/radicacion-temporaria.