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 certain parts of 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 www.mre.gov.py/v2/Contenido/334/representaciones-diplomaticas-extranjeras-en-paraguay. All of the embassies listed here are in Asunción.
Entry & Exit Formalities
Visitors from Canada, New Zealand and the US need visas that must be solicited in the Paraguayan embassy of the respective countries prior to travel or in a Paraguayan consulate in a bordering country. It is theoretically possible to get visas at the border only if arriving by air, but complications sometimes arise and you can save the stress with a bit of planning.
Visas may be requested and obtained on the same day at most consulates but requirements and cost depend where you are soliciting. 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. Others nationalities need only a valid passport for entry.
Visa requirements change frequently. Check www.lonelyplanet.com for the latest information.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
Paraguay is an old-fashioned country, with conservative views. Despite a growing LGBT movement in the country, high-ranking government officials, including the 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.
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 bars have it, though it is usually password protected.
On the back of the soy boom, Paraguay continued to enjoy a healthy economy, even while the rest of the world plunged into economic crisis. The guaraní currency remains strong and the cost of living in dollars has risen exponentially over the last decade. Though it is still a reasonably cheap country to visit, first-time visitors often find costs to be higher than they had expected.
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 go along – it comes in handy.
ATMs & Credit Cards
- ATMs in major cities and towns are connected to Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus networks but sometimes incur usage charges.
- 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.
- Casas de cambio are abundant in major cities, but shop around for best rates.
- Street money changers give slightly better rates for cash and can be lifesavers at weekends, but do your calculations in advance!
- Rates for changing pounds sterling are poor outside of Asunción.
- Change all your unwanted guaraníes before you leave Paraguay or risk being stuck with them!
Banks 8am to 1pm Monday to Saturday; casas de cambio (exchange houses) keep longer hours.
Government offices 7am to 1pm or 2pm Monday to Friday.
Restaurants noon to 3pm & 6pm to 11pm. Many close on Mondays.
Shops 8am to noon & 2pm to 7pm Monday to Friday & Saturday mornings.
- The Paraguayan correo 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 (4000G).
- Take packages to the post office unsealed so that the contents can be verified, and close them up with your own materials after inspection.
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, dates vary
Día de los Trabajadores (Labor Day) 1 May
Independencia Patria (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
- With the cell phone revolution near complete, private locutorios (phone offices) are less common than before, though most have internet service as well.
- International calls cost more than US$1 per minute, even with lower nighttime rates.
- Local cell phone rates are low and some companies offer free SIM cards, or SIM cards with saldo (credit) already charged to them for a small fee. Though they are much cheaper than using roaming, they do not allow you to make (only to receive) international calls.
- The best cell phone companies are Tigo, Personal and Claro; their tarjetas (cards) for charging credit to your phone are sold at every newsagent.
- Claro SIM cards can be formatted to work in both Brazil and Argentina.
- International operator: (0010)
- International direct dial: (002)
- Public toilets are thin on the ground. Most bus terminals have one – for 1500G you get a smelly loo and an (often insufficient) wad of paper.
- Go when you can in restaurants or hotels.
- Carry your own toilet paper and 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.
The government tourist ministry Senatur has picked up its game in the last few years and there are good tourist offices in Asunción and the other major cities.
Red de Conservación de Tierras Privadas Coordinates the private reserve network.
SEAM Responsible for the maintenance of national parks.
Volunteering is a comparatively new concept in Paraguay, but the idea is starting to take root. Para la Tierra, based at Laguna Blanca, are pioneers of the idea, offering an award-winning volunteer and intern program for socially aware, eco-minded visitors.
Paraguay is a reasonably safe country for women, but solo travelers should take care. Young unaccompanied women are likely to be hit on by Paraguayan men, especially if they are drinking alcohol. Generally it is harmless; be firm but polite. Modest dress is recommended, Paraguayan women tend not to show much skin, and flaunting that custom risks misinterpretation.