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Insider Tips for a Successful Vacation in Rio


Insider Tips for a Successful Vacation in Rio


Plan your trip to Rio de Janeiro with the help of these handy  travel tips. Read on for our top insider tips to aid your understanding of the culture and customs in Brazil, and specifically in Rio.

Insider Tips to Travel to Rio

The privileged view of the Sugar Loaf in the Marvelous City / Photo: Gisele Teixeira



Taxi drivers in Rio de Janeiro do not usually expect tips, but it is normal to round up the fare to the nearest Real. Hotel staff are likely to expect at least one Real. Generally, consider giving a tip of between 10 and 15% in restaurants in Rio.

Remember not to tip public officials, as the action may easily be misinterpreted as a bribe.





Europeans only need a valid passport and a return ticket in order to visit Brazil. Upon entry, you will also need to fill out an entry card, allowing you to stay for about 90 days, which is stapled to your passport. The other half is kept by the immigration officials. It is important not to lose the entry card, as it may cause you a delay on your departure.

Canadians, Australians, US and New Zealand citizens require visa permission that should be requested at the Brazilian Embassy of your country of origin. Contact your respective embassy to receive the requirements and instructions about how to make the application, just make sure you do it with enough time before your flight to Brazil, in order to avoid any inconvenience or delays.

Once you have a Brazilian tourist visa, you have the option of extending it for another 90 days. You just need to apply for the extension at least 15 days prior to the expiration of the 1st one. However, you can only do this once, otherwise you need to leave the country and re-enter another time. The extension can be easily done at the Federal Police office at Rio de Janeiro’s Airport (Galeao – GIG).





Try to carry a photo ID (one which isn’t your passport) when you are sightseeing Rio de Janeiro or visiting the beach. If you don’t have any other form of ID, take a photocopy of your passport. At all times avoid bringing your passport with you if you don’t need it as there are skilled pickpockets on the streets and replacing it could be a nightmare. However keep in mind that to change money in Rio or cash traveller’s cheque you will have to present your passport.





Travellers cheques are useful but the exchange rate is usually not favourable. However, it is good to bring some to use as a last resort or in an emergency. Carrying debit or credit cards is also very convenient in Rio. The most widely accepted cards are Visa, American Express, Diners and MasterCard. It is best to take your card when you are going shopping in Rio, going out for dinner or paying your hotel bills. However if you are just going to the beach or to do some sightseeing in Rio, it is better to leave your wallet in the safe at the hotel and only carry the cash you need.

For Visa card holders, you can withdraw money from Banco Itau, Banco do Brasil and Bradesco. The ATMs that work with the Cirrus system are the best option since they use the same exchange rate as the ATMs you use back home. Therefore, if ever you plan to withdraw money at any of the ATM machines in Rio, the machine will send you messages in Portuguese so make sure you ask for help from bank personnel only. Don’t show your PIN to others and even in banks, you need to be careful when typing your PIN.

Major credit cards are accepted at most restaurants, bars, shops and hotels in Rio. Visa and Master Card are most commonly accepted and American Express less so. We have found that the exchange rates given by credit card companies are usually as good, if not better, than Rio bank exchange rates, but your credit card company may charge a "transaction fee" for payments made while you are on holiday in Rio de Janeiro, so check with your bank before you travel to Brazil.

When paying with a credit card never let the waiter take it away. Accompany him or ask for the POS terminal so that you can see exactly how much you are being charged. Moreover, when you are at an ATM, avoid taking out money at night. Do your transactions in private, never accept the help of strangers and don’t be swayed by any "Good Samaritans" offering help. 

Check out the best way to spend a weekend in Rio de Janeiro here





The key to staying safe in Rio is to be aware of what’s happening around you: avoid poorly lit and quiet areas; don’t wear expensive (or expensive-looking) jewellery, clothing, shoes or watches; always keep your purse closed and close to your body; keep your wallet in a front pocket or, better still, in a concealed money belt; and don’t carry large amounts of cash.

If you have a rucksack, be especially vigilant, since hands can easily slip inside it when you aren’t looking. Never take valuables to the beach, just a towel and some money for a cold drink. Be alert on city buses, they’ve been known to attract thieves. Speaking English loudly in public places may also attract unwanted attention. 





Leave any valuables you might have in the safe in your hotel in Rio. If you have expensive jewellery or accessories, Rio is not the place to wear them. Carry just enough money on you to cover the cost of your needs so it won’t matter too much if you are robbed.

Make sure your camera, or other technological items, are well tied to your bag or to yourself and handle them firmly when using them, so you don’t end up empty-handed. 





Contrary to popular belief, Brazilian girls do not go topless on the beaches in Rio (sorry guys), but the bikinis are often so skimpy that they’re referred to as "Fio Dental" (dental floss), you get the idea. Stay alert and be careful not to get distracted, as some people take advantage of this to rob you and run away.

Never leave your personal belongings alone on the sand, avoid carrying watches, cameras and credit cards and pay attention when someone gets too close to you because they could be deliberately distracting you while someone else takes your valuables.





Brazilians are friendly people, but there are always people who try to take advantage of innocent tourists. When walking in the street try to look confident, as though you are sure of where you’re going and never accept the company of others, even if she/he happens to be the most charming girl/guy you have seen.

Remember that even in Copacabana, crime happens, so avoid walking through its streets at night, especially if you are alone. Ipanema and Leblon are considered to be safer. Rio’s downtown or Centro is fine to visit during working hours, just be aware of pickpockets, but avoid it in the evenings. 





Prepare yourself to party late into the night in Rio de Janeiro, especially during Rio’s Carnival time. Cariocas usually leave home after 11pm and never arrive on time to their appointments. Rio’s nightlife has a lot to offer and are there are plenty of places to go out, including some of the hottest parties in the world, especially during Carnival and New Year's Eve in Rio, when thousands of people dance in the streets.

During these peak seasons just expect the prices for accommodation in Rio, restaurants and night clubs to be higher. Another option if you are on a tight budget is to travel to Rio before carnival, as it’s before the peak season and you will enjoy a great pre-carnival warm up atmosphere and better rates.

Explore Rio by night with our collection of Nightlife Tours





Brazilians, especially the Cariocas, are free-spirited, very calm and incredibly friendly people with a love for life, beach and particularly for their families. Greetings and customs are important and if you are at a party you should make sure you say hello and goodbye to everyone in the room. Women greet by kissing cheeks twice - one on each cheek. Men shake hands or hug, but unless they are closely related, never kiss.





Buy mineral water and check the hygiene standards of the restaurants where you are eating. Also be careful of places where you are buying drinks with ice in them and drink filtered water only as the tap water in Rio is not suitable for drinking. 





The tourist board of Brazil is called EMBRATUR and their website has useful and valid information on Rio de Janeiro. Visit their website at: www.embratur.gov.br


For more insider tips and advice on things to do in Rio de Janeiro, head over to our Daytours4u Travel Blog and start planning your dream vacation in Rio!



<<Check out all our Travel Guides about Rio de Janeiro>>